June 28, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Questar Corp. donates Rocky Mountain Front gas leases to Trout Unlimited
Conservation group asks Congress to retire leases
GREAT FALLS, Mont.—On the heels of legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) that, if approved by Congress, would protect the Rocky Mountain Front from future energy development, Trout Unlimited announced that Questar Corp. subsidiary Questar E&P has donated several of its oil and gas leases on the Front to the non-profit conservation group.
“Conservationists need to be willing to work with companies and public officials to see energy development implemented in ways that minimize impacts to fish, wildlife and water resources,” said Chris Wood, vice president for conservation at TU. “Likewise, elected officials and companies need to let the government know that some public lands are too important for fish and wildlife to develop. Sen. Burns has clearly done his part, and Questar’s donation provides an example of cooperative conservation that we hope provides a model for others to follow.”
Questar E&P, according to the company’s executive vice president Jay B. Neese, chose to donate the leases to Trout Unlimited because the two entities have worked together in other western states to ensure responsible energy development that limits impacts to fish and wildlife.
“We’re pleased to accommodate Trout Unlimited’s request for an assignment of this acreage, which is not located near any of Questar E&P’s active exploration and production areas,” Neese said. “We value our relationship with Trout Unlimited and appreciate their willingness to enter into meaningful and constructive dialogue with the oil and gas industry.”
Mark Rey, the undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the Department of Agriculture said, “It is commendable to see industry and conservation groups like Questar and TU engaging in open dialog and demonstrating innovation and leadership by working cooperatively to conserve natural resources. Senator Burns has shown great leadership in promoting a free-market approach to protecting the Rocky Mountain Front.”
The company’s donation of the federal mineral leases covers approximately 1,691 acres in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. In the late 1990s, the U.S. Forest Service withdrew most of the Front from new oil and gas leasing, but old leases that could still be developed remained. Last summer, in response to concerns expressed by Montana residents, the Department of Interior suspended development of existing leases. Now, with Burns’ legislation introduced in Congress, the future of the Front is much brighter, said Dave Stalling, TU field coordinator based in Missoula.
“We all use gas and oil, and we all support responsible energy development,” Stalling said. “However, some places are simply too important for fish and wildlife to drill, and the Rocky Mountain Front is one of these places. This is part of a long, ongoing effort led by local citizens, and we feel fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to help.”
TU has worked with a coalition of organizations and individuals—including ranchers, hunters, anglers, guides, politicians, outfitters, tribal leaders, industry partners and county commissioners—to protect critical habitat areas along the Rocky Mountain Front. TU is seeking congressional action to have the former Questar E&P leases permanently retired.
Questar finds, develops, produces, gathers, processes, transports, and distributes natural gas, primarily in the western U.S.