County officials from Shale Country will meet today to discuss a joint resolution put forward by several county commissioners criticizing the Obama’s administration’s approach to oil shale. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports that Garfield County is leading a tri-state resolution to promote oil shale development within the region.
All three Garfield County commissioners Tom Jankovsky, John Martin, and Mike Samson - all Republicans - joined commissioners from other Shale Country counties in Vernal, Utah, during the week of March 26 to denounce the 2012 Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement recently released by the Bureau of Land Management. The preferred alternative by the BLM in the draft limits oil shale land for development to less than 460,000 and only for research, not commercial operations.
After the break: Details on the resolution.
The Republican commissioners from Garfield County support the 2008 PEIS published during the final days of the Bush Administration. That plan allocated nearly 2 million acres of federal land for oil shale and tar sands development. A coalition of environmental groups sued in response, and in 2011 the BLM announced that it would take a fresh look at the plan as part of a settlement agreement.
“The Department of Energy has basically abdicated the responsibility of Congress placed upon it to defend and uphold a viable oil shale energy program in America, leaving it instead to the BLM encumbered by a host of anti-oil-shale, pro-wilderness groups steering BLM’s every move,” the joint resolution reads.
Garfield County Commission Chairman John Martin said that the joint resolution was “the consensus of the affected counties in the three states” from the meeting in Vernal. Officials from Mesa, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties in Colorado, as well as Carbon, Sweetwater and Uinta counties in Wyoming and Uintah County in Utah were all represented in the meeting.
Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee told the Grand Junction Sentinel (subscription required) that development can move ahead without dire consequences to the environment. “As long as oil shale is to be developed in an environmentally sound way, why not?” McKee said.
The BLM’s new draft PEIS, which includes the new oil shale leasing plan, is currently open for public comment and can be viewed on the agency’s website. Check back later this week for an update on the meeting from Monday.