A deal to allow oil and gas development in a sage grouse conservation area near Douglas met considerable resistance when it was announced last month. Environmental groups said it set a dangerous precedent, and showed the state isn’t serious about keeping the bird off the endangered species list. The state said it was a necessary compromise that protects sage grouse while respecting private mineral rights.
Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce takes a look at tensions in the state’s sage grouse conservation strategy, five years after its implementation.
After what the state characterized as a knock-down, drag-out fight with Chesapeake Oil, it’s planning to allow drilling in a sage grouse conservation area.
The protected areas were established by executive order in 2011 in order to conserve critical sage grouse habitat, with the goal of keeping the bird off the endangered species list. The new plan modifies the protections in an area near Douglas where Chesapeake has oil and gas leases.
Wyoming's top oil and gas regulator says the companies involved in a natural gas well blowout in eastern Wyoming last month won't face any fines. Tom Doll, the state's oil and gas supervisor, tells the Casper Star-Tribune that well owner Chesapeake Energy Corp. and drill rig owner Trinidad Drilling Ltd. won't be cited for the blowout. The mishap vented up to 2 million cubic feet of explosive gas and 31,500 gallons of drilling fluid into the air and around the drill site near Douglas.
This week, there was an explosion at an oil rig near Douglas. Natural gas spewed from the well, and about 50 people were evacuated from their homes. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden visited Douglas shortly after the accident and put together this montage of residents’ reactions.
A natural gas leak 10 miles northeast of Douglas has caused dozens of residents to evacuate their homes.
The natural gas site, operated by Cheasapeake Energy, began leaking gas around 4pm yesterday, and by last night, Chesapeake official John Dill says area residents were notified that they should evacuate.
"We contacted approximately 67 residents in homes in about a 2.5 mile radius of this location, and asked them to consider a voluntary evacuation to area hotels, which is going to be paid for by the company," says Dill.