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Energy Group Protests Changes Of Endangered Species Law

The Western Energy Alliance, a trade organization representing companies in the oil and natural gas industry, issued a formal protest on Thursday concerning proposed rule changes in the Endangered Species Act. Comments from the organization were submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service in response to the agency’s ruling that would regulate land that is not habitat for endangered species, but could become so in cases of floods and other natural disasters. According to a statement from the WEA, the new rules would expand government control on private land while offering little benefit to threatened species.

“If implemented as proposed, these rules would have significant negative impacts on the economies of the West without delivering a commensurate benefit to endangered species. By changing definitions and asserting policy that is contrary to the ESA and relevant case law, FWS would greatly expand government control on federal, state and private lands,” the statement said.

The FWS partners to create Habitat Conservation Plans with private landowners. Such plans are required by federal law in cases where private land use may impact endangered species.

Friction between environmental agencies and the oil and natural gas industry is not expected to subside anytime soon. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the number of oil producing wells in Utah increase by over 1,700 between 2007 and 2012. Utah also contains four of the nation’s 100 largest oil fields.