From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 40 - 6/1/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Local Comments on the Anticline DEIS
Locals grudgingly accept development, but urge resource protection
by Rob Shaul

Last November, the BLM published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Pinedale Anticline Natural Gas Project. During the comment period, the agency received 235 letters on the DEIS from the general public, oil and gas operators, grazing permittees, environmental groups, industry groups and a number of federal agencies.

In the Final EIS released last week, the BLM published 107 of the comment letters. Of these, approximately two dozen were written by local residents or landowners.

Not one of the locals who submitted written comments to the DEIS enthusiastically supported development. A handful wrote in strong opposition to the drilling. Most grudgingly accepted that the drilling was going to occur, and encouraged the BLM to mitigate impacts from the development as much as possible.

The following are excerpts from selected comment letters on the Pinedale Anticline DEIS submitted by local residents.

Brian Klarén, Pinedale

"...As a citizen of Sublette County, a business owner, an outdoor enthusiast and a great admirer of the beauty of this area, I will be perfectly honest with you. I do not want this development to occur. However, I am realistic and I know this development will occur with or without my consent. In addition, I am not blind to the fact that this project will have significant positive impact to the economy of Sublette County..."

Dennis Brabec, Big Piney

"...I have lived in and around Wyoming since 1950 and I am very familiar with the economic value the petroleum industry brings to an area in jobs and tax revenues. Sublette County receives approximately 85% of its total revenues from petroleum and Wyoming receives approximately $485 million per year from oil and gas. The school buildings in Sublette County are the result of revenues from the petroleum taxes and prior to the state controlling all of the school finances, Sublette County was divided to provide additional funds to the Pinedale School District. The development project proposed south of Pinedale has prompted a "not in my back yard" syndrome expressed by a few local Pinedale citizens. Mr. Pape's presentation at the hearing referred to the continued orderly development of the petroleum resources to provide jobs in the area for our people and the revenues to support the local communities..."

William and Jane Olsen, Bondurant

"...We own 80 acres in Section 4, T36N, R112W, presently leased to UNC. I believe this lease expires in 2000 or 2001. Twenty years ago this area of Hoback Ranches was mostly undeveloped, but not has over 100 houses. It is also a wildlife habitat and migration route for moose, elk, and mule deer. We feel that renewing leases in this area would destroy the recreational and wildlife values which become even more important as the southern part of Sublette County becomes saturated with drilling..."

Jon Malinski, Paradise Valley, AZ

"...The unfettered development of a project of this scale would have devastating effects on the ecosystem of the area, particularly when combined with the impact of other developments - including the Jonah II, Big Piney/LaBarge and the Fontenelle Fields. However, even the Pinedale Anticline Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Project by itself will have a significant and adverse impact on the antelope population, including the antelope which populate my ranch. However, even more devastating will be the effect of the development on the sage chicken population in the area. It is common knowledge that the sage chicken population has experienced a severe decline a a severe decline in numbers. The drilling of the Pinedale Anticline Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Project, at the level being considered, will assure the further reduction in sage chicken numbers, if not their total elimination...."

John Fandek, Cora

"...At a time when game managers throughout the country are concerned about the decline of mule deer and sage grouse populations, here we are in Sublette County preparing to carve up one of the last remaining wide open game ranges in the West as if it were going to make a difference.

Throughout my entire life I have been amazed and disgusted at the reluctance of land managers and politicians to do what is right for the land; and at their eagerness to sell out to big industry, otherwise known as BIG MONEY..."

Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale

"...First, I would like to commend PIC Technologies, Inc., for the preparation of the best EIS I have ever read. It's huge and somewhat hard to follow, but I couldn't find any significant subject that hadn't been well reviewed. I also feel the document provided a fair and honest discussion of both the existing situation and possible impacts. This EIS could provide a good baseline for others to follow. Thank you, I really do feel it was a great job..."

David Vlcek, Pinedale

"...I find that implementing the development proposed will ultimately and inevitably result in overwhelming changes to the rural, ranching cultural character of Pinedale and Boulder. Gone will be the quiet setting, the natural beauty of the BLM lands west of town. Instead, we will live in an area of industrialized development and gradually Pinedale will become much more like Big Piney or even LaBarge. How will this negative change be mitigated? The operators should be required to pay a percent of their production to the local government bodies (the Town of Pinedale, the residents of eastern Sublette County) to fund mitigation projects that will help replace the lost recreational and rural cultural lifestyle they will take away from us. Projects like adding onto the golf course (though I don't golf), the ski area, or paying for a recreational center would help mitigate the loss of recreational lands to development. What about some housing for the population increases that are inevitable?..."

