HELENA (AP) - Federal officials Thursday announced a series of meetings to gather public comment on a natural-gas project proposed for the Rocky Mountain Front, about 75 miles northwest of Great Falls.
The Bureau of Land Management said the meetings, all in an open-house format, will be May 3 in Choteau; May 4 in Great Falls; May 5 in Missoula; May 17 in Helena; and May 20 in Browning. All will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The meetings are one step in the BLM's preparation of an environmental impact statement on Startech Energy Inc.'s proposed Blackleaf gas project.
The company, based in Calgary, Alberta, has a gas lease on land the BLM manages. Startech wants to drill three wells at one site within the BLM's Blind Horse Outstanding Natural Area.
Critics say the Rocky Mountain Front is an unspoiled, environmentally sensitive area providing outstanding wildlife habitat and should not be compromised by gas development. Supporters of development say it can occur without environmental harm.
Developing gas resources on the Rocky Mountain Front is part of the Bush administration's energy plan.
The Federal Register on Thursday published notice of the BLM's intent to prepare the impact statement on the Startech project.
The first well would be at a depth of about 6,500 feet and the other two would be drilled to fully develop the natural gas reservoir. About four acres would be disturbed to build a well pad, 400 feet by 400 feet, that would accommodate the drilling rig and other equipment.
The project would involve upgrading an existing road system, building about 200 feet of new road and installing about eight miles of pipeline, according to the Federal Register.
Specific locations for the May meetings will be carried by local newspapers and radio stations, and on the BLM's Web page at http://www.mt.blm.gov/ldo/index.html. In addition, the BLM is to send notices to about 600 agencies, organizations and individuals on the bureau's mailing list.