[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 236 (Friday, December 7, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 73049-73050]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-29614]



[[Page 73049]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLWYD03000L131100000.DM0000]


Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Continental Divide-Creston Natural Gas Development 
Project, Wyoming

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (NEPA), as amended, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has 
prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed 
Continental Divide-Creston Natural Gas Development Project, and by this 
notice is announcing the opening of the comment period.

DATES: To ensure that comments will be considered, the BLM must receive 
written comments on the Continental Divide-Creston Natural Gas 
Development Project Draft EIS within 45 days following the date the 
Environmental Protection Agency publishes its Notice of Availability in 
the Federal Register. The BLM will announce future meetings or hearings 
and any other public involvement activities at least 15 days in advance 
through public notices, media releases, and/or mailings.

ADDRESSES: Comments related to the Continental Divide-Creston Natural 
Gas Development Project may be submitted by any of the following 
methods:
     Email: Continental_Divide_Creston_WYMail@blm.gov. 
Please reference ``CD-C Project'' in the subject line.
     Fax: 307-328-4224.
     Mail: Bureau of Land Management, Continental Divide-
Creston Natural Gas Development Project Draft EIS, Attention: Dave 
Simons, Project Manager, P.O. Box 2407, 1300 N. Third Street, Rawlins, 
Wyoming 82301.

Copies of the Continental Divide-Creston Natural Gas Development 
Project Draft EIS are available in the BLM Rawlins Field Office, at the 
address indicated above, the BLM High Desert District Office, 280 
Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901; the BLM Wyoming State 
Office, 5353 Yellowstone Road, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009; and the Carbon 
County Public Library, 215 West Buffalo Street, 117, Rawlins, 
Wyoming 82301; and at the following Web site: http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/rfo/cd_creston.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dave Simons, Project Manager, at the 
BLM Rawlins Field Office, telephone: 307-328-4200; address: 1300 N. 
Third Street, P.O. Box 2407, Rawlins, Wyoming 82301, email: 
Continental_Divide_Creston_WYMail@blm.gov. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above 
individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours 
a day, seven days a week, to leave a message or question with the above 
named individual. You will receive a reply during normal business 
hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The applicant is BP America Production 
Company (BP), representing itself and more than 20 other companies. BP 
has filed a plan of operations pursuant to 43 CFR subpart 3809 to 
expand development of natural gas resources within the existing 
Continental Divide/Wamsutter II and Creston/Blue Gap natural gas 
fields. The BLM has named the project the Continental Divide-Creston 
(CD-C) Natural Gas Development Project. The project proposal is to 
drill and develop 8,950 additional natural gas wells, including 100 to 
500 coal bed natural gas wells, using a combination of both vertical 
and directional drilling techniques, during the next 15 years with a 
30-40 year project life. Planned facilities would include well pads, 
gas and water collection pipelines, compressor stations, water disposal 
systems, an access road network and an electrical distribution system. 
All surface facilities would be removed when the project is completed 
and the land re-contoured to near predisturbance condition and re-
vegetated. More than 4,000 wells have been drilled in the project area, 
which has been undergoing natural gas development since the 1950s.
    Existing surface disturbance in the project area as of September 
2012, is roughly 49,218 acres, including nearly 8,500 acres of long-
term disturbance. Under the proposed plan, the BLM would be approving 
an additional 47,200 acres of surface disturbance. The combined total 
surface disturbance would represent approximately 10 percent of the 
project area.
    The project is located in the following area:

