Gas Drilling Proposed in Desolation and Grey Canyons (UT)

posted April 24, 2008
by Kevin Colburn

article photo 1

 

Your comments are need by May 1 on a massive, 3-decades-long, gas drilling project proposed for Desolation and Gray Canyons.

 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has put together a giant project called the West Tavaputs Plateau Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan, encompassing approximately 137,930 acres of Federal, State, and private lands on both sides of the Green River in Desolation Canyon.

 

This plan would impact the first thirty four miles of Desolation Canyon, an area renowned for its remoteness, its unimpaired beauty and its wilderness characteristics. The developments proposed by the BLM in this plan will seriously damaging these irreplaceable resources.

 

Infrastructure for this mammoth project would be clearly visible from the river for thirty four miles, and would include a network of almost 200 miles of new roads and pipelines, year-round gas drilling and compression stations, new airfields, temporary worker housing, and other facilities. To see a viewshed impact map click here:

 

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ut/price_fo/Oil_Gas.Par.25438.File.dat/VS_DesolationCanyon.pdf

 

The Green River corridor through Desolation and Gray Canyons is home to mountain lion, black bear and four native fish on the federal Endangered Species list. One of these fish species, The Colorado River pike minnow (sqawfish), has its only known breeding area near Three Fords rapid in Desolation Canyon. Other endangered fish have critical habitat along the river immediately below Flat Canyon and at other localities below Jack Canyon (a tributary.) 

 

This vast long-term development plan includes drilling up to 807 new natural gas wells on 538 locations spanning both sides of the Green River in Desolation Canyon over a period of approximately eight years, with the potential to produce natural gas for up to 34 years.

 

At a minimum it would also include three 5-acre storage sites. Under the Agency proposal there are no restrictions on the number of drill rigs, or seasonal drilling restrictions. The proposal includes three 15 acre surface water disposal sites and the EIS is mute on liquid and solid waste disposal pits required for the operations.

 

This plan is going through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review process, and the BLM is taking comments on the Draft EIS through May 1, 2008.

 

If you have rafted or paddled through the Desolation and Gray Canyons (known to river runners as Deso-Gray), it's time to pay back to the resource that has nourished you, your family and paddling friends!

 

 Tell the BLM in your own words that you have traveled through this pristine wilderness area and:

 

- All the draft alternatives improperly infringe on the Desolation Canyon Wild and Scenic River Study Area.

 

- Every one of the draft alternatives improperly infringes on the Jack Canyon Wilderness Study Area.

 

- Before any alternative is selected, all wilderness resource and wildlife surveys and studies must be completed, and the adverse impacts to these critical resources by gas drilling must be considered.

 

- Each of the alternatives fails to take into account the adverse impact this gas field development will have to the roughly 6,000 do-it-yourself and commercial river runners who use the Green River corridor each year.

 

- Every alternative is deficient in explaining how toxic material, either through liquid spill, airborne contamination or solid waste, will be contained to avoid being spilled into the Green River from drill sites within one half mile from the river.

 

- The BLM must consider at least one no-drill alternative that has no drilling, no new roads, and no new development.

 

Comments must be submitted by May 1, 2008, and may be submitted by e-mail at UT_Pr_Comments@blm.gov.

 

Written comments should be sent to: 

 

Bureau of Land Management

Price Field Office

Attn: West Tavaputs Plateau Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan DEIS

125 South 600 West

Price, Utah 84501

 

If you are e-mailing comments, please copy your e-mail to the following three Congressional Representatives:

 

U.S. House of Representatives, House Committee on Natural Resources, Honorable Nick Rahall II Chairman, 1324 Longworth Building, Washington, D.C. 20515, email:nrahall@mail.house.gov.

 

U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Honorable Jeff Bingham (NM) Chairman, 304 Dirksen Senate Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, email:senator_bingaman@bingaman.senate.gov

 

U.S. House of Representatives, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Representative Jim Matheson, 1323 Longworth HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515, email:pamela.juliano@mail.house.gov.

 

You can find additional information on the DEIS at:

 

http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/price/energy/Oil_Gas/Draft_EIS.html

 


Kevin Colburn
Missoula, MT
Phone: 406-543-1802


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