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BLM Releases Environmental Assessment for Public Comment

If approved, a proposal by Bill Barrett Corporation would place five wells on two well pads in the Western Tavaputs Plateau. The proposal in under review by the Bureau of Land Management, which issued an environmental assessment for public comment this week.

The Bureau of Land Management's Price Field Office announced on Tusday that the comment period for an environmental assessment of the Bill Barrett Corporation Prickly Pear Bench seven well, two pad drilling project will be open from Jan. 23 through Feb. 6. The EA will determine if a one-time exception to the high country watershed stipulation will be given to allow development during the winter season.

This EA incorporates by reference the analysis contained in the environmental assessment for the West Tavaputs Plateau drilling program, completed in 2004, and is tiered to the previous planning decision to implement oil and gas development in the area, including on Prickly Pear Bench.

All mitigation measures, such as stipulations to allow protection of steep slopes, saturated soils, springs and floodplains of perennial streams would be applied to avoid impacts.

The proponent has requested the exception in order to develop two well pad locations to accommodate seven natural gas wells (two vertical and five directional) to be developed during the 2006 to 2007 winter season. The project is within the Prickly Pear Federal Unit, where oil and gas exploration and development has been occurring since the 1950s.

However, the 2004 environmental assessment did not contemplate development taking place during the winter season. Because of this, the current EA is much narrower in scope, focusing only on the effects related to the winter activities.

Therefore, the issues addressed in this analysis are limited to the high country watershed and wildlife, particularly wintering big game species and greater sage-grouse.

The EA assists the BLM in making a determination as to whether any significant impacts could result from the analyzed actions.

The EA is available at and comments may be sent to Brad Higdon, Price Field Office, 125 S. 600 West, Price UT 84501.

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