The US Bureau of Land Management has released the final environmental impact statement for the proposed Greater Natural Buttes natural gas project in eastern Utah. Comments will be accepted until May 7, BLM’s Vernal field office said on Apr. 5.
BLM said Anadarko Petroleum Corp. proposed the infill project for an existing gas field in Uintah County on which as many as 3,675 new gas wells would be drilled from 1,484 well pads over 10 years under BLM's preferred alternative identified in the final EIS. State and federal officials said a collaboration involving Anadarko, BLM, the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Utah agencies produced the agreement.
BLM will announce its final decision on the proposed project through a record of decision and any project conditions of approval after a 30-day waiting period, BLM said.
Anadarko and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance also announced a tentative agreement to provide protections for the White River area while giving the Houston independent producer access to energy resources if BLM’s preferred alternative is selected. They jointly said Anadarko agreed to limit the number of wells in and around the wilderness-quality lands of the White River and would lead to the creation of conservation easements along lands surrounding segments of the river.
“We appreciate that Anadarko was willing to sit down with the conservation community, listen to our concerns, and work with us to arrive at a solution that protects the White River proposed wilderness area while allowing the company to proceed with its planned infill development at the Greater Natural Buttes field,” said Stephen Bloch, energy program director and attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
The agreements showed what can be achieved when regulators, companies, environmental organizations, local communities, and other stakeholders work together in good faith to ensure safety, address environmental considerations, and provide more energy supplies for the country, according to Brad Miller, Anadarko’s general manager for regulatory affairs.
The project area encompasses 162,911 acres in an existing gas field, BLM said. New surface disturbance under the Agency Preferred Alternative, which is also the Resource Protection Alternative, would be 8,147 acres, or 5% of the total project area. The total estimated surface disturbance under this alternative would be 20,615 acres, or about 12.7% of the project area, it said.
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