BLM Targets More than 800,000 Acres for Oil Shale, Tar Sands on Public Land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming

Information supplied by The Center for Biological Diversity

Could THIS be why the Feds have Declared War on Wild Horses and Burros?

Colorado’s West Douglas herd ~ photo by Toni Moore

DENVER— The Bureau of Land Management today proposed allowing oil shale and tar sands development across more 806,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The plan stems from a settlement of litigation brought by environmental groups in 2009 that challenged a 2008 Bush plan to open 2 million acres of public land to oil shale and tar sands development. Today’s proposal was spelled out in an environmental impact statement and proposed amendments to 10 land-management plans.

Oil shale and tar sands development would be ruinous for the Colorado River basin and for the struggle to curb the greenhouse emissions that are causing climate change,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The BLM should have chosen a plan that avoided those impacts by simply prohibiting those forms of development on public lands.”

Today’s plan allocates more than 676,000 acres of land to oil shale development and more than 129,000 acres to tar sands. It subjects development to ecological and economic constraints not included in the Bush administration’s plan. While it reduces developable acres from the Bush administration’s 2008 plan, it increases allocations from what was proposed in a 2012 draft environmental impact statement. Acres allocated for oil shale development have increased by 46 percent since the draft plan; acres for tar sands increased by 42 percent.

“In the face of global warming, a drying West and Frankenstorms like Hurricane Sandy, devoting public lands to dirty, high-carbon development is very destructive public policy,” said McKinnon. “Today’s plan isn’t as bad as the Bush administration’s, but it makes clear that the Department of the Interior is still listening to the fossil fuel industry and its politicians more than climate scientists.”

Producing oil from shale or tar sands can be dirtier than coal given the energy required to extract the oil. The production of every barrel of shale oil sends 50 percent more CO2 into the atmosphere than the production of one barrel of crude oil. Because mining would deplete and pollute water resources and result in large areas of land being cleared and destroyed, commercial development would likely affect Gunnison’s sage grouse and four endangered fish species in the Colorado River — Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub and bonytail chub. Oil shale and tar sands mining and processing will also increase regional air pollution.

The Center for Biological Diversity is dedicated to ensuring that atmospheric carbon dioxide pollutant levels are reduced to below 350 ppm, which leading climate scientists warn is necessary to prevent devastating climate change. Further development of greenhouse gas-intensive energy sources, including oil shale, tar sands, and coal-fired power plants, is fundamentally incompatible with achieving this goal. If greenhouse gas emissions are not immediately reduced, the atmospheric carbon dioxide level will rise to approximately 500 ppm by mid-century, triggering mass wildlife extinctions, catastrophic global weather and ecosystem changes, and tragic human suffering.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

21 comments on “BLM Targets More than 800,000 Acres for Oil Shale, Tar Sands on Public Land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming

  1. The concept of public lands, assets and resources, having to “pay for themselves”, that is, to justify their existence by generating income, is directly opposed to the “common good”, or “the Commons” as some people call it, which is stated in the Constitution.

    The trend is to privatize everything that is public for profit, even though the public will not profit from it. The public will become disenfranchised of the Commons. This is the result of trying to run the government like a business… can’t be done… they are diametrically opposed. I can’t think of any issue being a greater symbol of this travesty than that of eliminating the wild horses and burros in order to free up their lawfully designated lands for private gain.

    Any legal gains made in the pursuit of keeping the horses on their ranges, lawfully, will only help set a precedent for other instances where land is being usurped at this very moment. Land is being seized from Native Reservations and private landowners for economic gain through eminent domain for pipelines, commercial development and drilling.

    Work to make your local laws stronger so that there is consensus that the Commons do not have to generate income and that private land and water cannot be seized by robber barons. If you save the wild horses and burros and their right to roam their ancestral lands, you can save America from being parsed into commercial-industrial zones of devastation.

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  2. Seems to me that if the President is opposed to running a tar sands pipeline from Canada across the whole US – he would feel opposed to oil shale & tar sands development here in the US. Sounds just as devastating here as the pipeline would be. Now we know why the rush to get rid of the horses. This is just wrong…

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    • Remember, our Republican Congress is in effect til December. They will try to push this through until then…it’s all about Big Business and damn the little people and anything that stands in their way. Remember their private vow to block Obama from getting anything done? Well this is a last ditch effort on their part to make him look bad and the BLM will be the fall guy..

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      • I guarantee you that this has nothing to do with the Republican Congress and much, much more with Senator Reid went to former Senator Conrad Burns about in November 2004. The solution was to sell wild horses without limitation for slaughter, but no one knew what problem slaughtering tens of thousand of America’s wild horses would solve. This is King Harry and Crown Prince Ken making a way for their supporters to earn more millions in order to turn it around and donate it to the New Democrats PAC et al.

        Until we open our eyes to what is obviously going on here, we will not solve this.

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    • Yes, the fact of the matter being, the tar sands is not just a matter of drilling, it uses ground water (millions of gallons/day) and chemicals (carcinogenic), that now makes the pipeline look like a walk in the park.

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  3. Capitalism is dependent on energy, can’t have one without the other. BUT once it takes one barrel of oil to get one barrel of oil it’s over. We’re drilling 5 miles deep in the Gulf of Mexico and fouling the west for a reason the survival of this system. YET sooner or later it will take one barrel to get one barrel. Then what? There is NO magic bullet. 100 years ago we had no oil and horses. 100 years from now we will have no oil or horses. Part of the future will be found in the past before oil, unfortunately getting there will be much tougher then getting here. We may have to carry the load on our backs.

