We must admit to having mixed emotions about seeing Colorado’s senior Senator take to the floor of the Senate this week.
On one hand, it’s nice to be reminded that Colorado does actually have a couple of guys we sent to represent us in that stale body of gridlock. On the other hand, with Sen. Mark Udall, it’s often only a matter of time before he says something at the podium that makes us wince.
That moment came this week courtesy of Mr. Udall’s amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, which seeks to remove a ban on the Defense Department purchasing alternative fuels that cost more than traditional fuels (Yes, only in Washington, D.C. does an agency have to be specifically directed by Congress to not pay more for something when a perfectly suitable alternative exists).
Udall’s intentions may be as pure as the icebergs his wife is trying to keep from melting – but the irony of the situation is too thick to avoid.
While Senator Udall authored the amendment in the name of wind, solar, biodiesel and the like, he overlooked the value of another abundant Colorado resource that the Department of Defense has spent decades coveting – oil shale. Apparently the kerogen derived from shale makes great jet fuel.
Here at The Observer, we remember that the federal land in western Colorado – home to some of the richest oil shale reserves in the West – spent decades under lock and key as the Naval Oil Shale Reserve before meddling politicians decided to give it to the Department of Interior to manage. While the intent of this transfer was to encourage the “multiple use” of the land, what we’ve seen since the transfer in the late 1990’s has been anything but. From wilderness study areas to a constantly changing research, demonstration and development regulatory patchwork, it’s fair to say that the whole thing is a mess.
While no one should be surprised that Senator Udall is using his perch in the Senate to fight for environmentalist causes and taxpayer goodies for the so-called green energy industry, we believe his intentional oversight of a strategic resource in his home state is cynical at best and harmful at worst.