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Environmental groups protest BLM oil shale plan

Published December 11, 2012 2:38 pm

Energy • Opponents say "the last thing we need is to destroy our public lands."
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Environmental groups filed a protest this week of a Bureau of Land Management plan to allocate more than 800,000 acres in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming for oil shale and tar sands development.

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Grand Canyon Trust, Living Rivers and the Sierra Club sent the protest Monday to BLM protest coordinator Brenda Hudgens-Williams.

The proposal would make available nearly 700,000 acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for research and development of oil shale, and about 130,000 acres in Utah for activities related to tar sands.

A news release about the protest said such development would release "intensive greenhouse gas emissions, hasten Colorado River drying, threaten wildlife and increase local and regional air pollution."

"The climate crisis is worsening every day. The last thing we need is to destroy our public lands for carbon-intensive oil shale and tar-sands mining," said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Last month, the BLM made public a plan that dramatically scaled back a Bush administration plan to allow leasing on rangelands in the three states.

The 806,000-acre recommendation — about 1,250 square miles — was one-third of what the Bush administration had proposed to lease.

BLM Colorado State Director Helen Hankins said the compromise proposal takes a responsible cautious approach to resource development.

"Today's leases demonstrate our continued commitment to encouraging research and development that will help fill in some of the existing knowledge gaps when it comes to technology, water use and potential impacts of commercial-scale oil shale development," Hankins said in a prepared statement issued Nov. 9 with its recommendation and a 6,245-page environmental impact statement. "To date, technological and economic conditions have not combined to support a sustained commercial oil shale industry, and this plan lays a strong foundation to explore oil shale's potential."

A 30-day protest period ended Monday, after the environmental groups filed their 94-page protest.

For more information on the BLM plan, go to on.doi.gov/STHqH9.




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