New analysis: Sagebrush conservation and energy development can coexist in the West

Western Values Project today released a new analysis that shows there is very minimal overlap between western oil and gas development acreage and priority Greater sage-grouse habitat, as designated in the proposed habitat management plans from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The analysis finds that in total, there is less than 13% overlap between the designated sage-grouse habitat and existing and potential energy development, meaning robust energy development can continue in the West even once the BLM plans are finalized later this month. And in the first-tier protected habitat areas, the overlap is less than two percent.

This new analysis underscores once and for all just how minimal of an impact these carefully-crafted BLM plans will have on the energy industry. The analysis also shows that it’s time to move full-steam ahead with finalizing these plans, given that we can now rest assured that they are not only a boost for the sage-grouse and its habitat—they’re good for western economies, as well.

The report found that in the primary habitat designation, sagebrush focal areas, there is a mere 1.34% overlap with existing or potential oil and gas plays. For the second-tier habitat designation, Priority Habitat Management Areas, there is 11.6% total overlap.

The report compared these priority habitat areas from the proposed BLM plans with the Energy Information Administration’s recent analysis of key oil and gas shale plays throughout the U.S. This new analysis builds on WVP’s Compatibility Report from November of last year by looking specifically at the actual habitat management areas proposed in this year’s BLM plans, and their potential impacts on development. That report produced similar results, and additionally found that in the areas where there was overlap between oil and gas and sage-grouse habitat, only 2% of the leases were actually producing oil or gas.

Join the effort to strengthen the American West.