BLM Approves Wyoming Gas Project

The Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management C. Stephen Allred and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal jointly announced that the Department has released the Pinedale Anticline Project Area Record of Decision (ROD).  

In signing the ROD, Allred said, “The completion of this Record of Decision is a prime example of the successful partnership between BLM and the State of Wyoming, particularly the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. Our agencies worked to find ways to minimize impacts to wildlife habitat and other resources in and adjacent to the Pinedale Anticline area while harnessing important energy resources for our nation.”

The ROD authorizes development of 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - enough to heat nearly 15 million homes for 20 years.   The project is expected to generate $16 billion in federal royalties, half of which would be distributed to the State of Wyoming. The project area involves 198,000 acres of land located just south of Pinedale, Wyo.

Natural gas development in the Pinedale Anticline was originally authorized in 2000. In 2005, natural gas operators in the area requested increased access to the area during the winter months, which, after two separate public scoping periods in 2005 and 2006, resulted in the preparation of a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS).

Following publication of the Draft SEIS, a Revised Draft SEIS was prepared to address two additional alternatives that were developed in response to concerns raised during the public comment period.

Governor Freudenthal said, "This 2008 Record of Decision for the Pinedale Anticline is an improvement over the 2000 document. It's important to note, however, that this is not the end of the work we have to do on the Anticline, but only the beginning. This ROD allows for more production of the area’s natural gas reserves, but requires industry to use cleaner technology to reduce impacts to Wyoming’s air quality, to protect wildlife by not developing in the areas adjacent to the Anticline, and to use clustered development and offsite mitigation. It represents a positive change in considering the needs of wildlife that use this area for winter range and migration."

This 2008 ROD provides a number of environmental measures that were not addressed in the 2000 ROD. These measures are designed to reduce the “footprint” of development in the PAPA and include, among others, a reduction in approved well pads from 700 to 600; consolidation of development in the core area (about 1/3 of the PAPA) to reduce habitat fragmentation; a $36 million compensatory monitoring and mitigation fund; required mitigation responses to prevent significant declines in wildlife populations; reduction in the number of a truck trips by 165,000 per year through use of computer-assisted operations and a liquid gathering system; and aggressive air mitigation measures that will reduce emissions by 80% within 42 months of the ROD.