In Oil Shale
Economic potential for West, energy independence for U.S. big parts of
resource development effort
LAKEWOOD, Co. (May 14, 2008) - A group of Western business leaders
today called on Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to recognize the potential
of oil shale development in the state and reconsider his opposition to
the Bureau of Land Management's plan for commercial oil shale and tar
The BLM's current draft programmatic environmental impact statement
could make nearly 2 million acres available across Colorado, Utah and
Wyoming for oil shale and tar sands leasing. Ritter is scheduled to
testify Thursday in Washington, D.C., before the Senate Energy and
Natural Resources Committee, likely continuing his argument that the
BLM's plan for commercial leasing is moving too quickly.
However, significant time and resources have been expended since the
enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included a
requirement for the government to develop a commercial oil shale and
tar sands leasing program on federal lands in Colorado, Utah and
Wyoming. In addition, several companies have for years been
experimenting with technologies to extract oil from oil shale and want
the government's assurance that such research will not be in vain.
"It's important for the governor to recognize the economic potential
of oil shale for Colorado and to support continued research and
development of this resource," said Britt Weygandt, executive director
of the Western Business Roundtable, a group of Western business
leaders who support public policies that promote a common sense,
balanced approach to economic development and environmental
"Oil shale projects will provide jobs and much-needed revenue for
local communities and for the states. And this resource will help our
nation become energy independent," Weygandt said. "The Roundtable
calls on Gov. Ritter not to be party to delaying the oil shale
regulatory process that is already well under way."
The Green River Formation, covering parts of Colorado, Utah and
Wyoming, holds the world's largest deposits of oil shale. The BLM and
others estimate oil resources of 1.2 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels,
with an estimated 800 million barrels considered recoverable. That's
an amount three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi
Arabia, and 70 percent of those reserves are under control of the
The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress late last year contains
language that bars the Dept. of the Interior from completing
commercial oil shale leasing rules this year. An energy bill - S.
2958, the American Energy Production Act - sponsored by Sen. Pete
Domenici (R-N.M.) and other Republicans includes a provision to
overturn that restriction. In addition to its oil shale provision, the
bill calls for development of many other domestic energy resources,
including renewable fuels and clean coal-derived fuels. It also calls
for opening the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf and ANWR to energy
Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee, called for Thursday's hearing (scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Eastern time in 366 Dirksen Senate Building) to assess current efforts
for oil shale development.
"Commercial development of oil shale must consider the impacts to our
region's environment and our local communities," Weygandt said. "But
the governor should not be supporting roadblocks to the regulatory
process, causing delays to research and development of a resource that
could move our nation toward energy independence and provide
tremendous economic benefits to the West."
"Research and development investment in oil shale is directly
dependent on commercial opportunity," Weygandt noted. "The governor's
failure to support responsible commercialization of oil shale could
place at grave risk the investment in technological advances that will
support our local economies, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and
protect the environment. The paradox is that you can't achieve the
technology without massive spending on research, and companies can't
justify the massive spending without realistic expectations that there
is commercial opportunity."