Matthew Garrington, (720) 206-4348

Bush-era land official at center of coordinated oil shale strategy
Watchdog group launches new online campaign in response

DENVER – On Tuesday, county commissioners across three western states met again with a Bush-era BLM director to discuss next steps in a coordinated effort to push an extreme plan to hand over 2 million acres of public lands to oil companies for oil shale speculation.

In March, county commissioners from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming held their first meeting in secret and behind closed doors in Vernal, Utah with Kathleen Clarke, the former BLM Director for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006.

“Why are local elected officials crossing state lines to meet in secret with a former Bush administration official?” said Matt Garrington, Co-Director of The Checks and Balances Project. “This is politics at its worst. Local officials should be working on behalf of their constituents and not holding secret meetings with absolutely no notice about their intentions.”

In response, the Checks and Balances project today launched a new online campaign www.NoMoreEmptyPromises.com to expose how industry and politicians are using their influence, power, and dollars to push a radical plan to hand over 2 million acres of public lands for oil shale speculation. The website includes a new petition targeting counties that have backed the extreme oil shale plan.

Clarke has a long history of advancing a political agenda for Big Oil. She admitted on the record that politics drove her decisions as Utah’s Director of Natural Resources and gave BP America an environmental stewardship award.

Clarke currently serves as Utah Gov. Herbert’s Public Lands Advisor. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Gov. Herbert took $638,915 from the Energy and Natural Resources industry in 2010.

Since the first meeting, a handful of counties passed resolutions calling for the BLM to hand over 2 million acres of public lands for oil shale speculation – despite the fact that local opposition has been fierce in some counties.

Contrary to the cries of industry proponents, the current Interior Department proposal would actually pave the way for more research and development of oil shale on nearly a half million acres of public lands. Clarke and officials are calling for the reinstatement of President Bush’s 2008 plan.

“When President Bush left office, gas prices were at record highs,” said Garrington. “Oil shale is a cheap gimmick that didn’t help lower gas price then, and it won’t help now. We need our elected officials to stop making empty promises and invest in real solutions to address our energy needs.”