America's strategic unconventional fuels: Oil shale, tar sands, coal derived liquids, heavy oil, CO2 enhanced recovery and storage
The Task Force members from Colorado and Wyoming have expressed legitimate concerns about the timing and sequence of Federal efforts to promulgate commercial leasing regulations for oil shale development and initiate leasing activity. They are concerned that the current state of development of surface and in-situ oil shale development technologies provides in-sufficient data and understanding of potential oil shale environmental impacts, water supply issues, economics, and socio-economic impacts to support completion of the mandated Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) or subsequent development of meaningful leasing regulations. Unless the development of leasing regulations is deferred until RD&D efforts to be conducted under the current BLM RD&D leasing program are complete, they are concerned that oil shale development might occur that could result in unintended environmental harm and negative social and economic impacts. They cite as an example the unintended impacts of the intensive oil and gas development activity underway in some areas of each of these states. The views and concerns of the representatives of the States of Colorado and Wyoming are further articulated in prepared statements provided in the Appendix to this report. Other Task Force members believe that deferring development of commercial leasing regulations could inhibit industry investment in RD&D and delay the availability of significant quantities of shale oil for an additional decade or more. Near-term establishment of an initial commercial leasing regulation is needed to define and articulate key leasing parameters, such as royalty rates, application processes, and other requirements that must be known to assess development economics and that influence investment decisions. A commercial leasing regulation is essential, in their view, to provide reasonable assurance to companies considering investments in RD&D and project development that commercial leasing will be available once viable technologies are demonstrated and other environmental, water, socio-economic, infrastructure, and market challenges have been satisfactorily resolved. Establishment of a commercial leasing regulation for oil shale does not mean that leasing activity would be initiated immediately by BLM. They recognize that the oil shale leasing regulation would need to be dynamic. As with existing lease regulations for coal, oil and gas, and other minerals and natural resources, regulations for oil shale leasing would be modified and updated to reflect new information and data that becomes available from RD&D conducted on federal, state, or private lands. The regulation would also be modified, as appropriate, to reflect results of the extensive analysis and planning efforts recommended by Task Force in the Oil Shale Plan provided in Volume II.
United States Department of Energy, Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels
Volume 1--preparation strategy, plan, and recommendations
(c)United States Department of Energy, Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels