House committee OKs oil shale bill

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The U.S. House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee recently passed House Resolution 2337, or the "Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007," which contained provisions that would give the Interior Department more time to analyze oil shale development and tar sands resources.

Western Colorado Congress contends that section 104 of the newly approved bill would remove several of the ambitious timelines for analysis of oil shale development that were imposed by the Energy Policy Act. Because the technologies are not yet known and activities on research and development leases will not yet have begun, these artificial timelines would preclude careful consideration of the potential impacts as well as the concerns of Colorado communities, the congress reported in a press release.

The new bill assures that the Bureau of Land Management can take the time it needs to do the analysis necessary to protect air and water quality and western Colorado communities, according to Western Colorado Congress.

"Rather than imposing artificial timelines and requiring the BLM to rush preparation of important analyses of economic and environmental risks, the wiser course is to allow the agency the time to do a thorough job," said Cathy Kay, of Western Colorado Congress. "We were glad to see the House Natural Resources Committee adopt such a reasonable approach.

However, the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States takes issue with H.R. 2337. IPAMS contends that the new bill will increase energy costs, decrease energy dependence and hinder the fight against global warming.

"One has to wonder why members of Congress would vote for legislation that will decrease domestic supplies of oil and natural gas at a time when consumers are already suffering from high prices," Marc W. Smith, executive director of IPAMS, said in a press release.

Smith also questioned the committee's commitment to fighting global warming and reducing greenhouse gasses.

"If it becomes law, H.R. 2337 will limit the development of natural gas -- a critical energy source for reducing carbon emissions and a key component in the production of biofuels," Smith said.

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