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Opportunity this election year is shrinking for the governor and legislative leaders to reach an agreement on a bill that could head off a series of ballot measures aimed at granting local authorities greater regulatory control over the oil-and-gas industry.
Republican Doug Lamborn’s bill to speed up oil shale production in western Colorado has been packaged with House Speaker John Boehner’s American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act (HR 7) as a means of funding the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. But critics point out commercial oil shale production is potentially decades away and may never come to fruition.
Opponents of oil shale development in western Colorado, Wyoming and Utah participated in a “fly-in” to Washington, D.C. this week to push for increased federal oversight of the still-unproven form of energy that would consume huge amounts of water and conventional power.
Colorado Fourth-District Republican US Rep Cory Gardner is filling his campaign coffers for 2012 as he did in 2010 by leaning heavily on oil-and-gas industry donors. He raked in $370,000 in the quarter that just ended. That's the most of any candidate for federal office from Colorado and topped his take in previous quarters by roughly $100,000. One of every ten dollars Gardner brought in last quarter came from oil and gas, and this quarter the percentage is higher, coming in at roughly 12 percent. That notable campaign finance record paired with the high-profile pro-drilling and environmental-regulation-rollback positions he has taken mark out the freshman congressman as an aspiring top-level advocate for oil and gas on the Hill.
For decades, Royal Dutch Shell – Europe’s largest energy company – has been known in Colorado as the king of oil shale research, spending an estimated $200 million on an experimental and controversial extraction process that has yet to be proven commercially viable. But Shell and its American subsidiaries have increasingly been moving into natural gas drilling in the United States, including a well permit pulled in southern Colorado that has touched off a firestorm of debate over state versus local control of drilling operations and just how much public input should be allowed.
As predicted, testimony at Wednesday’s House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources oil shale field hearing in Grand Junction produced more industry hand wringing over federal regulatory uncertainty and environmental push-back over an unproven energy source.
The president of the Wilderness Society today skewered the current debt-ceiling compromise and budget-slashing deal worked out in Washington over the weekend, saying its reductions in spending on environmental and conservation policies “threaten to damage our water, our air and our lands beyond repair.”
Dr. Jeremy Boak, a leading expert on oil shale technology at the Colorado School of Mines, says the Obama administration is dragging its feet on oil shale production in the United States much the way the Bush administration stalled on climate change policy. “It’s curious to hear the same sort of arguments being made by this administration that were made by the Bush administration for not doing anything on climate change,” Boak told the Colorado Independent. “We’ve got to have all the answers before we can move.”
Former Colorado attorney general and Bush administration Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton is being investigated by the Justice Department for allegedly brokering a...
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