BLM Kicks Off Environmental Review of Commercial Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development Program

Some of you may remember the last attempt by the federal government to encourage the development of oil shale and tar sands resources in eastern Utah, western Colorado, and southern Wyoming.  You'll recall that even modest attempts to tap this resource using an invasive "retort" process left lasting scars on the landscape.  And who can forget those industry promises of an extraordinary economic boom for local communities, followed by the harsh reality of a spectacular energy bust that resulted in lost jobs, dashed hopes, and despoiled public lands.

Instead of learning from past mistakes, Congress is once again turning to oil shale and tar sands as a magic solution to our country's energy needs.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and small-time industry opportunists have Utah's Book Cliffs and Uinta Basin in their sights as ground-zero for a resurgence of oil shale development.  If the BLM and the energy industry have their way, the wild public lands near the Green River, the White River, and Utah's famed Book Cliffs may be tarnished forever in an ill-advised attempt to jump-start this costly and difficult process.

What Happens Next?
Prodded by Congress, the BLM has begun to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) to analyze the environmental, social, and economic impacts from a commercial oil shale and tar sands development program in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming.  The BLM is holding three public meetings next week in Utah (January 10-12), then four more later in the month in Colorado and Wyoming.  Basically, this is the kickoff for the environmental review process and the first opportunity for the public to tell BLM officials about the important wilderness resources in this area and to urge the agency to take the necessary steps to protect these special places from harm.

What Can You Do?
BLM will be accepting scoping comments through the end of January.  You can submit comments electronically through the BLM's website at or learn how to send BLM comments through the mail.




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