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  • BLM Releases Greater Natural Buttes Final Environmental Impact Statement
    by Sherry Foote
    Published - 04/05/12 - 04:48 PM | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Drilling rig, Greater Natural Buttes (Anadarko photo)
    Drilling rig, Greater Natural Buttes (Anadarko photo)
    (Salt Lake City, UT) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced Thursday that the Greater Natural Buttes Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is available for review. Following the close of the 30-day waiting period, the BLM will announce its final decision on the proposed project through a Record of Decision and any project Conditions of Approval.

    The Greater Natural Buttes is an infill project proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation for an existing developed gas field in Uintah County, Utah, on which up to 3,675 new natural gas wells would be drilled from 1,484 well pads over a period of 10 years under the BLM's preferred alternative identified in the FEIS.

    “To reach consensus on this proposed project, we have worked collaboratively with federal agencies and tribal governments to move forward with developing our nation’s domestic energy resources, providing a boost to the Uinta Basin and Utah economies, and ensuring the right environmental protections are in place,” said Juan Palma, BLM Utah State Director. “Today’s announcement is an example of what is possible when all parties work together to find common ground. I encourage this type of collaboration as a model to others interested in finding balanced solutions to complex issues.”

    EPA Regional Administrator Jim Martin said, "This is a good document. BLM and EPA worked closely to address environmental and public health concerns, including measures that will protect air quality (as the field is developed). Anadarko's project is a great example of a domestic energy project with essential safeguards. "

    "We believe the EIS and endangered species consultation are an excellent example of our efforts to achieve a balance of development and conservation,” said Larry Crist, Utah Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Ecological Services Office. “The Service appreciates the collaborative efforts of BLM and Anadarko to conserve endangered species while developing important oil and gas resources. It's a great example of what we can achieve together."

    In addition to the BLM’s release of the FEIS, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and conservation groups announced a tentative agreement that, should the preferred alternative be selected, would provide protections for the remarkable White River area while allowing Anadarko to access energy resources. In this conservation agreement with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Anadarko agrees to limit the number of wells in and around the wilderness-quality lands of the White River and would lead to the creation of conservation easements along lands surrounding segments of the river.

    "We appreciate that Anadarko was willing to sit down with the conservation community, listen to our concerns, and work with us to arrive at a solution that protects the White River proposed wilderness area while allowing the company to proceed with its planned infill development at the Greater Natural Buttes field," said Stephen Bloch, Energy Program Director and Attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

    "This shows what can be achieved when regulators, companies, conservationists, local communities and other stakeholders work together in good faith to ensure safety, address environmental considerations and provide America with the energy resources we all need," said Anadarko General Manager, Regulatory Affairs, Brad Miller. "The Greater Natural Buttes project demonstrates that by working cooperatively with stakeholders, we can deliver the significant, long-term economic benefits of these resources in a manner that protects air and water quality, wildlife, and the scenic quality of the White River and Greater Natural Buttes area."

    The Greater Natural Buttes project area encompasses approximately 162,911 acres in an existing gas producing area located in Uintah County, Utah. New surface disturbance under the Agency Preferred Alternative, which is also the Resource Protection Alternative, would be approximately 8,147 acres, or 5 percent of the total project area. The total estimated surface disturbance under this alternative would be 20,615 acres, or about 12.7 percent of the project area.
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