Top Stories February 3, 2018

Forest Responds to Lander Peak Exploratory Objections

by Jackson Hole. Media

The Deputy Forest Supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest has issued a response letter to the four objectors regarding the Draft Decision Notice for the True Oil LLC Lander Peak Area Exploratory Project. The Big Piney District Ranger must complete the tasks outlined in the instructions from the Deputy before the Final Decision Notice is issued. At that time, True Oil may begin work on their exploratory activities on their two well pads.

The purpose of the True Oil Environmental Assessment (EA) was to determine how True Oil would exercise their rights granted under the existing federal leases to explore and develop oil and gas in a manner that adequately protects other resource values. The project area is within the Lander Peak Unit on the Big Piney Ranger District. True Oil has held three oil and gas leases in production since 1982.
Three natural gas producing wells were drilled in the 1980s and one natural gas producing well was drilled in 2001.

The EA analyzed the proposal for two natural gas exploration wells. The Forest selected the Mitigation Alternative with minor revisions in the Draft Decision Notice.

Following the issuance of the EA, the objection process began in April, 2017. The Forest reviewed the objections, held an objection resolution meeting, and conducted a site visit with the objectors, industry officials, the Bureau of Land Management and Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Discussions during the objection process have resulted in a number of improvements to the project,” said Big Piney District Ranger Don Kranendonk. “In an effort to avoid impacts to the environment, design features to contain potential spills and address invasive species, including noxious weeds and aquatic invasive species, will be included in the project design,” he said.

On January 17, 2017, the Forest Service signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for Oil and Gas Leasing on portions of the Wyoming Range. Potential impacts were analyzed in a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS, U.S. Forest Service, December 2016). The signed ROD selected the ” no leasing” alternative for oil and gas leases on 39,490 acres on the eastern slope of the Wyoming Range within the boundary of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. However, True Oil’s valid, existing federal leases for the Lander Peak Area Exploratory Proposal were issued in 1969 and were not part of the lands considered for oil and gas leasing in the FSEIS nor addressed in the ROD.

If True Oil determines there is economic potential for the Lander Peak Area as a result of this exploration project, they would be required to submit a Master Development Plan. In the event the Bridger Teton National Forest receives additional proposals, which may include full field development, True Oil additional National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis would be required prior to further developments. The scope and scale of additional NEPA is dependent upon the scope and scale of future project proposals. NEPA could range from a Categorical Exclusion to an Environmental Impact Statement.

The objections and objection letter, along with other documentation pertinent to the True Oil Lander Peak Exploratory proposal are available on the Bridger-Teton National Forest webpage at: https:/www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=31165 .

For additional information, contact the Bridger-Teton National Forest at (307) 739-5500.
-USDA-

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