U.S. approves gas drilling in Utah

June 19, 2012 at 6:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. government announced that it approved a plan for an energy company to drill for natural gas in the Uinta Basin in Utah.

The Bureau of Land Management approved of a plan by Gasco Energy Inc. to drill close to 1,300 natural gas wells in the region during the next 15 years.

The U.S. Interior Department said in enacted a series of restrictions that would protect the sensitive canyon ecosystem. Gasco is prohibited from drilling within the 100-year floodplain of the Green River, below the rim of Nine Mile Canyon or in areas where there are endangered fish species.

"This plan reflects our commitment to responsibly address public concerns regarding resource and land use issues in the Uinta Basin area," U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement.

Salazar in May signed a record of decision for the Greater Natural Buttes project proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in the same area.

Salazar approved the development of 3,675 natural gas wells in an existing gas producing area in Uinta County, Utah.

The United States has some of the richest deposits of natural gas in the world. The Interior Department said domestic natural gas production increased more than 7 percent in 2011 compared with the previous year.

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