The Interior Department on Friday issued a final plan to close 1.6 million acres of federal land in the West originally slated for oil shale development.The move is sure to rankle Republicans, who say President Obama's grip on fossil fuel drilling in federal lands is too tight.
The proposed plan would fence off a majority of the initial blueprint laid out in the final days of the George W. Bush administration. It faces a 30-day protest period and a 60-day process to ensure it is consistent with local and state policies. After that, the department would render a decision for implementation
Interior's Bureau of Land Management cited environmental concerns for the proposed changes. Among other things, it excised lands with "wilderness characteristics" and areas that conflicted with sage grouse habitats.How can the administration claim that they support an "all of the above" approach when they close off more than half the land originally earmarked for shale oil development? Bizarre reasoning there.
Under the plan, 677,000 acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming would be open for oil shale exploration. Another 130,000 acres in Utah would be set aside for tar sands production.
The administration and Democrats said that while the plan would curtail what was originally sought for oil shale development, it still opens up a significant amount of land that was previously unavailable for the energy production method.
The administration noted the plan pushed forward Friday also included two research, development and demonstration (RD&D) leases for oil shale development.
"The proposed plan supports the Administration's all-of-the-above approach to explore the full potential our nation's domestic energy resources and to develop innovative technology and techniques that will lead to safe and responsible production of resources, including oil shale and tar sands, which industry recognizes are years from being commercially viable, but require RD&D today," Interior spokesman Blake Androff said.
And what's with these "wilderness characteristics?" My back yard has wilderness characterists. With that kind of reasoning, we'll never get anywhere in bringing large scale production of shale oil into being.
But then, that's the point, isn't it?
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