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On Feb. 15, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that his Department will be taking a “fresh look” at commercial oil shale regulations. This all sounds reasonable. But, when you look past the rhetoric, this is just more bad news for domestic energy production.
Regulations are a critical incentive for oil shale research and development. Energy companies need to understand the rules under which they will operate, including the royalty rates they will pay the American taxpayer. Salazar says he will be taking a “fresh look.” But, he gave no timeline for when this might occur. He even said there was no sense of urgency to this matter. Who knows when this process will start or finish?
Regrettably, Salazar has done nothing but increase the “regulatory uncertainty” surrounding oil shale. Salazar repealed draft oil shale regulations in 2009 (regulations he helped draft!). His new announcement gave no timeline for issuing revised regulations.
How can Salazar expect energy companies to keep plowing huge sums of money into oil shale research when he won’t even tell them the rules?
Companies are making spectacular progress on advanced oil shale technologies, including minimizing water and energy use. America and Colorado already have extremely stringent environmental regulations on oil, gas, and mineral production. These could easily be applied to oil shale production. Yet, we get nothing but skepticism and roadblocks on oil shale from Sec. Salazar.
Salazar pays lip-service to supporting domestic energy production. But his actions create more and more regulatory uncertainty. This hurts our local economic prospects and national energy security. Taking a “fresh look” at oil shale regulations at some undetermined future date only discourages the research he claims to support.
Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale.