Oil Shale and Tar Sands


News Release: BLM Begins New Look at Oil Shale Plans (April 13, 2011)

On February 15, 2011, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey announced a review of commercial rules for the development of oil shale resources on public lands. Secretary Salazar described the need to update oil shale plans and, if necessary update them based on the latest research and technology, the water demands of the West, and ensure they would provide a fair return to taxpayers.

BLM is beginning the process by:

  • Updating the Oil Shale Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)
  • Development of Research Demonstration and Development (RD&D) Leases
  • Development of regulations that reflect current information and fair royalty rates.

In addition, BLM is working with the U.S. Geological Survey to analyze baseline water conditions in areas where oil shale might be developed.

The BLM is proposing to begin a new public planning process related to oil shale and tar sands. Specifically, on April 14, 2011, BLM published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and Possible Land Use Plan Amendments for Allocation of Oil Shale and Tar Sands Resources on Lands Administered by the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

In the current Notice of Intent, the BLM will consider whether it is still appropriate for the land identified in 2008 to remain open for oil shale and tar sands leasing and development, in light of the nascent character of the technology for development of these resources.

The public is being invited to submit comments and concerns on potential resource issues that should be discussed in the NEPA analysis, including input on historic and cultural resources within the areas proposed for land use plan amendment. 

The BLM will also hold public scoping meetings in the following cities in the spring of 2011: Salt Lake City, Utah; Price, Utah; Vernal, Utah; Rock Springs, Wyoming; Rifle, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.


Click on the map for a detailed view of oil shale and tar sands resources in Colorado, Southeastern Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. (1 MB PDF)


Scoping Meeting Presentation

Click here to download the presentation that is being shown at the BLM public scoping meetings on oil shale and tar sands in May 2011.