PINEDALE — More than 200 miles of federal and private lands in Sublette County are designated in the state’s final version of the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative that proposes a large network to move carbon dioxide and enhance oil recovery.
Even though the county and Upper Green River Basin hold a small amount of the corridor initiative’s 1,970 mile long network, the Bureau of Land Management’s choice of Alternative E could potentially cause more disruption to sagebrush, soils, greater sage-grouse, wildlife, recreation livestock and air quality than other alternatives.
“The corridor locations were designed to provide potential rights of way across the state adjacent to existing oil and gas fields,” said Wyoming BLM’s Brad Purdy on Thursday. He pointed out that “site-specific impacts” will be considered when a project-specific proposal is submitted, with specific mitigation measures to alleviate negative impacts.
“The corridors are there; we would still have to do a full (National Environmental Policy Act) analysis, whether it is an environmental assessment or an EIS (for a new pipeline),” Purdy said.
A 30-day protest period opened through Nov. 23; the record of decision will not be signed until Gov. Mark Gordon completes his 60-day consistency review.
Gov. Gordon was pleased, saying, “The WPCI is a first-of-its-kind project that incentivizes solutions to one of our nation’s most consequential ways to address environmental and economic challenges.”
Alternative E – also titled “Enhanced Development Opportunity with Resource Conflict Minimization and Dedicated Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage; Enhanced Oil Recovery; and other Compatible Use” – has about 73 percent of already approved ROW and utility corridors.
Purdy said the corridors could link future pipelines with the Pinedale Anticline, Jonah Field and Normally Pressured Lance Field, although there are no applications at this time.
The BLM approved Denbury Resources’s pipeline right-of-way and sweetening plant project last year but there are no construction plans, he added.
Riley Ridge pipeline’s Segment 1 is included as WPCI’s Segment 5 – “an approximately 123-mile-long, 200-foot-wide lateral corridor. This segment will provide transportation from Riley Ridge CO2 production facilities. This designated segment lies within Sublette and Sweetwater counties.”
Also partly in Sublette County, Segment 5 would runs through 112.35 miles of BLM lands, 7.7 miles of state land, and 3.22 miles of private land. Segment 1 at 144.25 miles would cross 64.9 miles of BLM, 1.05 miles of Forest Service land, 2.5 miles of state land, 10.16 miles of the Bureau of Reclamation and 65.3 miles on private land, according to the final EIS.
Acres required for Segment 1 are 1,583.34 private, 72.15 state, 1,565.48 BLM, 25.46 Forest Service and 247.37 Bureau of Reclamation. Acres for Segment 5 are 80.66 private, 186.59 state, 2,719.96 BLM and none on Forest Service or BOR lands.
Alternative E could mean higher potential negative effects to sagebrush, high desert vegetation, air and water quality, wildlife ranges, priority sage-grouse habitat, historic trails, cultural sites, fossil beds and “blue ribbon” fishers, according to the final EIS.
About 437,000 acres of high desert sagebrush could be disturbed and is already in decline, the final EIS says.
“Within each corridor there would be a long-term reduction in shrub and tree cover,” it says. “Wyoming big sagebrush and other sagebrush shrubs can take 35 to 120 years to reestablish through natural propagation in disturbed ROW areas. … Impacts would be considered irretrievable unless vegetation is successfully accomplished.”
To comment or find project information and links to all project documents, go to the BLM’s ePlanning site at https://go.usa.gov/xpCMr.