PAWG meeting notes: March 27
Seated at the table, left to right: Caleb Hiner, BLM PAWG liaison; Betty Fear, Sublette County PAWG member; Paul Hagenstein, PAWG member representing livestock industry; Robin Smith, PAWG Chairman representing oil and gas operators; Chuck Otto, Pinedale BLM Field Manager; Cathy Purves, PAWG member representing the environmental community.
Pinedale Anticline Working Group
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
March 30, 2008
The Pinedale Anticline Working Group (PAWG) met at the Pinedale BLM office on Thursday, March 27, 2008. PAWG members attending were Robin Smith, Cathy Purves, Paul Hagenstein, Betty Fear and Nulla Kunard. Several members of the public were also present, along with reporters for the two local newspapers, and Pinedale Online.
Current PAWG members are:
Cathy Purves, representing Environmental Community
Paul Hagenstein, representing Livestock Operators
Robin Smith, representing Oil & Gas Operators
Nylla Kunard, representing the Town of Pinedale
Betty Fear, representing Sublette County
- Caleb Hiner, Pinedale BLM liaison, told the group they were unsuccessful in getting reappointments for current PAWG members whose terms are expiring. They must go through the reapplication process. Betty Fear’s appointment expired on March 22, so her term has expired. Robin, Paul, Nylla and Cathy’s terms expire on October 22. There are currently four unfilled PAWG seats. Betty Fear turned in her application last December, but the BLM did not submit it because they hoped the request for reappointment would be approved. Now they are submitting the paperwork to advertise her position in the Federal Register. It will be several weeks before it is in and advertised. The entire Federal Register advertising requirement will ad another month -1/2 to the process. Betty expressed her frustration and disappointment that her application has sat on a BLM employee's desk for 4 months and was not submitted. She sees a lack of commitment from the BLM at all levels to the PAWG process.
Vacant PAWG seats:
Public at-large (2)
State of Wyoming
- Chuck Otto, new Pinedale BLM Field Manager, said he would try to press Washington DC to expedite the appointments and renew the PAWG charter. He said the local office definitely was committed to PAWG and all the good work they are doing. He apologized for the long delay in the reappointment, but said it was beyond his control.
- The PAWG decided to write a letter to the Secretary of the Interior requesting they expedite the reappointments. They also asked Chuck Otto/Pinedale BLM and will ask Governor Freudenthal to write a letter asking the same thing. Caleb commented if they write these letters, they should be prepared they might get criticism questioning the commitment of PAWG members to the process because of all the resignations.
- Cathy, Robin, Nylla and Paul again said they wanted to continue as a group so the work of the Task Groups would get in front of the BLM. Betty is very frustrated and does not want to be reappointed if they keep getting stonewalled by the BLM with long delays and inaction.
- Ted Rentmeister, Project Manager for the Jonah Interagency Office (JIO), gave an update. They will have $24.5 million to work with in their mitigation fund on the Pinedale Anticline which was committed by EnCana and BP. They just finished their third round of solicitations for new projects. They received 30 project requests for a total of $22.9 million requested. JIO will no longer establish deadlines for accepting project applications. Future projects will be evaluated on a first-come/first-served basis and can be submitted at any time for consideration. More info about the JIO is available on the web at http://www.wy.blm.gov/jonah_office/
- Chuck Otto gave an update on other BLM upcoming projects:
- Cimarex Energy Helium Development at Riley Ridge Field: The BLM has formed an ID team for this proposal. They will do scoping once they get more information from the company. This project may require an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). They won’t know until they see what the company brings to them.
- LaBarge Platform: Proposal by EOG Resources. An ID team has been formed on it. Probably will have an EIS for it.
- Jonah EnCana Worker Camp: EA approved in January. Company doing site prep now. Construction in late spring. Operational by summer. It is adjacent to the new pressure plant that just went online.
- Non-Pressurized Lance Formation Proposal south of Jonah Field: Proposal has grown from 70 to 85 wells. Work on this proposal is on-going. Rock Springs BLM office has the lead on this project. Comments on this close on March 30th.
- Carmel Kail, concerned citizen, addressed the PAWG asking them to ask the BLM to consider human health impacts along with other environmental impacts of natural gas development. She asked PAWG members if they would sign a public letter being passed around for signatures asking the BLM to do a Health Impact Analysis related to natural gas development activity in the Pinedale Anticline and Jonah Field. The letter is in response to the 5 recent Ozone Advisories issued by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality for the Upper Green River Valley and Sublette County. The purpose is to get something moving to get high ozone levels addressed in the Pinedale Anticline EIS. She pointed out that the DEQ air quality monitors were originally designed to monitor for changes and impacts on visibility. There is concern the current DEQ ozone detectors are placed too high to adequately monitor for human height breathing levels to detect ground level ozone and should be lowered to get accurate measurements of ozone levels for human health impacts. Robin noted the PAWG doesn’t have a task group to deal with the ozone health concerns. Nylla said there was discussion at the last Pinedale Town Council meeting wondering why there wasn’t an ozone monitor in Pinedale.
Jocelyn Moore on the Water Quality Task Group, and Mark Thiesse, West District Supervisor for the Groundwater Pollution Control Program with the Wyoming DEQ Water Quality Division (and on the PAWG Water Quality Task Group), gave an update on gas field water quality topics. Mark said the DEQ tentatively has scheduled a public meeting for the evening of Tuesday, April 22, in Pinedale to discuss air and water quality concerns. Water quality testing out in the gas field is being paid for by operators and done by the Sublette County Conservation District. Recent industrial water well contamination in two wells has been traced to a need for back flow preventors and possibly contaminants in the pipe dope being used. They do not know what is causing the contamination in the third well (Shell well). Operators are leaning towards “natural causes” for the contamination. No shallow, non-gas-field related water well has ever had a hydrocarbon detection in their tests to date. All the hits have been on gasfield industrial water wells. All water wells are tested every year. There are 250 water wells being sampled in the Pinedale Anticline and 70 in the Jonah Field. The sampling is not a requirement of the Record of Decision, so they can’t require operators do it or pay for it. But the companies are doing it anyway because they want to figure it out and fix it.
- There was discussion of what constitutes a quorum for PAWG. Caleb said they need 2/3 of the PAWG members to have a quorum, which is 6 members. Currently, with the unfilled positions and Betty’s term just expiring, they only have 4 members, so they do not have a quorum. That means they can discuss things but can’t vote on anything or pass any decisions.
- The annual PAWG operator’s tour is tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 20th at 8:30 am. Meet at the Pinedale BLM building. Caleb asked what the group wants the operators to show them. Cathy said the air quality monitoring stations and industrial water wells. Some operators would like to show examples of their mitigation. Caleb will issue a press release about the tour and ask people to RSVP if they want to go. Need a head count to arrange the transportation busses.
- PAWG member Cathy brought up the EPA’s request for another SEIS due to serious environmental concerns over the BLM’s preferred alternative for the Pinedale Anticline. Chuck Otto said they are working with the EPA and DEQ to try and “come to some resolutions” so the BLM won’t have to do a new EIS. They will do some additional modeling and other things. They have another meeting scheduled on it tomorrow (Friday, March 28th). The BLM is trying to convince the EPA to not make them do a new EIS. They want to stay on course and not have the delays of a new EIS.
- PAWG member Paul Hagenstein expressed his frustration again with the delays in the reappointments and lack of a quorum for the group. “It will be October before we can do anything.”
- Nylla asked if they can still ask the Task Groups to come and present their progress to them at the May 29th , 1:00 PM meeting. The Task Group leaders will be asked to do a 10 minute presentation and also allot 10 more minutes for questions about their group. Task Group leaders should contact Caleb about getting on the agenda. It will be a lengthy meeting with all the presentations.
Future 2008 PAWG meeting dates are scheduled for: