WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration said on Wednesday it will “take a fresh look” at plans issued under the prior Bush administration to develop commercial oil shale and tar sands in three U.S. states.
The Interior Department said its Bureau of Land Management plans to review the environmental impact of allocating oil shale and tar sands resources on federal government-owned lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
The BLM in 2008, during the administration of President George W. Bush, issued an environmental impact statement on making 1.9 million acres of public lands available for oil shale development and 431,244 acres to lease for tar sands development.
“With commercial development of oil shale at least several years away, the new planning process will allow the BLM to take a fresh look at what public lands are best suited for oil shale and tar sands development,” the agency said.
“Final land-use decisions will be made in light of any new information about potential resource needs and impacts, and technological innovations,” the BLM said.
Oil is released from tar sands and shale rock when they are heated.
Many environmental groups are against tar sands and oil shale because they generate more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil. Green groups argue the tar sands development, in particular, conflicts with the Obama administration’s efforts to fight global warming.
Environmental groups oppose TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline that will bring Canadian tar sands oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The U.S. State Department is considering whether to issue a permit for the Keystone project.
Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Alden Bentley