From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 21 - August 21, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Cimarex Lease Approved

by Tiffany Turner

Cimarex Energy was unanimously awarded its lease at the old Riley Ridge project area for its $100-million natural-gas processing and carbon sequestration plant last Thursday. The facility also will be the largest new helium extraction plant in the world.

After touring the facility this summer, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department found issues with the plans as far as effects on the elk herd in the area. After working together, Cimarex and the G&F agreed to several terms and regulations to be instated should the project gain approval, including a $1.5-million mitigation fund for elk research and impact mitigation.

The Wyoming State Land Board passed the project with a vote of 4-0, with State Treasurer Joe Meyer absent.

“We are satisfied that after a long period of hard work with the State Land Office and the Game and Fish Department that the mitigation agreement and the Special Use Lease are mutually beneficial,” said Cimarex project manager Scott Stinson. “We have our preferred site, the Game and Fish Department has a long-term, well-funded program to mitigate impacts to the local elk herd, and the State Lands has a significant improvement on their property with financial benefits and environmental protection.”

“The State Land Office obviously invested a lot of effort into supporting an agreement between us and the Game and Fish Department,” Stinson added. “The unanimous vote reflects a well-informed board and a well-conceived agreement.”

According to Stinson, by Oct. 1 Cimarex will have defined strategies and plans to implement in the plant’s area historically used as winter habitat for the herd. Combining this with data already available, Stinson said they will immediately begin defining and collecting data on the elk.

“That data, combined with the record of our own activities, will begin to offer a picture of the impacts of the project on the elk herd,” Stinson said. “As any direct impacts from the project are recognized we should be able to prevent damage and plan habitat enhancements so the herd can flourish.”

Other than the mitigation, the next steps are to inform the public and other agencies of a project and what it entails, Stinson said. This includes the BLM’s Environmental Assessment of the components as well as a public scoping notice to be released by the BLM soon.

According to Stinson, this will be the majority of what is accomplished on the project for the rest of this year. “Right now, since we are still very much in the planning and permitting process, I suspect that there will be minimal ground work on the site,” Stinson said. “We are emphasizing the baseline activity of the monitoring and want to ensure that we acquire good data before the major push of construction begins next year.”

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