Mitigation is the process of avoiding, minimizing, and compensating for the impacts to lands and species caused by resource development. In the oil and natural gas industry, companies are proactive stewards of the land, protecting species and habitat as they conduct operations. Mitigation is elemental in adhering to multiple-use principles on public lands administered.
Companies first perform mitigation by avoiding or minimizing impacts in important habitat areas. The placement of wells is designed to reduce habitat disturbance and avoid critical areas. Best management practices such as timing restrictions during breeding seasons, dust suppression, and noise and light reduction are employed to minimize impacts.
For any remaining impacts to species and habitat, compensatory mitigation measures offset the direct effects of a project. Typically this involves supporting off-site conservation and restoration such as the removal of invasive species or planting of vegetation in nearby areas. Taken together, these avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures ensure responsible energy development coexists with species and their habitat.
Western Energy Alliance supports a policy framework which ensures that mitigation requirements are based on site-specific factors, the timing and types of mitigation projects are flexible, and voluntary mitigation efforts are recognized and encouraged. The Alliance supports the recent steps the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has undertaken to clarify the federal mitigation framework, specifically the issuance of Instruction Memorandum (IM) 2019-018.
Western Energy Alliance agrees with BLM’s analysis that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act authorizes but does not require compensatory mitigation for impacts to public lands, and we are eager to work with BLM to ensure the IM is properly implemented. In the meantime, companies will continue to utilize mitigation to properly balance species and habitat conservation with responsible resource development.