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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Wyoming leaders push back on new BLM rules

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Monday, May 6, 2024   

New rules on how the Bureau of Land Management oversees more than 18 million acres of public lands in Wyoming have drawn criticism from Gov. Mark Gordon and the oil and gas industry.

But national parks advocates are defending the agency's move to put conservation uses on par with oil and gas development on lands owned by all Americans.

Beau Kiklis, senior program manager of energy and landscape conservation for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the rules can benefit mule deer and pronghorn that travel 200 miles from the Red Desert to Grand Teton National Park.

"That corridor has been exceedingly fragmented by decades of widespread oil and gas development and leasing," Kiklis pointed out. "Under these rules, the BLM is now positioned to drive leasing away from critical wildlife habitat like the path of the pronghorn in western Wyoming."

The rules also identify conservation tools to restore degraded lands, and to keep natural landscapes intact. Critics have called the rules a land grab. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., have promised to repeal the rules finalized in April, claiming they block access to public lands and subvert the multiple-use requirement under the Federal Land Policy Management Act.

Ninety percent of lands managed by the BLM remain open for oil and gas development but the rules update bonding requirements for new wells for the first time in over 60 years.

"Within 30 miles of National Parks nationwide we have over 31,000 orphaned oil and gas wells," Kiklis noted. "By putting new bonding requirements in place and increasing those standards, we're essentially getting at trying to prevent that problem from getting any worse."

More than 80 national park units sit adjacent to public lands managed by the BLM, and Kiklis stressed what happens outside of parks is critical to the resources inside. Wildlife migrate across park borders, and water and air flows in and out. He believes the BLM is rising to the most pressing challenges facing public lands now and into the future.

"We have had such an imbalance in land management through an over-favoritism of oil and gas leasing and drilling," Kiklis contended. "BLM is now putting conservation on equal footing with other uses."

Disclosure: The National Parks Conservation Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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