The Obama Administration announced plans to drastically cut the amount of federal lands set aside for oil shale development.
FOX News reported:
Controversy is heating up over an administration plan to drastically reduce the amount of federal lands available for oil shale development in the American West.
The Bush administration had set aside 1.3 million acres for oil shale and tar sands development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The new Bureau of Land Management plan cuts that amount by two-thirds, down to 700,000 acres, a decision that has prompted industry outrage.
“What they basically did was make it so that nobody is going to want to spend money going after oil shale on federal government lands,” said Dan Kish, Senior Vice President of Institute for Energy Research.
Oil shale is very different from the oil reserves driving the current energy boom in places like the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota or the Niobrara in Colorado. In those areas hydraulic fracking is being used to break through layers of shale rock to reach huge pockets of oil trapped between and pump it out.
Oil shale refers to shale rock itself, which contains mineralized hydrocarbons. When subject to intense pressure and extremely high temperatures, oil develops. This can be done by mining the rock first or by leaving it in place and doing the pressurized heating process deep underground.
“That raises all kinds of concerns about what kind of impact that’s going to have on our land and on our water,” said Todd Malmsbury, spokesperson for the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “Water is the most important resource we have in the West. If we pollute that water, if we deplete that water it’s going to hurt everyone out here.”