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Bill could delay regulations for oil shale

Phillip Yates
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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