As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Energy company admits misdemeanors in bird deaths

A Denver-based energy company admitted to federal  misdemeanor charges and was sentenced Wednesday after migratory birds died in oil field ponds operated by one of its subsidiaries, Nance Petroleum Inc. of Billings.

Appearing in U.S. District Court in Billings on behalf of SM Energy Co., Gregory Schrab, the company’s environmental, health and safety manager, pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful taking of migratory birds.

Schrab said Nance Petroleum didn’t respond as quickly and fully as it could have to the problem and that SM Energy was taking responsibility.

Schrab said the company is adopting an enforcement compliance plan and already has imposed an avian protection plan companywide. SM Energy is an independent oil and gas exploration company with 700 employees. It operates in eight states.

The company expects to spend about $300,000 on the compliance plan, Schrab said.

The hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby consolidated cases in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska and included an arraignment, plea change and sentencing.

Ostby followed a plea agreement and ordered SM Energy to pay a fine of $22,500, which was $7,500 per count, and to pay $7,500 in a community service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The fine will go to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund for wetlands conservation work in Montana.

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