Senate votes to end oil shale leasing ban

Earlier action by House dealt blow to moratorium on development

A measure that included an extension of the ban on oil shale leasing regulations failed Friday in the Senate.

The House, meanwhile, was preparing to vote on a similar package, which included no extension of the ban on developing oil shale.

The Bush administration did list shale, as well as offshore drilling, as important domestic energy assets and said in a position paper it “strongly opposes language in the bill” that would reinstate the leasing ban.

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., an opponent of the ban, said he welcomed its demise.

“Had this misguided moratorium continued, it would have helped (Venezuelan dictator) Hugo Chavez stimulate his economy more than our own,” Allard said after the vote.

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., who fought to preserve the moratorium, has said he will seek to require oil shale companies make clear how much water they will need and how they will supply it.

The moratorium was dealt a severe blow this week when the House voted to drop it and allow states to decide whether to allow commercial leasing of shale-bearing lands.

That measure was sought by a Utah Democrat, James Matheson, whose district includes that state’s oil shale lands.

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., whose 3rd Congressional District contains Colorado’s shale lands, voted for the measure that included Matheson’s provision, then said he would fight to “restore an orderly process for oil shale development.”


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