Ritter says BLM's preferred scenario for oil shale 'misguided, unacceptable' By MIKE SACCONE The Daily Sentinel Gov. Bill Ritter encouraged the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday to hold off on allowing commercial oil shale development in northwest Colorado, citing the â€œserious riskâ€ of â€œtremendous adverse impactsâ€ on the stateâ€™s water, wildlife and public lands. In a letter to the BLM, Ritter said the federal government should wait until private companies can develop safe and efficient ways to develop commercial oil shale prior to permitting commercial development on federal land. â€œIt is premature for the BLM to make any decisions that allocate federal land to a commercial leasing program through its resource management plans or otherwise,â€ Ritter said. Ritterâ€™s letter came in response to the BLMâ€™s Oil Shale and Tar Sands Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, released in December. The federal governmentâ€™s study probed the possible effects commercial oil shale development could have on Colorado and the region and outlined a series of scenarios for developing oil shale. The agencyâ€™s preferred scenario called for the development of nearly 2 million acres of federal land and mineral estate, including nearly 360,000 acres southwest of Meeker and north of Parachute. Ritter called the BLMâ€™s preferred scenario â€œmisguided and unacceptable.â€ The governor said at this point the benefits of developing oil shale do not outweigh the need to preserve the regionâ€™s wildlife, water and environmental resources. The government has estimated there are 1.8 trillion barrels of oil locked in the shale stone of western Colorado, eastern Utah and southeast Wyoming. â€œYet another boom and bust cycle for energy development will be dire for Northwest Colorado, a region that retains considerable skepticism and frustration over the collapse of the oil shale boom of the 1970s,â€ Ritter said. â€œAnother failed attempt at oil shale development could preclude development of this nationally significant resource for decades.â€ The BLM announced Thursday it will extend the public-comment period on its oil shale study by 30 days. The public comment period was originally slated to end Thursday. The BLM said it extended the comment period after receiving requests from several cities and counties, including Rifle, Grand Junction and Silt.