FROM THE LEGISLATURE: Without any public disclosure that the topic would be discussed, and after public comment had closed, a Wyoming legislative committee decided September 11 to once again consider legislation that could effectively kill the state’s rooftop solar industry by changing our net metering law. Why does this sound vague? Because the committee never defined the content of the bill nor had a draft bill on the agenda. We’ll be discussing this topic at our next Conservation Cafeteria session, 12 p.m. Wednesday, October 7 on Zoom. Watch for an upcoming email to register.
LEASING PAUSED IN GROUSE HABITAT: The Bureau of Land Management has deferred all parcels in Greater sage-grouse habitat management areas from Wyoming’s upcoming oil and gas lease sale. This came in response to a federal court ruling early this summer that determined the BLM had failed to prioritize leasing outside core habitat as required by 2015 land management plan revisions. The Wyoming Outdoor Council formally protested the September sale, which originally included all parcels from a postponed June sale and more than 330,000 acres of sage-grouse habitat.
Also in the past weeks, Outdoor Council staff submitted a protest of a Converse County oil and gas project that has the potential to destroy sage-grouse leks and harm hawk, falcon, and owl populations.
TETON COUNTY WATER QUALITY: In the continued effort to protect drinking water in Jackson Hole, the Outdoor Council took several steps in recent weeks to guide county officials toward more effective regulations. First, we submitted detailed recommendations on water quality protections that should be included in Teton County’s Comprehensive Plan, which is currently being updated. These include modernized regulations for small wastewater facilities, requiring septic system inspections when property is bought and sold, providing incentives for homeowners to connect to existing sewer lines, creating a management plan to address the high levels of recreational use on rivers and lakes, and establishing a water quality database. We have also proposed a new rule that would require the Teton County Public Health Department to notify the public when elevated levels of nitrates are detected in any of the county’s 114 public water systems, investigate the source of the pollution, and require remedial action if necessary.