Tag: oil shale

Environment: Conservation groups go back to court to ensure protection for rare Colorado wildflowers

What will it take to ensure the survival of these rare Colorado wildflowers?

Lawsuit says voluntary conservation deal is a “giveaway” to fossil fuel companies

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say a voluntary agreement to protect two rare plants growing in crumbly shale badlands along the border of northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah is a sham.

Instead, the plants need the rock-solid protection of the Endangered Species Act, and they’re going back to court to get it. The new lawsuit filed in federal court is supported by public records showing that the voluntary conservation agreement purposefully excluded wildflower habitat from protection to accommodate oil shale mining and drilling.  Continue reading “Environment: Conservation groups go back to court to ensure protection for rare Colorado wildflowers”


Environment: Lawsuit challenges federal study on oil shale and tar sands development in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming

Oil shale tar sands map Green River formation
Potential oil shale and tar sands development areas in the Green River formation of Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.

Conservation groups say BLM missed key step in environmental study

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A federal plan to develop oil shale and tar sands across about 800,000 acres of public lands in the West is missing a key piece, according to conservation groups, who say the Bureau of Land Management should have consulted with federal wildlife biologists before finalizing a major environmental study.

At issue are 9 BLM resource management plans in the Green River Formation of the Colorado River Basin, spread across parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Several months ago, the BLM approved changes in those plans with a single programmatic environmental impact statement. The changes make 687,600 acres available for oil shale leasing and 132,100 acres available for tar sands leasing. Continue reading “Environment: Lawsuit challenges federal study on oil shale and tar sands development in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming”

Conservation groups challenge latest BLM oil shale plan

Conservation groups have challenged a new BLM plan for oil shale leasing.

Groups say feds ignored climate impacts in environmental studies for plan

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Framed in the context of growing concern about global warming, the Center for Biological Diversity this week formally protested the latest scaled-back plan for oil shale and tar sands research and development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

The Grand Canyon Trust, Living Rivers and the Sierra Club also joined in the protest, claiming  the plan could unleash intensive greenhouse gas emissions, hasten the dry-up of the Colorado River, threaten wildlife and increase local and regional air pollution.

The protest is part of the formal BLM review and approval process, similar to an appeal of a U.S. Forest Service decision. The conservation groups claim that the BLM violated numerous provisions of various federal environmental laws and planning rules.

The BLM plan released last month calls for careful leasing of about 806,000 acres of public land where energy companies can try to solve the puzzle of in-situ development of oil shale. The 2012 plan resulted from the settlement of a 2009 lawsuit that challenged a previous version approved under the Bush administration that was criticized by conservation groups as a give-away to the energy industry.

Some advocates of careful oil shale research say the 2012 plan cut too much land, making it more difficult for energy companies to pursue oil shale development.

“Putting restrictions on the land doesn’t make a lot of sense to me … it would be better to let the companies decided what the best place is to operate,” said Colorado School of Mines professor Jeremy Boak, who specializes in oil shale research. “The restrictions seem extreme. Ninety percent of the land that has oil shale was taken out of play,” he said. Continue reading “Conservation groups challenge latest BLM oil shale plan”

Colorado: Public comments favor careful oil shale plan

Oil shale lands in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

Energy industry spin meisters skew interpretation of public comments on BLM draft plan

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a few weeks after oil shale advocates held a press conference touting alleged public support for an aggressive leasing plan favored under the Bush administration, a watchdog group is charging that the numbers were intentionally skewed by an industry front group.

ECCOS deliberately misled the public and trumped up support for a radical plan that puts our water and communities at risk from oil shale speculation,” said Matt Garrington, co-director of the Checks and Balances Project.

At issue are public comments on a draft oil shale leasing plan. The input was collected by the Bureau of Land Management during the public comment period. An older version of the plan approved under the Bush administration opened more than 2 million acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to speculative leasing. Continue reading “Colorado: Public comments favor careful oil shale plan”

Environment: Colorado, Utah county officials may have met illegally to advocate for more oil shale development

A map from the draft environmental study for oil shale exploration and development identifies areas across the region where the resource is found.

Conservation groups say county commissioners may have violated open meeting laws

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —County commissioners from three states — Colorado, Utah and Wyoming — cozied up with energy company executives and lobbyists at a closed-door meeting in Utah last spring to try and unify support for a Bush-era oil shale plan.

Several hundred pages of documents released June 14 by Colorado Common Cause show clearly that the meeting went far beyond the informational purposes cited by some of the county officials, to adopting a draft resolution opposing the Bureau of Land Management’s latest scaled-back version of an oil shale plan.

The documents related to the meeting are online at the Colorado Common Cause website, and also at the No More Empty Promises website, which is part of the watchdog Checks and Balances Project.

Conservation advocates say the participation in the meeting by elected county officials may have been unethical at best and illegal at worst, in violation of open-meeting laws. Continue reading “Environment: Colorado, Utah county officials may have met illegally to advocate for more oil shale development”

U.S. House strips oil shale subsidy by one vote

U.S. House strips a $25 million subsidy for oil shale research from a federal budget bill.

Congressman Jared Polis leads efforts to redirect funds toward budget deficit reduction

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wednesday’s vote by the U.S. House to remove a federal $25 million subsidy for oil shale research probably won’t end the dream of developing vast quantities of fossil fuel in northwestern Colorado, but it may give some energy companies reason to pause before they put their own money on the line.

The subsidy was stripped away from an energy and water appropriations bill in a 208-207 vote after Colorado Democrat Jared Polis offered an amendment to redirect the funds toward deficit reduction.

The bill still has to go through the Senate, said Western Resource Advocates’ David Abelson.

“Historically, everybody who has invested in this has lost money,” Abelson said, adding that he doesn’t think that energy companies will end their development efforts.

“There are deep pockets and large multinational corporations involved in this research and they need to stand on their own in this,” he said.

“We shouldn’t be throwing good money after bad on oil shale research that won’t produce energy for the foreseeable future,” Polis said. “Dumping another $25 million of taxpayer money into oil shale research makes no sense when there isn’t commercially viable technology that will turn it into oil and many energy companies consider it such a low priority.” Continue reading “U.S. House strips oil shale subsidy by one vote”

Colorado: More West Slope oil shale leases proposed

Oil Shale ignites dreams of energy development on a vast scale. But is it sustainable?

Research and development leases could transition to commercial development

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Bureau of Land Management is preparing to lease a pair of 160-acre parcels in western Colorado for additional oil shale research and development.

The new proposal once again raising questions about whether any public land should be devoted to pursuing the dream of exploiting the potentially vast energy resources locked in the oil-rich rocks of the west slope. All the documents related to the leases are online at this BLM website.

On the surface, the goal is tempting. By some estimates, the shale patches in western Colorado and eastern Utah could produce more oil than the Middle East. But the question remains whether it’s worth devoting public resources like land and water to pursue technologies that still appear elusive. Continue reading “Colorado: More West Slope oil shale leases proposed”