No fast cash in oil shale, nonpartisan agency says

Critics of oil shale development crowed Wednesday about a Congressional Budget Office conclusion that leasing land for oil shale development would provide no immediate revenue boost to federal coffers.

The issue is significant because oil shale development contemplated in a bill by U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, is expected to be included in a measure to be offered by House Speaker John Boehner to increase funding for transportation over the next five years.

The Congressional Budget Office scoring shows leasing of oil shale would reduce the deficit by $5 million in 2016, but would generate no revenue until then. It would cost $5 million in 2022, the edge of the time frame for the budget office.

“The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed what we’ve been saying all along,” Matthew Garrington of the Checksandbalancesproject.org in Denver said in a statement. “There is zero energy and zero revenue in oil shale. Reps. Lamborn and (U.S. Rep. Scott) Tipton should quit trying to sell us a bill of goods.”

Tipton, a Republican whose 3rd Congressional District includes the richest deposits of oil shale in the nation, has criticized the lack of action on leasing and supported Lamborn’s proposal to speed up the leasing process.

Three companies expressed interest in 10-year research, development and demonstration leases since six such leases were issued in 2007.

The budget-office score misses the point of the legislation, which is to get the leasing process back under way, Tipton spokesman Josh Green said.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar already has the authority to offer similar research-and-development leases, but Salazar’s authority “hasn’t been and will not likely be exercised absent legislation such as this,” Green said.


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