On the heels of Congress lifting a spending limitation designed to give oil shale research more time to go forward, Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) has been touring the state declaring that Utah is open for oil shale business. That’s interesting because last we checked, the industry had not yet finished researching where the huge amount of water and electricity necessary for a commercial-scale oil shale program will come from.
A year ago, a bunch of aerial photos of the Meadow Creek watershed showing that something was not right got into the hands of Brad Brooks from The Wilderness Society and Brad Smith from the Idaho Conservation League.
The Bush administration’s attempt to fast track oil-shale leasing in Colorado is unacceptable, according to Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO). The Wilderness Society’s Dave Alberswerth, a senior energy policy advisor, shares the view. He says Shell Oil is currently sitting on 32,000 acres of formerly public land sold to the company by the BLM under an 1871 mining law. He also said the government has issued five R&D leases in Colorado that so far have failed to produce large-scale, commercially viable technology for extracting oil from shale.
Regional and national conservation groups including The Wilderness Society, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and The Lands Council denounced a new state policy that went into effect Oct. 16, which removes virtually all protection from more than 400,000 acres of national roadless forest in Idaho.
A November lame duck session could see action on a public lands bill that protects two million acres. For the past eight years progress on environmental protection has been blocked by the Bush Administration, which has assembled one of the poorest environmental records in history. Now, a single Senator (Tom Coburn, R-OK) has managed to grind environmental progress to a halt by stalling every conservation measure taken up in the Senate.
Quieter times will soon be upon the oldest national park in the country, thanks to a monumental decision last month by a federal court to throw out a Bush Administration decision to allow an excessive number of snowmobiles per day in the beloved park.
A new poll conducted for TheCLEAN.org and the Civil Society Institute (CSI) found strong majorities of Colorado residents want to see a big shift away from fossil fuels solutions to our energy challenges. Sixty-two percent said they want the new president to promote green energy, while 86 percent said they want limits on oil-shale subsidies and 76 percent want a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.
The Wilderness Society agrees with Former Bureau of Land Management Chief Jim Baca that a series of six resource management plans for Utah wild lands fall severely short. The plans would open up a whopping 80 percent of these lands to oil and gas development. Drilling, along with off-road vehicle abuse, would pose serious threats to the land and cultural resources.