Thanks for your supportive comments on Enefit’s utility corridor proposal!
A sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management in support of Enefit American Oil’s request for a right-of-way across a small section of federal land to accommodate utilities to serve our proposed Utah oil shale project. They are very much appreciated!
  The comment period on the BLM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) officially closed on June 14th, following public meetings in Vernal, Salt Lake City, and Rangely, Colorado. Each of the meetings was well-attended by stakeholders; the Rangely meeting drew the most interest, with more than 80 attendees.
According to the BLM, the agency received comments from Federal, Tribal, state and local government agencies, industry groups, special interest groups, and the general public, with key resource topics including air quality, vegetation and wildlife management, public health and safety, visual resources, and socioeconomic conditions. The BLM is currently analyzing the content of all the comments received, categorizing the issues, and preparing formal responses to those that are deemed relevant to the impact analysis and decision making on the proposed utility corridor. The BLM's responses will be summarized and incorporated into the Final EIS later this year, with a final decision anticipated from the agency in early to mid-2017.
Utilities Corridor

We are pleased to report that the DEIS, released at end of April, found that granting us a right-of-way would be less environmentally impactful than not granting it. That’s because, without the utility corridor, the BLM’s alternative assumes we would use less-desirable options to meet the project’s supply needs, such as trucking in water, building our own power plant, and trucking out liquid fuels after processing.

We will continue working with BLM staff to provide requested information as they prepare responses to DEIS comments and as they complete the Final EIS and Record of Decision.

Thanks again for your supportive comments; they are valuable to show federal decision-makers that many public officials, businesses and residents believe the Utah Project will provide great benefits to Utah and the region without significant environmental impacts.
“Oil Shale 100” International Symposium set for Estonia in September
  After a very successful conference in 2013, we will be returning to Estonia in September to commemorate the 100th anniversary of oil shale mining. The “Oil Shale 100” International Symposium, to be held in Tallinn September 20-23, will be attended by experts from the world’s leading companies, vendors and universities involved in the oil shale sector.
Presentations will include updates about Enefit´s operations in Estonia, Jordan and Utah, as well as updates from other developers and research institutions from China, Jordan, the U.S., Morocco, Turkey, and others. With more than 100 attendees from over 15 countries already registered, the Symposium will be a great opportunity to meet and network with industry peers, as well as experiencing the charms of this beautiful part of the Northern Europe.

An optional field trip will offer an exclusive opportunity to visit Enefit’s industrial-scale oil shale facilities, including the 300MW Auvere Power Plant, the new Enefit280 combined shale oil, gas and electricity cogeneration plant, as well as an operational open cast mine.

Visitors will see how Estonia is close to achieving energy self-sufficiency through innovative use of its oil shale resources. For detailed information and registration please visit our webpage. Registration with a fee of 350 euros (approximately $395) is open until July 31.
The Enefit stork is circling and about ready to land!
  Congratulations to Enefit American Oil CEO Rikki Hrenko-Browning and her husband, Rete Browning, who will become first-time parents in mid-September! Rikki plans to stay on the job as long as possible before giving birth, but she’ll be taking about six months of well-deserved time off after the baby is born. Ryan Clerico, EAO Head of Development and Environment, will capably steer the company as Acting CEO during Rikki’s time away.

Congrats again, Rikki and Rete!
Continued positive results for conserving sensitive plant species in oil shale country
  Research work on Enefit’s property and other parcels nearby continues to show promising results for conserving two sensitive plant species, the Graham’s and White River varieties of penstemon, that previously had been thought very difficult, if not impossible, to successfully transplant or propagate.
Since adoption of the Penstemon Conservation Agreement in July 2014 – which included the voluntary contribution of nearly 2,000 acres by Enefit for conservation areas – local botanical experts have been studying sustainable ways to transplant existing plants and grow new ones. Following an initial planting of 70 White River penstemon seedlings in October 2014 at one of Enefit's conservation areas, nearly 75% survived to the following year. The same plants were revisited in June 2016, with 48 of the 52 surviving plants continuing to thrive, including 34 in flower.

In addition to research work on Enefit's land, transplant studies have shown great success on a nearby lands owned by Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, where fenced study plots resulted in 99% survival of Graham's penstemon from October 2015 to June 2016.

Restoration through growing and planting seedlings is also going well, with future research efforts to evaluate options for reducing seedling predation from deer, elk and rabbits.

Research efforts on best practices for conserving and enhancing these species will continue throughout the life of the landmark 15-year Conservation Agreement, signed by local, state and federal agencies as a voluntary alternative to listing the plants as threatened or endangered under federal law. The innovative, “win-win” agreement provided the funding and support that has generated these exciting research findings – which would not have been available otherwise – and it prevented a listing that could have severely curtailed development on publicly owned land across large parts of the Uintah Basin.
Setting the record straight on oil shale impacts in Estonia
  Speaking of Enefit’s home country, we’d like to set the record straight on our environmental performance at our oil shale facilities in Estonia, which have been questioned recently by a few individuals both here in Utah and in Estonia. Their intent is to suggest that impacts from oil shale operations in Estonia – the country with the world’s longest-standing industry – are reasons why Enefit’s project shouldn’t be approved here.

But, the fact is that few of the Estonian environmental impacts cited by these individuals are directly related to Enefit’s operations in its home country.

In particular, critics focus on concerns about the amount of “spent shale” and ash that remains after kerogen is extracted from the oil shale, as well as allegations that the composition of these waste materials contaminate Estonia’s water.
A former Enefit oil shale mine in Estonia before (top) and after (bottom) reclamation.

Here are the facts about these two issues:

Allegation: Mined ore will expand during processing and can’t be accommodated within the mining void, creating large mounds of spent shale.
Reality: All types of ore expand slightly when crushed and this is true of oil shale. At our Utah Project, we plan to return spent shale and waste rock to the mined void in an ongoing reclamation process in which spent shale is graded, contoured and revegetated to mimic the surrounding topography.

Allegation: Spent shale is chemically unstable and can leach into the ground and contaminate water sources.
Reality: Groundwater contamination has, in fact, been connected to some oil shale waste sites in Estonia – the historical legacy of past practices by two other oil shale companies – but none of them are related to Enefit’s activities or to the technology that would be used in Utah. In fact, local and national environmental agencies have conducted research on Enefit’s spent shale facilities and found no leaching or groundwater contamination. Enefit also maintains a network of 99 surface and groundwater monitoring wells to ensure and demonstrate that there is no leaching or water contamination.

What’s more, the Utah Project is being designed as a “zero liquid discharge” facility, meaning that all water used onsite (nearly exclusively for dust control in the mining and backfilling operations, which is common for mines of all sorts) will be recycled and reused. The company has already installed numerous monitoring wells, and will install others as the project progresses, to determine whether any water movement is taking place. Spent shale characteristics and potential impacts to water resources will be a major component of the state of Utah’s mine-permitting process.

Allegation: The fine ash resulting from burning oil shale also contaminates groundwater when stored in settling ponds.
Reality: The Geological Survey of Estonia has concluded that, upon contact with water, Enefit’s ash becomes solid and waterproof. The agency has found no leaching or impact on surface or groundwater at Enefit’s facilities. As noted above, the company maintains a robust network of water-monitoring wells to ensure there is no leaching. It’s important to emphasize that most environmental impacts to groundwater are related to the production and storage of a by-product, semi-coke, by two other Estonian oil shale companies; Enefit’s process does not produce semi-coke.

In addition, Enefit has pioneered research into innovative uses for oil shale ash, including as an agricultural fertilizer and as a raw material or additive in building materials to improve their properties. In Estonia, oil shale ash has been used for decades in cement and concrete production that meets European industrial standards. Oil shale as has also been tested as an environmentally friendly binding material in difficult soil stabilization projects with great success.
In short, it’s true that there have been environmental impacts from a century of oil shale mining and processing in Estonia – as would be expected from long-standing industrial activity in the U.S. (think Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Detroit) – but these “legacy” issues are largely related to the oil shale processes used by companies other than Enefit. That’s not to say Enefit doesn’t face challenges; we do. But, we have an enviable record of meeting and exceeding all environmental regulations and industry best practices.
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