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Know the West

Utah gases up

  Major oil and gas development is one step closer to fruition on 2 million acres of public land in northeastern Utah. Geophysical surveying company Veritas DGC Inc. recently submitted a draft environmental assessment, proposing two-dimensional seismic exploration in the Book Cliffs area.

Instead of using behemoth thumper trucks, Veritas plans to detonate 7,500 underground explosives in 60-foot deep holes. The scheme entails laying charges along 17 seismic lines that total 472 miles which pass through wilderness inventory and proposed wilderness areas. Veritas, though, plans to use helicopter-portable drills and existing roads in these areas. Elsewhere it will use lightweight trucks and buggies.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance contends that the proposed project crosses through elk and mule deer winter range, threatens the wilderness nature of the area, and would damage sensitive cryptobiotic soils.

You can check out the environmental assessment (UT-080-2002-21) at www.blm.gov/utah/vernal. Public comments will be accepted until Aug. 12. To voice your comments, contact Roger Schoumacher at TRC Mariah Associates Inc. at 307/742-3843 or [email protected]