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Analysis: 95 Percent of BLM Land in WYO Available to Oil and Gas

PHOTO: A new analysis from The Wilderness Society of BLM management plans throughout the West shows that oil and gas is favored other over uses. In Wyoming, 95 percent has been made available for development. Photo courtesy of BLM.
PHOTO: A new analysis from The Wilderness Society of BLM management plans throughout the West shows that oil and gas is favored other over uses. In Wyoming, 95 percent has been made available for development. Photo courtesy of BLM.
October 20, 2014

LANDER, Wyo. - Ninety-five percent for oil and gas, 5 percent for everything else.

An analysis from The Wilderness Society shows that the Bureau of Land Management has made almost all its land within Wyoming available for development. Nada Culver, director of the society's BLM Action Center, said the stats prove that the oil and gas industry has an unfair advantage.

"If you want to manage for conservation, for recreation, for wildlife, all of those things are really difficult when we're faced with such an unbalanced situation in current management," she said.

BLM Resource Management Plans in western states were examined for the report, which found that the agency has strict standards for deciding which lands should be managed for recreation or the environment, but the same standards are not applied to oil and gas leasing decisions.

Culver said the BLM should address imbalances, identify areas for conservation and recreation, incorporate Master Leasing Plans - which the agency is beginning to do - and pre-screen which areas might be best for oil and gas.

"Time to update the status quo and be smarter about this," Culver said. "Let's put leasing and development where it will be most successful - high-potential areas; low-conflict as much as possible. Let's take a better approach."

She cited another detail from the report: Of the 36 million acres of BLM land under oil and gas leases throughout the West, only about 12.5 million are in production. In addition, thousands of drilling permits have been issued but have not been used.

The report, "Open for Business," is online at wilderness.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY