The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently held a series of public hearings in Utah regarding whether it should open 2 million acres of land in CO, WY, and UT for oil shale leasing and development and an additional 430,000 acres for tar sands. It is now accepting public comment on potential development plans for these destructive processes through May 16. Do not let this opportunity pass to submit your comments to the agency.
In Utah, some of our most spectacular redrock country is being studied for potential tar sands development. The BLM is determining whether such an incredibly intensive and destructive activity as tar sands development would be permitted to destroy areas like White Canyon and the Fiddler Butte/Happy Canyon region in Utah. This analysis will also consider whether large-scale industrial processes to extract tar sands or oil shale should take place in the San Rafael Swell or high in the remote Book Cliffs.
The BLM is initiating a planning process, based on Secretary Salazar’s decision in February to take a fresh look at the Bush administration’s 2008 oil shale plan, which opened up 2 million acres of western public lands to oil shale. Oil shale has yet to be successfully developed at commercial quantities, but independent scientists project that commercial development would fundamentally transform water supplies, air quality and wildlife habitat in the West. The BLM wants to know what you think, and now is your chance to tell them.
We suggest that you raise the following points in your comments to the BLM:
(1) The BLM should adopt, at the very least, the conservation alternative that would not issue any leases in citizen-proposed wilderness, areas with wilderness character, areas of critical environmental concern that were nominated or considered for potential designation in a resource management plan, and suitable Wild and Scenic River segments.
(2) Tar sands leasing in the Greater Canyonlands region is inappropriate. The BLM should not issue any leases in the Tar Sands Triangle and White Canyon designated Special Tar Sands Areas.
(3) The BLM must fully consider the impacts to water, air, and climate (including regional climate change from dust on snow) from possible oil shale and tar sands development now and not wait for a future development proposal when it may be too late to consider cumulative impacts.
The potential negative consequences if oil shale and tar sands are developed in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah are enormous – it is up to us to make sure that the BLM is considering them.
Oil shale’s triple threat:
WATER – BLM predicts that large-scale development of oil shale alone could require up to 378,000 acre feet of water per year. This is 50% more water than the Denver metro area uses annually.
ELECTRICITY – Oil shale requires a huge amount of electricity to heat it enough to extract liquid from the rock. The BLM estimates that producing 1 million barrels per day would require ten new coal-fired power plants, each with a capacity to power a city of 500,000 people.
AIR IMPACTS/GREENHOUSE GASES – Oil shale has the potential to release 20% more sulfur dioxide and 16% more nitrogen dioxide than was emitted by all electrical generating units in CO, UT and WY combined in 2002. It also emits 23% to 73% more greenhouse gases than conventional liquid fuels from crude oil.
Thanks for all you do!