Bridger-Teton adds new alternative to PXP analysis
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
February 15, 2012
Big Piney, Wyoming, 2/14/12 – The Bridger-Teton National Forest is conducting a supplemental environmental study of two new alternatives to be considered in a Supplement to the previously released Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for the Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin areas by Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) company’s oil and gas development proposal.
The need for a supplement to the DEIS and the development of two new alternative was derived after the Forest considered the nearly 60,000 comments submitted on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that analyzed the potential impacts of an exploration and production plan submitted for federal oil and gas leases by PXP and several alternatives to that plan.
"The Bridger-Teton is expanding the analysis to include analysis of two new alternatives," said Forest Supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jacque Buchanan. "It is with the support of the Intermountain Regional Office of the Forest Service that we will look at two new alternatives in this supplemental EIS" she said. It is anticipated that one alternative will be compliant with both the Jackson Hole Area Oil and Gas Lease Stipulation and other direction in the Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan). The Jackson Hole Lease stipulation was included in the Forest Plan of 1990 and was derived from the Krug Memorandum of 1947. The second new alternative will likely be a combination of the first new alternative and alternatives already analyzed in the DEIS.
The SEIS is not a replacement of the Draft EIS. It is an additional document provided to allow public review and comment on two new alternatives that will be included in the Final EIS. Because there is no public comment process for the Final EIS, the B-T will provide this opportunity for the public to assess the new alternatives.
The SEIS is being prepared and circulated to ensure maximum public involvement and awareness of the project details and impacts, and to ensure that the public is able to provide the Bridger-Teton with comments on the new alternatives to consider before making a decision on the project.
"The SEIS is a focused document and will only address the new alternatives and any associated changes in environmental impacts," Buchanan said. "The SEIS will not readdress the information already provided in the Draft EIS," she said.
A 45-day comment period will be provided to gather public comments on the SEIS.
"We have committed all along to let the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act drive the next steps of this process," said Buchanan. "After looking at the comments I decided to supplement the analysis with two additional alternatives," she said. "It is important for me to consider these possibilities in the analysis before I can make a decision on their (PXP) proposal," stated Buchanan.
Comments on the SEIS should address the modified preferred alternative and any changes in environmental concerns resulting from the new alternative. The Final EIS will include a comment response document that addresses the comments received on both the Draft EIS and the Supplemental EIS.
The Final EIS will be a comprehensive document that incorporates the findings of the Draft EIS, the SEIS, and all public comments in analyzing the anticipated direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of the proposed action and the alternatives. The Final EIS is the environmental review document that the USFS will utilize in making its decision on the project.
The overall timeline for this project has been pushed back due to the additional work associated with this decision to provide an opportunity for public comment on the two new alternatives. It is anticipated that the SDEIS will be release in late spring 2012.