Oil shale, not popular with most environmentalists, is back in the news again, as Bush & Co. take advantage over gas price anxiety to float another crack at the dirty source of energy. Now, the Prez has proposed lowering the royalties charged to companies who process oil shale.
As the Associated Press reports, the Interior Department's draft rules recommend reduced royalty rates for the extraction of oil from shale on 2 million acres of public property in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. While the government currently charges 12.5% to 18.8% for conventional oil drilling, oil shale development would be set at around 5%.
The purpose is obviously to spur oil shale production, which currently is around three times more expensive than traditional oil to bring online. Further, critics point out that no fuel from oil shale would be available until 2015 or later, meaning it would do nothing to reduce current gas prices.
Environmentalists are balking at the proposal, not only because oil shale extraction would mean widespread disruption of vast tracks of public lands, but also because the process requires substantial energy inputs. Colorado's Democratic governor, Bill Ritter, opposes the plan, saying it would cost his state billions.
Many are saying the whole concept is misguided, and argue that our nation's energy future should give more support for conservation and renewables, and less for such expensive, dirt fossil-fuel programs.
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