An updated mitigation policy from the Bureau of Land Management will address inconsistent rules that once created problems for companies trying to operate in western states. Mitigation rules, or how companies are required to lessen or offset negative environmental effects they might cause on public land, will now be the same for all public land.
Eric Holst is the Associate Vice President at the Environmental Defense Fund. He said public land should be able to support both wildlife and energy development, and the new policy addresses the need to create such a balance.
Holst said the policy protects natural resources by requiring companies to offset any environmental harm they might commit in one area of public land by paying for conservation efforts elsewhere. Holst also said there’s been a need to adopt one inclusive policy to help clear up confusion by companies regarding the all the different mitigation rules in all the different western states.
“So I think what this did was recognize that there’s a need for consistency for common standards across the entire west, and high standards that really resulted in improvements in natural resources,” said Holst.
If companies use natural resources on public lands, Holst said they also should be responsible for replacing them.
The finalized policy was partially inspired by the efforts of state like Wyoming that worked to conserve habitat for the greater sage-grouse, Holst said.