Hall charges forward with oil boondoggle bill just as Congress and the President work to hammer out agreement to avoid fiscal cliff

Washington, D.C. – Today the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment pushed forward a new boondoggle bill for oil companies. H.R. 6603, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) would create $50 million in new subsidies for oil shale.

Known in the West as “the rock that burns,” oil shale isn’t oil at all, but a rock covered in a fossilized organic substance called kerogen. Despite being awarded billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies, oil shale speculators have failed for over a century to produce a commercially viable product.

The Checks and Balances Project’s Ellynne Bannon had this to say about H.R. 6603 and the committee’s hearing today:

“Rep. Hall is out to lunch – he’s proposing millions in new taxpayer-funded subsidies for oil shale speculators just as the other members of Congress and the White House struggle to avoid a fiscal cliff. Hall wants to pad the pockets of oil shale speculators, even though oil shale has been a complete economic failure despite being awarded billions in taxpayer handouts over the last century.”

A few facts about oil shale

·         The non-partisan budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense released a report this week examining the billions in government subsidies that have been risked on  oil shale over the years, including $3.2 billion loan guarantees and $3.7 billion in price guarantees in the 1980’s.

·         In order to turn oil shale into oil, the rock has to be subjected to 700 degree temperatures for as many as 4 years, and according to the Government Accountability Office, if ever developed, the process could require as much as 123 billion gallons of water in the West, where severe and extreme drought conditions already exist.

·         Earlier this year, a Congressional Budget Office analysis found that opening up public lands to commercial oil shale development would have zero effect on revenue.