Albert Sommers, Pinedale

"...Many of the pleasures and opportunities which I have enjoyed most in live will be impacted by the present and future development of Sublette County. The Pinedale Anticline project is the just the latest development to be proposed that could impact those opportunities which make my life in Sublette County so enjoyable ... The opportunity to enjoy open space and solitude is very important to me. To be able to ride a fresh, frisky horse from our corrals out to the top of the Mesa and back without seeing or hearing anyone is a great pleasure though increasingly more difficult to do. The opportunity to watch a Hereford pair grazing a steep slope of the draw in the evening is both enjoyable and a necessity to me. The opportunity to ride a horse on the top of the Mesa at daybreak and be surprised by a burrowing owl clattering out of a badger hole is exciting. The opportunity in the late fall to watch sage grouse cross from the Mesa to the Soapholes to winter can be impressive. The opportunity to be part of a family that has enjoyed the wintering mule deer herds around and on our ranch for nearly seventy years is a unique opportunity. (My father never saw a mule deer in this county until 1931.) The opportunity to walk through the sagebrush in the summer and watch fat horny toads soaking up the sun makes me smile ... I also enjoy the opportunity to be able to use a propane furnace which burns a clean burning fuel. I enjoy the opportunity to live in a county where the county roads are plowed promptly after every snow, which I know would not occur if not for oil and gas production in this county. I like the fact that old traditions and old places continue to exist in Sublette County. However they are fading. I don't like the fact that places called the Bloom Ranch, the Mesa, Mt. Airy, Rocky Butte, Lovatt Draw, Soaphole Draw, Bertram Draw, Blue Rim, Alkali, Sand Draw, Sand Springs, Yellow Point and Stud Horse Butte in the Green River Valley are now called Redstone and New Fork Social Club Subdivision, Pinedale Anticline Project Area, the Jonah Field and worst of all, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I do not like the impacts which could result from the Pinedale Anticline Gas Project, and selfishly I wish it were not occurring in an area which is sacred to me. However, I also recognize that the oil and gas leases were issued and purchased in good faith. I fully understand and support the right of those leaseholders to develop their leases in an economical manner. I fervently hope that the BLM and the gas operators will take the greatest of care in developing these leases in such a magnificent area..."

Jonathan B. Ratner

"...A few hundred wells would have a devastating effect to the area. Even the wells that have already been drilled have permanently degraded the area. A real effect of a few hundred or nearly 1,000 wells in the anticline area is hard to imagine without a trip to New Jersey. An "Industrialized-appearing" setting (p2, para 3) is one way of describing it..."

George Funk, Pinedale

"...In the long term, Sublette County residents will fare much better by taking advantage of the other natural resources, clean air, water, wild game, fisheries and recreation otherwise. That activity is much more stable economically than gas production. Compounding the issue is the high probability that gas activities, if not carefully controlled, will cause blight and resource damage which will make Sublette county less attractive for these other purposes, and these other economic benefits."

Michael J. Kramer, Pinedale

"...While the development will create jobs for many people and much needed taxes for the state and county, it will cost me many dollars in lost property value, added expense to ensure water purification of my well water, and valuable time in learning the issues involved and writing letters such as this. A financial price cannot be placed on the emotional stress and the potential loss of environmental quality that this development will inflict upon me..."

Dan Stroud, Pinedale

"...Boom and bust has been the way of Wyoming for many years, but I don't feel it needs to be - we need very good planning to acquire this gas over the long term; not as quick as we can get it. It is quite obvious to me that our past level of planning and development has been too quick to adequately consider all impacts and I don't feel we have the latitude to continue the development at the past rates; at least if we are going to protect our local heritage, wildlife populations and current way of life. These need to be considerations in your long-term planning needs; not just the financial benefits. There is no doubt in anyones' mind that we need some growth; but when you compare rabid boom-and-bust growth to steady growth over time; which still gets out the needed resources; it is a matter of local pride and caring in our present way of life that should be driving the development. I think there are certain things that are imperative in this planning including - scale back the development in order to mitigate the effects; both on wildlife as well as our way of life..."

Todd Perry - Pinedale, Wyoming

"...Overall I am very concerned of the impact this project will have on wildlife habitat, air quality, and water quality. The oil and gas have been here for a long time and will continue to be available. There should be no rush to develop this project and sacrifice many of our priceless resources. Pinedale is a beautiful place and very unique and I would like to see it remain this way..."

Robert R. Barrett, Pinedale

"...What will be the fate of migratory big game herds that depend on the winter ranges of the project area? The DEIS does not and cannot answer this question with any degree of scientific confidence. The "burden of proof," therefore, must reside with the proponents of this project. To that end, they have funded significant research that will ultimately contribute to a fuller understanding of wildlife impacts implicit in energy development in Wyoming. But until that and other research substantially adds to the scientific base, the BLM must proceed with caution. The rush to develop must not be allowed to leapfrog the process of scientific inquiry..."

Buzz Burzlander, Pinedale

"...I hate having the basic elements of our environment interfered with by the extractive industries while they are stripping our land of its wealth. There is nothing I can do about it. You can. Control the number of wells and roads, hold down the dust, control the flares and waste pits. Make some rules and patrol the area to see that they are enforced or cancel some leases. Make these organizations doing this developing conscious of the environment. Let them know we treasure our clear rivers, streams, and lakes. Let them know we treasure our herds of antelope and deer that we can go out and see every day."

Linda Baker, Pinedale

"...Neither do we know just exactly what effect the unbridled rush to develop will have on ultimate numbers of pronghorn, mule deer and sage grouse; ravens, meadowlarks and jackrabbits; pintails, horned toads and great gray owls. This project will be studied closely, however, as a pilot project. But corrections to mistakes will be too little, too late. By the time we realize the extent of destruction, we will have lost our chance to regain biological ground for a very long time..."

Nancy Reno, Pinedale

"...With regard to the draft environmental statement: Any drilling that has significant environmental impact should not be permitted..."

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