All over the West, while the BLM blames wild horses and burros for “degradation” to the range and removes them, BLM favors other uses that make money (in violation of FLPMA), and often gives those other uses Categorical Exclusions (CXs). You can find out more about the BLM Rock Springs Field Office HERE, and Samson Resources HERE. – Debbie
SOURCE: Casper Star Tribune
Critics blast plan for drilling near Adobe Town
OKLAHOMA COMPANY WANTS TO DRILL UP TO 17 NATURAL GAS WELLS
Plates of rock line the rim of Adobe Town in the Red Desert of south-central Wyoming. Environmentalists are protesting an Oklahoma company’s plan to drill 17 wells in the region. (photo: file/Star-Tribune)
Environmentalists are assailing a plan by an Oklahoma-based company to drill up to 17 natural gas wells near the colorful badlands of Adobe Town, in Wyoming’s southwestern desert.
Samson Resources’ plan calls for development of about 117 acres near the Adobe Town Wilderness Study Area, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Much of the controversy centers on the development’s proximity to the wilderness study area. The project area is within two miles of Adobe Town, and the closest well is some 1,000 feet away from the study area’s boundaries. The company’s plans are subject to BLM approval.
“Adobe Town is one of the important crown jewel landscapes in the entire BLM system,” said Erik Molvar, of Wildearth Guardians, a conservation group. “It has national-park-quality landscapes that we should be protecting for not just this generation but all generations to come.”
This is not the first time Samson and environmentalists have squared off over drilling in the Adobe Town area. In 2011, the company withdrew a proposal to drill two wells in the area after an outcry from environmentalists.
Multiple attempts to reach the company for comment were unsuccessful.
Spencer Allred, a natural resource specialist at the BLM’s Rock Springs field office, said Samson’s plan calls for development of five well pads on BLM leases in the area.
The project falls inside the Monument Valley Management Area, where development is subject to a series of restrictions.
“It is supposed to blend in to the landscape,” Allred said.
The bureau has begun an environmental analysis to understand the effect of the proposed development. Scoping, the first step, in which the outlines of the study are set, was finished earlier this month.
There is no firm timeline for completion of the analysis, Allred said, noting that the last study of Samson’s plan took two years.
The company initially proposed drilling one well. It then proposed drilling two, he said.
The BLM pushed for the 17-well study, as that is the maximum amount of development the area can likely accommodate, Allred said. It is possible, he noted, the company could drill one exploratory well and give up on the plan altogether.
Julia Stuble, public lands advocate at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the proposed development’s proximity to the neighboring wilderness study area is a concern.
WSAs, as they are often called, are managed under tight conservation guidelines intended to preserve a parcel for potential designation as wilderness in the future.
The BLM should require Samson to submit the location of all five well pads before approving the plan, given the sensitive nature of the landscape, she said.
The bureau should seek to mitigate the impact of drilling. However, if mitigation measures fail to meet conservation goals spelled out in the region’s management plan, the BLM should reject the proposal, she said.
“It’s not an ideal place for a project,” Stuble said.