Salazar Sets New Course on Land Leasing to Protect Western Lands

Change to Oil Shale Leases Signals New Approach at Interior

WASHINGTON (February 25, 2009) – Thousands of acres in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado will be protected from harmful oil shale research and development after Department of Interior Secretary Salazar announced today that he will reverse course on the Bush administration’s leasing program.
Following is a statement from Bobby McEnaney, lands advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“This is an important step forward in protecting America’s western lands from oil shale development, which is nothing more than a dirty, expensive pipedream. Secretary Salazar has again made clear that he’s committed to doing business differently at the Department of Interior. Instead of throwing money into unproven fuel projects that would devastate the land and endanger public health, this administration is making smart decisions by investing in clean energy that will create jobs and reduce our dependence on oil.”
On January 14, 2009, the Bureau of Land Management, under President Bush, announced that the agency would accept new bids as part of a second round of research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) leases on BLM lands. This new RD&D phase would have allowed companies to conduct oil shale operations on 640-acre plots and given them permission to operate on BLM lands for as long as 35 years. 
Today’s announcement is another early action by the Obama Administration to undo one of the Bush administration’s last-minute actions that threatened America’s environment. It follows Secretary Salazar’s announcement in early February to halt leasing of Utah wilderness to oil and gas companies.