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Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Colorado): Officials’ opinions on oil shale mixed

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rio Blanco and Garfield County officials sounded positive — and skeptical — notes after a federal document identified some potential effects of oil shale development on public lands in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

Rio Blanco County Commissioner Forrest Nelson said the Bureau of Land Management took the proper go-slow approach toward oil shale.

“We just don’t want any train wrecks,“ Nelson said. “Shell has run into a few problems at their test site up here, but I’m still optimistic something will happen, if oil prices stay where they’re at.”

Royal Dutch Shell is testing its in situ-recovery method in northwest Rio Blanco County.

Garfield County Commissioner Larry McCown said public lands might not be the site of the next oil shale project.

“What everybody always seems to forget is that all the major oil shale players the last time around still have sizable private holdings where they could start a project without the BLM,” said McCown, an oil shale worker during the last boom.

Any oil shale project in the county would be considered a major impact project, he said, and require several public hearings and “a lot of mitigation” to protect the environment.

Club 20 Executive Director Reeves Brown said while the BLM released the draft leasing document, Congress deleted funding in the 2008 appropriations bill to develop oil shale leasing regulations.

“I would think it’s got to be frustrating to the BLM to meet all their deadlines, while Congress plays politics with the money for the regulations,” Brown said. “I think the BLM did a very thorough process, with the local communities engaged to make sure local concerns were heard. I think there’s adequate protections for the environment, which are important as well.”

Mike McKibbin can be reached via email at [email protected].

Copyright 2007 Grand Junction Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved. – The Daily Sentinel and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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