Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Gasco Uinta Basin Natural Gas Development Project, Duchesne and Uintah Counties, UT, 60805-60807 [2010-24582]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 190 / Friday, October 1, 2010 / Notices The Draft EIS/EIR documents the direct, indirect and cumulative effects to the physical, biological, and socioeconomic environment that may result from construction of the Project. The purpose of the Project is to create and maintain a reliable system for collecting adult fish to assist Reclamation in meeting mitigation obligations for spawning areas blocked by the construction of Nimbus Dam. Other objectives are to (1) minimize annual operations and maintenance costs, (2) eliminate the need to reduce river flows for weir superstructure repairs, maintenance, and annual installation, which in turn increases operational flexibility, and (3) improve public and worker safety. The Draft EIS/EIR evaluates three action alternatives and the No-Action alternative. Alternative 1 consists of the construction of a new fish passageway from the Hatchery to an area near the south end of the Nimbus Dam stilling basin, removal of the existing fish diversion weir, and potential modification of fishing regulations. The removal of the existing weir would allow the fish to access the stilling basin area. Because of the potential for fishing to significantly impact fishery resources, two regulatory options, Alternatives 1A and 1C, are being considered. CDFG is evaluating potential changes in fishing regulations to help protect spawning salmon and steelhead and to maintain fish passage to the hatchery. Reclamation is evaluating potential changes in public access to the stilling basin that best meet project purposes. Alternative 2 involves replacing the existing fish diversion weir with a new weir immediately upstream of its current location. The existing permanent and seasonal fishing closures would remain in effect, unchanged. However, a new weir would be much more effective in preventing fish from entering the river and stilling basin upstream from the Hatchery. The No-Action Alternative would be the continuation of the existing regulatory conditions. The existing weir would not be replaced. The existing permanent and seasonal fishing closures would remain in effect, unchanged. Copies of the Draft EIS/EIR are available for public review at the following locations: • Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Region, Regional Library, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825. • Central California Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, 7794 Folsom Dam Road, Folsom, CA 95630. • Nimbus Fish Hatchery, 2001 Nimbus Road, Gold River, CA 95670. emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Sep 30, 2010 Jkt 220001 Special Assistance for Public Meetings If special assistance is required to participate in the public meetings, please contact Ms. Janet Sierzputowski at 916–978–5112, TTY 916–978–5608, or e-mail jsierzputowski@usbr.gov. Please notify Ms. Sierzputowski as far in advance as possible to enable Reclamation to secure the needed services. If a request cannot be honored, the requestor will be notified. Public Disclosure Before including your name, address, phone number, e-mail 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 can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Dated: March 11, 2010. Pablo R. Arroyave, Deputy Regional Director, Mid-Pacific Region. Editorial Note: This document was received in the Office of the Federal Register on September 27, 2010. [FR Doc. 2010–24609 Filed 9–30–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–MN–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLUTG01100–09–L13100000–EJ0000] Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Gasco Uinta Basin Natural Gas Development Project, Duchesne and Uintah Counties, UT Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and associated regulations, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that evaluates, analyzes, and discloses to the public direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of a proposal to develop natural gas in Uintah and Duchesne Counties, Utah. This notice announces a 45-day public comment period to meet the requirements of the NEPA and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60805 The Draft EIS will be available for public review for 45 calendar days following the date that the Environmental Protection Agency publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. The BLM can best use comments and resource information submitted within the 45-day review period. Public meetings will be held during the 45-day public comment period in Vernal, Duchesne, and Price, Utah. The dates, times, and places will be announced through local news media and the BLM Web site: http:// www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/info/ newsroom.2.html at least 15 days prior to the meeting dates. ADDRESSES: Comments on the Draft EIS may be submitted by any of the following methods: • Mail: Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Stephanie Howard, Vernal Field Office, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, Utah 84078. • E-mail: UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov. • Fax: (435) 781–4410. Please reference the Gasco EIS when submitting your comments. Comments and information submitted on the Draft EIS for the Gasco project, including names, e-mail addresses, and street addresses of respondents, will be available for public review at the Vernal Field Office. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephanie Howard, Project Manager, BLM Vernal Field Office 170 South 500 East, Vernal, Utah 84078; or by phone at (435) 781–4400. