Uintah Basin energy project gets OK, environmentalists sound off

Published: Monday, June 18 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

The BLM said the final plan approved Monday is a scaled-back version of what was initially proposed by the company. That plan had called for nearly 1,500 gas wells and the same number of well pads, with a total disturbance area of 7,533 acres, including well pads in Nine Mile Canyon north of Desolation Canyon.

The final plan approved allows a maximum of 1,298 wells that will be drilled from no more than 575 well pads. Surface disturbance has been reduced by one-half to 3,600 acres, or about 2 percent of the total development area of 206,826 acres. The plan also incorporates directional drilling to reduce surface impacts. The plan prohibits any wells below the rim of Nine Mile Canyon, in the 100-year floodplain, or in critical habitat for endangered fish, according to the agency.

Gasco officials said the project will tap an existing gas field that has 135 producing wells and accompanying infrastructure. It referenced a study by the Western Energy Alliance claiming 2,710 jobs and $613 million in economic activity annually.

“Today’s announcement is a prime example of the successful collaboration among the BLM, Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Uintah and Duchesne counties,” said Juan Palma, the Bureau of Land Management’s Utah state director.

“Together, we worked with Gasco to step up and find ways to minimize impacts to wildlife habitat, air quality and other resources in the Uinta Basin while harnessing important energy resources for our nation.”

 The Record of Decision on the Gasco project is available online at: www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/vernal/planning/nepa_.html E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com Twitter: amyjoi16

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere