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11th Hour Oil Shale Opening Failed to Give a "2-Minute Warning"

December 1, 2008

Lakewood, CO - Conservation groups in Colorado are charging the Bush administration with ignoring public opinion by making a last-minute rule change to open more than two million acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to oil shale and tar sands development.

In Colorado, says Roger Singer, a regional representative for the Sierra Club, the area targeted for development is in the western part of the state.

"They're ignoring public comment, and forcing upon the public these changes to allow for oil shale development that would decimate the area."

Singer says if oil shale development in the region were built out to its full capacity, it would require electricity equivalent to ten new coal-fired power plants.

"Let's not start up ten new coal-fired power plants and a proven failure like oil shale development. Let's move forward, not backward."

Other conservation groups have threatened to sue the federal government over the lack of public input on the change. While Singer's group is considering litigation as an option, he says they're focusing on working with the incoming administration.

"We're hoping that the Obama administration will act quickly to reverse these rules that have been put through in the eleventh hour by the Bush administration."

The U.S. Department of the Interior says the rule change complies with federal law, and that "enhancing domestic energy supplies" was a factor in the decision. Singer points out that oil shale extraction itself requires a great deal of energy.

The announcement came in last Friday's Federal Register.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO