Energy policy — oil shale: The Bureau of Land Management gets an earful about the perpetual fuel of the future up in Rifle

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From The Aspen Times (John Colson):

“If there’s any of you out there who don’t like $4 gas, be prepared for $8 gas,” said Allen Burnham, chief of technology at American Oil Shale LLC, arguing that oil shale development is needed to alleviate U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil.

“Oil shale development would be perpetuating a negative feedback cycle of dirty technology,” countered Melanie Finan, who also said she thinks the BLM should “draw back on the scale of the amount of land that you want to lease.”

A team of BLM officials held a public input session at Colorado Mountain College – West Garfield Campus on Tuesday, as part of a re-evaluation of oil shale leasing decisions made at the end of the administration of former U.S. President George Bush. The Bush administration, in its final days in office, opened up the 1.9 million acres to oil shale leasing, prompting a lawsuit by environmental organizations arguing the administration had violated federal laws…

Tom Alvarez, public affairs specialist for the BLM in Grand Junction, cited the remarks of Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico as the most memorable of the meeting, explaining, “All he wanted was honest information, the truth.” “It’d be nice if, with your recommendations, there were some facts, and the truth,” said Yellico, a Glenwood Springs native and a self-proclaimed citizen “concerned about the environment.” He told the BLM team that citizens wanted to hear facts rather than divergent claims and counterclaims made by proponents and opponents of the untried industry. “I would like to see some sort of document that includes the facts, from a source that doesn’t have an agenda,” Yellico concluded…

“I require clean air and clean water to live,” said Richard Vottero of Glenwood Springs, “and I believe this process damages both.” Oil shale development would pollute the air with greenhouse gases and consume vast quantities of water, he said. The government would better serve its citizens by pursuing alternative, clean energy sources that do not pollute or put added pressure on the region’s scarce water resources, he added.

From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjin):

…today’s hearing is slated for 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. at the Denver West Marriott in Golden. The BLM is initiating a planning process for the future of oil shale development in the West, based on Secretary Salazar’s decision in February to take a fresh look at the oil shale plan that was released in 2008 by the Bush Administration, which opened up 2 million acres of western public lands to oil shale.

More oil shale coverage here and here.

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