Sixth Principal Meridian

T. 14 N., R. 91 W.,
    Secs. 6, 7, secs. 17 to 20, inclusive, and secs. 29 to 32, 
inclusive.
T. 18 N., R. 91 W.,
    Secs. 3 to 10, inclusive, secs. 15 to 21, inclusive, and secs. 
28 to 32, inclusive.
T. 19 N., R. 91 W.,
    Secs. 1 to 23, inclusive, and secs. 26 to 34, inclusive.
T. 20 N., R. 91 W.,
    Secs. 6, 7, 18, 19, 30, and 31.
T. 21 N., R. 91 W.,
    Secs. 4 to 9, inclusive, secs. 16 to 21, inclusive, and secs. 28 
to 33, inclusive.
T. 22 N., R. 91 W.,
    Secs. 4 to 9, inclusive, secs. 16 to 21, inclusive, and secs. 28 
to 33, inclusive.
T. 23 N., R. 91 W.,
    Secs 4 to 9, inclusive, secs. 16 to 21, inclusive, and secs. 28 
to 33, inclusive.
T. 14 N., R. 92 W.
T. 15 N., R. 92 W.,
    Secs. 3 to 10, inclusive, secs. 14 to 23, inclusive, and secs. 
25 to 36, inclusive.
T. 16 N., R. 92 W.,
    Secs. 4 to 8, inclusive, secs. 18, 19, and secs. 29 to 33, 
inclusive.
T. 17 N., R. 92 W.,
    Secs. 1 to 23, inclusive, and secs. 27 to 34, inclusive.
Tps. 18 to 23 N., R. 92 W.
T. 14 N., R. 93 W.,
    Secs. 1, 2, secs. 11 to 14, inclusive, secs. 23 to 26, 
inclusive, secs. 35 and 36.
T. 15 N., R. 93 W.,
    Secs. 1, 2, 3, secs. 10 to 15, inclusive, secs. 22 to 27, 
inclusive, secs. 34, 35, and 36.
Tps. 16 to 23 N., R. 93 W.
T. 16 N., R. 94 W.,
    Secs. 1 to 14, inclusive, secs. 23 to 26, inclusive, secs. 35 
and 36.
Tps. 17 to 23 N., R. 94 W.
T. 16 N., R. 95 W.,
    Secs. 1, 2, and 3.
    Sec. 4, E\1/2\.
    Secs. 10, 11, and 12.
T. 17 N., R. 95 W.,
    Secs. 1 to 15, inclusive, secs. 22 to 27, inclusive, secs. 34, 
35, and 36.
Tps. 18 to 24 N., R. 95 W.
Tps. 18 to 24 N., R. 96 W.
T. 19 N., R. 97 W.,
    Secs. 1 to 4, inclusive, and secs. 9 to 16, inclusive; those 
portions of secs. 17, 19 and 20 lying south of the right-of-way 
granted to the Union Pacific Railroad Company by the United States, 
serial number WYE-05871;
    Secs. 21 to 36, inclusive.
T. 20 N., R. 97 W.,
    Secs. 1 to 4, inclusive, secs. 9 to 16, inclusive, secs. 21 to 
28, inclusive, and secs. 33 to 36, inclusive.
T. 22 N., R. 97 W.,
    Secs. 1, 2, 3, and secs. 10 to 15, inclusive.
T. 23 N., R. 97 W.,
    Secs. 1 to 4, inclusive, secs. 9 to 16, inclusive, secs. 21 to 
28, inclusive, and secs. 33 to 36, inclusive.
T. 24 N., R. 97 W.,
    Sec. 8, SE\1/4\;
    Sec. 9, S\1/2\;
    Sec. 10, S\1/2\;
    Sec. 11, S\1/2\;
    Sec. 12, S\1/2\;
    Secs. 13 to 16, inclusive;
    Sec. 17, E\1/2\;
    Sec. 20, E\1/2\;
    Secs. 21 to 28, inclusive;
    Sec. 29, E\1/2\;

[[Page 73050]]

    Secs. 33 to 36, inclusive.
T. 19 N., R. 98 W.,
    Those portions of secs. 23 and 24 lying south of the right-of-
way granted to the Union Pacific Railroad Company by the United 
States, serial number WYE-05871;
    Sec. 25;
    Those portions of secs. 26 to 31, inclusive, lying south of the 
right-of-way granted to the Union Pacific Railroad Company by the 
United States, serial number WYE-05871;
    Secs. 32 to 36, inclusive.

