SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of the Interior is moving to protect Western range lands from oil shale development in a reversal of a Bush administration plan.
Federal officials say they will make 1,250 square miles of public land available for commercial leasing in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. That's a third of the range lands that President George W. Bush planned to make available.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says it picked the best reserves for oil shale — a hard rock that contains a primitive form of petroleum. It's also making some of the lands available for tar sands mining.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued the decision Friday along with a 6,000-page environmental impact study. The BLM says it excluded federal lands that could qualify for wilderness protection.