In 2008, the BLM published a Final PEIS
that, in addition to expanding the acreage potentially available for commercial tar-sands leasing, amended 8 resource management plans (RMPs) in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming to make approximately 1.9 million acres of public lands potentially available for commercial oil shale development and 431,224 acres for tar sands leasing and development.
In 2011, the BLM decided to take a fresh look at the land allocations analyzed in the 2008 PEIS and to evaluate the appropriate mix of allowable uses with respect to oil shale and tar sands leasing and potential development in light of Congress’s policy emphasis on these resources.
Under the 2013 Record of Decision (ROD), the BLM closed certain specified areas in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, which were open for application for future leasing and development of oil shale and tar sands resources under the 2008 PEIS. The 2013 PEIS makes approximately 678,000 acres available for potential development of oil shale and approximately 132,000 acres available for development of tar sands resources.
The 2013 PEIS removed all of the following kinds of areas from potential oil shale and tar sands leasing: lands containing wilderness characteristics; the Adobe Town "Very Rare or Uncommon" area in Wyoming; core or priority sage grouse habitat, except in Wyoming; all areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC) and areas currently under consideration for designation as ACECs; and all areas identified as excluded from commercial oil shale and tar sands leasing in Alternative C of the September 2008 PEIS.
The ROD provides that areas allocated as open for future oil shale leasing are, at this time, open only to research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) leases. The BLM would issue a commercial lease only when a lessee satisfies the conditions of its RD&D lease and the BLM regulations at 43 CFR 3926 for conversion to a commercial lease.
The oil shale resources are found in the Piceance and Washakie Basins in Colorado, the Uintah Basin in Utah, and the Green River and Washakie Basins in Wyoming. The tar sands resources are found in certain sedimentary provinces in the Colorado Plateau in Utah. The 2008 and 2013 PEISs both summarized information on oil shale and tar sands technologies and their potential environmental and socio-economic impacts, along with potential mitigating measures that would be evaluated and applied when subsequent site-specific National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis is undertaken for lease issuance or project approval.