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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

February 25, 2009

Contact: Kristina Johnson

Interior to Scrap Bush Administration Oil Shale Plans

Washington, D.C. - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced he will toss out Bush administration midnight regulations designed to rush oil shale development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Salazar said the oil shale leasing proposal issued by the Bush administration in January was flawed and that royalties to be paid by the oil industry were too low. The Department of Interior will now open a 90-day comment period allowing the public to weigh in on what oil shale research and development leases should contain.

Producing a liquid fuel from oil shale entails heating solid rock to temperatures in excess of 600F.  The large amounts of energy needed to heat and process oil shale would increase the global warming emissions that contribute to climate change.

Oil shale development also requires a great deal of water, a limited resource in the arid West.  The BLM estimates that in Colorado alone, oil shale development could consume more water than the Denver Metro area, home to over 2 million people.

Sportsmen have also expressed concern that unchecked oil shale development would destroy key wildlife habitat in places like Utah's Book Cliffs and Colorado's Piceance Basin.

Statement of Lawson LeGate, Director of Sierra Club Hunter-Angler Program:

Oil shale threatens to destroy wildlife and fish habitat, poison our air and water, and dry up rivers in the West. This is one of the dirtiest and most wasteful forms of energy in the world.

The Bush administration pushed these regulations through in its waning days in an effort to fast-track this destructive and unproven energy source. We are encouraged to see Secretary Salazar bringing science and public review back into this process. Before we rush to develop this unproven energy source, we need to know more about how it will impact our water, wildlife, and economy.

Instead of promoting this dirty fossil fuel, we should be investing in the West's abundant clean energy sources like wind and solar power. By investing in clean energy, we can keep our best wildlife habitat intact and pass on a wild legacy to future generations.
The Sierra Sportsmen Network is a countrywide, thousands-strong group of conservation-minded anglers and hunters. Since the Sierra Club was founded in 1892, hunters and anglers have played a leadership role in our work to preserve the wild places and wildlife all Americans enjoy.

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