BTNF considers options for oil and gas leasing in the Wyoming Range

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Today, the Bridger-Teton National Forest released the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for oil and gas leasing on National Forest System lands in the Wyoming Range. The Draft SEIS for 30 parcels across 39,490 acres of National Forest land contains an analysis of four alternatives: - *Alternative 1* – No Action/No Leasing – Forest Service would withdraw consent to lease on the 30 parcels. - * Alternative 2* – Allow leasing on all 30 parcels using current Forest Plan standards. The expected development is for 24 wells with direct development of pads and roads on 107 acres over a landscape of 10,405 acres. - * Alternative 3 *– Allow leasing on all 30 parcels, using current Forest Plan standards as well as additional stipulations that respond to enhanced resource protection, primarily for big game and aquatic habitat.. This alternative incorporates Wyoming Game and Fish Department recommendations. The expected development is for 13 wells because of No Surface Occupancy(NSO) on some parcels with direct development of pads and roads on 58 acres over a landscape of 5324 acres. - *Alternative 4* – Allow leasing on all 30 parcels with NSO at all. The expected development is for less than 10 wells with very minimal direct development on lands adjacent to the project parcels. In 2011, the Forest withdrew its decision for no leasing on these parcels. The Forest Service identified the need to supplement the air quality analysis and the wildlife analysis, as well as consider new information on issues such as protection of threatened animals, impacts on local air quality, other energy projects underway in the area, and public comments. The Draft SEIS discloses the new and updated information and anticipated environmental consequences. The Forest Supervisor has identified Alternative 1 as the preferred alternative. She will review comments received on the Draft SEIS, and prepare a draft Record of Decision to be released with the Final SEIS. The Final SEIS is expected in October 2016, and the decision is expected in January 2017, after any objections have been resolved. The new decision will supersede previous decisions on these 30 lease parcels. “I will be considering all the alternatives and the environmental impacts associated with each to determine the best course of action,” said Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor. “No single factor will lead me to any decision. I am confident that by allowing the process to work, I will better be able to weigh the combination of the sensitivity and values of the area, the value of the project to communities, the magnitude of other activities currently underway or planned with potentially cumulative impacts, and the concerns of citizens, organizations and other agencies before making the final decision. I welcome public comments, especially those that are specific to benefits or impacts of this project on natural resource or social issues important to you.” The Draft SEIS can be found at Comments will be accepted through May 23, 2016. “A final decision will not be made until the Forest Service has responded to any objections,” said O’Connor. *Feature Photo: A natural gas drilling rig on the Pinedale Anticline, just west of Wyoming's Wind River Range. h/t Creative Commons / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news