Leasing SEIS in the Wyoming Range remains suspect, Governor says
by Governor Dave Freudenthal
May 27, 2008
Gov. Dave Freudenthal remains concerned that the integrity of an environmental analysis for leasing in the Wyoming Range has been compromised by an inappropriate relationship between the U.S. Forest Service and an oil and gas company.
The U.S. Forest Service announced today that it will dissolve its memorandum of understanding with Stanley Energy, a company seeking to acquire oil and gas leases in a sensitive 44,720 acre area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming.
On hearing the news, the Governor released the following statement:
“This is a good first step by the Forest Service, but it is only a first step. We still have the same proposal, and we still have the same unreasonable time line.
This MOU provided undue access for Stanley Energy to dictate both the details and the outcome of the analysis that will determine the fate of this sensitive block of leases in the Wyoming Range.
The dissolution of the agreement appears to be a good first step, but one that was only necessary because the Forest Service chose to compromise the integrity of the leasing SEIS by allowing Stanley an inappropriate seat at the table. The company and the contractor may now be gone, but the process may still be tainted by a sense of impropriety.
We remain concerned that the Forest Service continues to push that this analysis be completed on a very short time line. Development of the Wyoming Range involves serious questions about air quality, watersheds and wildlife, including such sensitive and threatened species as the cutthroat trout and Canada lynx. It is too critical to address in a hurried fashion.
Instead of rushing this sensitive analysis, the Forest Service should approach the leasing decision in a forest plan revision and wait to see the outcome of Sen. Barrasso’s Wyoming Range legislation which passed out of the Senate Energy and Resources Committee earlier this month.
The approach of warmer weather brings with it concerns about wildfires, beetle-killed trees and a host of other costly forest management issues. The Forest Service may want to consider its priorities as it moves forward with this costly analysis.”