Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the release of the Oil Shale Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) Environmental Assessment (EA) for a 30-day public comment period, which closes on October 18, 2006.
This preliminary EA analyzes Oil Shale Exploration Company's (OSEC) proposed project to conduct RD&D operations at the site of the former White River Shale Oil Company's mine site. The 160-acre project area is approximately four miles south of Bonanza, within Uintah County on public lands administered by BLM's Vernal Field Office.
This RD&D project is part of the federal government's efforts to initiate a phased approach to oil shale development. This effort would increase the knowledge regarding the viability of innovative technologies for oil shale development on a commercial scale on federal lands. The phased approach would also allow environmental affects to be carefully tested and assessed in a controlled setting, prior to determining if commercial operations should be authorized.
The proposal would have three phases of demonstration and development. Phase I would involve the off location testing of surface stockpiles of oil shale from the site. Phase II would involve the on-site small scale processing of oil shale stockpiles and testing the former White River Mine for potential reentry. Phase III would involve larger scale oil shale process mining and on location disposal of spent shale.
The processing of the oil shale involves it being heated to be converted into a petroleum product. This is also known as "retort" technology that involves mining rock and heating it above ground as the former White River Oil Shale Company proposed when they had oil shale leases in the same location in the 1970s and 80s.
The EA may be reviewed online at: http://www.blm.gov/utah/vernal.nepa.html. Hardcopy and CD versions are available at the BLM Vernal Field Office. The BLM recommends submitting comments by mail to ensure your suggestions are received. Only comments that are postmarked or otherwise received on or before October 18, 2006, will be considered. Comments may be submitted in writing to: Attn: Stephanie Howard, Bureau of Land Management, Vernal Field Office, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, UT 84078. Comments may also be faxed to (435) 781-4410 or emailed to UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov.
To maximize the value of your comments, the BLM suggests they be as specific as possible and cite suggested changes, sources, or methodologies used in the EA. The BLM will compile and incorporate public comments into the final EA.
Comments, including names and street addresses of respondents will be available for public review at the BLM Vernal Field Office and will be subject to disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). They may be published as part of the NEPA document and other related documents. Individual respondents may request confidentiality. If you wish to withhold your name or street address from public review and disclosure under FOIA, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your written comment. Such requests will be honored to the extent allowed by law. All submissions from organizations or businesses will be made available for public inspection in their entirety.
The RD&D leasing program is a separate initiative from the commercial oil shale leasing program that is being examined through a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). To the extent possible, information available from the RD&D leasing program will be incorporated into the PEIS. The BLM's RD&D leasing program and the PEIS are being developed as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.