B.L.M. Says Offsite Mitigation Optional In Energy Development

Glenwood Springs (AP) Federal land managers are quietly
instituting a policy that environmentalists fear will let companies off the hook when it comes to restoring land damaged by oil and gas development. The Bureau of Land Management decided in February that off–site improvements meant to compensate for well–site damage are optional.

The B.L.M.'s decision doesn't apply when endangered species or national historic sites are part of a potential drilling site. B.L.M officials say they can still withhold drilling permits if companies balk at mitigation work, but critics say the change symbolizes the Bush Administration's push for more and faster domestic energy production.

Jamie Connell is manager of the B.L.M. field office in Glenwood Springs. Connell says the agency can negotiate with companies and require follow–through if mitigation work is part of the project.

Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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