BLM releases assessment of 2 oil shale proposals

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MEEKER, Colo. (AP) — Federal officials have released a preliminary environmental assessment of two companies' proposals for oil shale research in western Colorado.

Oil shale contains kerogen that must first be heated to high temperatures to produce oil. ExxonMobil Exploration Co. and Natural Soda Holdings Inc. each applied in 2010 for federal leases on 160-acre tracts near Meeker to research commercially viable ways to do so. Both companies have proposed in-situ projects to heat the kerogen underground.

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday released a document evaluating environmental effects of each proposal. It suggests steps the companies should take, such as limiting construction near raptor nests, to mitigate those effects.

The agency is accepting public comments on the environmental assessment through June 16.

The proposals from ExxonMobil and Natural Soda stem from a call for nominations for oil shale research development and demonstration leases in 2009. Six such leases had been issued after an initial round of nominations in 2007.

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