Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Study

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Oil and natural gas companies that operate within Greater Sage-Grouse (GrSG) range make great efforts to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and reduce impact on the species. Companies routinely employ advanced reclamation measures and design projects to reduce surface disturbance, traffic, and human activity. Technological innovations such as directional and horizontal drilling have decreased habitat disturbance as much as 70%.

SWCA Environmental Consultants conducted an analysis of the conservation measures oil and natural gas companies implement to protect GrSG. SWCA analyzed a small sample of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents for projects approved on public lands since 2008 and found that industry is implementing hundreds of measures to conserve GrSG. 

Key Findings

  • Of the 103 oil and natural gas NEPA documents reviewed, companies committed to 773 total conservation measures, an average of 6.5 per project. 
  • Conservation measures were implemented across 18 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planning areas and U.S. Forest Service national forests encompassing 68,404 square miles of public lands with GrSG habitat.
  • The majority of documents contain adaptive management and monitoring; no surface occupancy buffers; seasonal, timing, and spatial restrictions; interim and final reclamation; traffic reduction and restrictions; and noise abatement.  In addition, companies utilize measures that permanently reduce footprint in GrSG habitats including horizontal drilling, reuse of produced water, multiple-wells on drill pads, co-location of facility equipment and twinning pipelines, and funding for GrSG research projects.
  • The conservation measures meet the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making Listing Decisions (PECE) standards for certainty of implementation and effectiveness.

Why These Commitments Matter

  • Companies invest vast amounts of time, capital, and human resources implementing GrSG protections, and are continuously developing new measures to more effectively conserve GrSG. These protections helped FWS reach a not-warranted listing decision.
  • Commitments made in these NEPA documents are binding and therefore effective for protecting GrSG and their habitat while enabling development vital to local communities in terms of job creation, economic growth, and local, state and federal government revenue.
  • The NEPA process is a transparent and robust regulatory mechanism that is effective for protecting, conserving, and enhancing GrSG populations and habitat.

Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Overlaps Significant
Oil and Natural Gas Basins Across the West

Greater Sage Grouse Habitat