An interview with B-T Supervisor Jacque Buchanan

BTNF: Nothing set in stone for PXP leases

Posted: Monday, Feb 7th, 2011
By Ron Aiken

With intense interest in how the Bridger-Teton National Forest is going to rule over development of a proposed 136 wells master plan by Plains Exploration and Petroleum (PXP) on existing leases in the Noble Basin/Eagle Prospect area, Sublette Examiner editor Ron Aiken spoke to BTNF Supervisor Jacque Buchanan about where things stand at present, what she learned from the feedback received over the course of three public meetings in January and what the best action to take would be for someone who wants to get involved to prevent the drilling from taking place.

Sublette Examiner: What most surprised you about the feedback you received from the public concerning PXP’s proposal to drill in the Hoback Basin?

Jacque Buchanan: What really surprised me were the numbers of people that showed up. Quite often we have public meetings and people just don’t show up, and when you can have 100-plus people show up on cold, wintry nights, that’s significant and that’s wonderful. That really drove home the intensity and commitment of the public in how they view these lands.

SE: At least one of the meetings, in Jackson, got pretty heated and there were moments here in Pinedale when the folks from Arcadis took some pretty good heat about being from California. Did you ever feel like a pincushion up there?

JB: It was tough at times but honestly I take the public part of managing public lands very seriously, and it was refreshing for so many people to express themselves passionately and in a respectful manner. The public honored that respectful level of discourse, and that shows the sincerity of the public and was very refreshing.

I’d add that I was a forest supervisor before I got here and I’ve worked through travel management and some development issues for oil and gas before, but I’ve never had what I consider a project of such significance in front of me. This is big, and I take it very seriously for the legacy it will leave.

SE: For those who are passionate about no drilling taking place in Noble Basin/Eagle Prospect acreage, what course of action could you recommend that could potentially make a difference?

JB: I’d say Dan Smitherman’s group, Citizens for the Wyoming Range (wyomingrange.org), is a really organized group that’s trying to look at a multitude of ways to address this. But even more so, the public comments are so important for us. The more input I get and the better input I get about areas of concern and recommendations, then the more the public can truly have a say in how this goes. The comment period goes to March 11, so it’s extremely important to get them in by then.