Statement on Interior Secretary Announcement to Rescind Oil Shale Research and Development Leases

Feb 25, 2009

By Senior Energy Policy Advisor Dave Alberswerth

“We commend Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on his announcement today that the Bureau of Land Management will halt the Bush administration’s 11th-hour round of oil shale research and development lease solicitations. This solicitation was rushed out the door in the waning days of the Bush administration and requires much more public scrutiny.

“Secretary Salazar’s action will give the Interior Department and the public an opportunity to weigh in on the oil shale research and development program, before more public lands are committed to this problem-fraught industry. Such a public process will help to redesign this program to ensure that all aspects of potential oil shale development are researched. In particular, the program must examine the impacts of oil shale development on air and water quality, global warming and local economies.

“Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether the Bush administration’s oil shale research and development program has produced any useful results whatsoever. Before we go charging off to encourage the commercial development of federal oil shale resources, we need to know a whole lot more about the potential economic and environmental costs of this speculative industry.”