Governor: Resolve Appeals before continuing B-T leasing
Gov. Freudenthal requests April 4 BLM O&G lease sale with 19,000+ acres in Wyoming Range be suspended until Dec. appeals resolved
by Office of Governor Freudenthal
March 30, 2006
(Cheyenne) Offering additional oil and gas leasing prior to the resolution of existing appeals on the Bridger-Teton National Forest raises several concerns, Gov. Dave Freudenthal wrote to federal officials this week.
The Wyoming Bureau of Land Management intends to offer 19,000 acres within the Wyoming Range of the Bridger-Teton for oil and gas leasing April 4. The sale proposal follows a contentious lease sale held in December * now the subject of formal appeals. Freudenthal requested that federal officials suspend the April lease sale until the December appeals are resolved.
"To do otherwise will be perceived by many as a predetermination of the existing appeals," Freudenthal wrote to Regional Forester Jack Troyer and Wyoming BLM Director Bob Bennett.
About 44,000 total acres have been authorized for oil and gas leasing in the Bridger-Teton. Future leasing is likely to drive appeals similar to those from the December sales, Freudenthal said, so it seems logical to resolve the pending appeals before offering more leasing.
Freudenthal and U.S. Forest Service officials recently reached an agreement underscoring protection of roadless area values in Wyoming. Under the memorandum of understanding signed between the state and the Forest Service, no additional oil and gas and mineral leases will be approved within inventoried roadless areas on the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone national forests until leasing availability decisions are made.
Suitability of lands for oil and gas leasing will be evaluated during the forest plan revision process. Later leasing decisions will identify specific acres in the suitable land use areas where leasing may occur * and the specific stipulations that will apply.
"While I'm appreciative that the Forest Service has agreed to delay future leasing in roadless areas, I remain concerned about the conditions and terms under which they propose to issue the authorized leases that are included in the 44,000 acres," Freudenthal said.
Audio file from Governor Freudenthal (256K, 16 second MP3 file)
The full text of the governor's letter follows.
March 28, 2006
Jack Troyer, Regional Forester
USDA Forest Service
324 25th Street
Ogden, UT 84401
Bob Bennett, Wyoming State Director
Bureau of Land Management
P O Box 1828
Cheyenne, WY 82003
Dear Mr. Troyer and Director Bennett:
I have recently learned that the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to offer 19,000 acres within the Wyoming Range of the Bridger-Teton National Forest for oil and gas leasing April 4. This proposed sale follows a contentious lease sale held in December, which has been the subject of formal appeals. I ask that the April sale be suspended until such time as the December sale appeals are resolved.
All told, 44,000 acres have been slated for oil and gas leasing in the Bridger-Teton. Such leasing has raised the ire of a varied range of groups and constituencies. In the spirit of administrative and judicial economy, and with the knowledge that there are likely to be a significant number of substantively and procedurally similar appeals that come as a result of all future leasing in the Bridger-Teton, it seems logical to resolve the December sale appeals before offering additional parcels for lease. To do otherwise will be perceived by many as a predetermination of the existing appeals.
The Wyoming Range is of great importance to the people of Wyoming, and I would like to ensure that their interests are appropriately and completely addressed.