Former industry professional says don't repeat past mistakes

Buy leases, avert tragedy


My 19 years experience with BLM and six years working for the oil and gas industry in Sublette County causes me to be deeply concerned about PXP's plan to drill for gas in the Noble Basin near the Hoback River.

I once told a Pinedale resident not to worry about developing the Mesa. I was wrong. The wildlife, air, vegetation, and ground water in the area have had major impacts to them and there is little that can be done to mitigate them now.

The Noble Basin presents resource concerns vastly greater than either the Jonah Field or the Pinedale Anticline ever did. It has unstable slide-prone soils, steep slopes, three perennial streams, a closed air basin which will concentrate ozone and other pollutants, a shallow ground water table and wetlands. It's an area essential for survival of the big game animals. Moose and elk winter and produce their calves here, mule deer summer here and pronghorn depend on the area for migration routes between their summer and winter ranges.

PXP is proposing roads with severe road grades on very steep slopes. This situation together with typically heavy snowfall eight months of the year invites a high probability that trucks will overturn while carrying diesel, condensate or produced water to or from the field. These contaminated fluids will work their way into the Hoback and the Snake River Drainages.

The 136 proposed wells being analyzed in this Environmental Impact Statement is a small fraction of the number that would be required to develop another Lance Formation field to its full extent. A 10-acre bottom hole spacing scenario (one-half of the current Pinedale Anticline spacing) would be 64 wells per section; that's 1,088 wells. If the wells truly do produce 5 million cubic feet each as anticipated, the field development there would destroy forever the area's wildlife, scenery, air and water resources; it would never recover.

I can only hope that a consortium of groups and individuals are successful in purchasing the leases from the Plains Exploration & Production Company in order to avert this potential tragedy.

TOM CURRY, Pinedale