Let’s speak up before March 6 to help protect residents, workers, and the environment
By Bruce Pendery
The Bureau of Land Management is analyzing a mammoth, 9,000-well natural gas drilling project proposed in south-central Wyoming near Wamsutter.
Called the Continental Divide-Creston project, it would be one of the largest single natural gas field developments in the United States.
We are asking for your help to reduce the environmental impacts of this project as much as possible. Please send your comments to the BLM by March 6! (See below)
Our biggest concern—and what we are focusing on the most—is making sure this project is done right relative to air quality. This development needs to be conducted in such a way that residents and workers are safe and can breathe clean air, and that the air, land, and wildlife, stays healthy in the future.
This Proposed Project Will Be Bigger than Rhode Island
The BLM would allow BP America Production Company and other operators to drill up to 8,950 new wells. The project area would include 1.1 million acres—or more than 1,600 square miles—much of which would be in what’s known as the “railroad checkerboard.” And much of this proposed project would involve “infill” of existing natural gas fields where 4,400 wells have already been drilled.
The Wyoming Outdoor Council does not oppose development in this area outright because it is not located in one our “heritage landscapes” (iconic areas where we believe any energy development is inappropriate) and it is largely an “infill” project where there is already a lot of existing disturbance.
However, although much of this area is far from pristine, we need to do everything we can to ensure that companies “do it right” at every stage of this project’s development. Therefore, we believe the BLM should require careful, effective, environmentally protective measures as conditions to the development in order to protect residents, workers, air quality, and remaining wildlife habitats.
How to Make a Difference
The BLM has prepared a draft environmental analysis, called an “environmental impact statement” for this project. It considers five alternative development options but it does not specify a “preferred alternative.”
The BLM is now accepting comments on this draft analysis. The comment deadline is March 6. It would be very helpful if you could offer your input on the draft. This could help improve the project, and help ensure that we “do it right” in the face of this massive level of development.
Here are some issues you might consider raising in your comments:
- While much of this project is in the “railroad checkerboard”—where the BLM’s ability to protect the environment is reduced because of the intervening privately owned sections of land—the project area extends into large, contiguous blocks of public land roughly 20 miles north and south of Interstate 80. You can ask the BLM to provide enhanced protection for these contiguous areas of public lands.
- The Directional Drilling alternative is the most environmentally protective of the current alternatives, so please ask the BLM to adopt it. This alternative would be even more effective if the BLM were to set a limit on the number of well pads that can be developed.
- Directional Drilling has become increasingly common and popular with industry with the horizontal “reach” of these wells becoming ever greater. Having multiple wells drilled from a single well pad with directional drilling to access gas resources at great distances can greatly reduce environmental impacts. You can ask the BLM to maximize the use of directional drilling, and to require the greatest “reach” possible.
Where to Send Comments:
You can submit your comments to the BLM by March 6 by e-mail: Continental_Divide_Creston_WYMail@blm.gov, or fax: 307-328-4224, or by regular mail: Bureau of Land Management, Rawlins Field Office, P.O. Box 2407, Rawlins, WY 82301.
You can view the draft environmental impact statement here: http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rawlins.html.
For more information contact Bruce Pendery at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, 435-752-2111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.