Freudenthal gives tepid support to Wyoming Range drilling lease retirement proposal

Calls it a ‘good first step’

By The Associated Press | Published in the Casper Star-Tribune, December 16, 2010

CHEYENNE — A proposal to retire drilling leases is a “good first step” in discussions about possible gas drilling in the Wyoming Range, Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Wednesday.

Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production proposes to drill 136 gas wells from 17 pads a few miles south of Bondurant. Last week, the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association and the group Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife announced a proposed agreement under which PXP would agree to retire about 28,000 of its 64,000 lease acres in the range.

The area is sensitive because it was covered by the Wyoming Range Legacy Act signed by President Barack Obama last year. The act put 1.2 million acres of the Wyoming Range off-limits to new leasing while allowing companies to retain the right to drill on existing leases…

[Read the full story here .]

A member of Citizens for the Wyoming Range suggested the idea could be built upon. The group played an important role in putting most of the scenic mountain range in western Wyoming off-limits to new drilling but wasn’t involved in the proposed agreement announced by the sportsmen groups.

Dave Willoughby wrote an opinion-editorial calling on Bridger-Teton National Forest to “hammer out a better deal” with a wider group of people. “It’s worth remembering that this is our forest. It doesn’t belong to Texas oil companies and it doesn’t belong to people in Washington, D.C. We were not invited when a deal was drawn up at some boardroom table in Houston to drill up our forest,” he wrote. “Sidestepping regular Wyoming people in a deal like this isn’t right.”

Like Freudenthal, Willoughby called the lease retirement proposal a good first step — one that could be built upon and improved.

[Read the full story here .]

Photo by Scott Copeland

West Edge