In order to facilitate greater review by the public and key stakeholders, the Bureau of Land Management announced last week that it is reopening the public comment period for proposed revisions to its commercial oil shale regulations. Notice of the new 30-day comment period is published in the June 13 Federal Register. Public comments will now be accepted until July 15, 2013.
On March 27, the BLM published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to revise certain provisions of the commercial oil shale leasing regulations. The proposed revisions are designed to ensure that the royalty system ensures a fair return to the American taxpayer and that adequate measures are in place to protect the environment.
The proposed rule provided a deadline of May 28 to comment on the proposed revisions. The BLM has received requests from several interested parties asking for an extension of the comment period. The parties expressed the need for additional time to conduct a comprehensive review of the proposed revisions and potential impacts.
In February 2011, the Department of the Interior announced that the BLM would take a fresh look at commercial oil shale rules and plans issued under the previous Administration and, if necessary, update them based on the latest research and technologies, to account for expected water demands in the arid West, and to ensure they provide a fair return to the taxpayer.
The proposed rule published in March identifies several options for amending the current royalty rates for commercial oil shale production. The BLM will consider whether a single royalty rate or royalty structures should be set in advance or whether to retain some administrative flexibility to adjust royalty rates when more information is available about costs of production, energy inputs, and impacts associated with various emerging extraction technologies.
Interested parties are requested not to resubmit comments previously submitted to the BLM during the comment period that closed on May 28.
Oil shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen, and is distinct from "shale oil." The largest known domestic oil shale deposits are in a 16,000-square mile area in the Green River formation in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.