BLM Releases Study of Proposal to Ease Pinedale Anticline Restrictions

The Bureau of Land Management released a study last week of an industry proposal to waive seasonal restrictions on natural gas drilling on Wyoming's Pinedale Anticline, which found that the plan "could cause significant adverse impacts to the human and natural environments."

The proposal, submitted by BP, Questar, Shell, Stone Energy, Ultra Resources, Wexpro and Yates Petroleum, would increase potential development to 4,399 wells, up from the current authorization of 1,139. It would also increase the amount of initial surface disturbance permitted from 4,484 acres to 12,278 acres.

The plan would confine drilling to an area of about 19 square miles at any given time.

All seven of the companies recently contributed money to developing air quality monitoring in the Pinedale area (Greenwire, Nov. 3).

BLM also looked at two alternatives to the industry plan: specifying areas to be put off-limits to year-round drilling, and keeping to the 2000 plan, which prohibits year-round drilling.

Linda Baker of the Upper Green River Valley Coalition said the plan "contains an unprecedented level of disturbance to Wyoming's mule deer and pronghorn during the harshest time of the year" (AP/Billings Gazette, Dec. 17). – DK

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