The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the final environmental analysis and proposed land use plan amendment for the Converse County Oil and Gas Project – a project which, if approved, could generate up to 8,000 jobs and approximately $18-$28 billion in shared state and federal revenues, according to state officials.
In a county which relies on energy for the biggest chunk of it’s revenue, this could be considered good news.
Converse County Commissioner Jim Willox said the July 24 release of the EIS is “a long-awaited path forward for U.S. energy independence and responsible, balanced development of Wyoming’s and Converse County’s resources.”
“The jobs, tax revenues and energy this area has the potential to produce will benefit generations to come,” he said.
The EIS evaluates a proposal to develop oil and gas resources in Converse County. It was submitted by Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Devon Energy, EOG Resources, Inc. and Northwoods Energy.
The operator group proposes to drill approximately 5,000 oil and natural gas wells in Converse County in an area encompassing approximately 1.5 million acres over a 10-year period.
The BLM’s proposed resource management plan amendment would modify the Casper RMP to allow for timing limitation relief in the project area in a manner which would balance regulatory certainty for year-round drilling with the conservation of non-eagle raptor species.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming said the final environmental impact statement for the project has been a long time coming, the result of years of work and collaboration between federal, state and local stakeholders.
“Oil and gas development is a cornerstone of Wyoming’s economy. The Converse County Oil and Gas Project is estimated to bring thousands of jobs and substantial revenue to our state. I look forward to closely reviewing it and being one step closer to making this Wyoming energy and jobs project a reality,” Barrasso said.
BLM officials said under Trump’s administration and U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, BLM has led the way in responsibly expanding the nation’s energy potential.
“This proposed amendment would allow for sustainable development of the area’s oil and gas resources, while balancing the conservation of wildlife in the area and providing important economic benefits to the State of Wyoming,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond said.
Gov. Mark Gordon also appears to be in favor of BLM’s recent release of the project’s EIS.
“In a time when our state faces significant economic challenges, the decision to move forward confirms my belief that the oil and gas industry will remain a committed, responsible and vital part of Wyoming’s economy, as well as a valued partner to her people,” Gordon stated.
The project builds a consistent framework for energy development in Converse County, he said.
“The State of Wyoming values the BLM’s coordination that took into account industry needs, wildlife conservation and the local economy. It took a long time, but in the end I am eager to see this important project come to fruition,” he said.
The project will serve as a critical source of jobs and economic growth for Wyoming as we continue to recover from COVID-19, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming said.
“I’m pleased to see the (project’s) final environmental impact statement and proposed resource management plan released. Our state’s fossil fuels are a national treasure. I’m glad this important project is moving forward,” she said.
BLM confirmed they’ve coordinated with Native American tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, the proponents and other interested parties throughout the EIS process to solicit input on issues and resource information for the project.
Anyone who participated in the planning process for this proposed RMP amendment and who is or may be adversely affected by the decisions may protest the amendment’s approval, officials said.
The project’s final EIS is available at go.usa.gov/xdYhv
The 30-day period to file protests ends Aug. 31. All protests must be received in writing or electronically through the project’s ePlanning website at eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/66551/510
Instructions for filing a protest with BLM are located online atblm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/public-participation/filing-a-plan-protest or at 43 CFR 1610.5-2.
Contact BLM Project Manager Mike Robinson at 307-261-7520 for more information.