Plan Responds to Public Concern About Oil and Gas Development in the Thompson Divide Area
SILT, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing 65 oil and gas leases that had been issued on the White River National Forest from 1995 to 2012. The BLM’s Preferred Alternative in the Final EIS would cancel the 25 undeveloped leases within the area known as the Thompson Divide; apply new stipulations to the remaining leases that are not currently producing oil or gas; and make no or only minor adjustments for leases that are producing.
“The BLM’s proposed action strikes the right balance in land management,” said BLM Colorado State Director Ruth Welch. “It respects last year’s decision by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to maintain the character of the White River National Forest while also facilitating oil and gas development.”
The 65 oil and gas leases analyzed in today’s Final EIS are entirely on lands managed by the White River National Forest. The Final EIS addresses deficiencies in the environmental analyses and the process used to support the issuance of those leases.
“We appreciate all the work that the local community has put into this process,” added Welch. “Working together we have been able to address the public’s concern with oil and gas development in this remarkable area.”
Since the leases in question are under surface lands managed by the USFS, it is the USFS’s role to determine which of those lands are available for oil and gas leasing and to take the lead in conducting the environmental analysis needed to support those decisions. The BLM must either formally adopt the USFS’s analysis or perform its own before leasing the public’s mineral resources under National Forest System Lands. Since the BLM did not formally adopt the USFS’s analysis or conduct its own prior to issuing any of the 65 leases, it had to undertake the analysis being finalized today.
The Preferred Alternative is consistent with the decision made by the USFS in their recently completed EIS that looked at future leasing in the White River National Forest. The BLM’s Final EIS incorporates much of the information and analysis generated by the USFS. The Final EIS is available at: http://www.blm.gov/co/crvfo. Publication of the Notice of Availability of the Final EIS will occur next Friday, August 5, 2016. The notice will start a 30-day availability period for the EIS, with a Record of Decision expected early in the fall.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. With a total workforce of over 10,000 employees, the BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.