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Draft EIS is available on the following Web site: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/ vernal/planning.html. In response to a proposal submitted by Gasco Energy, Inc., (Gasco), the BLM published in the February 10, 2006, Federal Register a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS. The Gasco EIS Project Area encompasses approximately 206,826 acres located about 20 miles south of Roosevelt, Utah. The Draft EIS analyzes a proposal by Gasco to develop Federal natural gas resources on their leases. Gasco’s proposal includes drilling a total of up to 1,491 new wells and constructing associated ancillary transportation, transmission, and water disposal facilities within the project area. Of the 206,826 acres within the project area, about 86 percent is Federal lands administered by the BLM; 12 percent is owned by the State of Utah and administered by the Utah State School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration; and 2 percent is privately owned. The proposed life of the project is 45 years, with most DATES: E:\FR\FM\01OCN1.SGM 01OCN1 emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with NOTICES 60806 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 190 / Friday, October 1, 2010 / Notices drilling and development activities to occur within the first 15 years following approval of the BLM’s Record of Decision. The new gas wells would be drilled to the Wasatch, Mesaverde, Blackhawk, Mancos, Dakota, and Green River formations at depths of 5,000 to 20,000 feet. Gasco’s proposal is based on a maximum surface density of one well pad per 40 acres, but the exact surface density would be defined during on-site review and permitting. The Proposed Action and alternatives incorporate best management practices for oil and gas development and other measures necessary to adequately address impacts to transportation, public safety, cultural resources, recreational opportunities, wildlife, threatened and endangered species, visual resources, wilderness characteristics, air quality, and other relevant issues. The Draft EIS describes and analyzes the impacts of Gasco’s Proposed Action and four alternatives, including the No Action Alternative. Three additional alternatives were considered but eliminated from detailed analysis. The following is a summary of the alternatives: 1. Proposed Action: Up to 1,491 new gas wells would be drilled and about 325 miles of new roads and 431 miles of pipelines would be constructed to support this proposed development. An evaporative facility of approximately 214 acres would be constructed to dispose of produced waters. In all, approximately 7,584 acres, or 4 percent of the total project area, would be disturbed under this alternative. No roads, pipelines, or well pads would be developed below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon. This is the agency preferred alternative in the Draft EIS. 2. Reduced Development: Up to 1,114 new gas wells would be drilled and about 274 miles of new roads and 393 miles of pipelines would be constructed to support development. An evaporative facility of approximately 157 acres would be constructed to dispose of produced waters. This alternative would avoid or minimize development in several sensitive areas, including Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), non-Wilderness-Study-Area lands with wilderness characteristics, and lands near raptor nests and sage grouse leks. In all, approximately 5,685 acres, or 3 percent of the total project area, would be disturbed under this alternative. No well pads would be located below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon, although approximately 17 acres of surface disturbance would be expected due to roads or pipelines VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Sep 30, 2010 Jkt 220001 below the upper rim. This disturbance would include 2 miles of new roads. 3. Full Development: Under this alternative, all leases would be developed at 40–160 acre spacing, with up to 1,887 new gas wells drilled and about 526 miles of new roads and 861 miles of pipelines constructed to support development. An evaporative facility of approximately 271 acres would be constructed to dispose of produced waters. In all, approximately 9,982 acres, or 5 percent of the total project area, would be disturbed under this alternative. A total of 95 well pads would be located below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon, resulting in approximately 562 acres of surface disturbance. This disturbance would include 37 miles of new roads. 4. No Action Alternative: The proposed natural gas development on the BLM lands as described in the Proposed Action or other action alternatives would not be implemented. However, under this alternative, natural gas exploration and development is assumed to continue on Federal, State, and private lands, albeit at a much smaller scale. In all, approximately 2,055 acres, or 1 percent of the total project area, would be disturbed under this alternative. No roads, pipelines, or well pads would be developed below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon. 5. Directional Drilling: Up to 1,114 new gas wells would be drilled from 328 pads, and about 106 miles of new roads and 216 miles of pipelines would be constructed to support development. An evaporative facility of approximately 157 acres would be constructed to dispose of produced waters. This alternative would avoid or minimize development in several sensitive areas, including ACECs, lands with wilderness characteristics, and near raptor nests and sage grouse leks. In all, approximately 2,174 acres, or 1 percent of the total project area, would be disturbed under this alternative. No well pads would be located below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon, although approximately 9 acres of surface disturbance would be expected due to roads or pipelines below the upper rim. This disturbance would include 1 mile of new road. 6. Alternatives Considered, but Eliminated from Further Analysis: Three alternatives were considered but eliminated from further