US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced a plan to encourage oil shale and tar sands development in the Mountain West. The Bureau of Land Management released its final plan Friday to develop and test technologies to extract these fossil fuels in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. But the citizen group Utah Tar Sands Resistance says this move will endanger the environment and public health.
The plan would make almost 700,000 acres available for potential oil shale leasing and about 130,000 acres available for potential tar sands leasing. Utah Tar Sands Resistance spokesperson Raphael Cordray says the environmental effects of this type of fossil fuel extraction are still unknown, particularly on air and water.
“To put a plan in place, and say we don’t really know how this is going to effect the water, it’s a bad plan, it’s not a complete plan, and it doesn’t consider all the impacts,” Cordray says.
But Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement that the plan focuses on research and development, so the BLM can collect more information about the potential effects on landscape - especially scarce water resources in the West. Companies would be allowed to lease BLM land commercially only after meeting certain conditions, including clean air and water requirements.