The sun sets over an oil well pumpjack in the Powder River Basin.(Jeremy Buckingham, Flickr Creative Commons)

by Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporter

Originally published by E&E April 15, 2015, and republished here with permissions — Ed.

Environmental groups are urging the Interior Department and its Bureau of Land Management to heed the threat of climate change when finalizing a new resource management plan for almost 800,000 acres in Wyoming.

The Buffalo area resource management plan has been years in the making and would set the parameters for future development of the state’s energy-rich counties of Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan.

While mining and drilling companies would like to keep the region as open to development as possible, environmental groups say BLM’s plan could end up generating more than 15 billion tons of carbon pollution.

“On behalf of our millions of members, we reiterate our call that you reject the Buffalo RMP revision in its current form,” a list of groups wrote Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and BLM Director Neil Kornze today.

The groups, which sent a similar letter last year, said new information about the threat of climate change made it important for them to follow up. Plus, review of the RMP may soon wrap up.

A 2013 draft plan presented what BLM called a compromise between environmental protection and resource extraction. It would set aside eight special recreation management areas and three areas of critical environmental concern, plus call for putting more than 100,000 acres off-limits to new development.

Still, greens say greenhouse gas emissions from the Buffalo area cost more than $400 million in economic harm per year, based on the controversial social cost of carbon calculation. Add to that more than $50 billion for burning the coal, oil and gas produced.

BLM is in the process of developing a guidance document for how its regulators should address climate concerns and apply a social cost of carbon calculation to National Environmental Policy Act reviews (Greenwire, April 15).

Jewell has also spoken about the importance of discussing fossil fuel development in the context of ongoing climate concerns and Obama administration regulatory plans.

The groups wrote today, “Given its long-term and significant implications in terms of locking in BLM to decades of federal coal, oil, and gas development and corresponding climate impacts, the Buffalo RMP is an appropriate place to start that conversation.”

Flickr photo from Jeremy Buckingham used with a Creative Commons license.

Twitter: @ManuelQ | Email:

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