There is less than a week before President-elect Obama's inauguration. Tomorrow, there will be a Senate hearing on the nominee for the new Secretary of the Interior--Senator Ken Salazar. Nevertheless, despite the many changes in Washington, the Bush administration is staying its course with midnight maneuvers to lease new parcels of public wildlands in the West for oil shale development.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is asking companies to nominate parcels of land they would want to lease. They can nominate up to 640 acres and the leases would last for ten years, with an option to extend to 20 years if research is successful.
Ultimately, about two million acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming are at stake. Commercial production of oil shale threatens air and water quality, wildlife habitat, water supply, and community health in the region. It will also lead to increased global warming pollution. Instead of burning this caveman fuel, we need a national energy vision that focuses on sustainable solutions, including vehicle efficiency, homegrown renewable energy, and alternative vehicles, all of which will create new jobs and protect our environment.
This is the change we expect from the Obama administration. Senator Salazar has repeatedly called for a cautious and orderly process in our national oil shale policy. Recently, regarding new regulations, he said: "The Bush Administration has fallen into the trap of allowing political timelines to trump sound policy." This is the case again with today's announcement. The Bush administration should refrain from rushing harmful policies and gifts to industry and instead allow the new Secretary of the Interior to review the national oil shale policy and help craft a new energy future.
For more information, go to www.stopdirtyfuels.org