BLM approves fracking project in Eastern Nevada

Reported by: Terri Hendry
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Updated: 6/11/2014 6:52 pm
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- A controversial project that will bring more fracking to eastern Nevada is getting the go-ahead from the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM approved a proposal by Noble Energy to drill up to 20 wells on public and private lands to explore for oil. The area is east of Mary's River and west of Wells, Nevada in the Bishop Flat area.

BLM spokesman Bryan Fuell said, "Fracking is something that is not uncommon in the oil and gas industry. It's just new to Nevada so there are concerns we will address."

Noble has identied 35 potential well pad locations. This approval will allow the company to drill and complete 20 wells over a two-year period or more. An Environmental Assessment concluded there is no significant environmental impacts that would affect humans, therefore no environmental impact statement was necessary.

In addition to general concerns about fracking itself, the BLM said there were two main environmental issues about this project. One was the historic California Trail which runs next to the project. "There will be no impact to the trail itself, but there were some possible impacts from visual and audio in relation to the trail and we've worked with Noble to mitigate that," Fuell said "They agreed to fund a project to do some research in regards to the trail." Noble agreed to pay $150,000 for historic research on the trail.

The other issue is the project contains areas that house habitats for nesting sage grouse. "Not all the project is in habitat for grouse, but we've worked with the Nevada Division of Wildlife closely to mitigate those potential impacts to grouse," said Fuell. "So, we have a win-win as far as having Noble in there and doing their exploration and having the sage grouse protected."

Now that the project has received approval, Fuell said you can expect Noble to begin moving forward quickly. "We should see Noble out starting to prepare to create the roads that they'll need for infrastructure, so they can start exploring for oil. That should happen in the next few weeks. We should also see some mowing going on, and then some heavy equipment coming in to do the roadwork."

To read more about the Environmental Assessment, visit the BLM site. There is a presentation you can see here that will be presented to the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources in Elko.

The Nevada Division of Minerals is proposing new regulations on hydraulic fracking. You can learn more about what that agency is proposing here. There is also information about Nevada's current regulations on hydraulic fracking here.
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