Salazar aims to include natural gas in energy policy

By GARY HARMON
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Natural gas will be a part of the nation’s energy policy even while the federal government looks to other fuel sources, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday.

“The future of natural gas is very bright,” Salazar told The Daily Sentinel editorial board after he presided over the dedication of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

Natural gas is one of the sources of fuel he’s recommending President Obama look to as the nation’s energy policy is being shaped, primarily because it’s considered to be less a source of greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels, he said.

As a senator from Colorado, Salazar had been critical of the Bureau of Land Management’s leasing of lands on the Roan Plateau for natural-gas drilling. That plan is now the subject of a federal lawsuit and there are efforts to reach a settlement, Salazar said.

He ruled out withdrawing the Roan Plateau leases, as he did with 77 contentious leases in neighboring Utah near national parks, because the Roan leases had been signed, giving the buyers a property right he was bound to protect, Salazar said.

The process with the Utah leases was not so complete, he said.

As a senator, Salazar was a critic of Bush administration policy on oil shale, and he said he remains supportive of research into shale, but doesn’t see it as an immediate part of the nation’s energy store.

Still, he said he expects to open a second round of research-and-development leases for oil shale in the next month or so.

Three companies are now working five, 160-acre leases in Rio Blanco County, and a sixth such lease is being operated in Utah.


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