Wild Horse Education

Oil and Gas; Update


Habitat degradation and loss comes from domestic livestock, mineral extraction, oil and gas and others.

If you follow all that is happening on our public lands your news feed has probably had many stories covering the oil and gas industry. You have most likely seen articles covering former Secretary Zinke’s “energy first” memos and his potential misconduct surrounding them. Some of you have seen a focus on Trump nominating a former lobbyist of oil and gas industry, David Bernhardt, to be the new Secretary of Interior and an immediate inquiry into potential misconduct.

The scandals of politics are constant in the news, yet the devastation caused to public resources by those sitting at the political poker table usually only makes the news after it has been caused. Of course there are high profile exceptions, like oil and gas moving into the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

For wild horse advocates the devastation being caused to the habitat our wild ones need to survive must become a visible priority. Roundup, sales to slaughter, adoption and sanctuary fill social media and dominate any story that might actually make it into the news on “wild horses.” Those pieces (roundups, etc) of the “wild horse world” are important, but they all happen when management in the wild ends.

Fertility control is not a solution, it’s a tool. The tool is vital to decreasing population growth while gathering data, then integrating that data into herd preservation models. But one of the key pieces of those preservation models must be the habitat wild horses need to survive.

Habitat loss is a core issue to any fight that can claim a cause of “preservation of the wild, wild horse.” There are many flawed parameters in managing free roaming horses in the United States. Creating a valid equation is crucial in those archaic paradigms as well. But if the habitat is degraded or lost, the wild horse will be removed.

We tell our readers there are two key things to keep in mind:

  • Wild horses are the only animal in our nation defined legally by the land it stands, not what it is biologically.
  • Wild horses are confined by arbitrary, and often illogical, artificial boundary lines called Herd Management Areas (HMAs). Once that habitat is destroyed, legally the acreage can not be exchanged (at this time), the horse has nowhere else to go.

Extractive industry (mineral mining, oil and gas) is rapidly expanding in the West. Water quality and quantity, huge open pits, roads and traffic are just some of the impacts. Each one of those impacts has the potential to increase roundups (particularly as the flawed framework remains unchanged).

You can track pending BLM oil and gas lease sales here: https://www.energynet.com/govt_listing.pl

Late last year we alerted you to our involvement in creating a baseline (comments) to litigate a proposed BLM oil and gas lease sale that would impact several HMAs in the state of Nevada.

BLM worked to push through oil and gas lease sales for March 2019. Almost all the sales are moving forward.

The parcels we commented on have not moved onto the schedule. There is no date for if, or when, BLM will attempt to place those parcels back onto the list. But many others have moved forward (that we did not have the resources to address). You can track at the link we provided earlier in the article.

Before BLM can place those parcels on the list they would need to address all relevant comments prior to issuing the “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) to approve the listing. If a FONSI is filed, we are prepared to file litigation.

We are updating you to keep you informed. A number of our readers were sending questions asking if we had filed yet. (our article on the comment period)

In process you file your comments when BLM proposes an action. Then, if BLM does not answer with a legally sound response and issues approval for the action, you file a protest and litigation. BLM has not responded to comments and has withdrawn the parcels (for now).

At this juncture we submitted substantive comments. They have not been responded to (the next step of approval process). This is one of the very few oil and gas lease sales that have not moved forward.

Were our comments responsible for the postponement? We do know that the environmental organizations that commented on the same parcels we did also submitted comments elsewhere. The ones we did not comment on? Apparently BLM had time to get all of their strategy ready to place those on the list for sale. On the ones we submitted comments to, BLM has said they did not have time to analyze comments.

We are working with our legal team to expand our work in this critical area of the “wild horse world.” 



Your support for our vital work is appreciated. Our work is only limited by resources. Together we can create the changes needed to preserve and protect our wild horses for future generations.





Categories: Wild Horse Education