Drilling in Wyoming

  After a two-year moratorium, drill rigs may soon rumble into action in the Thunder Basin National Grassland. The Forest Service has rejected an appeal by the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club and Friends of the Bow to reduce oil and gas leasing within the nearly 2 million-acre grassland in northeastern Wyoming. The decision "just shows the power the oil and gas industry has over the Forest Service," Sierra Club spokesman Kirk Koepsel told the Casper Star-Tribune. The two environmental groups had hoped the agency would exempt 25,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land from drilling, as proposed in an earlier Forest Service environmental impact statement. The approved plan excludes only 7,000 acres. Medicine Bow National Forest Supervisor Jerry Schmidt, who oversees management of Thunder Basin, says he believes the plan will "protect the many values and qualities of the area and still allow the continued use of a resource."

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