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BLM's Best management practices
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frequently asked questions

What are Best Management Practices?

Best management practices (BMPs) are innovative, dynamic, and improved environmental protection practices applied to oil and gas drilling and production to help ensure that energy development is conducted in an environmentally responsible manner. Some BMPs are as simple as choosing a paint color that helps oil and natural gas equipment blend with the natural surroundings, turning development almost invisible. Other BMPs may reduce the amount of vegetation lost to development, may speed the regrowth of vegetation, or may reduce the amount of wildlife disturbance in important habitats.

Why do we use BMPs when drilling for oil and gas?

BMPs add an increased level of environmental protection. As energy development increases on the Nation's public lands in response to rising prices and our Nation's increasing energy needs, it is important we also take steps to protect the other important resources we all cherish. BMPs allow energy companies to increase energy production while reducing the level of additional environmental impacts.

Who benefits from the inclusion of BMPs in energy development projects?

We all do! We all benefit from the additional energy and from the conservation of such important public resources as wildlife, rare plants, clean air, and outstanding scenery.

How do BMPs contribute to conservation of wildlife and healthy landscapes?

By using BMPs, energy companies are able to drill more wells while disturbing less land. Reduced land disturbance means less habitat and scenic quality is lost, and, over time, when development and energy production ceases, those original habitat and scenic values are fully restored.

How do BMPs promote quality of life?

Healthy landscapes, water, and air mean a healthier environment in which to live, work, and play, whether you are a hunter, fisherman, or recreationist.

How do BMPs affect the environmental review of energy development projects?

All energy development proposals on the Public Lands undergo extensive environmental reviews prior to approval. When energy companies propose in their drilling permit applications to drill in an environmentally sound manner using BMPs, the government and public environmental review process is much easier, and goes more quickly.

Does BLM require applicants to include BMPs in their proposals?

BLM encourages all energy companies to develop and add BMPs into all of their drilling proposals. Because BMPs are so important for protecting the resources we manage as stewards of the public lands, the BLM can and will require Energy Companies to use appropriate BMPs, if identified through the environmental review (NEPA) document.

Do BMPs make projects more expensive?

While some BMPs add to the cost of producing oil and natural gas, other BMPs will actually save the energy company money. BLM considers cost, but as public land managers, we must also look at the value of the natural resources we are protecting when choosing the appropriate BMP.

How are individual BMPs developed?

BMPs have been developed and utilized by numerous energy companies and State and Federal Agencies throughout the Nation. BLM and other agencies are continually gathering and developing BMP ideas and sharing them through this and other websites. BMPs are not one-size-fits-all solutions.

Does BLM have a list of BMPs approved for use on public land energy projects?

This website contains a range of BMPs to consider. Each must be tailored to meet the needs of the specific drilling site and development proposal.

What are some examples of successful projects using BMPs?

In the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, many coal bed natural gas wells are drilled with the smaller water well drilling rigs, identical to what a homeowner would hire to drill a water well for its home. A very small well pad is cleared for the drilling rig, and many times a road is never constructed. The Energy Company drives in on top of the vegetation, leaving only two small, parallel wheel ruts. The pumping unit that pumps water out of the coal seam to release the natural gas is located mostly underground, out of sight. Only a small metal or fiberglass box remains on the surface, and it is painted a color that helps the box blend into the background. Pipelines for the produced natural gas, powerlines to drive the pump, and water lines are buried in the two-track road, which is then revegetated. The energy compay seldom drives to the well because the natural gas flows to a central compressor through a buried collection pipeline; the water to a central evaporation pond; and the well is monitored electronically. The result is fewer roads, smaller roads, and less disruption to wildlife and scenic quality.




   Last updated: 06/15/11
This page was created by the
U.S. Bureau of Land Management,
Minerals, Reality, Resource Protection Directorate
1849 C Street N.W
Washington, D.C. 20240
Phone: (202) 208-4201
Fax: (202) 208-4201

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