DOI Changes Rules for Oil Shale Development

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday the Interior Department would be changing its lease program for oil shale research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects on public lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

In addition, Salazar has asked the Department’s Inspector General to investigate a set of favorable lease conditions and low royalty rates granted by the Bush administration shortly before leaving office.

“Taxpayers deserve answers to serious questions about why these lease addenda were granted at the eleventh hour, under what circumstances, and at what potential expense to the federal treasury,” Salazar said. “We must reform our nation’s oil shale program and ensure that the American people have the promise of a fair return from their resources.”

Like Canada’s tar sands, the fossil fuel–called kerogen–tied up in oil shale would be extremely energy intensive to extract and environmentally destructive. 

“For the last century, Americans have been working to find the keys to the vast kerogen reserves that are locked up in Western shale,” Salazar said. “If we are to succeed in unlocking oil shale’s great potential, we must first answer fundamental questions about water use, power use, and environmental and social impacts of commercial-scale development. With this new round of RD&D leases, we hope to move closer to responsibly and sustainably developing our oil shale resources.”

DOI intends to grant smaller research-and-development leases than planned under the Bush administration, with requirements for environmental safeguards and progress milestones.

Read Associated Press coverage at the link below.

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