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Closer Look at “Fossil Fuel vs. Wildlife” Report

January 23, 2012

CASPER, Wyo. - Wyoming holds the distinction of being home to two species named on a list in an Endangered Species Coalition
report linking energy development to declines in wildlife populations. The greater sage grouse and the Wyoming pocket gopher made the list of wildlife most at risk in the country because of oil and gas development - but that's not the end of the story for the critters or the industry.

Duane Short, wild species program director at the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, says the listing should help provide focus.

"When we know what the science is, part of the solution is to allow that science to guide the actions on the ground."

Short says sage-grouse behavior and range has long been studied and pocket-gopher habitat has been documented. He makes the case that the oil and gas industry can use technology to minimize its footprint on those habitats using methods such as directional drilling. Several companies already do it, he adds. Those reluctant to do so cite costs or possible loss of production volume.

Oil and gas production are important to Wyoming, Short says, which is why making sure species do not end up on the endangered species list is in everyone's best interest.

"The crux of the matter is not stopping everything, but doing what we're doing in a more responsible way - taking into account the environmental impacts."

The BLM has already taken note of the sage-grouse issue. Public meetings are scheduled in Wyoming starting January 30 to discuss conservation measures. The meeting schedule is available at

The full report, "Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink," is at

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY