Bill could delay regulations for oil shale
garfield county correspondent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives
was expected to consider Monday night included language that would prevent
the Bureau of Land Management from issuing commercial oil shale leasing
regulations next fiscal year.
But the bill did not contain any language for a one-year moratorium on
drilling on BLM lands on the Roan Plateau, something U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar
had tried unsuccessfully to include in an energy bill that passed last week.
Language in the spending bill the House was set to consider Monday blocks
the BLM from offering commercial oil shale leases during the 2008 fiscal
year. The Senate is planning on reviewing it today, Valencia said.
“State and community involvement is essential, as commercial oil shale
development would have significant impacts on the land, air and the quality
and quantity of our very limited supplies of water on the Western Slope,” a
statement from Salazar’s office said.
Valencia said the senator is awaiting Gov. Bill Ritter’s comments on the BLM
management plan for the Roan, which the governor is expected to issue
sometime this week. The Interior Department gave Ritter 120 days to review
the BLM’s June management decision, which includes a controversial plan to
allow drilling on the plateau top.
Advocates are contending that drilling on the Roan could bring $6 billion in
revenues to the state over 30 years. Environmental groups that want the
plateau top protected from drilling have disputed that claim.
“We will continue to look for ways after the new year to protect the
resources at the Roan,” Valencia said.
Greg Schnacke, president and CEO of Americans For American Energy, a
Golden-based group, issued a statement saying the absence of any
restrictions regarding the Roan in the recent bill “is a victory for
consumers, for schools and for local governments not because of what it
contains, but because of what it doesn’t contain.”
“We are pleased to see the growing recognition that the U.S. Naval Oil Shale
Reserve [the Roan Plateau’s former name] is a national example of how
America can lessen its dependence on foreign energy,” Schnacke said.
In a separate announcement Monday, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said he
was able to secure about $7.7 million for Colorado in a 2008 Interior
appropriations bill, which also includes $300 million for wildfire
prevention efforts in Colorado.
“Colorado is home to many priceless natural treasures that we must
protect,” Allard said in a statement. “As the Republican leader of the
Interior Appropriations committee, I’ve worked hard to fund critical needs
in Colorado. The funding I included in this bill for Colorado will improve
water treatment facilities, pay for upgrades at our national parks and
address other important needs across the state.”
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