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Interior Opts For Balanced Approach On Oil Shale

Secretary Salazar has put forward a smart approach to oil shale that protects water and local communities in the West. The Salazar plan provides more than half a million acres of public lands for oil shale research.

With the West experiencing record drought and wildfires, and increased demands on water supplies, we can’t afford to gamble our limited water resources on a rock with a track record of 100 plus years of failure.

No one can say for certain how much water commercial oil shale extraction and processing would require. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that commercial oil shale production could use as much as 140 percent of the water used by the Denver metro area alone.

Read more about the decision here.

What to read

BLM wants oil shale projects to show viability before granting leases, Salt Lake Tribune, March 22, 2013

Under draft guidelines released Friday, oil shale and tar sands developers would have to demonstrate their technologies work and can yield petroleum in an economically and environmentally sound manner before winning full access to federal lands.

The Department of Interior’s proposed rules, which drew a swift rebuke from Republican lawmakers, accompany a major Record of Decision that sets federal acreage open to oil shale development at about 700,000 acres in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming and another 130,000 acres of tar sands in Utah.

White House finishes review of BLM royalty rule, (paywall) E&E News, March 18, 2013

The White House this month finished its review of a draft Interior Department rule governing future royalty rates for oil shale in the Rocky Mountains, a sign that the long-delayed proposal may soon be released…

Under the February 2011 settlement with more than a dozen environmental groups, Interior agreed to set a royalty rate that would balance the needs of industry while ensuring a fair return to the American taxpayer. The agency must also consider withdrawing the royalty rate altogether until more is understood about the costs of oil shale development. A report last November by Taxpayers for Common Sense urged the latter, arguing that a royalty rate is premature because no company has developed a commercially viable technology.

Utah oil shale becomes political punching bag in Estonia, Salt Lake Tribune, January 25, 2013

An Estonian firm’s plan to develop oil shale resources in Utah has sparked a political ruckus inside the small Baltic nation.

According to Estonian media reports, opposition members of parliament are challenging the competence of Economic Affairs Minister Juhan Parts in light of a recent report that the Eesti Energia’s Utah venture, known as Enefit American Oil, could lose millions.