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RBC I Sen. Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, welcomed the U.S. Department of the Interior’s plan unveiled on Saturday to encourage the research and development of Colorado’s abundant oil shale resources.
Udall described the plan as appropriately measured and prudent. He said Washington should not rush to embrace unproven technologies that could harm Colorado’s water, land and air or undermine Coloradans’ quality of life.
“Oil shale holds great promise for Colorado and the West, but, despite decades of trying to extract shale oil, there has not yet been an economical or ecologically feasible method to develop it,” Udall said. “The Interior Department’s plan will ensure that commercial oil shale development is feasible and sustainable before leases are issued.”
“(The plan) also will make sure that we do not sacrifice our most precious resource, water, in pursuit of oil shale development,” he said. “We need a balanced, aggressive energy strategy, but being smart about resource utilization will ultimately help us win this race.”
The Interior Department plan will make nearly 700,000 acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming available for potential oil shale leasing. The plan makes BLM-managed lands available for research, development and demonstration leases of oil shale resources.
Companies that meet Interior Department conditions and demonstrate that their work satisfies clean air and water and other requirements would be able to convert their research, development and demonstration leases to commercial leases, Udall said.
Udall also praised the Interior Department decision last year to support continued research and development of oil-shale technology before pursuing commercial-scale oil shale development on public lands.