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Bridger-Teton Decision to Ban Drilling Reversed

The U.S. Forest Service on Thursday withdrew its decision to not permit oil and natural gas drilling in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in the Wyoming Range.

In January U.S. Forest Supervisor Jacqueline A. Buchanan issued a 17-page decision to prohibit drilling on 70 square miles of the affected Wyoming Range (see Daily GPI, Jan. 28). In the reversal, she said a more thorough analysis needed to be conducted.

"Upon review of the appeal points made on the decision, it became apparent that the environmental analysis did not thoroughly explain the basis for several conclusions regarding the potential effects of oil and gas development," she wrote.

Buchanan's decision in January was appealed by Stanley Energy Inc., Western Energy Alliance, Wold Oil Properties Inc. and the Sublette County, WY, commissioners. The appellants said the decision was inconsistent with the National Forest Management Act, Administrative Procedures Act, the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Those appeals no longer will be processed.

Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis and other members of the Congressional Western Caucus also wrote the Forest Service in April asking it to reverse Buchanan's decision.

By withdrawing the decision, the Forest Service will reexamine the estimated 44,720 acres affected. "Withdrawing the record of decision will allow further evaluation of several key issues, including, but not limited to, the potential impacts to air quality, lynx habitat and mule deer migration routes," Buchanan wrote. "Another decision will be forthcoming."

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