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Sage Grouse

Two male sage grouse compete for a small piece of territory early April 17 on a lek in southern Natrona County. The Western Governors Association supported the Endangered Species Act but asked Congress to make changes.

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This week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $45.90, Brent (ICE) $48.35

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $3.02, Wyoming Pool $2.64, Opal $2.67

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 927, Wyoming 26

Reworking the grouse

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is reviewing federal sage grouse management plans, in response to what he called western "anger" over federal agencies' approach to the imperiled birds' protection.

Western governors were also a catalyst for the review, which a team of experts will submit to Zinke, with recommended next steps, within 60 days, he said.

In the months before the announcement, Gov. Matt Mead sent a number of letters to the secretary advising him to listen to the states, which worked collaboratively with federal agencies to develop plans. Sage grouse management has more than a decade of history in Wyoming and the West, as diverse partners sought to avoid an endangered species listing.

Some were dismayed, others encouraged by the secretary's comments regarding the review. Zinke promised to keep states at the helm of management and attempt to find a better balance of conservation and energy development.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso applauded Zinke the day after the secretarial announcement, but offered the same critique of Zinke's comments as Mead. The senator said he believed population targets -- an approach to conservation that focuses on boosting numbers rather than habitat to sustain populations -- was misguided.

Brook or Bust

The Environmental Quality Council closed out a 7-day hearing over the controversial Brook coal mine in Sheridan County Thursday, but a decision on whether the mine can go forward as planned won't come until August. The developers, Kentucky-based Ramaco, say the mine will provide coal for carbon products, but some locals, and a neighboring coal company, say there are problems with Brook mine plan. The Department of Environmental Quality and the Powder River Basin Resource Council are going head to head over the plan that regulators say is technically complete, while Ramaco is looking more and more like a bystander in the debate.

CAEDA's new look

The Casper Area Economic Development Alliance announced that 45 high paying jobs would come to Casper within the year when a pipeline company reopens shop east of town. In a meeting sponsored by True Oil, the organization's leadership also took the opportunity to stump for wind development in the coming years.

In other news 

The surprise build up of crude in the weekly stockpile report from the Energy Information Administration broke a nine-consecutive-week draw down and sent the price tumbling.

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Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner


Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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