Sporting and conservation organizations will gather in Rock Springs, Wyo., April 26-28, to discuss the increasing conflict between oil and gas development and Wyoming's clean air and wildlife. Many residents are alarmed by industry predictions that natural gas production will boom in the next 20 years, says the nonprofit Wyoming Outdoor Council, organizers of Red Desert Blues: The Industrialization of Southwest Wyoming. The group says the Bureau of Land Management has already leased over 90 percent of public lands in the Green River Basin to oil and gas developers, and ranchers and recreationists are concerned about the proliferation of pipelines, roads and wells on land that contains critical habitat for antelope, elk, moose, deer and raptors.
Some of those fears have been confirmed by a recent BLM study - requested by several federal agencies - on the cumulative air-quality impacts of just three proposed gas development projects in the basin. The study concluded that the projects would harm air and water in adjacent wilderness areas in the Wind River Range. In addition, supervisors for two national forests in the region - the Shoshone and Bridger-Teton - recently warned the BLM that failure to address air-quality issues could result in violations of the Clean Air Act. Speakers at the conference include Wyoming geologist J. David Love, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Chris Flavin, vice president for research at the Worldwatch Institute. Registration before April 15 is $40. For information, call 307/332-7031.