December 4, 2006
Contact: Lesley A. Collins,
BLM Buffalo Field Office receives Best Management Practices Award
On October 19, 2006, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Kathleen Clarke awarded the Buffalo Field Office the 2006 Environmental Best Management Practices (BMP) Award for Outstanding Application of Environmental Best Management Practices by a BLM Field Office.
This award recognizes the Buffalo Field Office Management and staff as environmental leaders among BLM’s oil, gas and geothermal managing field offices. The Buffalo Field Office has demonstrated that fully supporting and encouraging the use of BMPs by industry and managing a heavy permitting workload are not mutually exclusive tasks.
The Buffalo Field Office is known throughout BLM for its widespread use of the following BMPs:
- Centralizing production facilities and using telemetry to reduce traffic and road construction;
- Burying gas, water, and electric lines within or immediately adjacent to roads;
- Minimizing the initial width of wells pads and access roads;
- Revegetating entire well roads and well pads during production; and
- Painting facilities to blend with the environment.
“This award highlights the Buffalo Field Office’s commitment to excellence and leadership in minimizing impacts to land, resources, and communities through the development and implementation of BMPs. BLM appreciates the innovation and leadership exhibited by the Buffalo Field Office while balancing a significant workload, and we look forward to continued innovation in addressing resource, environmental, and community concerns,” noted BLM Director Kathleen Clarke.
The Buffalo Field Office is committed to encouraging the use of BMPs in the Powder River Basin. Along with the use of BMPs, the Buffalo Field Office recognizes that it is necessary to balance its oil and gas program by increasing surface compliance inspections. In 2004, a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report indicated a need to increase surface compliance. In 2005, a Western Organization of Resource Council’s (WORC) report and a BLM internal report both indicated the need to increase surface compliance inspections.
The 2005 internal study conducted by BLM found surface compliance issues at 84% of coalbed methane wells and facilities inspected in the Powder River Basin (PRB). The most common violation was inadequate re-seeding and excessive invasive weeds.
BLM is using the internal reviews to improve surface inspections in the PRB. The Buffalo Field Office has added three surface compliance inspector positions in the last two years, and are currently hiring two more surface compliance staff with a third position proposed for addition in 2007.
The number of overall inspections in the Buffalo Field Office has increased by 52% over the last three years with environmental inspections increasing by 125% over the same period. In addition, written orders increased from 126 in 2003-2004 to 459 in 2005-2006.