    The CD-C project area, including both public and nonpublic lands, 
aggregate approximately 1.1 million acres (1,672 square miles) in 
Carbon and Sweetwater Counties, Wyoming.
    The eastern boundary of the CD-C project area is about 25 miles 
west of the city of Rawlins, Wyoming. The western boundary is roughly 
50 miles east of the city of Rock Springs, Wyoming. Interstate 80 
bisects the project area. The land surface and mineral estate in the 
area are administered by the BLM, the State of Wyoming, and private 
owners. The BLM manages approximately 626,932 surface acres (58.6 
percent), the State of Wyoming owns approximately 48,684 acres (4.5 
percent), and private landowners own approximately 394,470 acres (36.9 
percent). The Rawlins Field Office (RFO) manages the BLM surface lands 
and the Federal mineral estate in the project area.
    Cooperating agencies in this EIS include the State of Wyoming, with 
active participation from many state agencies including the State 
Planning Office, Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), State 
Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Wyoming Department of 
Environmental Quality (WDEQ), and Wyoming Department of Agriculture. 
Regional cooperating agencies include Sweetwater County, the Little 
Snake River Conservation District, and the Sweetwater County 
Conservation District.
    The Notice of Intent to prepare the EIS was published in the 
Federal Register twice, on September 8, 2005 (70 FR 53381), and again 
on March 3, 2006 (71 FR 10989). Two public scoping meetings were held 
in Rawlins, Wyoming, on October 13, 2005, and on April 6, 2006. Fifty 
comment letters, faxes, and emails were received during the extended 
scoping period.
    Key issues identified during scoping include:
     Air quality: Potential project and cumulative impacts on 
air quality, including air quality-related values (AQRV).
     Cultural resources: The impact on the historic trails and 
transportation corridors in the project area.
     Hydrology: Potential degradation of surface and or ground 
water quality by project construction and drilling activities.
     Land ownership: The majority of the project area is in the 
``checkerboard'' pattern of mixed public and private land ownership, 
complicating landscape scale impact reduction through mitigation on 
public lands where adjacent sections are non-public lands not subject 
to BLM regulations and requirements.
     Non-native, invasive plant species: The effect of current 
and projected infestations of non-native, invasive species.
     Rangeland management: Loss of livestock forage and the 
impact of project-associated hazardous conditions to area livestock 
operations.
     Special-status species: The impact from project activities 
upon threatened and endangered and sensitive wildlife species.
     Socioeconomics: The impact of the project on traditional 
socioeconomic indicators.
     Surface disturbance/reclamation: The extent of existing 
and proposed surface disturbance and its effects on all resources in 
the project area; and
     Wildlife habitat: The project's potential to further 
fragment wildlife habitat and further diminish the value of that 
habitat for many species.
    In response to these issues, the BLM has developed five 
alternatives addressing the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of 
the Proposed Action which are analyzed in the Draft EIS:
     Alternative A, 100-Percent Vertical Drilling--This 
alternative assumes that all natural gas wells would be drilled from 
single-well pads, and that no directional drilling would occur;
     Alternative B, Enhanced Resource Protection--This 
alternative identifies those resources that may be most at risk from 
natural gas development, defines areas within the CD-C project area 
where those resource risks are likely to occur, and describes the 
enhanced protection and mitigations that could diminish those risks;
     Alternative C, Surface Disturbance Cap, Core and Non-Core 
Areas--This alternative places a cap on unreclaimed surface disturbance 
caused by natural gas development, a 60-acre cap in areas that have 
seen the greatest natural gas development to date and a 30-acre cap in 
the rest of the project area. The cap is acres per 640 acre section;
     Alternative D, Directional Drilling--This alternative 
requires that all future natural gas wells on Federal mineral estate be 
drilled from multi-well pads, one new multi-well pad per section; and
     Alternative E, No Action--NEPA regulations require that 
the EIS alternatives analysis ``include the alternative of no action'' 
(40 CFR 1502.14(d)). For this analysis, no action means that the 
development activities proposed by the CD-C operators would not be 
approved or authorized as proposed. Lease rights on Federal lands or 
mineral estate granted by the BLM would remain in effect and other, 
additional or supplemental proposals to develop leased resources, such 
as natural gas, could be received and would be considered by the BLM as 
appropriate.
    Please note that public comments and information submitted 
including names, street addresses, and email addresses of persons who 
submit comments will be available for public review and disclosure at 
the above address during regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m.), Monday through Friday, except holidays.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you may 
ask the BLM in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Authority:  40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10.

Donald A. Simpson,
State Director.
[FR Doc. 2012-29614 Filed 12-6-12; 8:45 am]
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