BLM signs decision record on Rocktober gas project in Wyoming

The US Bureau of Land Management’s Cody, Wyo., field manager signed a decision record on June 29 for seven proposed natural gas wells in the McCullough Peaks area east of Cody.

The US Bureau of Land Management’s Cody, Wyo., field manager signed a decision record on June 29 for seven proposed natural gas wells in the McCullough Peaks area east of Cody.

The action by Michael P. Stewart followed a 30-day review of a BLM environmental assessment of a proposal by Denver independent producer Bill Barrett Corp. for the wells and associated facilities in the Rocktober Natural Gas Unit.

The analysis determined that no significant long-term impacts would occur as a result of the project, BLM said. It also addressed issues raised during the EA’s public comment and review periods including impacts on wild horses, sage grouse and other wildlife; visual intrusions, and air and water quality, the US Department of the Interior agency said. It received 55 comments on the proposed project.

One of the comments came from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, an environmental organization based in Bozeman, Mont. It said that Bill Barrett Corp. already has drilled two wells on state land in the McCullough Peaks area. It asked BLM to delay its final decision on the company’s application until the federal agency’s new resource management plan for the area is completed.

It also urged BLM to require Bill Barrett Corp. to use closed-loop drilling on the project, which the group said “eliminates massive pits filled with contaminates that pose a threat to wildlife and groundwater.”

In an errata to the EA, BLM said that there is no reason to use a closed loop system in drilling the Rocktober wells because reserve pits would be lined if required by BLM. “Standard drilling techniques (including isolating all water-bearing formations in the well bore with pipe and cement) will adequately protect water aquifers,” it maintained.

All groundwater resources in the area are 600-700 feet deep and there are no water wells near the project area, it continued. The nearest water wells are more than two miles away and in a hydraulically up-gradiant direction “and therefore have little to no risk from project operations,” the EA’s errata said.

It also said that the EA follows the existing resource management plan for the area, and that BLM is required to follow that RMP until a new one is signed.

BLM said that the decision record and EA can be found online at www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/cyfodocs/Rocktober.html .

Contact Nick Snow atnicks@pennwell.com

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