Amendments to protect American jobs and water fail
The following is a quote from Denver-based Checks and Balances Project co-director Matt Garrington with three need-to-know facts regarding HR 3408.
“Today, House Natural Resources Committee Republicans voted against American workers, American families and reducing our national deficit. They voted in favor of another government handout to billion-dollar oil companies.
“Republicans on House Natural Resources Committee botched Rep. Lamborn’s oil shale legislation hearing, which showed just how ridiculous the bill is. In two hours, the committee majority voted down guaranteeing oil shale technology to be American-made; ensuring that oil shale extraction won’t harm water supplies for municipalities and agriculture, and requiring commercial oil shale to be a proven revenue generator before handing over 2 million acres of public land for speculation.
“House Republicans did manage to preserve taxpayer handouts for oil companies by giving away oil shale at bargain basement rates, undermining Speaker Boehner’s goal of raising transportation funds.”
About HR 3408, the PIONEERS Act:
- Rep. Lamborn’s bill would hand over 2 million acres of public lands for oil shale speculation and mandate commercial leasing on 125,000 acres of public lands by 2016, even though the oil industry has said, on the record, that it will be at least until 2020 before they know whether commercial oil shale is even possible.
- Despite claims that the legislation was changed to address new subsidies to the oil industry, the legislation would set bargain basement royalty rates for oil shale speculation. On its face, the bill codifies the 2008 Bush-era oil shale regulations which sets royalty rates at 5 percent (compared to a rate of 12.5 percent for onshore oil and gas and 18.75 percent for offshore oil). Lower royalties means less revenue to the federal treasury and less revenue for local governments, who need the funds to offset the associated costs of energy development such as new roads, utility lines, schools, and fire and police services.
- The BLM estimated that industrial scale oil shale development could require as much as 150 percent of the amount of water the Denver Metro Area consumes each year. With western waters such as the Colorado River already overtaxed, there simply might not be enough water to facilitate oil shale development.