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      • I was asking a question of Center for Biological Diversity (CBD)…not DOI, USDA and the States.

        I didn’t see where they discussed wild equines and have heard mixed opinions from wild equine advocates regarding CBD.

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  4. There is a historic nexus between certain kinds of development on our public lands and impacts on wildlife. Here’s the connection when it comes to the horses. Under the act the horses have to be managed to preserve a “thriving ecological balance.” Energy development also has some constraints with respect to the environment and habitat, however where the slight of hand sometimes takes place is when habitat is disrupted by some other public lands use and the combined populations of horses and wildlife then exceed the remaining carrying capacity of those public lands. It’s not likely that anyone is going out to remove wildlife although hunter harvests for game animals may be increased slightly. The easiest species to remove are the horses.

    It’s easy to blame BLM for this however these management priorities are often driven higher up at the Department of Interior or even the Whitehouse. With Ken Salazar stepping down we need to promote a replacement on the order of raul Grijalva who would seek to strike a rational balance between development of resources on public lands and preservation of habitat, which of course would preserve wildlife and wild horses and even agricultural enterprises. These western ranges look rugged but they take years, sometimes decades to recover when abused. So while this is a horse issue, it actually goes far beyond just horses and delves into the whole business of public lands uses and management priorities.

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    • What source do you site as reference that Slaughterczar is stepping down? I haven’t found anything to suggest that…..I do wish it and in turn, demand it of our President.

      But over two weeks ago, major US press was extolling the possibility that the US could be the world’s largest producer of fossil fuels because of natural gas, coal, shale, etc…larger than Saudi Arabia. I don’t consider that a brag (in fact…it deeply distresses me) and in reality, is just more of the same, no change and protecting energy producers. And that pipeline is gonna happen…protests and all.

      Here’s another point…that energy ain’t gonna STAY IN THE US (much like our beef, hay and forages that suck off the government teat)……it will be sold to the highest bidder (aka export).

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  5. “At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour.”
    ~ Edward Abbey

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  6. “Drill-baby-drill” worthless for lowering gas prices

    http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2012/03/25/drill-baby-drill-worthless-lowering-gas-prices-says-36-years-of-data/
    Whenever the price of gasoline rises, we hear what is by now a coordinated shout that there needs to be more domestic oil drilling and “damn, the damn bunnies” and the rest of the wildlife too. Thirty seconds thought tells a person that a short term price rise will not be fixed by a long term program. However, looking at the actual data is very information too.
    The Associated Press looking at 36-years of gasoline price and domestic production data. They concluded: “A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production . . . shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.”
    Here is the entire story: Fact check: Does more US drilling ease gas pump pain? Math, history show that hasn’t happened. By Jack Gillum and Seth Bornensteain. Associated Press. The story goes to deflate the drilling myth in many other ways.
    One thing fewer regulations do other than trash the planet, is fill some folks back accounts and stock portfolios; generally those who already have plenty.

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  7. There we go!!!!!! It finally gets into the open, : “Get RID of the Wild Horses and Burrow’s, so that THEIR land, stolen by the BLM will be used for ……………………………etc.etc…” distructive “!!!! . We ” HAVE” to get the Public involved.”, before more of the Wild Horses and and Burrow’s will be Rounded Up and send to the Slaughter houses. The public HAS to know, about the Holding Pens, full of the Horses, who are doomed to be slaughtered. We have to get an OUT CRY of the people, THEN, Congress HAS to listen.. It is wonderful, about the “put on hold for the wild Horses in California,” but January is right around the corner,, so for us” keep informing people as many as possible.”

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  8. Obama knew about the pollution caused by both tar sands and shale and the high cost of both and the loss of pristine waters because Canada led the way to do this and has destroyed much land in there intermountain West over the past couple decades. We have been fracking a long time (decades) and it has polluted well waters and made ranchers leave their land for the air pollution and loss of their cattle. Bush was responsible for the proliferation of this but some of it has been here a long time, but not pushed as it is today.

    The wild ones are a barometer of what is happening. We need to extract their lands from what is being used and from BLM domination. Writing good legislation would make this change. We can ask for whatever we want just so we can show there are good reasons to be saving the herds and lands they are on.

    Until this splintered campaign grows into something bigger than the sum of its parts we are going to see the monster we are up against more clearly with each round. They are not stopping for us.

    There are several other roundups literally scratched off of the BLM roundup schedule for one reason or another. I will bring a link.

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    • ttp://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/herd_management/tentative_gather_schedule.html

      BLM>Wild Horses and Burros>Rangeland and Herd Management>Tentative Gather Schedule
      Print Page

      National Wild Horse and Burro
      Tentative Gather/Remove/Treat Schedule Fiscal Year 2013

      Each year, the BLM gathers thousands of wild horses and burros to protect rangeland health. These excess animals are transported to BLM holding facilities where they are prepared for adoption through the agency’s adoption program; others are cared for in long-term pasture settings.

      This table contains information about planned gathers for FY 2013 (which begins October 1, 2012). The information is preliminary and is subject to change at any time. No gathers will proceed until National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis has been completed. For information about an individual gather, click on the link to the Office of Administrative Jurisdiction. Final gather data are reflected in the Data page.

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  9. I did see that video a while ago – but sat & watched it again.
    Havent seen anything lately, tho. I check on George Knapp every now & then because he really hangs in there for the horses.

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