Volume 7, Number 52 - March 20, 2008
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Comment Period Extended For Suspended Leases’ SEIS
The Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) is extending its public comment period through April 28 for the scoping period on its new analysis regarding the status of suspended oil and gas leases on 44,720 acres in the Big Piney Ranger District.
BTNF is about to issue a revised Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) because the public scoping comment period for new information relevant to the suspended oil and gas leases is being extended, according to BTNF Public Affairs Officer Mary Cernicek.
The Interior Board of Lands Appeals (IBLA) issued a series of stays and remands in response to protests that blocked the completion of the leasing process for these 44,720 acres on the Wyoming Range of the Forest.
According to the IBLA, existing analysis of the acreage was insufficient and a supplement analysis is needed.
“Since the Bridger-Teton wants to make sure we give ample time to the comment period and provide the public with plenty of time to review the (new Notice of Intent) NOI, we extended the deadline to April 28,” she said. The reason for the extension is two-fold, Cernicek explained.
“Ideally, we like to have our Notice of Intent (NOI) published and our mailings to our scoping list done pretty much in lock-step. Our mailings went out after the NOI was published. We were thinking about extending the comment period for the scoping when we got a letter from LisaMcGee (Wyoming Outdoor Council) asking us to extend the comment period because of the acreage and expanse of the project.” Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range and Citizens Protecting the Wyoming Range also asked for an extension, according to McGee, who said they are all pleased BTNF agreed to the extension.
“We appreciate the Forest Service’s decision to proceed cautiously,” McGee said Tuesday. “With threats to human health from air pollution and impacts to wildlife occurring as a result of the existing oil and gas development in the valley, it’s a good idea to take the necessary time to determine what the impacts could be if these nearby National Forest lands are leased and developed.
McGee said the extension allows the public to learn more about the issue, visit the contested lease “and weigh in (again) next fall.”
“I say ‘again’ because these very parcels were highly controversial when they were improperly offered for lease sale in 2005-2006 and many, many people spoke out against the sales then,” she said. “It was these very lease sales that inspired people to come together and to work with our elected officials to introduce legislation that would safeguard theWyoming Range from this type of industrialization. “
Comments concerning new information or issues not previously considered in the leasing analysis must now be postmarked byApril 28 and theDraft SEIS (DSEIS) is expected inNovember 2008.
Send written comments to Stephen Haydon, Forest Minerals Staff, Bridger-Teton National Forest, 340 N. Cache, PO Box 1888, Jackson, WY 83001-1888. Send electronic comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject clearly titled “Leasing SEIS.”
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