Steven Brutger, Trout Unlimited, (307) 438-2596
Cathy Purves, Trout Unlimited, (307) 349-2559
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hoback drilling plan to get additional study
Forest Service gives additional review after extensive comments from public
Lander, Wyo. — After a massive outpouring of comments, a plan put forth by the Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Company will get more thorough scrutiny as the Forest Service plans to do additional environmental study on drilling in the Upper Hoback region of the Wyoming Range.
Trout Unlimited welcomed the announcement Tuesday that the agency plans on conducting a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in response to the nearly 60,000 comments it received on its draft environmental impact statement released previously.
"We're glad that the Forest Service is willing to be thorough and take everything into consideration," said Steven Brutger, Wyoming energy coordinator for TU. "Given the large diversity of interest in this area, it's only appropriate that this proposal be looked at from every angle."
The plan calls for PXP to develop 136 wells on 17 well pads in the Upper Hoback. The leases are located in habitat which contains sensitive populations of Snake River cutthroat trout, Colorado River cutthroat and Shiras moose. The area under review is also fawning and summering grounds for mule deer from the Upper Green River Basin, a population which has been under a spotlight in recent years for its severe decline.
While about 1.2 million acres of public lands in the in range are protected from new oil and gas development by the 2009 Wyoming Range Act, that legislation also recognized the right to develop leases that were already existing and valid, including the leases held by PXP. TU has been supportive of that provision, provided the leases are developed in a way that adequately protects fish and wildlife.
"The move by the Forest Service to give the area additional thought is encouraging," said Brutger. "We recognize there were still some issues to address in the initial draft. We're glad the forest service is being responsive to public comment and wants to take the opportunity to come up with the best plan possible which is ultimately in the best interest to sportsmen and all those involved."
Trout Unlimited is a private, non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter at @TroutUnlimited.