In Wyoming, conservation plan would make more sense than searching for oil and gas

Nov 29, 2023

For decades, mining, grazing, and oil and gas development have been prioritized on public lands in southwest Wyoming. But since 2011, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been trying to turn away from legacy resource extraction in the broader area known as the Red Desert—one of the largest unfenced desert landscapes in the Lower 48.

Now, as the Rock Springs Field Office prepares an updated Resource Management Plan (RMP) for 3.6 million acres of public lands, the BLM seeks to set aside 1.6 million acres of the Red Desert as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, which would limit development in areas important for biodiversity and wildlife migration. The Red Desert is home to vast herds of elk and mule deer and serves as one of North America’s longest mammal migration corridors.

But there has been pushback from opponents of the proposed Rock Springs RMP who say the RMP would destroy the oil and gas industry in the state altogether. In the Center for Western Priorities’ latest podcast episode, Julia Stuble, Wyoming State Senior Manager with the Wilderness Society, addresses some of the opposition and the misinformation around the RMP.

“There’s not a lot of potential for future finds, especially in this field office,” she says“When you look at the amount of production that will continue, the leases that are not under production that could be under production regardless of the plan, and the fact that the closures are in areas where there’s no geologic resource or a very little ability to get the oil and gas out, I don’t think the claims that it’ll destroy the industry are accurate at all.”

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Quote of the day

The industry needs to commit to genuinely helping the world meet its energy needs and climate goals – which means letting go of the illusion that implausibly large amounts of carbon capture are the solution.”

—Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency executive director, CNBC

Picture This


  green and golden rolling hills at sunset


The “America the Beautiful” initiative is a locally led effort to conserve and restore 30% of our lands and waters by 2030. Conserving habitats like wetlands, prairies, forests and coral reefs will help wildlife, bolster climate resilience and increase access to nature.