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PAWG grinds to a halt

Posted: Monday, Oct 29th, 2012

PINEDALE – During its meeting Thursday in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Pinedale Field Office, the Pinedale Anticline Working Group (PAWG) decided to close up shop for good.

Due to receiving only three effective nominations for its soon-to-be seven vacancies, the PAWG would not have enough members to form a quorum – even if all three nominees were to join.

Without a quorum, the PAWG could still hold meetings, but they could be only informational in nature, lacking authority to act on any items.

PAWG member Bart Myers believed that if the PAWG were reduced to an information-only status, it wouldn’t accomplish anything important.

“If we’re left with informational function only, how will we offer contribution?” Myers said.

Myers made an initial motion to allow the PAWG charter to expire on Aug. 3, 2014, to discontinue all meetings after Thursday’s and also to request that the BLM’s Wyoming Resource Advisory Council form a subcommittee to be available for local consultations.

Seven out of the 10 PAWG members were in favor of the motion, but members Paul Hagenstein, Dave Vlcek and Stephanie Kessler voted against it.

BLM Pinedale Field Manager Shane DeForest, also PAWG’s Designated Federal Officer (DFO), allowed more discussion before a final decision was made.

“I would prefer to see the PAWG continue,” Vlcek said.

Kessler’s concern was that the public might be unaware that PAWG was fading away, and that people should have another chance to show interest. She also suggested reopening nominations to see if there would be more interest.

“I want to err on the side of giving the public a chance to show that they really want this or not,” Kessler said. “I don’t think the public knew the PAWG would go away.”

Other PAWG members insisted the public already has demonstrated a decreased interest in the group.

“If the public had been there at the last meeting, they would know this would happen at this meeting,” member Arthur Reese said.

Also, Myers mentioned that if the PAWG were reduced to only offering information to the public about BLM projects and updates on the Anticline, it would be redundant with other informational meetings.

“If there’s not enough interest to even have enough PAWG members for a quorum, you’re not accomplishing anything not already accomplished at the annual planning meeting,” Myers said.

Hagenstein wondered if the general public were even aware of PAWG and its purpose – which is to provide balanced recommendations to the BLM regarding development and implementation of monitoring plans, mitigation projects and adaptive management decisions for oil and gas activities in the Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA).

“Does the general public even know what the purpose of PAWG is?” he asked, adding that he believed the public should be informed, perhaps even on a one-on-one basis.

“That’s unreasonable,” DeForest said. “It’s not reasonable to get on the phone with every person in the community (to explain what PAWG does).”

DeForest sympathized but ultimately said without a quorum, the group could not fulfill its advisory tasks.

“What good is it … for you to come to this meeting if there’s nothing for you to chew on? I don’t know if you’re meeting all of the needs other than holding onto something that maybe isn’t there,” DeForest said.

DeForest amended Myers’ motion to specify that PAWG would dissolve if the public showed insufficient interest after another round of nominations. Vlcek made a motion on the amended motion but it died due to a lack of a second.

Members returned to the original motion and it was pointed out that only a majority vote was needed. Myers suggested they go with the original vote without further discussion.

“We’ll be here for three days if we try to come up with a unanimous decision,” he said.

So they passed Myers’ original motion: to allow the PAWG charter to expire Aug. 3, 2014, discontinue all future meetings and approach the Wyoming RAC about forming a subcommittee to continue consultation to ensure a local connection.

The BLM Wyoming RAC is a 10-member statewide advisory council, which provides advice and recommendations to the BLM on resource and land management issues for approximately 17 million acres of federal surface and 38 million acres of subsurface mineral estate in Wyoming, according to the BLM’s website, www.blm.gov.

“We currently have a PAWG that is, in demographics, representative of the Wyoming RAC,” he said.

Deforest noted that the PAWG included members from Cheyenne and Lander, setting aside the representation of local interests in order to ensure a quorum, because there was a lack of local interest in being involved with PAWG.

Since the RAC fulfills a similar purpose for the BLM as PAWG – albeit on a statewide level – DeForest recommended any PAWG members who wished to continue representing local concerns to the BLM should consider working with the RAC, which has several positions available.

“There’s strong encouragement for PAWG members to apply for open RAC positions,” DeForest said.

For the complete article see the 10-30-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-30-2012 paper.

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