Oil Shale Frenzy: Bush rules a gift to oil industry


The Bush administration's Interior Department wants to open millions of public acres in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming to oil companies to extract kerogen, a sludgy form of oil, from shale rock. As Bush's days in Washington wind down, his agents are working to give Big Oil a firm toehold on public lands by sidestepping the usual public-appeal process and adopting regulations that give companies a deal on royalties.

New rules would require payment of only a 5 percent royalty on oil shale for the first five years of production, while regular oil and gas wells pay 12.5 to 18.8 percent -- a nice gift to energy companies that American taxpayers could end up paying for in environmental degradation.