Ely Times column: No oil rigs anywhere in spitting distance of a sage-gouse

In today’s column in the Ely Times online — and in the print versions of the Ely, Eureka and Hawthorne weekly papers — we point out that central Nevada may be sitting on billions of barrels oil in something called the Chainman Shale  formation, but the Bureau of Land Management has closed off thousands of acres from exploration lest the drilling disturb the habitat of the sage-gouse, which is not an endangered species but might be someday.


The Chainman Shale formation lies largely in an 80- to 100-mile radius around Duckwater — including almost all of White Pine County, major portions of Nye, Lincoln, Elko, Eureka and Lander counties, as well as parts of a couple of counties in Utah.

The formation is believed to be rich in oil, though most lies 2 to 5 miles underground, making drilling expensive.

Earlier this month the BLM was going to auction oil and gas leases on 133,000 acres in its Ely and Elko districts, but slashed the land available to 72,000 acres. A June lease auction has similarly been pared down.

Rep. Mark Amodei, who currently represents the bulk of rural Nevada in Congress, blasted the decision as short-sighted and illogical.

“The sage-grouse are not threatened by energy projects or mining operations, which comprise less than 1 percent of Nevada’s land area,” Amodei pointed out. “Such delays needlessly halt conventional and renewable energy projects that can create jobs and power the growth of Nevada’s economy.”

The congressman noted the BLM action is predicated on the supposition that the bird might be designated as an endangered species. He said the decision ignores the fact the true threat to the sage-grouse habitat is wildfire. “By undermining multi-use energy development instead of focusing on the wildfire threat, BLM could do serious damage to economic development efforts across the Silver State.”

But Obama went to Boulder City this week and stood beside some solar panels and called for taking away tax breaks for oil companies, proclaiming, “We want to encourage production of oil and gas, and make sure that wherever we’ve got American resources, we are tapping into them.  But they don’t need an additional incentive when gas is $3.75 a gallon, when oil is $1.20 a barrel, $1.25 a barrel.” The price of a barrel of sweet crude is about 100 times higher than that and 12.5 percent royalty could produce a bit of cash for the state and the federal to spend. But more importantly it would create jobs.

19 comments on “Ely Times column: No oil rigs anywhere in spitting distance of a sage-gouse

  1. joe castellana says:

    easier to drill 2 miles on land than to drill 2 miles on the ocean but that expert we have in the white house knows better!!!!!!! dosen’t he

  2. Wouldn’t want to ruffle any feathers, so to speak.


  3. Athos says:

    Hey, it’s all in the plan to “fundamentally transform America”.

    Filled up at the gas pump today. $4.11/gal. Still got a ways to go till we reach European gas prices, don’t we?

  4. Steve says:

    Athos, from California? I drive all over southern NV northern AZ and some southern UT. The only $4 gas I find is in Needles and Death Valley. In Needles, 8 miles away its $3.80 a gallon….

    Yeah still have a ways to go for the French price. Not looking forward to that.

    Drilling really is not the problem, we need refinery capacity. Wonder when another one is going to be built? My bet is never.

  5. Athos says:

    My buddy filled up his truck @$4.11/gal, Friday (don’t know where in town). I paid $3.95/gal, Tuesday, (lowest grade) @ Durango and the 215.

    Just wait another week, Steve. You’ll see the $4 mark hit!


  6. Steve says:

    Thanks, Athos. Keep in mind all newer cars and trucks are designed for lowest grade, if that helps. Don’t fill with premium, thats for performance mods and old pre-unleaded cars only.

    But do stick with name suppliers, when a spike like this happens the off brands add stuff to the gas you really dont want in your tank.

    I learned the hard way last time, had to replace a bunch of rubber in my old truck and the fuel pump/sending unit in my newer SUV. Thankfully I am capable of doing this myself.

  7. zack says:

    Well the author mentions short sited, and that is exactly what the oil exploration/drilling in the Chainman Shale formation. You say it will create jobs, but this will not be a large figure and what are oil companies famous for? They cut and run as soon as the well is expired, leaving behind whatever social and environmental mess they created for us(taxpayers) to pay for through restoration and cleanup operations. Just look at the history of mining and grazing permits, a classic case of public land being abused for the profit of a few individuals, at the expense of the public and the land base itself( thousands of abandoned mines left behind and countless acres of sagebrush habitat degraded by overgrazing). So instead of tearing up more of one of the most beautiful and diverse mountain areas in the states for a quick profit, and driving more creatures out of their homes, why don’t we reassess our relationship with oil (this drilling will NOT solve our energy problems) and commit ourselves to decreasing our reliance on it and fundamentally changing the base of our economy into one that may have a future.

  8. Well, zack, tell me what has happened to the price of natural gas over the past couple of years.


  9. […] no oil and needs to produce power with geothermal, wind and solar. Perhaps he’s not heard of the Chainman Shale Formation or interstate commerce. Perhaps he’s not read that renewable energy is two, three or even four […]

  10. robin says:

    US Oil & Gas has drilled in Hot creek Valley and found oil, and appears to be lots of it.

  11. Where is Hot Creek Valley?


  12. robin says:

    Nye county

    Get in Quick!

  13. Interesting, thanks.

  14. Sounds like the Chainman Shale, Robin.

    Why is it people Knapp interviews have names like Bob Lazar and Chuck Laser?

  15. […] I couldn’t have said it better myself, though I’ve tried, as you can read here, here, here, here and here. […]

  16. […] stake in this game is partly due to the as-yet undeveloped Chainman Shale formation, which lies largely in a 100-mile radius around Duckwater — including almost all of White Pine […]

  17. […] there is potential with the Chainman Shale formation, which lies largely in an 80- to 100-mile radius around Duckwater — including almost all of White […]

  18. […] there is potential with the Chainman Shale formation, which lies largely in an 80- to 100-mile-plus radius around Duckwater — including almost all of […]

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