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Public input welcomed

Public input welcomed

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has reopened the public comment period on the proposed rule to list the lesser-prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The comment period is open until June 20.

The proposal as written could have a dramatic effect on western Kansas land, and mineral owners as to their use and development of their real estate interests. This would include oil and gas exploration drilling, and wind energy development.

There are currently private individuals and cooperatives working to develop resource management plans to protect the habitat of the lesser-prairie chicken with many already being successful in increasing the lesser-prairie chicken numbers.

Arguments against the proposal include the belief that listing the lesser-prairie chicken as a threatened species is not warranted at this time, there is no scientific evidence supporting the listing as a threatened species and that the move to list the species has been motivated by environmentalists wishing to challenge development on private, state and federal land.

Should the proposal be accepted, the oil and gas industry has estimated the requirements their industry would have to comply with would add significant expense to every location drilled in the Hugoton gas field, potentially rendering further oil and gas development in SW Kansas uneconomical in all but a few cases.

In addition, all current marginally producing wells could become uneconomical to continue to operate.

The proposed regulation would amount to an uncompensated taking of private property by making crude oil and natural gas minerals uneconomic to develop in portions of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It would kill jobs, reduce royalty payments to tens of thousands of mineral owners, harm struggling communities and reduce tax collections at the local, state and federal level.

The Southwest Kansas Royalty Owners Association joins the Royalty Owners and Producers Educational Coalition, Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association and various oil and gas producers in encouraging the public in voicing their opposition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's proposal to list the lesser-prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Deadline for comments is June 20.

Written comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov. Search for "Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012." Submit a comment by clicking on "Comment Now!"

Submit by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2012-0071; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS-2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203

A brochure with a pre-printed comment car is available for your use by going to the Southwest Kansas Royalty Owners Association website at www.swkroa.com.

Erick E. Nordling, SWKROA executive secretary