"This private water wells we have here are our only source of water. If they compromise or deplete these wells, our property value is nothing; our way of life is down the drain."
- North Monkey Resident Orvie Stoneking
In January, the Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission told residents of the town of Rolling Hills and surround areas there was an interested in land near their property for oil and gas development. If a lease is issued, the lessee will have the right to explore for federally-owned oil and gas minerals. Something resident of North Monkey Road are upset about and they’re taking action to fight it.
Monkey Road resident Orvie Stoneking says, "We're not trying to take care of a disaster. We're trying to prevent a disaster."
Residents of North and South Monkey Road, near the town of Rolling Hills, are petitioning to stop the proposed lease of parcel 97 by the Bureau of Land Management. "Right now they're looking at leasing a little over 48 thousand acres of land in this particular lease. We're talking about taking 80 acres out of it. Two forty acres plots, one on North Monkey and One on South Monkey,” Stoneking said.
The main concern is that residents don’t want what’s happening in Pavillion to threaten their only water source. "This private water wells we have here are our only source of water. If they compromise or deplete these wells, our property value is nothing; our way of life is down the drain," Stoneking said.
State agencies are currently investigating whether fracking near Pavillion caused water contamination, but there are regulations in place to keep wells safe. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission require the drilling of a well to be at least 350 feet away from a water supply or occupied structure. "When I ask them are you willing to buy my house right now to at least give me an agreement that say if the ground water's compromised if the value of my house goes to nothing you'll pay for it? They don't want to do that so that tells me their book of regulations they have no faith in it either," Stoneking said.
Although, what does the petition do for the leasing process? Bureau of land management personnel declined to be interviewed on camera, but did release a statement to News 13. A BLM spokesperson says, “The BLM is considering all public comments and responding to those comments. The responses will be available in the next public release of the environmental assessment from the Wyoming State Office.”
However, Stoneking is not going to stop until he finds out, whether the BLM can take these parcels of land out of the lease. "It will go to Enzi and Barrasso. I won't stop until someone gives me an answer," Stoneking said.