WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) praised the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today for identifying federal lands for potential commercial oil shale development.
“I commend the BLM for taking another important step toward leasing federal lands for oil shale development,” said Bennett. “The only obstacle standing in the way of producing more American oil through this abundant resource is Congress. As a senator from an oil shale state, I will continue to fight this legislative battle to repeal the moratorium on oil shale.”
In its Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), the BLM amended 12 land-use plans in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming to set aside approximately 1.9 million acres of federal lands for potential commercial oil shale development.
Congress directed the BLM to develop the PEIS under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Act identifies oil shale as an important domestic energy source that should be developed to help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Oil shale on Western lands is estimated to hold the equivalent of at least 800 billion barrels of oil.
The Final PEIS is one of several steps required before commercial leasing begins. The next step is to finalize the regulations for issuing commercial leases on oil shale development, which were released in draft form in July. Congress placed a moratorium in the fiscal year 2008 federal appropriations bill prohibiting the BLM from finalizing these regulations.
Under the preferred management alternative in the PEIS, 305,000 acres of BLM-managed lands in the potential development area would be excluded from oil shale leasing. Leasing would not be allowed in Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern closed to mineral development and other areas designated areas by the BLM.
For additional information on the BLM’s efforts to develop Federal oil shale and tar sands resources, visit http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/oilshale_2.html.