Congressional Subcommittee oil shale hearing Aug. 24 Grand Junction

On August 24, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will convene an oversight field hearing in Grand Junction about oil shale.   Colorado Representative Scott Tipton sits on this Subcommittee.   It will be held in the Grand Junction City Council Chambers at 9:00 am (MDT), Grand Junction Civic Center, 250 N 5th Street.  The hearing is titled, “American Jobs and Energy Security: Domestic Oil Shale, the Status of Research, Regulation and Roadblocks.  The stated purpose is to “address the research, regulation and roadblocks to oil shale production in the United States.”    This is NOT a hearing where members of the public may testify.  The public may observe the hearing. The invited witnesses are:

Panel I

Helen Hankins, Colorado State Director, BLM

Ronald C. Johnson, Oil Shale Assessment Project Chief, U.S. Geological Survey

Panel II

Gary Aho, Board Member/Former Chairman, National Oil Shale Association

Dan Whitney, Upstream Americas Heavy Oil Development Manager, Shell Exploration and Production Company

Michael Hagood, Director, Program and Regional Development, Idaho National Laboratory

Jennifer Spinti, Research Associate Prof., Dept. of Chemical Engineerin& Institute for Clean and Secure Energy, Univ. Utah

Thomas Sladek, PhD, Director, Ockham Energy Services

Brad McCloud, Executive Director, Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale

Anu Mittal, Director, Natural Resources and Environmental Division, Government Accountability Office

Jim Spehar, Former Mayor of Grand Junction and Former Mesa County Commissioner


Why have this hearing at this time?

We hope it truly focuses on the status of the research — technical feasibility and water use projections.  We are concerned becuase the topics of regulations and roadblocks are included in the title of the hearing.  A topic that is premature is leasing for commercial development.  This is because the results of rounds 1 and 2 RD&D leases must be forthcoming first as to the status of technical know-how, water use projections, etc.  The CWF position remains that it is premature to conduct any commercial leasing.   Why tie up more federal public lands in the Piceance at this time? ?



In May 2011, BLM held scoping meetings in Rifle and in Denver in its “process to take a fresh look at commercial oil shale leasing plans announced in 2008.

Department of the Interior had issued two rounds of research demonstration and development (RD&D) leases in Colorado’s Piceance Basin. The first RD&D round was issued in January 0f 2007 to three companies.  These lessees were granted the ability to expand their respective 160-acre leases to 5,120-acre commercial development leases after conversion from RD&D status.  A second round of RD&D lease applications was solicited by Department of Interior on November 3, 2009.  After submitting proposals, two companies were nominated to conduct RD&D on 160-acre leases: Natural Soda and ExxonMobil. At this time, these nominations are going through the BLM legal process.  These leases also could be expanded to 640 acres upon meeting criteria set by Secretary Salazar.

Wildlife values in the Piceance Basin

As the maps included in CWF’s January 2010 report show, the Piceance Basin has extensive mule deer severe winter range, elk winter concentration and severe winter range areas, and greater sage grouse ridge areas.  The area also have been extensively leased for gas development.