RENO, Nev. (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — Federal land managers have approved an oil and gas project involving hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in a portion of northeast Nevada identified by state wildlife officials as essential habitat for the imperiled greater sage grouse.

The Bureau of Land Management signed a decision record earlier this month on Noble Energy Inc.’s proposal to conduct oil and gas exploration drilling near Wells in Elko County.

Bureau officials say a study concluded there won’t be a significant impact to the bird.

Nevada Department of Wildlife officials think the bird can be protected through restrictions imposed on the Houston-based company by the bureau, including limits on construction activities during the bird’s mating season.

According to Energy From Shale, a project of national trade association American Petroleum Institute ,fracking has played an important role in the development of America’s oil and natural gas resources for nearly 60 years, however many have protested the method’s impact on the environment.

Fracking has been said to cause small earth tremors and been used to divert attention from more renewable energy options.

But the Center for Biological Diversity says the last thing sage grouse need is gas development in their habitat.

The species is being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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