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SALT LAKE CITY - Governor Gary R. Herbert praised an agreement approved by the Bureau of Land Management today between the Bill Barrett Corporation, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Carbon County and the State of Utah. The agreement was negotiated in part by the Governor's Council on Balanced Resources.

The unprecedented agreement between industry and environmentalists will allow for new oil and gas production in Carbon, Duchesne, and Uintah Counties through the West Tavaputs Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan.

"This agreement is a perfect model of collaboration, and proves that when people come together with a common goal, solutions are possible," Governor Herbert said. "Through open communication and the desire of all parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, we see how complex issues can find resolution. We expect to build on this success in other areas of interest to better our great State."

Governor Herbert created the Balanced Resource Council last fall to bring together diverse viewpoints to address a number of issues, including public lands policy, water and air quality issues, and other areas impacting Utah's natural resources. The Council's chairman is Ted Wilson, the Governor's senior adviser on environmental matters.

"The proposed wilderness in the Desolation Canyon region is one of the state's most remarkable natural treasures. This agreement between SUWA, the Bill Barrett Corporation and others provides meaningful protection for this important place, while allowing the company to develop substantial natural gas," said Steve Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Attorney and Energy Program Director. "This is an excellent example of the win-win model that Governor Herbert and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have promoted."

The negotiated agreement allows new oil and gas production on federal land, with significantly reduced environmental impacts in the area. The Bill Barrett Corporation and others plan to drill 626 wells from 120 well pads, a reduction from the initial proposal by 181 wells and 418 pads. The company has agreed to put into place increased air quality mitigation measures and minimize the amount of surface disturbance in wilderness study areas.

"Oil and gas production is critical to our energy future in Utah, but it must not happen in a way that threatens precious natural resources," the Governor said. "Energy production and environmental stewardship can co-exist, and this agreement provides a model under which it can happen."

Electronic copies of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the West Tavaputs Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan are available at: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/price/energy/Oil_Gas.html.

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