Gordon issues statement on federal judge’s decision to toss out BLM lease sales over sage grouse directives

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CHEYENNE, WYOMING (May 28, 2020) – Governor Mark Gordon has issued the following statement in response to a federal judge’s decision to toss out three oil and gas lease sales on account of the 205 sage-grouse plans. If the decision is upheld, Wyoming could lose tens of millions of dollars of revenue from lease sales conducted in 2018. 

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“I am greatly disappointed by Chief Judge Morris’s decision to toss out BLM’s lease sales on account of the 2015 sage-grouse plans. Wyoming has led the way in sage-grouse conservation since 2007. We have spent over $200 million on habitat conservation, research and other actions meant to maintain this iconic species. At the same time, our ranchers, oil and gas companies, miners, and other citizens and industries have helped develop protections that put the species first. This has led to considerable increases in cost and some opportunities lost for those partners. This court decision is nothing but a slap in the face to all the efforts that have been undertaken in good faith to protect the species.

Because of Wyoming’s policies, leasing for oil and gas on public lands in Wyoming does not threaten sage-grouse habitat. The State has clearly defined restrictions on drilling that accompany habitat leases. In what is already a very uncertain time in terms of revenue for Wyoming, Judge Morris’ decision spells major economic implications for our state. The sad thing here is this decision does nothing for the bird and it may undermine the voluntary and cooperative work Wyoming citizens have been willing to do to protect this species.

The decision to simply toss the leases is impractical, impulsive, and ultimately prevents Wyoming from effectively managing the sage grouse and a vital part of our economy. This decision only adds uncertainty to a process that already works. I plan to consider legal options to remedy this manner.”

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