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BLM Lease Sale Ends In WY; Majority Of Land On Sage Grouse Habitat

EnergyNet's map of BLM land up for sale in the 1st quarter across the west

The Bureau of Land Management ended the first quarterly oil and gas lease sale in Wyoming. It's offering nearly 150,000 acres-62 percent of that is on core sage grouse habitat.

Late last month, the BLM offered over 700,000 acres of public land to oil and gas. Julia Stuble, Wyoming Public Lands & Energy Associate with the Wilderness Society, said it seems like the BLM is offering more and more lands for energy development without other considerations.

"BLM is pushing out leases as fast as they can and back to back sales, and they're not considering all the necessary information or taking into consideration the input of the public," she said.

Stuble said she worries the federal agency had too little review time due to the government shutdown. BLM Wyoming rebuffed that and said much of its review was finished before the shutdown; plus, there were some employees working during the shutdown. According to EnergyNet, 64 percent of available acreage was leased. Five parcels were sold that overlap the mule deer migration corridor.

Stuble also said energy producers aren't in need of any more land to produce on. Since 2017, she said the administration has offered 16.8 million acres of public lands.

"There's plenty of land has been leased for development without [the] need to offer even more in the way the administration is rushing these sales out the door," Stuble said.

Stuble said she's concerned that more and more parcels are located in sensitive habitat for mule deer, sage grouse, and other western species. The next lease sale will begin in Utah and Montana on the March 25.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.

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