Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to add the bat to its list of endangered species in the 30-plus states it’s found, including Ohio. A disease called white-nose syndrome is killing millions of the bats and severely reducing their overall population.
The oil and gas industry says the bat is still plentiful in the Midwest, and that labeling it endangered could limit the industry’s progress. Craig Kasper, CEO of Hull & Associates in Dublin, Ohio, says that limiting or hampering access to wooded areas for months at a time could affect construction, especially for pipelines and other infrastructure. The potential listing comes at a time when a lack of infrastructure for Ohio’s Utica shale play is one of its key growth-limiting factors.
Drilling companies are not the only entities to voice their concerns. Groups ranging from the Ohio Department of Transportation to the National Association of State Foresters have submitted comments to the federal service.
Supporters of the endangered listing say the bat needs protected before the disease wipes them all out. The northern long-eared bat, like other bats, is known for controlling the populations of mosquitoes and other insects.