Despite wildlife concerns voiced by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the state’s Office of State Lands and Investments has recommended approval of a special lease to Cimarex Energy Co. to build a natural gas processing and carbon sequestration plant.

The lease for the $100 million plant to be located in Sublette County, WY, on school trust land was recommended subject to stipulations. The lease annually would generate around $24 million in severance taxes and about $19,000 for the state’s school trust fund, the investment office noted.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department opposes the measure because the site is located in an area considered to be critical winter range for the Riley Ridge herd of elk.

State officials are scheduled to vote on the special lease on Thursday.

“It appears to me that the thing is moving toward a resolution that is positive for Cimarex and positive for the state,” said Gov. David Freudenthal. “Recently we were apprised of a landowner’s concern about possible brucellosis issues related from the herd being forced down into private property,” but he said the state had not yet pursued the issue.

Denver-based Cimarex agreed to the stipulations and agreed to pay $1.5 million into a mitigation fund, state officials said. The mitigation fund would be used for damage prevention if the gas plant displaces the elk; for radio collars to research the impact, if any, on the elk; and for elk habitat enhancement.

The stipulations would prohibit Cimarex from conducting site preparation and construction in the elk critical winter range from Nov. 15 to April 30 and prohibit employees or contractors from carrying firearms to or from the site. Dogs, except guide dogs, also would be prohibited.

Cimarex officials said the state school trust land is considered the best available site for the plant. Cimarex plans to drill five horizontal wells about 20,000-feet deep to provide the gas stream to the plant from two existing five-acre well pads.

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