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WASHINGTON – Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) praised the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today for completing a multi-year study which sets the environmental rules for oil shale and tar sands development on federal lands.

The multi-year, multimillion-dollar Programmatic Environmental Impact Study (PEIS) covers Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, where most of the world's oil shale deposits sit.

"A lot of folks have been armchair quarterbacking on the environmental aspects of oil shale development in this country," Hatch said. "Now we have the official word from the actual experts on how the environment can be protected during oil shale development."

The PEIS was required by the Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development Act passed into law by Hatch as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The next step in the regulatory process is for the BLM to issue commercial lease regulations for oil shale development. Draft regulations have already been noticed and final regulations have been stalled due to a Democrat-passed moratorium on the release of final regulations. If not extended, the moratorium would end this year on Oct. 1.

The PEIS sets aside 1.9 million acres of public lands for potential oil shale development and puts 305,000 acres of public lands off-limits to oil shale development due to conflicts with more-restrictive management needs in these areas.

"The BLM determined that there is enough recoverable oil in this resource to meet our need for imported oil at today's levels for more than 100 years," Hatch said.