Democratic News

May 15 2008

Impacts of Oil Shale

Chairman Bingaman gave the following statement at a hearing on the development of oil shale resources.

“Our Nation has vast oil shale resources.  We hold over 50 percent of the world’s oil shale resources, amounting to over 2 trillion barrels.  Most of this resource is concentrated in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, with much of it occurring on Federal lands administered by the Department of the Interior.   However, because of the state of the technology, economic factors and environmental concerns, our oil shale resources have not yet been developed.  The Department of the Interior currently has a research, development and demonstration leasing program, which I think is an important step.
“However, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress enacted some broad-sweeping new requirements with respect to the commercial leasing of Federal oil shale resources.  Some have voiced concern that this legislation pushed commercial leasing too far and too fast and is not realistic given the state of the technology.  Premature leasing could lead to speculation and be counterproductive.  On the other hand, we hear that industry needs some additional certainty as to lease terms and other requirements for commercial leasing in order to proceed with developing the technology for this resource. 
It seems to me that there should be a way forward that does not involve premature commercial leasing, that protects the interests of the American people to a fair return on their resources, and that addresses concerns of local citizens, but still provides industry with the certainty it needs.  I also hope that the Committee carefully considers impacts to local economies and to our land and water resources. 
“In this era of soaring prices and increasing dependence on foreign oil, our domestic oil shale resources can potentially play an important role.  However, we must proceed with care as we craft a policy leading to its future development. 
“I look forward to working with the Senator Domenici, Senator Salazar, and other Members of the Committee on this important matter.  Thank you to the witnesses for your testimony.”   
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