Bridger-Teton continues work on Oil and Gas projects near Big Piney
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
August 9, 2011
The Bridger-Teton National Forest is continuing work on two oil and gas projects in Sublette County, Wyoming.
Plains Exploration & Productions Company (PXP) holds leases on National Forest System Lands in the Noble Basin area of Big Piney Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest. In March of 2007, the Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the impacts of exploration. PXP has since submitted a Master Development Plan for the Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin Area. The Forest expanded the analysis in the original Draft EIS to address potential field development as outlined in the Master Development Plan. The expanded analysis was released in a new Draft EIS in December of 2010; approximately 60,000 comments were received. The Forest Service is now in the process of reviewing those comments in order to determine what additional analysis and/or alternatives may need to be added between the Draft and Final versions of the EIS. The Decision has not been made yet on the need for a supplement to the DEIS. That will be determined once the comment analysis is completed. The Forest also anticipates establishing a new timeline for the project at that time as well. Based on the environmental analysis and public comments, Jacque Buchanan, Forest Supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, will decide how these valid existing leases will be developed in the Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin project area.
In an area neighboring the PXP proposal, the Bridger-Teton is deciding whether or not leasing should occur on 44,720 acres in the Wyoming Range on the Big Piney Ranger District. On January 25, 2011, Buchanan decided not to authorize the leasing. Her decision was based on the analysis contained in a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The Forest Service decision announced in January 2011 superseded previous decisions that had authorized the Bureau of Land Management to offer leases on these 35 parcels.
In May 2011, after reviewing the appeals that were filed in response to her January decision, Buchanan withdrew her decision on the 44,720 acres to allow further consideration of the environmental analyses and decision.
The Bridger-Teton is currently in the process of determining what supplemental analysis is needed. Presently, the Forest has identified the need to supplement the air quality analysis and the wildlife analysis. The Bridger-Teton hopes to have the supplemental analysis completed by Spring of next year. A new Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) will likely be available.