Local Organizations Push For Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale and Club 20 gathered Thursday to discuss the amount of land being considered by the Bureau of Land Management for oil shale and tar sands development.
Congress passed the Energy Policy Act in 2005, which allowed the BLM to start assessing which lands would be drilled.
"It was the record of decision in 2008, and it was the right decision then. After people have spoken for a second time, we feel that it's the right decision now," said Brad McCloud, executive director of Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale.
In 2008 the BLM wrote a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) detailing the amount of acreage that would be used for research and commercial oil shale and tar sands development.
However, environmental activists did not agree with the amount of acreage, and they brought the BLM to court.
"Until you have a proven industry there is no reason to have a huge amount of land inundated by huge trucks, back hoses and everything else in the high country where our hunters go up and hunt," said Benita Phillips, executive director of Western Colorado Congress of Mesa County.
Part of the BLM settlement included a revision of the draft, which left less acreage available to be considered for oil shale and tar sands development; that left many organizations in the valley concerned.
"It would take 90 percent of the available acreage off the table in the state of Colorado," said McCloud.
"We can't use them [the lands], and this goes from cattle grazing to recreational to mineral resource to mineral resource development; all those aspects, we are pretty much stuck here in Mesa County," said Craig Meis, chairman of the Mesa County Commissioners.
"We are very concerned with our reliance on foreign oil," said Bonnie Petersen, executive director of Club 20.
The BLM says they're considering the public's input, and they're now reviewing both alternatives: the one created in 2008 and the one created this year.
The BLM plans to have its final PEIS at the end of 2012.
The next step is for the record of decision to be signed, documenting the preferred alternative.