A congressional appropriations bill for energy and water development is being hotly debated this week, and oil shale is of major importance for Colorado’s congressmen. While past bills concerning oil shale have been contentious between two of Colorado’s representatives (see the earlier post about the PIONEER’s Act), both Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) agree that the proposed $25 million allocation for oil shale is too much and want the money spent elsewhere.
H.R. 5325, better known as The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, will determine congressional financial allocations for the energy sector for the 2013 fiscal year. Committee Report 112-462 recommends that $25 million be allocated to oil shale research to “accelerate the safe and effective use of the nation’s shale oil reserves.” (Note: while the report refers to ’shale oil,’ they are actually discussing oil shale.)
With gas prices once again at record levels, the Committee believes it is more important than ever to use all means possible to increase the domestic oil supply. The nation has more than two trillion barrels in estimated shale oil reserves, but significant economic and environmental barriers prevent our effective use of this significant resource. To accelerate the safe and effective use of the nation’s shale oil reserves, the Committee recommends $25,000,000 for shale oil technology research and development. The funding is to be used to support both research to improve the economics of oil production from shale oil, as well as to reduce the health, safety, and environmental risks associated with shale oil extraction.
Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Department shall provide to the Committee a program proposal with specific objectives and timelines for improving the efficiency and environmental effects of oil shale retrieval.
Rep. Polis is expected to propose an amendment to the bill that would eliminate the oil shale subsidy. Polis spokesperson Chris Fitzgerald told The Colorado Independent via email that, “oil shale will not produce an ounce of American energy in the foreseeable future. If energy companies believe, despite their 100 years of failing to find a commercially viable way to produce oil from oil shale, that this will work then they should invest their own profits rather than continuing to waste taxpayer money.”
Rep. Polis was instrumental in defeating the PIONEER’s Act, an omnibus energy bill that would have streamlined oil shale development, as well as open up the Anwr reserves in Alaska and sped construction of the Keystone oil pipeline. The sponsor and co-writer of that bill, Rep. Lamborn, is actually in agreement with Polis that oil shale research and development should be funded out of the companies pockets, not by government subsidies.
Continue reading after the break for more on the Congressmens’ previous battles over oil shale.
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