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Court to Decide Fate of WYO Atlantic Rim

September 26, 2007

Laramie, WY – Time to slow down and take a look around. That's what five sporting and conservation groups in Wyoming are saying about the plan to drill 2,000 coalbed methane wells along the Atlantic Rim. The groups have gone to court to stop the project, at least temporarily, until impacts on water and land are scrutinized.

Kim Floyd with the Wyoming AFL-CIO says locals have been voicing concerns about the "rush to drill" -- and feel they're not being heard.

"We are very concerned at the pace of this development. They have run roughshod over the sportsman groups in this state, and the people that made comments."

A Bureau of Land Management (BLM) analysis of the project found it would cause "major harm" to big game and sage grouse, as well as water quality problems, but the project was given the green light anyway. The company behind the plans says it has followed all the rules, and that the wells are needed for the nation's energy supply.

Erik Molvar of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, which is a party to the lawsuit, says his organization won't stand by and let the BLM ignore the importance of considering other values on the Rim.

"There are crucial big game winter ranges and migration corridors on the Rim. It has one of the two largest sage grouse breeding concentration areas in the State of Wyoming and, therefore, the West."

Other groups joining the Alliance in the lawsuit include the Wyoming Outdoor Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Western Watersheds Project and the Wyoming Wilderness Association.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WY