Official promotes energy-friendly Utah at oil shale conference in Colorado

GOLDEN — Utah is open for the energy business, including development of oil shale, the state’s lieutenant governor told the 31st annual Oil Shale Symposium at the Colorado School of Mines.

“This is the Utah moment,” Lt. Gov. Greg Bell told the symposium, pointing to advances in oil shale development in private and state lands in particular, as well as other energy advances.

The welcoming approach of Utah is a markedly different perspective than that of Colorado, said Grand Junction geologist Gerald J. Daub, president of Daub and Associates.

“Our government is not backing it in any way, shape or form,” Daub said after Bell spoke in the opening session of the symposium.

Colorado had no state government representatives speaking about the development of resources in the Centennial State, Daub noted.

Utah’s oil shale deposits are second only to Colorado’s, which are the world’s largest and richest, and Utah is eager to promote development, both for its own economic development and for national energy security, Bell told the gathering, in which scientists and corporate chieftains rub shoulders to consider the potential of oil shale.

“We feel a keen sense of commitment to responsible energy development,” Bell said, pointing to the presence of Enefit American Oil, the Estonia-based company that last year purchased oil shale assets in Utah’s Uintah Basin, mostly on private lands.

Utah is a “hardscrabble state that has to overcome some reputational negatives,” such as reality television shows about polygamy, Bell said, drawing laughter.

More seriously, he said, Utah was rated by Forbes Magazine as the most business-friendly state in the nation.

Utah has filed several suits against the federal government, including one to prevent the recognition of so-called wild lands, which critics suspected of being thinly cloaked efforts at designating wilderness.

Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey has said the name was poorly chosen.

In any case, a new effort aimed at “crown jewels” sounds eerily familiar, Bell said, noting that Utah won’t shrink from confronting the Interior Department’s plans for federal lands in the state.

“Whether we have to legislate or litigate, we’re here to make progress,” Bell said.


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