analysis. These include: a. Total Avoidance of Development in Sensitive Areas: This alternative would preclude all development on sensitive lands within the project area, including BLM-administered lands near or within view of the Green River, areas proposed PO 00000 Frm 00096 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 for special designations, and ACECs. This alternative was not carried forward because it would not meet the purpose and need of the project, which is for the BLM to allow development in an environmentally sound manner of lease rights held by Gasco and other operators. In addition, this alternative was not carried forward because it is not feasible and would not serve to reduce the impacts of the development from those of the proposed action or resource protection alternatives, which must comply with laws protecting endangered species, archaeological resources, and the like. These parcels are interspersed with private and State lands where development is proposed to occur, regardless of the Federal decision resulting from this Draft EIS. Avoiding development on Federal lands will not serve to prevent, for example, habitat fragmentation, where roads and pipelines will nevertheless be built to serve the development of the private and State minerals. While the BLM may require lessees to relocate proposed wells, the lessees have a reasonable contractual expectation that they can engage in development somewhere on their lease. Given the high proportion of the area that is already leased, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to implement this alternative on an adequate amount of acreage to achieve a reduction in impacts greater than will be achieved by compliance with the Endangered Species Act and other applicable laws, the Vernal Resource Management Plan, and two of the alternatives in the Draft EIS carried forward for detailed analysis. b. Wells for Subsurface Water Disposal: This alternative was not carried forward because no suitable geologic formations for disposal wells have been discovered within the project area to date. Exploration and production wells in the project area have not indicated the presence of a suitably extensive and permeable formation for disposal. c. Complete Reliance on Buried Pipelines and Centralized Tank Batteries: This alternative was not carried forward because of site-specific variables including shallow soils and highly variable topography. Due to shallow soils and surface bedrock, the surface disturbance from burying pipelines would be greater in severity or extent, or would persist longer, than those impacts resulting from the surface placement of pipelines. Where pipeline burial increases the percentage of coarse fragments in the soil, the reclamation potential of the disturbed area would be reduced due to a limited water-holding capacity. Similarly, collection pipelines E:\FR\FM\01OCN1.SGM 01OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 190 / Friday, October 1, 2010 / Notices from the wellhead to central tank batteries carry high levels of water and condensate and must be buried to prevent plugging and freezing at wellhead spacing greater than 20 acres. Therefore, centralization of these facilities would require a great deal of buried pipelines to be constructed, resulting in the same environmental impacts described above for buried pipelines. However, burying pipelines and centralizing tank batteries, as a means of reducing overall environmental impact, will be considered on a site-specific basis as appropriate. The public is encouraged to comment on any of these alternatives. The BLM asks that those submitting comments make them as specific as possible with reference to chapters, page numbers, and paragraphs in the Draft EIS document. Comments that contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response; however, they will be considered, and included, as part of the BLM decision-making process. The most useful comments will contain new technical or scientific information, identify data gaps in the impact analysis, or will provide technical or scientific rationale for opinions or preferences. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail 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 can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Juan Palma, State Director. [FR Doc. 2010–24582 Filed 9–30–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–DQ–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with NOTICES [LLOR932000–L16100000–DF0000– LXSS062H0000; HAG 10–0283] Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision for Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on Bureau of Land Management Lands in Oregon Final Environmental Impact Statement Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Sep 30, 2010 Jkt 220001 1969, as amended (NEPA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Record of Decision (ROD) for Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on Bureau of Land Management Lands in Oregon and by this notice is announcing its availability. The ROD selects a slightly modified version of Alternative 4 as described in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on Bureau of Land Management Lands in Oregon, notice of which was published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2010 (75 FR 44981). The selected alternative increases the number of herbicides available for use on BLM-managed lands in Oregon and increases the number of objectives for which they can be used. The herbicides and uses permitted by the selected alternative fall entirely within those approved for use in 17 western states by the BLM in its September 2007 ROD for the Final Programmatic EIS for Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on BLM lands in 17 Western States. The Oregon decision incorporates the standard operating procedures and mitigation measures adopted by the BLM’s 2007 17 western states decision and adds additional mitigation