Fresh off a convincing electoral victory, it didn’t take the Obama Administration long to get back to doing what they do best: locking up land prime for oil shale and tar sand development in the West.
Reading communications coming from the Department of the Interior might leave one with the impression that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar intended on releasing this decision to bolster his street-cred among environmentalists he hopes to work for now that he’s being forced out of Obama’s cabinet.
But, we digress.
While it goes without saying that elections have consequences, this decision by Salazar to restrict federal land available for commercial leasing to one-third of what was previously authorized under the Bush Administration effectively rips the rug out from under companies looking to continue research and potentially up their investment in states like Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
Further, Salazar’s decision to take lands with “wilderness characteristics” off the table for consideration flies right in the face of the role Congress, who, under the Wilderness Act of 1964, has sole authority to designate wilderness areas.
Unfortunately, Obama’s foot soldiers like Colorado Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) ignored the executive branch power grab and rushed to the microphones to cheer the decision. Udall even went so far as to suggest that this decision helps to further the development of an “all of the above energy policy.”
Right. All of the above – except for the 1 trillion barrels of oil that lies beneath the aforementioned tri-state region, apparently.
While many of us here at The Observer occasionally stay at Holiday Inn Express hotels, none of us are petroleum geologists. But we do believe that the federal government should be doing everything within its power to encourage research and development of this strategic resource rather than constantly throwing up road blocks to stall it.
From energy independence to job creation, breaking through on oil shale would be a tremendous boon to the State of Colorado and the West.
Western Colorado voters would be well served to remind Mr. Salazar about high unemployment and the state of their economy next time he decides to grace them with his presence.
However, we’d advise them to do so politely, as the Interior Secretary is evidently prone to violence – threating to “punch out” people in his home state, not just their economies.