Report: Grouse Needs 3-Mile Buffer From Drilling
A government report with significant implications for the US energy industry says the breeding grounds of a struggling bird species need a 3-mile or larger buffer from oil and gas drilling, wind farms, and solar projects.
The study comes as the Obama administration weighs new protections for the greater sage grouse. The ground-dwelling bird ranges across 11 western states.
A 3-mile buffer is a much larger protective area than the no-occupancy zones where drilling and other activity is prohibited under some state and federal land management plans.
Those plans also contain more nuanced provisions that backers say will protect sage grouse, such as seasonal restrictions on drilling and limits on the number of oil and gas wells within key sage grouse habitat.
But some wildlife advocates say too much development is being allowed under those plans, undermining efforts to help grouse. Such opposition could be bolstered by the report from the US Geological Survey released on 21 November.