WYOMING – A proposal by Jonah Energy to put in place up to 3,500 directionally-drilled wells near Rock Springs over the next decade is making its way through the process. A draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was released by the BLM last week. The Bureau manages 96 percent of the 140,859 acres the Normally Pressured Lance (NPL) field would encompass.
At about 220 square miles, the project would be a big one; right up there with the two major gas fields—proven producers Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline—it would border to the south and west.
Environmentalists are concerned with sage grouse, pronghorn, and mule deer, not to mention air quality. The project would be situated approximately 68 miles northwest of Rock Springs in an area considered one of the few, if not the only, known sage grouse winter habitat. Effects of energy development and the land disturbance associated with it on sage grouse are not widely documented.
The gas field would also cover a great portion of the annual pronghorn migration route and crucial winter habitat for mule deer. A recent report showed mule deer don’t like gas fields.
Finally, air quality in the Pinedale Anticline and surrounding area suffers during winter months when strong atmospheric inversion pressure traps dirty air near land surface.
The EIS process is currently in the 45-day public comment period. The BLM has issued its preferred Alternative B, which would reduce density somewhat in response to initial public scoping.
Jonah Energy believes it could eventually get at some 5.25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The project could also contribute 700 full-time jobs and stable employment opportunities for southwestern Wyoming, according to the BLM. The project could also generate more than $1B in royalties to the state of Wyoming.
BLM is taking public comment until August 21. Email or write:
NPL EIS Project Manager
BLM Pinedale Field Office
P.O. Box 768, Pinedale, WY 82941