Wyoming Range parcels to be offered for oil and gas leasing
Bridger-Teton National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Wyoming State Office release Notice of Intent
by Joint media release
March 28, 2014
The Bridger-Teton National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming State Office are proposing to offer specific parcels for oil and gas leasing on the eastern slope of the Wyoming Range, along the western portion of Sublette County in areas identified as suitable and available for oil and gas leasing within the Bridger-Teton National Forest and not prohibited by the Wyoming Range Legacy Act.
"The decision to be made is whether the Forest Service objects or does not object to the Bureau of Land Management offering for sale oil and gas leases on these specific parcels, and under what terms and conditions," said Forest Supervisor Clint Kyhl. "This decision will supersede prior decisions regarding oil and gas leasing on these specific parcels," Kyhl said. Based upon the Forest Serviceís decision, the Bureau of Land Management will decide which parcels would be offered for lease with appropriate stipulations, which parcels will be deferred, which parcels are not available for leasing, and which parcels are canceled.
This notice of intent speaks to the Bridger-Teton National Forestís and BLMís intention of preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to analyze and disclose potential environmental effects relative to oil and gas leasing in portions of the Wyoming Range on the Bridger-Teton. These parcels were previously identified as suitable and available for oil and gas leasing in the Bridger-Teton National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. The Forest and BLM will prepare a new draft and final SEIS in place of the draft and final SEIS released in February 2010 and January 2011, respectively.
No new comments on the project are being requested at this time. Extensive public involvement efforts were conducted with the 2008 scoping period. Because public comments covering the range of relevant issues for the analysis were received in the 2008 scoping period and in the comment period on the 2010 Draft SEIS, an additional scoping period is not being conducted. Scoping comments and comments on the Draft SEIS previously submitted will be considered in preparation of the new SEIS. Scoping for a supplemental environmental impact statement is not required. Kyhl said, "The public will have another opportunity to comment on this project when the new Draft SEIS is released".
A draft Record of Decision will be released with the new Final SEIS, and will be subject to the Forest Service Pre-decisional Administrative Review (Objection) Process described in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 218. Following those regulations, a draft of the decision will be made available with the Final SEIS. Those who have submitted timely, specific written comments regarding this project during any of the comment periods will be eligible to file an objection to that draft decision. A final decision will not be made until the Forest Service has responded to the objections.
The new Draft SEIS is expected to be published in the fall of 2014. The estimated completion date for the Final SEIS is late spring, 2015.
Since the previous notices were published, the Forest Service received notice from the Bureau of Land Management that some parcels are no longer being considered for leasing. A revised project map is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/btnf/landmanagement/projects .
"This project is no longer being referred to as the "44-7" because that acreage is incorrect", said Kyhl. "The title of this analysis is revised to "Oil and Gas Leasing in Portions of the Wyoming Range" in order to be consistent and to reflect the updated acres that are being analyzed," he said. The acreage under analysis has changed from 44,720 to 41,554-acres.
"We are committed to being clear, consistent and transparent as required throughout this analysis," said Kyhl. We will be in strict adherence of the law and follow sound scientific methodology throughout this project," Kyhl said.
A National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis was originally conducted in 2004, with lease sales occurring in 2005 and 2006. The Wyoming Range Legacy Act (2009) withdrew the Wyoming Range and surrounding National Forest System lands to leasing, mineral entry, and land appropriation or disposal, except for completing the decision-making process on prior lease sales. On the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the decision-making on prior lease sales remained for 44,720 acres. In January 2011, the Forest and BLM released the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) not authorizing leasing. That decision was appealed in March 2011 by leasees and lease high-bidders, oil and gas industry organizations, and the Sublette County (Wyoming) Commissioners. In May 2011, after a review of the appeals, the Forest withdrew the decision to allow for additional effects analysis and consideration of the decision. Since then, the Bridger-Teton National Forest conducted its own internal analysis and determined that prior NEPA was inadequate for numerous reasons and that a new NEPA document was necessary. The publication of the Notice of Intent on March 21, 2014 begins this new analysis.