Checks and Balances Project launches accountability campaign for supporters of Rep. Lamborn’s oil shale boondoggle


February 22, 2012

Denver – Today, the Checks and Balances Project launched a regional ad campaign to hold members of Congress accountable for their support of Rep. Doug Lamborn’s oil shale legislation, H.R. 3408. The ads link to online videos about Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Colo.) and Rep. Scott Tipton’s (R-Colo.) support of the failed energy resource known as oil shale.

Rep. Coffman and Rep.Tipton each twice voted in favor of the oil shale boondoggle. It gives millions of acres of public land to oil companies for oil shale speculation in exchange zero energy, zero revenue and zero jobs.

Prior to the votes, the Congressional Budget Office estimated oil shale would generate zero revenue between 2012 and 2022.

Advertisements will appear on the websites for 13 media outlets such as the Denver Post, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Aurora Sentinel, and (Full list included below.)

“We respectfully request Reps. Tipton and Coffman to explain how they voted for legislation that was supposed to fund transportation repairs, but which the Congressional Budget Office found would provide zero revenues,” said Colorado-based Checks and Balances Project Co-Director Matt Garrington. “Oil shale is a failed resource, and the legislation which both Coffman and Tipton supported will provide zero funding to fix our nation’s crumbling roads, highways, and bridges. That is irresponsible.”

Oil companies have tried for over a century to generate energy from oil shale, a misnamed rock that contains zero oil. Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies and private investments, the oil industry has failed to create a commercial oil shale industry.

Ironically, the legislation actually creates a new subsidy for oil companies by setting “bargain basement” royalty rates for oil shale, which means less revenue for local governments to address the associated costs of energy speculation such as roads, schools, police, and firefighters.

Many groups have been expressed their concern about Reps. Tipton and Coffman’s support of oil shale:

  • In a radio campaign, Colorado Wildlife Federation raised concerns over Tipton’s opposition to a common sense study of the potential impacts of oil shale development:
  • The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union launched a regional ad campaign in Colorado newspapers to question Tipton’s support of water-intensive oil shale development:
  • Activists delivered a blank check to Tipton’s Grand Junction office following the introduction of HR 3408:
  • Local activists have publicly voiced their concerns over Tipton’s refusal to require a water study prior to oil shale development:
  • Local governments voiced concern about how the Lamborn bill locks-in lower royalty revenues which would be used to offset the local impacts of oil shale speculation:
  • Veterans called on Coffman to support proven clean energy jobs instead of oil shale speculation:

Rep. Coffman and Rep. Tipton voted against an amendment filed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), which would have struck the oil shale speculation legislation from the highway bill.

The two later voted in favor of the oil shale bill, which hands over two million acres of public land to oil companies for speculation. The bill goes also mandates commercial leasing on 125,000 acres even though a commercial oil shale industry does not exist.

“These ads are part of our ongoing efforts to educate the public on where their members of Congress stand on oil shale speculation,” said Garrington.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Rep. Coffman has taken $145,800 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Rep. Tipton has taken $103,600.

The watchdog group Public Campaign recently called on Tipton to return donations from executives at SG Interests. The oil and gas exploration company is being forced to pay a $275,000 fine as part of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The ads follow a national ad campaign the Checks and Balances Project launched last week, ahead of the vote for H.R. 3408.

The Coffman and Tipton oil shale ads will run in the Thornton-Northglenn Sentinel, Aurora Sentinel, Colorado Community Newspapers, Denver Post,, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Durango Herald, Steamboat Today, and Grand Junction TV station websites KJCT, KKCO, and KREX.

Mike Coffman ad:

Scott Tipton ad:

30 – 30 – 30

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