Oil-shale proposals available for review

Special leases would give industry ability to test technology southwest of Meeker

MEEKER (AP) The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has released a preliminary environmental assessment for two proposed oil-shale research development and demonstration leases in Rio Blanco County, about 35 miles southwest of Meeker.

ExxonMobil Exploration Co. and Natural Soda Holdings Inc. have submitted plans of operations for the in-situ development of oil shale. Each proposed research and demonstration lease is a 160-acre tract with an associated preference lease of up to 480 contiguous acres. The preference leases are reserved for possible conversion to a commercial lease, pending the results of the companies research and demonstration work and additional BLM review.

(Research development and demonstration) leases provide the opportunity for industry to test and develop technologies to determine whether they can be viable on a commercial scale, said Kent Walter, field manager for the White River Field Office.

This critical research, development and demonstration work will also help us answer important questions about the water demands and potential impacts of commercial-scale development, so that we can forge a responsible and orderly path forward if the technology proves viable.

The proposals stem from the November 2009 call for nominations for oil-shale research development and demonstration leases. This 2009 call came after an initial round of nominations in 2007 in which six research and demonstration leases were issued.

The two proposals encompass adjacent areas and are analyzed in one environmental assessment. The environmental study, plans of operation, maps of the area under consideration and other related details can be viewed on the WRFO website by going to www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/wrfo/Oil_Shale_-_Round_2.html.

BLM will accept public comments through June 16. Written comments can be mailed to Paul Daggett, BLM WRFO, 220 E. Market Street, Meeker, CO 81641, or sent via email to wrfomail@blm.gov. Please note 2nd Oil Shale RD&D EA Comments in the subject line for all emails.

For information, contact Paul Daggett at (970) 878-3819.