Oil shale rules info expected today | VailDaily.com

Oil shale rules info expected today

Post Independent Staff Report
Vail, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Bureau of Land Management is expected to announce today the publication of proposed rules to establish a commercial oil shale program.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Assistant Secretary C. Stephen Allred and Deputy Assistant Secretary Foster Wade are all expected to join in today’s announcement.

The finalization of regulations for a commercial oil shale program has become the focus of intense political controversy, especially between Colorado’s congressional Democrats and Republicans, as gas prices have stormed past $4 a gallon. The possible development of oil shale is also expected to be a key issue on the Western Slope as the November election draws closer.

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, and Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, all support a moratorium that prohibits the BLM from using federal funds to finalize commercial oil shale regulations in the government’s 2008 fiscal year. That moratorium ends when the government’s fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, and all three Democrats are looking to keep the moratorium in place.

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Bob Schaffer, a Republican candidate running against Udall to replace Allard in the U.S. Senate, both oppose the moratorium.

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While the moratorium prohibited the agency from finalizing oil shale regulations, the agency has still been drafting proposed rules for the possible commercial scale development of oil shale on federal lands.

The Green River Basin has up to 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, according to BLM estimates. Some of the richest oil shale deposits are in Colorado, where three companies have experimental leases to conduct research into possible oil shale extraction.

However, those three companies say it won’t be until some time next decade before they may decide on possible commercial production of the resource. Critics of possible oil shale development in Colorado say no regulations for a commercial oil shale program should be implemented since the research into the resource’s extraction is not yet complete and that the water and power demands to develop the resource are still unknown.

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