My prediction -- we will give up too much. We will not get enough in return.
Desperation, greed, desire... they all go against nature.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management today published proposed regulations to establish a commercial oil shale program that could result in the addition of up to 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from lands in the western United States.
In keeping with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the BLM is proposing regulations that would provide the critical “rules of the road” on which private investors will rely in determining whether to make future financial commitments to prospective oil shale projects.
“As Americans pay more than $4 for a gallon of gasoline and watch energy prices continue to climb higher and higher, we need to be doing more to develop our own energy here at home, through resources such as oil shale,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “Instead, I find it ironic that we are asking countries halfway around the world to produce more for us.”
The Roan boasts open land, deep canyons and rugged peaks as high as 9,000 feet. It provides winter habitat for some of the country's largest elk and mule deer herds and is home to mountain lions, peregrine falcons, bears, rare plants and native cutthroat trout.
The BLM's plan calls for 1,570 wells drilled from 193 pads and over 20 years, including 210 wells from 13 pads on top of the plateau. The BLM says its proposal would preserve 51 percent of land on the Roan while allowing recovery of more than 90 percent of natural gas there.
You fooled us once, BLM ...
Memo to: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management
From: The people of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming
Subject: Fool us once . . .
On Aug. 14 you disregarded pleas from Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to phase in leasing on 55,186 acres of the Roan Plateau believed to hold 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Ritter argued a phased-in plan would provide better protection for wildlife and ultimately a higher return for state and federal taxpayers.
With the superior wisdom of the federal bureaucracy, you ignored the carefully crafted proposal by the people who actually live here and leased all the land in one fell swoop.
Unfortunately, your swoop fell. And fell hard. We had been promised by industry boosters like Americans for American Energy that Colorado's share of the leasing bonuses would be about $1 billion. But because BLM glutted the market with a mass leasing, we received just $56 million.
Next time, it might be best to listen to the locals.
But then last week you unveiled another bright idea: a plan to open nearly 2 million acres of public land in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah to commercial oil shale development. In one fell swoop again, as fast as possible, before the pro-development Bush administration gives way to either Barack Obama or John McCain, both of whom have promised to be more sensitive to the environment and less beholden to the oil industry.
This time, the resource is even bigger than the Roan and contains 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. And the BLM says we need to lease it all now, posthaste, flooding the market again in return for more chump change.
Here's the thing: Coloradans have been promised an oil shale boom since the early 1900s. It hasn't happened. There are thousands of acres already under lease, far more than enough for current research. And most experts predict commercial production is at least a decade away.
Besides, commercial production would raise serious issues about the West's most precious resource — our water — that must be addressed first.
We agree with Ritter, who said: "Finalizing an environmental impact statement without any clear understanding of the environmental, community, economic and energy impacts of commercial-scale oil shale development is irresponsible, short-sighted and premature."
Frankly, having been burned on the Roan, Westerners don't really expect the BLM to listen to reason on oil shale.
But Congress will listen, and we urge lawmakers to keep the existing moratorium on oil shale leases intact until state and local officials have a chance to weigh the tremendous issues at stake.
That way, as The Who once said, We don't get fooled again!