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December 3, 2012
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Commissioners to discuss oil shale decision protest

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Today, Garfield County commissioners will consider filing a formal protest with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over its recently amended plan for oil shale leasing in Colorado and two neighboring states.

The commissioners have scheduled a special meeting for 10 a.m. today to discuss and consider approval of two documents to send to the BLM related to its amended oil shale and tar sands leasing plan, which was released in early November.

That plan would open an additional 26,000 acres for potential oil shale leasing in northwest Colorado, compared to 360,000 acres under a 2008 plan and 35,000 acres in a draft proposal made earlier this year.

Overall, the plan would make about 677,000 acres available for oil leasing in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. That's down from the 2 million acres under the 2008 plan, but is a significant increase from the 462,000 acres envisioned in the draft plan earlier this year.

Garfield County commissioners have strongly objected to the new plan, and indicated soon after the decision was released that they plan to file formal objections.

One document before Garfield County commissioners today is a formal Request for Information Quality Act Review related to the BLM's decision.

County attorney Frank Hutfless explained that the request, if approved by the commissioners, would ask the BLM and the U.S. Department of Interior to take another look at the leasing plan based on recent advances in oil shale technology.

"The final 2012 Environmental Impact Statement pertaining to oil shale and tar sands development was based on 2008 information, and is not representative of some of the technological advances that have been made," Hutfless said.

In particular, more recent research suggests that less water would be needed to produce oil shale today compared to earlier methods, and that fewer greenhouse gases would be emitted, he said.

Also on the table for the commissioners to consider will be a formal protest of the BLM's recent decision, arguing that it did not follow proper National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedure.

County commissioners said at their regular Monday meeting that they intend to take public comments on the proposed oil shale statements at today's special session. Hutfless said the commissioners may ask for an executive session to receive legal advice related to the two documents.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 3, 2012 11:03PM Published Dec 3, 2012 11:02PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.