Details on the Oil Shale & Tar Sands PEIS

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. 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 PEIS 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.

The new planning initiative will provide the BLM an opportunity to consider what public lands might be best suited for this kind of development in light of information not available in 2008. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey recently completed an in-place assessment of the oil shale and nahcolite resources of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado, and an assessment of in-place oil in shale formations in the Uinta Basin of eastern Utah and western Colorado.

In addition, in March 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Greater Sage-Grouse was warranted for listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, though the listing was precluded by higher priority listing actions. Sage grouse are found on some lands with oil shale and tar sands resources.
 
The PEIS will consider removal of all of the following kinds of areas from 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; and all areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC) located within the areas analyzed in the Final PEIS.
 
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: Salt Lake City, Utah; Price, Utah; Vernal, Utah; Rock Springs, Wyoming; Rifle, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
 
All appropriate Federal, State, and local governments will be invited to participate in the Programmatic EIS as cooperating agencies. Native American consultation will also be conducted to identify and record specific traditional use areas and cultural places that may be affected by the project, determine the potential impacts to these places by the project, and recommend ways to mitigate these impacts. 

What's in the 2008 PEIS

The Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) published in 2008 is available on the Internet and includes a large amount of information on oil shale and tar sands. Special sections include:

About the Programmatic EIS--Why it was needed; how it was prepared; and how it affects land use planning.

Oil Shale/Tar Sands Guide--An online guide to oil shale and tar sands resources with photos, maps, and links.

EIS Documents--Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments and Records of Decision; scoping documents; Federal Register notices; reference documents.

Frequently Asked Questions--List of FAQs about oil shale and tar sands and the PEIS process.

Draft PEIS Comments--Searchable database of nearly 2000 online comments received in 2008.

The 2008 Oil Shale & Tar Sands Programmatic EIS was prepared by BLM's Minerals, Realty and Resource Directorate with assistance from Argonne National Laboratory, which hosts the PEIS website.