Commissioners show initial support for new pipeline initiative
December 19, 2019
WORLAND — The Washakie County Commissioners intend to offer their support for the governor’s Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative (WPCI) after discussion at their regular meeting Tuesday.
The discussion began with members who attended a recent discussion in Thermopolis on Dec. 11 pertaining to the WPCI. The WPCI recently came into the public eye after being worked in the upper levels of government since former Governor Matt Mead started discussions in 2010.
The WPCI is currently in the initial planning phase, and it is currently classified as going through public scoping meetings, which allow for public comment to be taken for the first time since the announcement of the WPCI from Governor Mark Gordon’s office and in the Federal Register on Nov. 15, 2019.
These public scope meetings were held in Cheyenne, Casper, Thermopolis and Rock Springs from Dec. 9-12. Members who attended the Thermopolis meeting included Lee Campbell of the Hot Springs Conservation District and Dan Rice, vice chairman of the Washakie County Conservation District, who both brought forth the information they gathered from the meeting and supplied it to the commissioners.
According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website, the WPCI is a plan to “designate almost 2,000 miles of pipeline corridors across private, state and BLM-managed lands in Wyoming.” Approximately 1,150 of those miles would run across BLM managed lands.
This plan will affect Hot Springs, Big Horn, Washakie and Park counties in the Big Horn Basin area, as well as several other counties around the state. Total mileage in the Big Horn Basin is difficult to calculate as pipelines run through different counties, and the mileage is connected between the counties and cannot be separated at this time.
According to the BLM website, one of the primary purposes of the WPCI is to “connect existing oil fields that are suitable for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) with anthropogenic and natural carbon dioxide (CO2) sources.” With CO2 being injected into existing oil fields that are thought to be finished with production, it will increase oil production beyond conventional methods.
The commissioners intend to draft a letter and send comments specific to Washakie County in before the comments close on Dec. 27, and have the letter show support for the project as a cooperator.
In a broader spectrum, a draft for a letter regarding the project from the Wyoming County Commissioners Association (WCCA) showed support for the project, but mentioned ideas on how to improve the plan including an idea to possibly work with private land owners in the future on top of the public land that is already suggested or yet to be added.
According to Sarah Beckwith, public affairs spokesperson at the Bighorn Basin/Wind River BLM District Office in Worland, the public comment for this project was initially scheduled to end on Monday, Dec. 16, but the public comment period has been extended until Friday, Dec. 27 due to a short turnaround time after the last public meeting that happened on Dec. 12. Public comments regarding the project may be submitted at go.usa.gov/xpCMr.
This is the closing period for the initial scoping phase of the project, but according to Beckwith, once there is an analysis that is ready for review, then there will be another public comment period.
More on the commissioners meeting will be published in the Dec. 26 issue of the Northern Wyoming News.