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BLM Expands Best Practice Standards for Fluid Minerals Industry to Increase Wildlife Protection

Chris Merkord

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Drilling sites will have a lower impact if the road has two-tracks and follows the contour of the land to avoid straight lines and cut & fill. The well location is mowed, not excavated, to temporarily reduce vegetation (Credit: BLM).

On December 13, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued an Instruction Memorandum regarding protection of wildlife from causes of direct mortality associated with oil, gas, and geothermal facilities on BLM lands. The new BLM Best Management Practices (BMP) policy aims to carry out BLM’s multi-use mission by facilitating responsible domestic energy production while proactively protecting wildlife through effective mitigation strategies.

The policy focuses on the BMPs for reducing wildlife mortality from risks such as open pits and tanks containing freestanding liquids; open exhaust stacks; pit, tank, and trench entrapment hazards; chemical tank secondary containment; and wire exclosure fencing.

Some of the mitigation strategies in the memorandum include utilizing closed loop systems or nets for managing fluids, constructing wildlife escape ramps in open excavation operations, and installing screens on all open exhaust stacks to prevent wildlife entry or nesting. Also included are strategies specific to reducing threats to important and at-risk bird species like the greater-sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken. These mitigation strategies involve fence marking around facility exclosures to prevent wire collisions near the bird mating areas. Many of the BMPs also focus on improving the protection of livestock and human health and safety as well as safeguards against groundwater contamination and emissions around these BLM authorized fluid mineral facilities.

While developing the appropriate permit conditions for all new projects, the BLM will incorporate the necessary BMPs through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process. The mitigation measures implemented will help BLM and fluid mineral industry leaders to remain in compliance with the agency’s regulations, Onshore Orders, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The new BMP strategy is expected to have only minor costs associated with inspections, enforcement, performing environmental analyses as part of NEPA review, and monitoring to ensure mitigation is effective.

Source: BLM (January 7, 2013)

View the full article from The Wildlife Society's Wildlife Policy News
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