Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
Private Property And Wildlife Habitat Threatened By Massive Drilling Lease Sale – Groups File Protest Challenging Sale of Drilli
“The Bureau of Land Management is trampling the rights of private landowners throughout Colorado,” explained Jim Fitzgerald, a farmer and private landowner in the HD Mountains near Bayfield, Colorado. “When they drill on private land, our water wells get hammered, the drill rigs leak, our aquifers are depleted, landowners are harassed by diesel engines that run constantly.”
Current rules provide almost no protection to private landowners and heavily favor energy development. For example, companies holding a valid mineral right are only required to give ten days notice to private landowners before drilling. Similarly, oil and gas companies can locate a drilling rig as close as 150 feet to someone’s home. Current rules only encourage – but do not require – drillers to reach agreements with landowners, but if an agreement isn’t reached the oil and gas companies are free to proceed after posting a small bond.
“The drilling leases they are selling basically last forever,” explained Nicole Rosmarino, Endangered Species Coordinator for WildEarth Guardians. “The Bureau of Land Management needs to look before it leaps.” Oil and gas leases provide essentially permanent drilling rights; once an oil and gas company begins drilling they can legally continue doing so indefinitely as long as it continues to produce.
Furthermore, the lease sale is based on outdated research. The Bureau of Land Management has refused to consider critical new scientific research and information about the impacts of oil and gas drilling to water quality, air quality, human health, and impacts to farms and ranches. The conservation groups also cite numerous examples of significant new information about a host of wildlife and plants that are struggling to survive across Colorado, including the greater sage grouse, white-tailed prairie dog, and Porter feathergrass, all three of which are currently petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
“Oil and gas drilling has huge impacts to landowners, to clean water and to healthy wetlands, and to recreational opportunities,” noted Jacob Smith, Executive Director for Center for Native Ecosystems. “The Bureau of Land Management has to consider these things before it wholesale sells off public resources.”
“Oil and gas drilling in these places will destroy valuable wetlands and habitat for endangered wildlife like the mountain plover and white-tailed prairie dog,” Smith added.
For more information about Center for Native Ecosystems, visit www.nativeecosystems.org