and monitoring requirements specific to Oregon. DATES: There is a 30-day appeal period before the decision can take effect (see ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS below). Appeals must be postmarked within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Thompson, EIS Project Manager, by telephone at (503) 808–6326, by mail at Bureau of Land Management— OR932, P.O. Box 2965, Portland, Oregon 97208; or by e-mail at orvegtreatments@blm.gov. Copies of the ROD and the Vegetation Treatments Final EIS upon which it is based are available on the Internet at: http://www.blm.gov/or/plans/ vegtreatmentseis/. Printed copies have been sent to libraries and BLM district offices throughout Oregon. Compact Disc (CD) copies have also been sent to affected Federal, State, tribal, and local government agencies; to persons who have asked to be on the project mailing list; and to everyone who submitted comments on the Draft EIS, unless they requested the ROD in a different format or opted off of the distribution list. Requests to receive printed or CD copies of the ROD should be sent to one of the addresses listed above. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Final EIS for Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on BLM Lands in Oregon PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60807 provides a comprehensive analysis of a proposal to make an additional 13 herbicides available (above the current 4) to BLM districts in Oregon and to expand on the management objectives for which they may be used (beyond just noxious weed control). The selected alternative, a slightly modified Alternative 4, would allow for the use of 17 herbicides east of the Cascades and 14 herbicides west of the Cascades to control noxious and invasive weeds; treat vegetation along roads, rights-ofway, and BLM improvements; and conduct habitat improvement projects for special status species. The Oregon BLM currently uses four herbicides only for the treatment of noxious weeds. A noxious weed is any plant designated by a Federal, State or county government as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, or property. The list of invasive weeds includes not only noxious weeds but also other nonnative, aggressive plants that have the potential to cause significant damage to native ecosystems and/or cause significant economic losses. In 1984, the BLM was prohibited from using herbicides in Oregon by a U.S. District Court injunction issued in Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, et al. v. Block, et al., (Civ. No. 82–6273–E). Following completion of an EIS examining the use of four herbicides for the treatment of noxious weeds only, the injunction was modified by the court in November 1987, (Civ. No. 82–6272–BU). For the subsequent 23 years, the BLM in Oregon has limited its herbicide use to the four herbicides analyzed and limited the use of those four herbicides to the control and eradication of Federal-, State-, or county-listed noxious weeds. In that time, new herbicides have become available that can be used in smaller doses, are more target-specific, and are lower risk to people and other nontarget organisms. In 2007, the BLM Washington Office Rangeland Resources Division completed the Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on Bureau of Land Management lands in 17 Western States Programmatic EIS and related Record of Decision (Programmatic EIS), making 18 herbicides available for a full range of vegetation treatments in 17 western states including Oregon. Oregon cannot fully implement that decision, however, until and unless the 1984 District Court injunction is lifted. The Vegetation Treatments Using Herbicides on BLM Lands in Oregon Final EIS, upon which today’s decision is based, tiers to the 17 Western States Programmatic EIS, incorporates its standard operating E:\FR\FM\01OCN1.SGM 01OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 190 (Friday, October 1, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60805-60807]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-24582]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLUTG01100-09-L13100000-EJ0000]


Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
for the Gasco Uinta Basin Natural Gas Development Project, Duchesne and 
Uintah Counties, UT

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 
the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and 
associated regulations, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has 
prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that evaluates, 
analyzes, and discloses to the public direct, indirect, and cumulative 
environmental impacts of a proposal to develop natural gas in Uintah 
and Duchesne Counties, Utah. This notice announces a 45-day public 
comment period to meet the requirements of the NEPA and Section 106 of 
the National Historic Preservation Act.

DATES: The Draft EIS will be available for public review for 45 
calendar days following the date that the Environmental Protection 
Agency publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. 
The BLM can best use comments and resource information submitted within 
the 45-day review period. Public meetings will be held during the 45-
day public comment period in Vernal, Duchesne, and Price, Utah. The 
dates, times, and places will be announced through local news media and 
the BLM Web site: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/info/newsroom.2.html at 
least 15 days prior to the meeting dates.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the Draft EIS may be submitted by any of the 
following methods:
     Mail: Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Stephanie Howard, 
Vernal Field Office, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, Utah 84078.
     E-mail: UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov.
     Fax: (435) 781-4410.
    Please reference the Gasco EIS when submitting your comments. 
