Climate + Energy

Wyoming’s Clean Air, Water, Wildlife at Risk from 5,000 New Oil and Gas Wells

Fracking Near Douglas, WY

Well pads and drilling rigs dot the landscape outside of Douglas, Wyoming. The Converse County Oil and Gas Project would add 1,500 new well pads.

On Monday, Guardians submitted extensive comments to the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on its plan to approve 5,000 new oil and gas wells just north of Casper, Wyoming through the Converse County Oil and Gas Project.

The BLM’s plan is one of the worst I’ve seen and a huge project, even for Wyoming. Every single one of the 5,000 new wells would use fracking. The BLM’s preferred alternative essentially would wipe out the eastern population of the Greater Sage-Grouse in Wyoming.  The project would also result in exceedences of national air quality standards, 1,970 miles of new roads, and the use of up to 6.9 billion gallons of fresh water per year. In sum, the project presents a grave threat to eastern Wyoming’s clean air, clean water, and wildlife.

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The Converse County Project would require almost 50 new water wells to be drilled.

The project also proposes fracking on the Thunder Basin National Grassland, a large expanse of intact native prairie lands which provides habitat for the Greater Sage Grouse.  The National Audubon society estimates that the project could result in the destruction of 57 leks (mating grounds for the grouse).  The grouse population has drastically declined in recent years despite the implementation of the Obama Administration’s 2015 conservation plans, which Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke plans to revoke sometime this year.

Thunder Basin Natl Grasslands Vladeb

Thunder Basin National Grassland. Photo credit: Vladeb, Flickr.

The good news is, this project is only at the draft stages, and there are a large number of conservation groups working to expose the plan’s pitfalls. I know that Guardians won’t back down until the Trump Administration Keeps It In The Ground. There are also indications that the Trump Administration’s Energy Dominance plan is beginning to crack. We have to keep up the pressure any way we can even if it is one project at a time.