Center for Biological Diversity

Photo copyright 2005, David Dodge, The Pembina Institute

Photo copyright 2005, Chris Evans, The Pembina Institute

These pictures were taken in a region of Alberta, Canada that has been devastated by oil sands development. The first picture represents an area untouched by development. The second picture shows a ravaged landscape -- the effects of oil sands mining.

The Bush administration is preparing to open up millions of acres of public land in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming for extraction and development of oil shale and tar sands. The production of these fossil fuels would ravage the landscape and produce unacceptable quantities of greenhouse gases and other pollutants at a time when we desperately need to transition to non-polluting, renewable energy sources.

Please let the Bureau of Land Management know that you oppose all development of oil shale and tar sands on public lands.

To submit comments, click here. We've provided a sample comment letter below if you'd like to cut and paste.

You can also mail your comments to:
Sherry Thompson, BLM Project Manager
BLM Oil Shale and Tar Sands Draft Programmatic EIS
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne IL 60439

Please submit your comments by March 20, 2008

Sample letter:

Dear Sherry Thompson, BLM Project Manager:

I am writing to support the "No Action" alternative in the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Oil Shale and Tar Sands. The proposed development comes at a time when our public lands are already bearing the brunt of the current energy boom and significant population growth across the West and when we desperately need to be transitioning away from fossil fuels and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. This proposal is not feasible environmentally or economically, and would result in unacceptable quantities of greenhouse gas and other pollutants.  The Bureau of Land Management should scrap the proposed development completely, choose the No Action alternative, or, at the very least, develop and evaluate a full range of reasonable alternatives, including alternatives based on energy conservation and efficiency.

The Bureau of Land Management must also adequately consider the cumulative impacts of the proposed development to all of the plants and animals that will be affected.

I urge the Bureau of Land Management to choose the No Action alternative and abandon plans to develop oil shale and tar sands on public lands in the Rockies.


What's at stake:

On December 21, 2007, the Bureau of Land Management released a draft programmatic environmental impact statement proposing to open up almost 2 million acres of public lands in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah to commercial leasing of oil shale and tar sands -- a nonconventional type of fossil-fuel energy production that requires an incredible amount of energy and emits tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases.

Oil shale rock must be heated up to about 900 degrees F to release the oil, and at least 40 percent of the energy value of the shale is consumed in production. Producing 1 million barrels of shale oil a day, as some have proposed, would require 10 new (and likely coal-fired) power plants and five new coal mines just to serve them, costing taxpayers billions, consuming millions of tons of coal and acre-feet of water each year, and producing an astronomical amount of greenhouse pollution. Development of oil shale and tar sands in the Rocky Mountains would also hurt species that depend on our public lands and waters for survival, including migratory birds, endangered plants, and federally protected fish species like the humpback chub, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, and others.

The Bureau of Land Management's controversial proposal would fuel an outdated, fossil-fuel-intensive energy infrastructure and comes at a time when we need to be rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels-based energy production. If "business as usual" greenhouse gas emissions continue, over one third of the world's plants and animals will be committed to extinction by the middle of this century or before.

It is time to tell the Bureau of Land Management that the environmental catastrophe known as oil shale and tar sands development will never be viable. Please write today to voice your opposition to this ill-conceived proposal.

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