U.s. To Continue Selling Off Massive Western Lands At Fire Sale Prices
"Even Vice President Cheney may not recognize his Wyoming home when he returns after eight years under his own favored policies. Wyoming's sagebrush landscape, which has long defined the state's ruggedness and which shelters scores of unique plants and animals, including its signature species, the greater sage-grouse, are rapidly disappearing. In their place is acre upon acre of gas fields and the checkerboard of roads, power lines, pipelines, compressor stations, and wellheads that go with them.
"Audubon does not oppose responsible energy extraction, but this continuous pattern of massive giveaways simply goes too far. We urge the Bush administration and the industry itself to change course. It is time to focus on ways to allow grouse and gas production to coexist. Industry ignores that reality at its own risk. Driving the sage grouse toward extinction could in effect kill the gas industry's own golden goose if the bird receives federal protection."
Last week, the Bureau of Land Management announced the June sale of leases on 260,367 acres of federal land to energy companies in Wyoming – with nearly 40% of these acres representing critical sage-grouse habitat. The news follows sale of 370,000 acres in April.
Many conservationists say BLM has failed in recent years to serve as an ecological caretaker of public lands by maintaining the health of the plant and animal species that live there in Wyoming. According to Audubon Magazine, since 2000 the agency has approved more than 17,000 drilling permits in Wyoming.
Mule deer and sage grouse populations are plummeting in Wyoming as residents deal with continual ozone air quality alerts brought about by energy extraction.