The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has finalized a plan to encourage research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of oil shale and tar sands resources on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
The Record of Decision and plan amendments make nearly 700,000 acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming available for potential oil shale leasing and about 130,000 acres available for potential tar sands leasing in Utah. In November 2012, the BLM signed two additional leases for RD&D oil shale proposals to encourage industry to develop and test technologies aimed at developing oil shale resources on a commercial scale.
“This plan maintains a strong focus on research and development to promote new technologies that may eventually lead to safe and responsible commercial development of these domestic energy resources,” DOI Secretary Ken Salazar said. “It will help ensure that we acquire critically important information about these technologies and their potential effects on the landscape, especially our scarce water resources in the West.”
The BLM will also begin soliciting public comments on proposed revisions to the commercial oil shale regulations. The proposed revisions are designed to ensure a fair return to the American taxpayer, encourage responsible development of federal oil shale resources, and evaluate necessary safeguards to protect scarce water resources and important wildlife habitat.
The proposed rule identifies several options for amending the royalty rates for commercial oil shale production. The BLM will consider whether to retain flexibility to adjust royalty rates when more information is available about costs of production, energy inputs, and impacts associated with various extraction technologies.