Wyoming has spent $7.9 million on sage grouse conservation since 2005. That was the finding of a new report by the Western Governors Association, which inventoried the efforts of 11 western states to protect the bird and its habitat.
The report comes in advance of an expected 2015 ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over whether to add the species to the endangered species list. The sage grouse's listing could curtail energy development throughout the West.
Many states have voluntarily adopted strategies to avoid a listing, the Western Governors wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
"These steps preclude the need to include the greater sage-grouse on the federal endangered species list," the governors wrote.
The association is a nonpartisan organization representing governors in 22 western states.
In Wyoming, the state spent $7.9 million to create the Game and Fish sage grouse program, support local sage grouse working group projects like habitat treatment, enhanced population monitoring and applied research, the report said.
Utah, by comparison, spent $8.8 million on improvements to sage grouse habitat in 2013 alone.
The report noted that Wyoming has established eight local sage grouse working groups between 2007 and 2008. The groups have focused on implementing conservation plans since.
In other energy news:
- Oil and gas companies would be due $2.6 million if the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management decide to block drilling in the Wyoming Range, the Jackson Hole News and Guide writes. The Forest Service announced last week it would begin studying the environmental impact of oil and gas operations on nearly 42,000 acres in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The BLM approved gas leases in the forest in 2005, but the Forest Service has to approve or reject the leases, the paper reported.
- Sen. John Barrasso continues his push to try and increase liquid natural gas exports to Ukraine. The Wyoming Republican, who was in Ukraine last week, said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday that the U.S. could limit Europe's reliance on natural gas from Russia by boosting its own exports to the continent. Barrasso proposed an amendment to a Ukrainian aid package which would allow for increased natural gas exports. The measure was blocked in committee. The Wyoming lawmaker has vowed to take up the plan again when the full Senate considers the Ukrainian aid bill. His speech can be watched here.
- Wyoming Public Media has this report on the state's efforts to become more than just a mineral producer.
By the numbers:
- Natural gas prices: Henry Hub $4.50, Wyoming Pool $4.64
- Oil prices: West Texas Intermediate $99.19, Brent Crude $106.99