Oil shale only part of energy plan, mayors say

Mayors from Aspen to Parachute say any oil shale development in the region should occur only as part of an energy plan that considers the costs as well as the benefits of fossil fuels and places at least equal emphasis on renewable sources and energy efficiency.

In a joint statement issued Monday, the informal “Mountain Mayors” alliance also called for increased mitigation of local impacts related to oil shale development. They said western Colorado communities that bear the impacts should have a meaningful role in deciding how and when oil shale is developed, and leasing of public lands for that development should await completion of ongoing research and development projects.

The mayors said they recognize the importance of liquid fuels to the nation and the economic benefits of a strong energy sector, including to the region. But they worry about the possible infrastructure demands and environmental impacts of oil shale development that would come on top of the natural gas boom already occurring in the area.

“Our region already has firsthand experience with the negative impacts of a ‘boom and bust’ related to Oil Shale development in the early 1980s as well as the significant impacts created by rising energy prices today. This experience shapes our perspective on energy development issues,” the mayors wrote.

Their statement was signed by every mayor from Aspen to Parachute, including those representing Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt and Rifle.

Just how fast oil shale development on public lands should occur, and the idea that rules for that development should be crafted, have been the subject of much recent debate. The mayors say technology, not public lands access, is limiting oil shale development, and there has been little evaluation of the possible impact of technologies on communities and regional air and water resources.

Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert he said he thinks the statement reflects the positions taken by area towns in recent years. In 2007, elected councils from Aspen, Parachute, De Beque and Grand Junction endorsed a call for a state energy plan along the lines of what the mayors backed this month.


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