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Bridger-Teton National Forest officials set Wyoming Range drilling open houses

Bridger-Teton National Forest officials set Wyoming Range drilling open houses

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A Houston-based energy company's controversial plans to drill in the Wyoming Range will be the subject of a series of public meetings next week by Bridger-Teton National Forest officials.

Plains Exploration and Production Co. has submitted a Master Development Plan that calls for using directional drilling methods to drill 136 oil and gas wells from 17 well pads over a 12- to 15-year period.

The drilling would occur on federal lands within the Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin areas of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The wells would go in a few miles south of Bondurant in Sublette County.

Forest officials released a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed PXP project for public review in December. Forest officials prepared the draft document with the Bureau of Land Management and the state.

Project plans call for the construction of access roads, gas and produced liquid gathering lines, and associated facilities needed for production operations.

In early December, two environmental groups announced an agreement with the Texas petroleum company to retire nearly half of its gas drilling lease in the Wyoming Range.

The deal -- with the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association and the Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife -- would still allow Plains Exploration to drill the 136 gas wells from 17 well pads in the Upper Hoback River drainage.

According to the deal, the company would retire about 28,000 of its 64,000 acres of leases within the area protected last year under the Wyoming Range Legacy Act.

The act, signed by President Obama in 2009, prohibits new leasing on approximately 1.2 million acres in the Wyoming Range. The act allows for voluntary buyouts on 77,000 acres of existing leases in the area.

Bridger-Teton National Forest officials said next week's meetings will consist of an open house forum where information on the draft environmental study will be available. Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and from PXP will be present to answer questions.

A 90-day public comment period on the draft document will end March 10.

If you go

The Bridger-Teton National Forest will host three public meetings next week on an oil and gas leasing proposal in the Noble Basin area of the Wyoming Range.

* Tuesday: Jackson, Snow King Resort, 7-9 p.m.

* Jan. 19: Bondurant, Bondurant School auditorium, 7-9 p.m.

* Jan. 20: Pinedale, Sublette County Library, 7-9 p.m.

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