Comments and information submitted on the Draft EIS for the Gasco 
project, including names, e-mail addresses, and street addresses of 
respondents, will be available for public review at the Vernal Field 
Office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephanie Howard, Project Manager, BLM 
Vernal Field Office 170 South 500 East, Vernal, Utah 84078; or by phone 
at (435) 781-4400.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Draft EIS is available on the following 
Web site: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/vernal/planning.html. In 
response to a proposal submitted by Gasco Energy, Inc., (Gasco), the 
BLM published in the February 10, 2006, Federal Register a Notice of 
Intent to prepare an EIS. The Gasco EIS Project Area encompasses 
approximately 206,826 acres located about 20 miles south of Roosevelt, 
Utah. The Draft EIS analyzes a proposal by Gasco to develop Federal 
natural gas resources on their leases. Gasco's proposal includes 
drilling a total of up to 1,491 new wells and constructing associated 
ancillary transportation, transmission, and water disposal facilities 
within the project area. Of the 206,826 acres within the project area, 
about 86 percent is Federal lands administered by the BLM; 12 percent 
is owned by the State of Utah and administered by the Utah State School 
and Institutional Trust Lands Administration; and 2 percent is 
privately owned. The proposed life of the project is 45 years, with 
most

[[Page 60806]]

drilling and development activities to occur within the first 15 years 
following approval of the BLM's Record of Decision.
    The new gas wells would be drilled to the Wasatch, Mesaverde, 
Blackhawk, Mancos, Dakota, and Green River formations at depths of 
5,000 to 20,000 feet. Gasco's proposal is based on a maximum surface 
density of one well pad per 40 acres, but the exact surface density 
would be defined during on-site review and permitting. The Proposed 
Action and alternatives incorporate best management practices for oil 
and gas development and other measures necessary to adequately address 
impacts to transportation, public safety, cultural resources, 
recreational opportunities, wildlife, threatened and endangered 
species, visual resources, wilderness characteristics, air quality, and 
other relevant issues.
    The Draft EIS describes and analyzes the impacts of Gasco's 
Proposed Action and four alternatives, including the No Action 
Alternative. Three additional alternatives were considered but 
eliminated from detailed analysis. The following is a summary of the 
alternatives:
    1. Proposed Action: Up to 1,491 new gas wells would be drilled and 
about 325 miles of new roads and 431 miles of pipelines would be 
constructed to support this proposed development. An evaporative 
facility of approximately 214 acres would be constructed to dispose of 
produced waters. In all, approximately 7,584 acres, or 4 percent of the 
total project area, would be disturbed under this alternative. No 
roads, pipelines, or well pads would be developed below the upper rim 
of Nine Mile Canyon. This is the agency preferred alternative in the 
Draft EIS.
    2. Reduced Development: Up to 1,114 new gas wells would be drilled 
and about 274 miles of new roads and 393 miles of pipelines would be 
constructed to support development. An evaporative facility of 
approximately 157 acres would be constructed to dispose of produced 
waters. This alternative would avoid or minimize development in several 
sensitive areas, including Areas of Critical Environmental Concern 
(ACEC), non-Wilderness-Study-Area lands with wilderness 
characteristics, and lands near raptor nests and sage grouse leks. In 
all, approximately 5,685 acres, or 3 percent of the total project area, 
would be disturbed under this alternative. No well pads would be 
located below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon, although approximately 
17 acres of surface disturbance would be expected due to roads or 
pipelines below the upper rim. This disturbance would include 2 miles 
of new roads.
    3. Full Development: Under this alternative, all leases would be 
developed at 40-160 acre spacing, with up to 1,887 new gas wells 
drilled and about 526 miles of new roads and 861 miles of pipelines 
constructed to support development. An evaporative facility of 
approximately 271 acres would be constructed to dispose of produced 
waters. In all, approximately 9,982 acres, or 5 percent of the total 
project area, would be disturbed under this alternative. A total of 95 
well pads would be located below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon, 
resulting in approximately 562 acres of surface disturbance. This 
disturbance would include 37 miles of new roads.
    4. No Action Alternative: The proposed natural gas development on 
the BLM lands as described in the Proposed Action or other action 
alternatives would not be implemented. However, under this alternative, 
natural gas exploration and development is assumed to continue on 
Federal, State, and private lands, albeit at a much smaller scale. In 
all, approximately 2,055 acres, or 1 percent of the total project area, 
would be disturbed under this alternative. No roads, pipelines, or well 
pads would be developed below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon.
