Cutthroat trout have fled the Dry Piney Creek in Wyoming, unable to survive in its waters anymore, but a gas company developing the nearby area says they’ll make sure not to exacerbate the environmental impacts. According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, Denver-based QEP Resources plans to build a gas processing plant in the creek’s drainage area, where they’ll produce helium, methane and carbon dioxide.
The Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing the company’s proposal, which will use both federal and private land.
“We’ve assessed the project in some detail, and I think it’s fair to say our view is the impacts that are going to be created are going to be minor and can be mitigated,” said Dick Flygare, project manager for the Dry Piney project. “We hope, to the point where the BLM will agree with us, that there will be no significant impact remaining after the mitigation measures have all been deployed.”
Oil and gas developments have so far chased the cutthroat trout out of the stream and threaten to do the same to the mottled sculpin, according to University of Wyoming student Carlin Gerard’s master thesis. Gerard currently works as a water resources specialist for the Teton Conservation District.
QEP’s plans include 10 new wells, pipelines, CO2 injection wells and the gas plant within the creek’s drainage, but Flygare said spills are unlikely.
“The reason I say that is because you’re not hauling fracking fluids up there,” he said. “And there is no oil involved—this is all gases of different types, not fluids. If there’s a tank rupture or something like that, it’s going to vaporize.”
Tim Zebulske with the BLM’s Pinedale Field Office, seems to agree.
“From the environmental standpoint, they don’t plan to do hydraulic fracturing on these wells,” he said. “It’s not expected to be necessary. I think the formation will just yield without fracking. That is my personal stance, and I don’t know if anyone agrees with me.”
In his thesis, Gerard doubts that the trout will be reintroduced to the stream, but Flygare expects the development will introduce benefits to the area.
“The economic life of this project is estimated to be 40 to 50 years,” Flygare said. “These are high-paying jobs that will literally last decades.”