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January, 2010, from Troy Scotter ( troyscotter [at] comcast [dot] net )

Nine Mile has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The announcement was made public a couple of weeks ago. The BLM and Utah SHPO have nominated 63 sites. The number of sites is disappointing to us. But the advantage is that the BLM added a historical context to the existing pre-historic context that had been developed by the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition. This makes adding additional sites reasonably easy. We need permission from the landowner, a short cover document, and a copy of the IMACS form associated with the site. URARA will nominate several hundred
additional sites to the register in January.

The Programmatic Agreement (PA) has been finalized for the West Tavaputs EIS. Bill Barrett Corporation (BBC) proposes to drill up to 800 wells on the plateaus above the canyon. They have already drilled about 150 of those using the Categorical Exclusions in the Bush Energy Act. The BLM identified dust, vibration, and additional visitor impact as negative affects of the EIS. The PA addresses these issues. While it is not a home run, from our perspective, it is a much better solution than was deployed during the drilling of those first 150 wells. The heart of the agreement is to significantly reduce dust from truck operations along the Nine Mile Canyon road. Currently that is being done using a dust suppression chemical called lignon sulfonate. It is very effective in the summertime. However, it is water soluble and I am curious to see how well it works in the winter. The PA will be signed on Jan 5.

Perhaps the best news regarding the PA is that this is the first time the BLM has ever been willing to sit down with interest groups and have a discussion. We hope that the trend will continue and we will be considered credible consulting parties that can be involved on the front-end of future projects rather than as protestors slowing down the implementation.  Troy would love to hear from any ARARA members who have dealt with Bill Barrett Corporation in the past.

See also Talking Points for the signing ceremony.