Energy news for the week of Sept. 29, and what it means for you

WVP Study: Sagebrush habitat means hundreds of millions for western economies: On Tuesday, Sept. 30, we released a study co-commissioned by WVP and Pew  on the economic impact of western sagebrush habitat, largely due to recreation spending in 11 western states. The report indicates that the sagebrush ecosystem generated over $1 billion in economic output in 2013 alone in just the 11 western states studied.

Hunters, campers, fishermen and others spent more than $623 million directly within 50 miles of Bureau of Land Management property in sagebrush ecosystems across more than 61 million acres…the ripple effect of that spending in the form of indirect and induced investments produced a total economic output of $1.06 billion, including $172 million in Idaho, $152 million in Montana, $119 million in Nevada, $108 million in Wyoming and $103 million in Oregon.” ~Las Vegas Review Journal

Why it matters: Apart from all the great hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting that happens throughout the sagebrush ecosystem, it’s also critical habitat for a number of species including elk, mule deer, and the presently-threatened Greater sage grouse. That the economic impact of these activities is so significant builds the case for strengthening protections for sagebrush in our western landscape—which has the added benefit of strengthening the populations of these wildlife, including the sage grouse. Read more about it in Fox BusinessABCReutersBusiness InsiderYahoo NewsBloomberg, among others.

Senate races are tightening: Midterm elections (held Tuesday, Nov. 4 this year) are nearing, and the control of the US Senate is up for grabs. The tightest Senate races are happening in Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Alaska, and Colorado. The Alaska (incumbent Senator Begich (D) vs. challenger Dan Sullivan (R)) and Colorado (incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D) vs. current Rep. Cory Gardner (R)) races in particular will have significant impacts on the western landscape and energy policy. In Colorado, Sen. Udall and Rep. Gardner have taken shots at one another over Colorado’s energy policies, but both have supported opening up exports of liquid natural gas to other countries, and both sit on energy committees in their respective chambers.

“The U.S. energy supply has entered a strange new era…but when it comes to political talking points, Democrats and Republicans keep singing the same old tunes. Whether it’s a lack of imagination, a pre-election cautiousness or a sense that their energy message is resonating with voters, the parties show no signs of giving up slogans that have served them for decades.” ~Elana Schor for Politico’s Morning Energy

Mitigating methane emissions from oil and gas is big western business: In last week’s round-up, we talked about companies pledging to stop fugitive methane emissions from transport—but this week, a study was published on something even better. The Environmental Defense Fund showed that there are over 75 companies nationwide that not only provide solutions to methane emissions from oil and gas fields, but that this practice can help spur economic growth via high-paying jobs. And if that wasn’t enough incentive, these practices can save the oil and gas industry over a billion dollars in lost product while reducing harmful emissions. A win-win-win for western jobs, the economy, and the environment!

“These are really highly skilled jobs with good pay,” says [Laura] Spanjian [director of the Office of Sustainability for the City of Houston]. “It’s worth noting that as the attention to methane increases, this is an opportunity for really good jobs and they’re not the type of jobs you can outsource.” ~via Public News Service

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