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Plans for Yet More Pinedale Anticline Drilling - Some Locals Find it Chilling

February 19, 2007

If some is good, then more is better? That seems to be the Bureau of Land Management philosophy when it comes to gas well drilling in the Pinedale Anticline project. The agency plans to add more than 4,000 wells, nine times as many as there are now. Bob McCarty is a former B.L.M. biologist who oversaw the area, and he's surprised there are plans to lock up more public land for use by the oil and gas industry.

"What the B.L.M. is doing makes no sense to me at all, because they're closing it to the general public, but allowing the oil and gas people out there."

McCarty says industry-sponsored studies have shown current drilling already has damaged sage grouse, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope populations, and the new drilling plans don't include specifics about how to protect wildlife areas.

The Bureau says development will be limited to "core areas," and is accepting public comment on its proposal. McCarty says the comments to date continue to indicate public concern about air quality, quality of life, and wildlife. He is skeptical that they're being heard.

"Twenty years ago we did a lot of drilling, too, but wildlife had a say, and so did recreation. These days, those values seem to be basically ignored."

Learn more about the plan online, at www.uppergreen.org/wyoming/wyoming.php.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WY