Wyoming Range – Drill The Bridger-Teton National Forest? (Part 1)

Two recent proposals to drill on National Forest land in the Wyoming Range have generated a lot of controversy and some unusual political action. Plains Exploration & Production Company initially applied to the US Forest Service for permission to drill just three exploration wells in the Hoback Rim area, while simultaneously making statements to Wall Street that they anticipated developing a major gas field comparable to the nearby Jonah Field (now approved for thousands of wells and hundreds of miles of access roads).

“Jonah In The Woods?”

We decided to simulate what the Plains CEO described in the Pinedale Roundup as a “nice little field in the forest.” Our simulation raised a bit of ruckus: local newspapers picked up the story and the apparent inconsistency between what the company was asking from the Forest Service, and what they were telling potential investors. The company withdrew its request for the three-well approval and asked the Forest Service to instead conduct a much more extensive environmental analysis that would allow full-blown development. That analysis should be released for public comment late in 2008.

High Country News also covered SkyTruth’s work, and Peter Aengst of The Wilderness Society had this to say:

The simulation really made the issue more clear and so generated some great press attention. In addition, it helped to spotlight Plains Exploration Company’s likely intentions, which was borne out later when the company admitted in a letter to the Forest Service that they wanted denser drilling with more wells and roads analyzed in the EIS. As our press release made clear, the simulation was especially effective because it utilized Plains own statements and information from nearby gas fields.

But stay tuned, there’s more to the Wyoming Range story…