BLM extends oil shale plan comment period
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday that it would extend the public comment period for a draft plan that could open about 360,000 acres in Colorado to oil shale leasing by another 30 days. The previous deadline for public comments was Thursday.
United States Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., local groups, and area governments like Rifle and Silt had all asked for an extension of the public comment period.
“Offering an additional 30 days for interested citizens to comment is another in a series of actions we feel are important in working with states and local communities on developing federal oil shale resources, while also meeting the direction Congress has provided,” said BLM Director James Caswell.
The BLM’s draft programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), which was released in December, envisions three different scenarios for possible oil shale leasing in Colorado. One would be a no-action alternative, another would open 359,798 acres in the state, while a third would designate 40,325 acres to possible oil shale leasing.
The Associated Press reported earlier this week that the agency would not likely
extend the deadline. However, that was not the case, said Heather Feeney, a
spokeswoman for the BLM, calling the wire service’s reporting a misunderstanding.
The Glenwood Springs Post Independent used that reporting for two stories on the
PEIS public comment deadline this week.
Salazar, who sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior asking for a 60-day
extension earlier this week, said he was glad the BLM extended the public comment
“The BLM’s 30-day extension is a step in the right direction to allow a more
thoughtful review of the draft PEIS by affected local communities, citizens and public
interest groups,” Salazar said in a prepared statement. “Oil shale development is a
complicated process that has the potential for tremendous social, environmental and
economic impacts on the Western Slope and many questions still remain.”
An extension of the deadline was a good move because it gives residents more time
to digest the 1,400-page PEIS, said Duke Cox, interim director for the Western
Colorado Congress, a group that advocates responsible environmental stewardship.
Cox said that the BLM probably moved to extend the deadline because many
organizations, towns and communities asked for a “little more time.”
“I think that is why the BLM did the right thing and gave (us) another 30 days,” Cox
said. “I think that will probably be sufficient.”
On Thursday, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced that he had submitted comments
on behalf of the state about the PEIS. He said there are too many unanswered
questions surrounding the development of oil shale.
“We continue to support the research, development and demonstration process now
underway, but the (research and development) process should be completed prior to
the issuance of commercial oil shale leases and prior to the finalization of any
regulations,” Ritter said in a prepared statement.
For more information or to submit an electronic comment on the PEIS go
http://ostseis.anl.gov. Send written comments to: BLM Oil Shale and Tar Sands
Resources Draft Programmatic EIS Comments, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700
S. Cass Ave., Argonne, IL 60439.
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