Printed letters, April 3, 2013
Unsurprisingly, outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, no friend of domestic energy development, has released a plan for oil shale that is designed to prevent commercial production of a vast American resource — a plan praised in The Daily Sentinel’s editorial.
Your editorial misses the point that Salazar’s plan is a fatal circular argument: Companies require land and some assurance of the opportunity to see a return on their investment in order to be physically and economically able to conduct the research necessary; this plan drastically limits land and offers no assurance of commercial expansion once a method is perfected.
The editorial omits the fact that the fraction of land left available for oil shale research is in tiny, dispersed pockets, entirely unsuitable for proper research and development, much less offering any chance of expanding from there into a commercial operation that could provide return on investment, along with jobs and American energy.
So, Interior requires that companies prove their technology, but denies them the ability to do so.
Secondly, your editorial’s argument that there is no pressing need currently to pursue oil shale is also a disappointingly shortsighted position to take. Isn’t now, when we have a cushion provided by oil production on private land, exactly the time to be figuring out how to produce this resource, so it is there when we do need it? Would the Sentinel and Salazar prefer that we wait until another national emergency or energy panic, and then rush into oil shale?
This is only a reasonable plan if, like Salazar, you are obstinately opposed to domestic energy development. I trust that this is not really the position of the Sentinel’s editorial board and that the editorial was either an oversight or a temporary lapse of judgment.
Salazar’s ‘research-first’ stance is smart, balanced
I want to commend The Daily Sentinel for supporting the sensible “research-first” plan for oil shale recently enacted by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and the Obama administration. This plan provides more than a half million acres of public lands for continued oil shale research while protecting our valuable water resources.
Under the Salazar plan, companies must prove that their technologies for developing oil shale are commercially viable and that land, air and scarce Colorado water resources are protected before turning over more lands to oil companies for commercial leasing.
There’s been overwhelming support for such a smart, balanced approach. The supporters include more than 100 Colorado business leaders, farmers, ranchers, local elected leaders, water providers, sportsmen and outdoor recreation businesses. The Salazar plan makes good sense in that it rejects the approach that would put western Colorado water and communities at risk by allowing full-scale oil shale leasing before doing the essential research first.
With the West experiencing record drought and wildfires and ever-increasing demands on water supplies, Colorado can’t afford to gamble our limited resources away on a rock with a track record of 100-plus years of failure.
Even energy giant Exxon-Mobil (of “Black Sunday” infamy) says that any commercial oil shale development is still at least a decade away. Salazar’s “research-first” approach is the smart way to address potential development of this yet unproven resource.
Salazar’s oil shale plan obstructive, short-sighted
Congratulations, Ken Salazar, for approving the most irresponsible, contradictory and obstructive oil shale plan possible. It would be comical, if not for the economic harm it does.
The plan Salazar approved last month slashes by about 90 percent the land available to conduct oil shale research and development, while requiring that research be proven before development can commence. Well done.
Another contradictory element of the plan is the royalty rate issue. The Interior Department recognizes that the oil shale industry is in a research and development stage of growth, but suggests that royalty rates be set the same as more established industries. So, if the royalty rate is to be the same as commercial oil and gas rates, shouldn’t the leasing regulations be at least similar?
Salazar’s aim from his start at Interior was to implement the agenda of the most extreme elements of the environmentalist movement, which includes shutting down oil shale.
He cares nothing about “responsible commercial development of these resources.” He wants to be recognized as the guy who finally killed oil shale — one of America’s most promising and prolific energy resources — to make points with a powerful lobby.
Salazar’s plan is not a “common-sense” one by any definition that most Coloradans would not recognize. It is an irresponsible and shortsighted sop to a special-interest group.
God bless the few remaining energy companies that are doing what is right for the people of this country in sticking with oil shale development despite the enormous and irresponsible obstacles shoved in their way by Salazar and his friends in Washington.
Applaud Salazar for taking prudent approach to oil shale
As a local business owner and employer, I am deeply concerned about what oil shale speculation could mean for my business and our economy. That’s why I support Ken Salazar’s responsible approach to oil shale.
The BLM recently issued its Record of Decision on the use of public lands in western Colorado for oil shale development. Before any commercial leases will be issued, the new rules require oil shale companies to prove they have viable technology and can extract and process oil shale safely and without overtaxing our scarce water resources.
It remains unknown how much water is actually needed for extracting oil shale. Full-scale oil shale development could require as much as 123 billion gallons of water each year, enough water for more than 750,000 households.
In our arid region, which is in its second year of a severe drought, oil shale development could pose a serious risk to water supplies and our local economy. Farming, ranching, travel and tourism all depend on access to water and healthy rivers. Together, they employ more than 10,000 people in Mesa County.
Salazar should be applauded for ensuring that oil shale research is done responsibly, so that our local economy (including the jobs we have right here and now) continues to thrive.
Oil, gas commission work with a conflicting mission
HB 1269, which would remove conflicts of interest from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s mission and makeup, is a common-sense piece of legislation. The commission has a conflicting mission to foster oil and gas development and to regulate it in order to protect public health, safety, welfare and the environment.
You can’t do both at once. That’s like trying to arm-wrestle with yourself. Nobody wins, and you get nowhere at all.
The legislation would make the purpose of the commission to protect public health, safety and the environment, as should be the government’s role in regulating an industry that poses serious risks to clean air, clean water and public health. The bill would also prohibit an individual who is currently paid by the industry from serving on the commission that regulates that industry.
Former industry employees, or those who have retired from working in the industry but no longer receive compensation, would still be able to serve on the commission. Simply put, people paid by the industry should not be the ones to regulate the industry. They stand to gain money if regulation is lax.
Oil and gas development in Colorado is a $20 billion industry. To argue that government is needed to promote the industry ignores the fact that industry is doing just fine with its self-promotion.
Legislators should enact HB 1269 because it’s a common-sense measure that will help to move us toward proper regulation of one of the richest and most harmful industries in history.
JOYCE C. GEORGE