Different voices chime in on PXP proposal

PXP agreement yields cautious optimism

Posted: Monday, Dec 20th, 2010

BY: Joy Ufford – Sublette Examiner


A week and a half after Plains Exploratory and Production (PXP) announced it would commit to conservation terms for compromise on its Eagle Prospect-Noble Basin project, numerous spokespeople apparently have not yet read the documents.

On Dec. 9, Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) officials released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) about PXP’s drilling project in Hoback Basin, in and along the Wyoming Range.

On Dec. 10, the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and other permittee groups released documents detailing PXP’s terms of agreement, hopeful they will be included by BTNF in the project’s final EIS.

The terms of agreement focus on PXP’s efforts to reach compromises with stakeholders and would fund mitigation, community projects, air studies as well as permanently retire nearly half of its federal leases – more than 28,000 acres’ worth – in the Wyoming Range.

Linda Baker, Upper Green River Alliance director, took time to read the PXP terms along with the DEIS and responded with an email: “The Upper Green River Alliance appreciates this opportunity to comment on the PXP story. Our comment: With this progressive compromise that recognizes the rights of both recreationists and mineral lessees, we find hope for reasonable negotiation and look forward to investments in common sense solutions, grounded in existing scientific research.

“Monitoring is necessary, however; it needs to be analyzed by knowledgeable parties and the information needs to be given to the public in a timely manner and used to assess and address impacts of drilling on our wildlife, air, water, and residents,” she continued.

“A slower pace and smarter placement of natural gas wells can reverse the Titanic mistakes that have most notably caused the decline of 60 percent of our mule deer and 47 percent of our sage-grouse in the developed gas fields.”

Trout Unlimited (TU), which issued a release it would follow PXP and DEIS developments closely, also responded before press time with an email.

Steven Brutger, Trout Unlimited’s Wyoming energy coordinator, said: “TU's first priority is to ensure that the final plan maintains high-quality fish and wildlife habitat and that any development happens in a responsible manner. We are looking at the PXP proposed agreement closely along with the DEIS to determine what will best achieve this balance.”

PXP also agreed to provide $6 million for habitat projects, wildlife studies and air and water quality monitoring over the life of the project.

The Wilderness Society’s Stephanie Kessler emailed she was in Cheyenne late last week meeting with Gov.-elect Matt Mead’s transition team about the PXP project and couldn’t comment before press time.

Spokespeople for Wyoming Game and Fish, Bridger-Teton National Forest and others also didn’t respond before press time Monday.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal responded officially last week, saying he was glad to see progress being made.

“I appreciate that a couple of years ago when I expressed my concerns with their plans for exploratory drilling, PXP went back and took a more detailed look,” he said. “Given the location of this project, great care needs to be taken to ensure that while PXP is exercising its right to develop the leases the environment of the Wyoming Range is protected.”

PXP reached the conservation agreement on the company’s proposed Eagle Prospect-Noble Basin Master Development Plan oil and gas project and submitted the terms to BTNF Supervisor Jacque Buchanan Dec. 10.

“This is a good first step and I hope that the Forest Service looks at it closely as we will be,” Gov. Freudenthal said.