The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) received formal protests from Garfield County and from a coalition of environmental advocacy groups this past week for the recently passed oil shale plan, although the protests raise very different complaints. The county commissioners believe the plan does not make enough land available for leasing, while the environmental groups allege that the plan opens up too much land to potential development.
Posts Tagged ‘BLM’
The time for Westerners to make their voices heard on the BLM’s approach to oil shale is coming to a close this week. The public comment period for the 2012 Draft Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) ends this Friday, May 4.
We urge everyone interested in oil shale to comment on the draft PEIS before the period closes and the BLM makes their decision on oil shale development later this summer. The draft PEIS will play an important role in determining if and how the oil shale industry will emerge in the near future by determining how much of Shale Country will be open for leases and what types of leases will be available.
After the break: Read more about the alternatives outlined in the PEIS.
County commissioners from Garfield County unanimously approved a resolution Monday to denounce the federal government’s plan to reduce the amount of acreage potentially available for oil shale development in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports.
The resolution takes a sharp tone against the federal government’s approach to oil shale. The county commissioners accuse the Bureau of Land Management of being “encumbered by a host of anti-oil shale pro-wilderness groups steering the BLM’s every move.”
After the break: Details about the resolution and reaction among Garfield County residents.
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.
It seems that oil shale is capturing the attention of Westerners yet again. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that some 75 people attended the first public meeting on the new oil shale plan in Silt, Colorado and The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a crowd of over 100 attended in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Bureau of Land Management is holding public meetings on a new Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that scales back a Bush-era plan for land available for oil shale leasing.
The BLM agreed to take a fresh look at leasing oil shale lands in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah after a 2008 PEIS was challenged in a lawsuit by a coalition of environmental groups. That plan, released in 2008 during the last days of the Bush Administration, opened roughly 2 million acres of land for commercial oil shale and tar sand leases.
The BLM’s preferred plan in the new Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement would make 461,965 acres available across the three states and only for RD&D leasing, not commercial leasing. The total land made available under Alternative 2(b) is 830,000 acres, which is drawn from an alternative in the 2008 plan, but sensitive areas like the Adobe Town in Wyoming and sage-grouse habitats have been removed.
(Below the jump: oil shale in politics, sentiments in Utah and Colorado, and how you can get involved.)
The Bureau of Land Management has revealed a new land use plan for oil shale development in Shale Country that significantly cuts back an earlier plan. The 2008 Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (OSTS PEIS), made in the waning days of the Bush Administration, opened 2 million acres in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming for commercial oil shale and tar sand leasing.
The new plan, revealed on February 3, offers four alternatives for oil shale leasing. The BLM’s preferred alternative would allocate less than 830,000 acres for RD&D and no land for commercial leases in Shale Country. If adopted, this plan would not only significantly reduce the amount of land available for oil shale leasing under the previous PEIS but shift the focus from commercial leasing to further research into oil shale’s potential socioeconomic and environmental impacts.
(After the break: details about the four alternatives under consideration, commentary on the new PEIS process, and information about how to share your comments with the BLM.)
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources heard testimony this morning on a bill to expand oil shale development efforts.
At a hearing notably lacking most of the Democratic members of the subcommittee, Republican Representative Doug Lamborn introduced his Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental Energy and Resource Security Act (or, with a fair amount of acronymical latitude, the PIONEERS Act). According to Lamborn, the bill is intended to “set clear rules” for oil shale development and break “the Obama Administration’s strangle hold” on domestic oil shale resources.
(Below the jump: Read about the bill’s familiar provisions, its powerful new supporter, and on-the-ground policy considerations it raises.)
When Natural Soda, Inc., applied for an RD&D lease in January 2010 to develop oil shale under the second round of proposals solicited by the BLM, many observers of the oil shale industry were not familiar with the company. But for anyone familiar with the baking soda industry, Natural Soda is a powerhouse. According to a profile by Dennis Webb yesterday in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the company is the second-largest producer of baking soda (aka, sodium bicarbonate) in North America.
Natural Soda uses an in situ solution mining process to extract baking soda from nahcolite deposits roughly 2000 feet underground in Rio Blanco county. Their product is so popular that the company is having trouble keeping up with demand, and it is currently building a new facility to double its processing capacity by 2012.
Many of Natural Soda’s 10,000 acres of nacholite leases overlie rich oil shale areas, and the company has applied for an RD&D lease to test an in situ process for extracting kerogen from the shale deposits after the nahcolite has been removed. The company’s oil shale lease application is currently under consideration by the BLM, and the agency recently moved the application a step closer to approval.
“I would like to see some sort of document that includes the facts, from a source that doesn’t have an agenda,” Garfield County assessor Jim Yellico told the assembled representatives of government, industry, and the environmental community at the BLM’s oil shale scoping meeting in Rifle last week. “I think we can get the truth. I think it’s out there.”
The truth may be out there. But then again - after years of searching unsuccessfully for consensus on what oil shale development might entail - it may not. It may be that the “facts” pertaining to oil shale are so passionately and continually disputed because the truth about development and production has not been settled yet. Like one of the X Files, the truth may be out there, but in the here and now the case remains open.
As the BLM’s scoping meetings draw to a close, David Frey has published an article on NewWest.org that edges into the data disputes (and, reading between the lines, the philosophical disputes) at the heart of most of the issues surrounding oil shale development. Frey also provides a helpful overview of how events stand in Shale Country today as the BLM staff head back to their offices to consider the comments they heard at the meetings and draft a new PEIS.
The BLM launched a series of public meetings in Shale Country today as part of its agreement to take a fresh look at the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for oil shale lands. The BLM will host seven scoping meetings in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado over the next two weeks, giving members of the public an opportunity to learn about the issues under consideration in the PEIS process and voice any questions or concerns they may have about oil shale development. See the meeting schedule by clicking here or by reading the rest of this post below the break.