A new report released today by the Western Values Project titled “Open For Business,” found, despite the false claims made by oil industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) fifteen sage-grouse land management plans would stifle development on public lands, the public lands have – as promised – stayed open for business, just as they did during the preparation of the sage-grouse land management plans. The report found that the BLM is continuing to approve and advance hundreds of leases for oil and gas development, hundreds of permits for grazing, drilling, and recreation and several large-scale transmission and renewable energy projects.
The report identifies several uses – outdoor recreation, oil and gas development, grazing, renewable energy development and energy transmission – that are central to the identity and economic well-being of western communities. The report also highlights just a few of the many examples where, in the months following the completion of the sage-grouse land management plans, the BLM approved and advanced leases, permits and projects that will drive economic activity on the public lands for years to come, while still providing sage-grouse with the strong protections they need in order to avoid a future listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Last September, after years of collaboration with states, ranchers, sportsmen, industry representatives, conservationists and other stakeholders, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service finalized new management plans for over 67 million acres of publicly-owned habitat for the Greater sage-grouse. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made a commitment that the BLM would continue to manage the public lands for multiple uses, guided by the conservation framework established in the plans. This report shows that the BLM is honoring its commitment by implementing the plans in such a way that westerners and their communities can continue to rely on the public lands for both income and enjoyment for generations to come.