For an Updated and Improved Endangered Species Act
Posted August 12, 2019
America's natural gas and oil industry long has safeguarded wildlife and their habitat, seeking effective conservation measures to protect them amid ongoing energy exploration and production.
Through voluntary programs and collaboration with state and federal wildlife management agencies and non-profit conservation organizations, industry is committed to species protection and natural habitat conservation – from watershed protections, to understanding and planning around migration patterns, to the cultivation of outdoor recreational activities on leased lands.
Now these efforts will be bolstered with the Interior Department’s new action to clarify and improve the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), by reducing duplicative and unnecessary regulations. This will allow public-private projects to further promote the conservation of habitat and protection of endangered species, allowing natural gas and oil operators to concentrate time and resources on conservation efforts that have the greatest environmental impact and benefit to a species.
The updated ESA regulations promote transparency and allow the public to understand the impacts of a species listing. They clarify and improve the interagency consultation process, to reduce unnecessary costs and delays. They also revise the definition of “foreseeable future” to ensure that a listing decision is based on accepted scientific methods and not on speculation about future conditions. They amend the definition of “physical or biological features” for lands under consideration as critical species habitat, to confirm that those lands have essential features for a species at the time of designation.
These may seem like small changes, but they add up to a big difference when it comes to implementing effective conservation efforts that work side-by-side with safe and responsible energy development.
Certainly, protecting nearby species and habitats is important to safe development. The U.S. natural gas and oil industry is committed to environmental stewardship and has a proven record of going beyond regulatory compliance to include voluntary actions and innovative partnerships with national and local conservation organizations to preserve habitat and to protect wildlife.
Let’s take a look at just a few of industry’s efforts:
- Companies have taken steps to avoid scheduling operations when wildlife migration occurs in certain areas in Wyoming, have implemented polar bear protection plans in Alaska, created artificial reefs off the Gulf Coast, developed pollinator gardens and bee sanctuaries and more. Companies have also worked to protect or restore habitats of ground-dwelling birds such as the lesser prairie chicken and the greater sage-grouse.
- Several industry companies joined together in 2017 to form the Southwest Rivers Program, which works to decrease the pressure being placed on the Pecos Watershed and Rio Grande habitats due to an increase in local populations. These efforts have improved stream corridors and riparian systems, as well as nourished land for the flora and fauna native to the area.
- Companies regularly survey areas surrounding their major operating facilities and cross-reference the information against the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Protected Areas’ database. This ongoing analysis allows companies to identify sensitive environments to be able to implement protective measures and to help maintain biodiversity.
- Operators often partner with sportsmen and conservation groups to provide hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities on their leases.
Protecting wildlife and the environment is a core industry value, and we welcome an updated ESA that allows continued careful conservation and responsible natural gas and oil development to coexist more effectively.
About The Author
Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. Jessica joined API after 10+ years leading the in-house marketing and communications for non-profits and trade associations. A Michigan native, Jessica graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in Communications and Political Science. She resides in London, and spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her energetic Giant Schnauzer, Jackson.
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