March 13, 2012

CONTACT: Matt Garrington, (720) 206-4348

Roberts amendment tries to hang oil shale boondoggle on Senate transportation bill

The following is a quote from Denver-based Checks and Balances Project Co-Director Matt Garrington about S.AMDT.1826, Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) oil shale amendment to the Senate transportation bill.

“After taking $429,800 from Big Oil, Sen. Roberts has wrapped every giveaway he can think of into one amendment – including a 2 million acre handout for oil shale speculation.

“Sen. Roberts clearly isn’t serious about fixing our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, or he wouldn’t be trying to solve our transportation and energy needs with an oil shale industry that does not exist.”

Five facts you need to know about S.Amdt.1826 and oil shale:

  • Sen. Roberts’ amendment would hand 2 million acres of public lands over to oil companies and mandates commercial leasing on 125,000 acres despite the fact that no commercial oil shale industry exists.
  • The amendment also creates a new oil shale subsidy by setting a bargain basement royalty rate of 5 percent (compared to 12.5 percent for onshore oil and gas and 18.75 percent for offshore oil), reducing revenue from the federal treasury to local governments which is intended to offset the associated infrastructure costs of energy development.
  • The House passed a similar oil shale bill sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn in February, as part of Speaker Boehner’s much-maligned transportation package. The Congressional Budget Office scored the oil shale bill as having “no effect on revenue,” and days after Rep. Lamborn’s bill passed, Chevron announced it was divesting its oil shale research in Colorado.
  • There is no actual oil in oil shale. It’s a rock found in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado that contains kerogen, a precursor to oil that has not been in the ground long enough under enough heat or pressure to turn into oil. A century of failed attempts to make it a viable energy source have included ideas like detonating nuclear bombs to cook it at 600 to 700 degrees and lowering massive heaters into the ground for 3 to 4 years at a time.
  • The Roberts amendment includes other giveaways on the oil industry’s wish list including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, expanding offshore drilling, and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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