Drilling plan spotlights conflict

Drilling plan spotlights conflict

GREEN RIVER – A small exploratory drilling project proposed for the Wyoming Range in north Sublette County is spotlighting the conflict between energy development and preservation in western Wyoming.

Conservationists and others are objecting to the drilling project and say oil and gas development doesn’t belong within the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s Wyoming Range. They view the project as a first step toward drilling throughout Wyoming’s namesake mountains.

“If they drill these wells, it’ll be the beginning of the end for the Wyoming Range,” said Dan Smitherman, who is an outfitter with Hoback Peak Outfitters. “I support energy development as much as the next guy, but responsible development means recognizing some places — like the Wyoming Range — are too valuable as they are to drill.”

But energy industry officials note developers have been drilling in the southern end of the Bridger-Teton for over 60 years with little environmental impact. They contend drilling in the area can be done in an environmentally sensitive manner and without significant harm to wildlife and other recreational resources.

The Houston-based independent oil and gas producer Plains Exploration and Production Co. is seeking federal permission to drill three exploratory oil and gas wells on leases located about seven miles southeast of Bondurant, according to Forest Service officials.

Under the agency’s proposed action outlined in a recently released draft environmental impact statement, the company would construct a single well pad on 4.5 acres, from which one vertical and two directional wells would be drilled.

The proposed wells would evaluate a portion of the South Rim Unit, which encompasses about 19,500 acres of federal mineral estate within the Big Piney Ranger District, the Hoback Ranches subdivision and other private property.

Information from: www.casperstartribune.net

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