Bill could delay issue of oil shale leasing regulations

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives passed Monday night included language that would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from issuing commercial oil shale leasing regulations next fiscal year.But the bill did not contain any language for a one-year moratorium on drilling on BLM lands on the Roan Plateau, something U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar had tried unsuccessfully to include in an energy bill that passed last week.Language in the spending bill blocks the BLM from offering commercial oil shale leases during the 2008 fiscal year.”State and community involvement is essential, as commercial oil shale development would have significant impacts on the land, air and the quality and quantity of our very limited supplies of water on the Western Slope,” a statement from Salazar’s office said. Valencia said the senator is awaiting Gov. Bill Ritter’s comments on the BLM management plan for the Roan, which the governor is expected to issue sometime this week. The Interior Department gave Ritter 120 days to review the BLM’s June management decision, which includes a controversial plan to allow drilling on the plateau top.Advocates are contending that drilling on the Roan could bring $6 billion in revenues to the state over 30 years. Environmental groups that want the plateau top protected from drilling have disputed that claim. “We will continue to look for ways after the new year to protect the resources at the Roan,” Valencia said.Greg Schnacke, president and CEO of Americans For American Energy, a Golden-based group, issued a statement saying the absence of any restrictions regarding the Roan in the recent bill “is a victory for consumers, for schools and for local governments not because of what it contains, but because of what it doesn’t contain.””We are pleased to see the growing recognition that the U.S. Naval Oil Shale Reserve [the Roan Plateau’s former name] is a national example of how America can lessen its dependence on foreign energy,” Schnacke said.In a separate announcement Monday, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said he was able to secure about $7.7 million for Colorado in a 2008 Interior appropriations bill, which also includes $300 million for wildfire prevention efforts in Colorado.”Colorado is home to many priceless natural treasures that we must protect,” Allard said in a statement. “As the Republican leader of the Interior Appropriations committee, I’ve worked hard to fund critical needs in Colorado. The funding I included in this bill for Colorado will improve water treatment facilities, pay for upgrades at our national parks and address other important needs across the state.”

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