Oil shale regulations a big disappointment

The Bush administration released new oil shale regulations on November 18th and, true to form, put the cart before the horse. The administration has set the “rules of the road” for oil shale, which are supposed to ensure development proceeds in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner. Such a move not only ignores the wishes of two western governors, federal and state agency officials, local communities affected and numerous members of Congress, but places political expediency ahead of good governance.

This action represents the latest chapter of a cruel fiction perpetrated by oil shale boosters promising energy independence while, in reality, only deepening America's dependence on fossil fuels. Oil shale is a sedimentary rock which when heated to extreme temperatures releases kerogen, a substance that can be processed and refined into petroleum products. But how can oil shale lead us to energy independence when safe and efficient technology to harvest oil from this resource doesn’t even exist?

Today’s final regulations for a commercial oil shale program affect almost 2 million acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. These regulations lay out the rules governing royalty rates, evaluation of lease bids, mitigation requirements, and other technical and procedural elements of commercial oil shale leasing and production.

Dig deeper into this topic and find collateral materials below. In coming weeks, a number of organizations may sue the Department of Interior if it doesn’t respond to this letter sent to Secretary Kempthorne on November 17th.