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MEEKER — Although commercial oil shale development on federal lands is many years away, the Bureau of Land Management held an open house last Thursday to inform the public about the draft resource management plan amendments and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for oil shale and tar sands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
“This is a resource allocation document, not a leasing document,” Kent Walter, field manager of the BLM’s White River field office said. “Actual commercial operations of oil shale on public lands will not occur for many years.”
The draft PEIS was prepared to comply with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and published Dec. 21, 2007. It is open for public review and comment through March 20, 2008. The record of decision on the final PEIS will not make any decisions about leasing.
The draft PEIS can be seen at: http://ostseis.anl.gov and written comments can be submitted to the Web site. Specialist from the BLM and Argonne National Laboratory, who help write the PEIS were available for questions during the two-hour open house in Mountain Valley Banks’ community room. Comments can also be mailed to; BLM Oil Shale and Tar Sands PEIS, Argonne National Laboratory EVS/900, 9700 S. Cass Ave., Argonne, Ill., 60439.
“We want to provide information to help people formulate written comments and provide their rationale for changes in the draft,” Walter said.
“I hope the public takes a hard look at this,” Luke Schafer, of the Colorado Environmental Coalition said of the 1,700 page document. “The document displays some really scary scenarios for this region.”
“This is a good first step but it is only a first step,” said Tracy Boyd, communications and sustainability manager of Shell’s Mahogany Research Project.
Shell received three of five 160-acre research development and demonstration (RD&D) leases on public land and although Shell has been testing its in-situ process for more than 20 years on private land, it has not started RD&D on any of the three leases yet.
“This is a step in the right direction to make sure it is done right,” Boyd said. “Commercial development is years off but that’s good because it needs to be throughly reviewed. We are supportive of what the government is doing. We want to move forward with prudent reviews and assessments.”