The Interior Department said Friday it will continue to process and do field work on applications to turn over oil shale leases to private owners in Colorado and Utah, but no patent leases will be issued.
Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan this week said in written testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that he wants to review the program before any more leases are issued for $2.50 per acre.Timothy Locke, a spokesman for the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, said Friday that processing and field work on the lease applications will continue.
Earlier reports indicated the Interior Department would stop processing claims while Lujan reviewed the program.
"The Department of the Interior will not issue any further mineral patents for oil shale mining claims until the standards by which claim validity is to be judged are finalized in rulemaking, although such rules are not legally necessary to implement the law," Lujan's statement said.
Critics of the program have said the Mining Law of 1872 requires claimants to have done work worth at least $100 every year since their claims were filed to be eligible to get the land for $2.50 per acre.