The US Bureau of Land Management released a new environmental assessment for XTO Energy Inc.’s proposed Riverbend natural gas project and will accept public comments until Oct. 10.
BLM’s Vernal office said the River Bend Unit covers 16,719 acres of BLM-administered Uintah and Ouray Indian reservation and state land 34 miles south of Vernal. The new EA analyzes four alternatives: the proposed action with 484 wells, no action with 16 wells, moderate recovery with 250 wells, and resource protection with 150 wells.
Moderate recovery is the US Department of the Interior agency’s preferred alternative because it allows for development while minimizing environmental impacts, BLM said.
It noted that a 30-day comment period was held for this project from Dec. 8, 2008, to Jan. 6, 2009, during which a letter was submitted questioning the adequacy of the air quality analysis.
BLM said that its knowledge of Uinta basin air quality was expanding rapidly in the meantime as it completed three large petrochemical models (the Uinta Basin Air Quality Study, the Gasco Study, and the Greater Natural Buttes Study) as well as installing and operating several air quality monitors.
It said that XTO volunteered after that first comment period to run an air quality model to try to determine the Riverbend EA’s incremental impact on the basin.
The results of that study, which used conservative assumptions, and an emissions inventory study under a memorandum of understanding which BLM and the US Environmental Protection Agency reached at about the same time, led to the new EA, BLM said.
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