Nearly half of Wyoming is federal land, and the government collects billions of dollars in taxes and royalties every year from industries using that land. But it isn’t always clear where that money goes, and who benefits from it. Now, an international initiative is trying to change that.
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.
The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for hydraulic fracturing.
But it's not clear whether the fluids will be widely embraced by drilling companies.
Fracking has made it possible to tap into energy reserves across the nation but also has raised concerns about pollution, since large volumes of water along with sand and hazardous chemicals are injected underground to free the oil and gas from rock.
The Lincoln County Commissioners are backing True Oil L-L-C proposal to drill two gas wells in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. One well would be located on a well pad where oil development has already occurred, the second would be a new well.
Lincoln County Commission Chairman Kent Connelly says the company plans to use new technology to recover the gas, and that’s why they support the plan.
“With the technology change in drilling in there, you can do this; it’s not a really invasive approach that they are talking about doing.”
A new report tracks the amount of oil and gas drilling that’s gone on over the past 10 years in different counties across the Rocky Mountains.
Julia Haggerty, one of the authors of the report, says the pace and scale of drilling has a profound effect on local communities – not only during the height of a boom, but in the time right before and after. Haggerty says more research needs to be done on how counties rebound after a bust.