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RBC I A new version of a federal plan regulating development of oil shale and tar sands on public lands in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah drew measured praise from Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development on Friday.
The record of decision, or ROD, for the final programmatic environmental impact statement released Friday by the Department of the Interior formalizes a draft roadmap for development on approximately 800,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
The sportsmen’s coalition commended elements of the ROD that will require additional research before the lands are leased to development interests. The National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited are lead partners in the SFRED coalition
“We need to understand the impacts that extracting and processing oil shale and tar sands will have on water quality and supply as well as fish, wildlife and air quality,” said National Wildlife Federation attorney Michael Saul. “We know almost nothing about the potential risks because after about a century of efforts, no commercially viable technology to tap the shale exists. We hope the Interior plan will give us time to assess the effects and make sure that companies have economically and environmentally sound processes in place before any commercial leases are issued.”
“We welcome the BLM’s prudent approach to potential oil shale development,” said Brad Powell, senior policy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “The region’s fish and wildlife populations are dependent on the availability of clean, cold water. Our water supplies in the West are too valuable to put at risk until the technology is better developed.”
“Sportsmen voiced their opinion and preference for the BLM’s preferred alternative throughout the public review process, and we are pleased with the secretary’s final decision,” said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development. “Selection of this alternative takes a positive step toward better preliminary land use planning — and to balancing energy development with the needs of fish, wildlife, and hunters and anglers.”