BLM seeks public comment as it makes rules to govern oil shale development
The Bureau of Land Management has announced it is taking suggestions for setting royalty rates, among other issues, on commercial oil shale leasing. It published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the National Register Friday and will take public comment on issues affecting eventual rules that will govern oil shale development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.The rules will set royalty rates, the value of commercial leasing and standards for keeping those leases in play while the resource is developed.Congress directed BLM to establish a commercial oil shale leasing program in the Energy Policy Act passed in August 2005.”A commercial oil shale leasing program represents the next step in our phased approach to oil shale development on public lands,” said Tom Lonnie, BLM assistant director for Minerals, Realty and Resource Protection. “Comments on these key issues will help us propose a rule that ensures an economically and environmentally sound approach to unlocking this very promising domestic energy source.”Congress directed BLM to establish a commercial leasing program for oil shale under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. BLM was directed to offer commercial oil shale leases by late 2007.According to BLM, the Advance Notice is a second step, after the research, development and demonstration (RD&D) leasing, to develop oil shale on public lands. BLM has already taken the first step in developing oil shale resources when it solicited nominations for RD&D) oil shale recovery projects on public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming in the summer of 2005. BLM is also reviewing applications by three would-be oil shale developers – EGL Resources, Chevron and Shell – that are looking to test various extraction methods on RD&D leases in the Piceance Basin. If those methods prove technically and economically viable, the companies have the option to convert those 160-acre plots into 5,120-acre commercial leases. The companies have 10 years to prove up their methods.All three companies will use heating processes to liquefy the shale, which contains oil-bearing kerogen, and pump it out of the ground. Shell has been testing its in-place heating process for several years. The environmental effects of six RD&D proposals are currently being analyzed under the National Environmental Policy Act.BLM also plans to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that will examine environmental, social and economic issues relative to commercial oil shale development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.Information about the PEIS and all opportunities for public involvement is available on the project Web site: ostseis.anl.gov.The Energy Policy Act also requires BLM to publish final regulations for commercial leasing 180 days after completion of the PEIS.BLM is accepting comments and suggestions on the Advance Notice of Rulemaking for 30 days, until Sept. 25. Comments can be submitted electronically to http://www.regulations.gov; or via e-mail to Comments_washington@blm.gov (Include “Attn: 1004-AD90” in the subject line); or by mail to Director (630) Bureau of Land Management, Administrative Record, Room 401 LS, Eastern States Office, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield VA 22153.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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