    5. Directional Drilling: Up to 1,114 new gas wells would be drilled 
from 328 pads, and about 106 miles of new roads and 216 miles of 
pipelines would be constructed to support development. An evaporative 
facility of approximately 157 acres would be constructed to dispose of 
produced waters. This alternative would avoid or minimize development 
in several sensitive areas, including ACECs, lands with wilderness 
characteristics, and near raptor nests and sage grouse leks. In all, 
approximately 2,174 acres, or 1 percent of the total project area, 
would be disturbed under this alternative. No well pads would be 
located below the upper rim of Nine Mile Canyon, although approximately 
9 acres of surface disturbance would be expected due to roads or 
pipelines below the upper rim. This disturbance would include 1 mile of 
new road.
    6. Alternatives Considered, but Eliminated from Further Analysis: 
Three alternatives were considered but eliminated from further 
analysis. These include:
    a. Total Avoidance of Development in Sensitive Areas: This 
alternative would preclude all development on sensitive lands within 
the project area, including BLM-administered lands near or within view 
of the Green River, areas proposed for special designations, and ACECs. 
This alternative was not carried forward because it would not meet the 
purpose and need of the project, which is for the BLM to allow 
development in an environmentally sound manner of lease rights held by 
Gasco and other operators. In addition, this alternative was not 
carried forward because it is not feasible and would not serve to 
reduce the impacts of the development from those of the proposed action 
or resource protection alternatives, which must comply with laws 
protecting endangered species, archaeological resources, and the like. 
These parcels are interspersed with private and State lands where 
development is proposed to occur, regardless of the Federal decision 
resulting from this Draft EIS. Avoiding development on Federal lands 
will not serve to prevent, for example, habitat fragmentation, where 
roads and pipelines will nevertheless be built to serve the development 
of the private and State minerals. While the BLM may require lessees to 
relocate proposed wells, the lessees have a reasonable contractual 
expectation that they can engage in development somewhere on their 
lease. Given the high proportion of the area that is already leased, it 
is unrealistic to expect to be able to implement this alternative on an 
adequate amount of acreage to achieve a reduction in impacts greater 
than will be achieved by compliance with the Endangered Species Act and 
other applicable laws, the Vernal Resource Management Plan, and two of 
the alternatives in the Draft EIS carried forward for detailed 
analysis.
    b. Wells for Subsurface Water Disposal: This alternative was not 
carried forward because no suitable geologic formations for disposal 
wells have been discovered within the project area to date. Exploration 
and production wells in the project area have not indicated the 
presence of a suitably extensive and permeable formation for disposal.
    c. Complete Reliance on Buried Pipelines and Centralized Tank 
Batteries: This alternative was not carried forward because of site-
specific variables including shallow soils and highly variable 
topography. Due to shallow soils and surface bedrock, the surface 
disturbance from burying pipelines would be greater in severity or 
extent, or would persist longer, than those impacts resulting from the 
surface placement of pipelines. Where pipeline burial increases the 
percentage of coarse fragments in the soil, the reclamation potential 
of the disturbed area would be reduced due to a limited water-holding 
capacity. Similarly, collection pipelines

[[Page 60807]]

from the wellhead to central tank batteries carry high levels of water 
and condensate and must be buried to prevent plugging and freezing at 
wellhead spacing greater than 20 acres. Therefore, centralization of 
these facilities would require a great deal of buried pipelines to be 
constructed, resulting in the same environmental impacts described 
above for buried pipelines. However, burying pipelines and centralizing 
tank batteries, as a means of reducing overall environmental impact, 
will be considered on a site-specific basis as appropriate.
    The public is encouraged to comment on any of these alternatives. 
The BLM asks that those submitting comments make them as specific as 
possible with reference to chapters, page numbers, and paragraphs in 
the Draft EIS document. Comments that contain only opinions or 
preferences will not receive a formal response; however, they will be 
considered, and included, as part of the BLM decision-making process. 
The most useful comments will contain new technical or scientific 
information, identify data gaps in the impact analysis, or will provide 
technical or scientific rationale for opinions or preferences.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail 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 can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Juan Palma,
State Director.
[FR Doc. 2010-24582 Filed 9-30-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-DQ-P