The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has put oil and gas leases up for sale in the state. Compared to this time last year, the agency is seeing a 150 percent increase in the number of parcels available. Part of the reason is that a policy change has made it easier to lease more public land with less public comment or notice.
Ten environmental groups protested the 348-parcel lease sale and called it unlawful. They pointed to the lack of research conducted on each site, especially about wildlife, and the limited public input. Dustin Bleizeffer, communications director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said parcels are being sold in a critical mule deer migration corridor from Red Desert to Hoback, where an updated resource management plan is still being drafted.
"They're being leased under a set of protections that's outdated. And some of the science that's being ignored is the importance of healthy habitat and connected habitat that allow for big game to migrate," he said.
Bleizeffer said his group is asking the BLM to defer leasing that overlaps with the sensitive area and said that shouldn't be a problem since there's so many wells and parcels available right now, statewide.
"They've got the green light to drill on more than 10,000 wells in Wyoming right now. They don't have the resource to drill all of those wells. So, kind of this timeout that we're asking for is not going to hurt the industry," he said.
BLM spokesperson Courtney Whiteman said four leases were deferred around the Red Desert migration corridor with others put on the back burner because of impacts to wildlife, recreation, or other developments. Parcels in that area won't be available for sale until Thursday.