Western Colorado's greatest wealth is its land and water. If the current Bureau of Land Management proposal to turn oil shale into oil is adopted, the integrity of agriculture and wildlife habitat, of our public lands and water supply, will be threatened.
Oil shale requires an energy-intensive process to separate oil from rock. The potential costs - financial and environmental - are staggering while the benefits are unproven. To produce 1 million barrels of oil per day we will need 10 new coal-fired power plants the size of the plant in Craig, the largest in the state. This will significantly impact air quality in all of the downwind communities in Eagle, Garfield, Routt counties and beyond. Damages to the Class 1 airshed and waters of the White River and Zirkel Wilderness areas are risked.
Our most valuable resource, water, fares no better in escaping the impact of extraction. Commercial oil shale extraction consumes vast amounts of water and risks pollution to the rest. Irrigation, wildlife, recreation and future growth would be the casualties.
The BLM has been asked, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, to consider leasing huge tracts of Western Colorado to energy companies for commercial operations. But there is no commercially viable process in existence today, and the proposals that are out there would have devastating effects to historic western land uses such as agriculture, wildlife and recreation.
The public comment deadline is Monday. Add your voice to this important decision concerning use of our public lands. Check http://ostseis.anl.gov/ for more information on oil shale and send the BLM your comments regarding this significant land use decision.
Ken Brenner, candidate for
state Senate District 8