“For an industry that is driven by innovation, the advent of horizontal and directional drilling paired with hydraulic fracturing has heralded an era of new beginnings and dramatically reduced operational footprint,” says new research collected by the Western Energy Alliance. “Companies are now able to do more with less, minimizing impacts on species and the landscapes they depend upon. Wildlife is truly gaining ground.”
Despite the naysaying from critics of hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas industry is working tirelessly to decrease any negative impact our efforts might have on wildlife populations and the environment overall. Fortunately, these efforts have helped to provide further protections for both the Greater Sage-Grouse and a variety of big game species, as outlined in the WEA’s recent white paper. The environmental advancements are just the first step forward for the industry as it attempts to make the most of our nation’s natural resources without harming flora and fauna.
Thanks to technological advances that have decreased surface disturbance, the sage grouse and big game such as the mule deer are less affected by any habitat fragmentation that might have been caused in previous years. “In Wyoming, for instance, historical impacts to species such as mule deer and sage-grouse have been documented in oil and natural gas areas such as the Jonah Field, coal bed methane (CBM) fields in the northeast Powder River Basin and the Atlantic Rim in the south central part of the state,” noted the WEA. “These fields were developed using mainly multiple vertical wells or large numbers of shallow CBM wells. These densely spaced fields have been the focus of numerous studies that provided a base level of knowledge of how historic intensive developments may impact species and the habitats on which they depend.”
These advances only scratch the surface of how the hydraulic fracturing industry can positively impact the environment and protect the flora and fauna that live in these areas. Modern oil and gas extraction practices, including fracking, are minimizing environmental disturbances to provide people with the energy they need while maintaining ecosystems to support wildlife. As technology matures for hydraulic fracturing processes, sage-grouse and deer will live fuller, safer, and better lives while meeting the demands of human energy consumption. What is most important is that our industry dedicates itself to responsible, environmentally-conscious practices that utilize better technology and ultimately, improve the bottom.