BLM Publishes Draft Environmental Study for Oil Shale and Tar Sands Resources on Public Lands; Proposes Allocating 1.9M Acres for Development
|Most geologically prospective oil shale resources within the Green River formation basins in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Click to enlarge.|
As required under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to guide future management of public lands containing oil shale and tar sands resources in the US.
Under the recommended proposal in the Draft PEIS, the BLM would amend land use plans to allocate approximately 1.9 million acres of public lands in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming for potential commercial oil shale development.
Most US oil shale resources are found in the Green River Formation of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The federally owned portion of this resource is more than 50 times the country’s proven conventional oil reserves and nearly five times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia.
The PEIS does not authorize any commercial development projects, provide for any leases to be issued, or commit the BLM to any particular course of action in the future. The BLM says that its approach is designed to ensure that oil shale technologies can operate at economic and environmentally acceptable levels before the agency authorizes full-scale commercial leasing on public lands.
Between 305,000 and 1.5 million acres of BLM-managed lands would be excluded from oil shale leasing under the alternatives presented in the Draft PEIS. No leasing would be allowed in Wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, other units of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System, or Areas of Critical Environmental Concern that are closed to mineral development, among other areas. The PEIS anticipates that oil shale resources on identified lands would be leased as a solid mineral, and additional site-specific NEPA analysis would be completed on each application before any lease could be issued.