Farmers praise Salazar for cautious approach

A group of farmers and ranchers is praising Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s cautious approach toward oil shale development.

Sixty people signed a Rocky Mountain Farmers Union letter to the former U.S. senator from Colorado on the subject.

“As farmers and ranchers, we are concerned about the potential impact oil shale development could have on the West’s water and there are certainly a lot of questions that need to be answered,” the letter said. “Your recent efforts to make sure these questions get answered before considering large-scale commercial oil shale development have been good news.”

Salazar recently announced plans to issue a second round of oil shale research, development and demonstration leases for Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Unlike in the case of the first round, the government plans to give preference to projects that would help answer research questions about water and energy use, and water quality and socioeconomic impacts.

Salazar also asked the Interior Department’s Inspector General to review last-minute Bush administration modifications to the initial leases that “gave low royalty rates and favorable conditions to the industry before the effects of this kind of energy development have been completely understood,” the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union said in a news release Friday.

The group’s president, Kent Peppler, said, “We need to see more research before large-scale development starts. RMFU appreciates the Secretary’s caution.”

The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union represents family farmers and ranchers in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.


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