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Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. POLIS. Mr. Chairman, my amendment gets to the heart of what sustains our western communities from Colorado to California to New Mexico to Montana--our water and our land.

My amendment is the answer to concerns from my constituents in Colorado, outcries from farmers, from ranchers, local communities, from sportsmen, from recreationists, and from many others who know this bill threatens their livelihoods, and my amendment corrects that component.

This bill contains a troubling oil shale provision. Now, it was originally included to help pay for the bill's overall cost, but it was found to provide no revenue. So how can something help pay for a bill when it provides no revenue? With the CBO score confirming it receives no revenue, there is, therefore, no reason to include it. We might as well simply take up any random natural resources bill. And, in fact, the whole discussion of oil shale certainly deserves its own discussion. And since it is not going to help pay for our highways, I would urge my colleagues, even if they are supportive of this end product, to remove this from this bill.

Let me be clear, my amendment has nothing to do with one form of energy over another. You'll probably hear people from both sides of this argument talk about the potential for oil shale in the future. It's not about dirty or clean forms of energy; it's simply about common sense. If the technology doesn't exist and it won't bring in revenue, why is it being considered as a revenue provision for an unrelated infrastructure bill?

We've all heard of former Presidential candidate Herman Cain's 9 9-9 plan, but the oil shale section of this bill is a zero-zero-zero plan--no revenue, no jobs, and no energy. It mandates we lock up land at fire-sale prices to those who are connected enough to make bids for a technology that doesn't even exist and would threaten jobs, would threaten water in western Colorado, and threaten our western way of life.

My amendment simply strikes that section, leaving revenue for the overall bill unaffected, and keeps our western lands and waters as they currently are, outside of what's supposed to be an infrastructure and transportation bill.

Now, you might hear some hold up Estonia as an example of oil shale development, but by all accounts, Estonia oil shale has been an economic disaster. Even Jim Bartis with the RAND Corporation said: ``To our knowledge, oil shale in Estonia is not even used to produce transportation fuels.''

You'll also hear that we're the Saudi Arabia of various energy resources. Now, I continue to question the wisdom in looking to Estonia and Saudi Arabia for leadership in energy independence for our country. Even industry insiders know that a provision like the one contained in this bill is simply the wrong thing to do.

Jeremy Boak, a professor who heads the industry-sponsored Center for Oil Shale Technology at the Colorado School of Mines, said that he's doubtful that any firm would even bid on commercial leases, leaving them to speculators. He also said: ``It isn't obvious to me yet that we need to be putting a bunch of commercial leases out there because no one has a commercial process yet.''

That's something that industry admits. There's no feasible, cost-effective commercial process for extracting oil from shale. We're talking about a potential technology, one that will have profound implications on water, profound implications on land use, and, yes, profound implications on national energy policy, but it's a technology that doesn't exist.

This component of the bill, if we don't remove it, will simply remove speculators rather than those who can actually play a meaningful role in providing for our energy independent future. I strongly encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. POLIS. Well, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strongly support this commonsense amendment to preserve our land, our jobs, and our water in the West.


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