Thou shale not drill!

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

If you say it with a little drawl, it kind of works, doesn’t it? Now I don’t know how the folks at the top of the Department of the Interior will feel about a biblical reference, but if there are tablets with rules on them in D.C., I can assure you this is one of the commandments that came from the mountain!

Two news stories stuck with me over the past week. This first was the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announcement stemming from its presentation at the Grand Junction Area of Commerce regarding its recommendation to basically scrap a Bush administration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) that was in place and amend the 10 land use plans it created. The folks in the Barack Obama administration decided to readdress a barely 3-year-old PEIS and do all the work again at every level. The Obama administration came up with a whole new set of priorities. And none of them are good for the Western Slope’s economy, your gas tank or our country in general.

The second story relates to the record gas prices we’re paying at the pump for this time of year. I don’t know about you, but I don’t give a rodent’s backside about the price of a barrel of oil. I only care about what it costs me to put the end product into my tank. But with all due respect to Nancy Pelosi and the two “totally in the sack with Big Oil” oil men in the White House (hey, if the shoe fit before) this administration’s policies are making your and my life that much more difficult.

So when you put the two stories together, you would think any administration would be working to reduce gas prices. But this isn’t just any administration, nor is this just any Department of the Interior recommendation of a “preferred alternative” to a PEIS. According to the folks I’ve spoken, it is the Obama administration’s policy to slow or stop exploration and drilling whenever and wherever it can. The good news is that if you have a beanie hat with a propeller on it, you’ll be fast tracked to all the approvals and funding you can dream of.

Want proof that this isn’t what the locals want? How about this fact: Of the 14 state and local entities that were cooperating agencies involved with the Obama-directed PEIS, not one of them preferred the alternative that was presented by the BLM. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of these agencies recommended Alternative 1, which was to have no change in the current PEIS. My guess would be that the local folks know what is best for the local economy and how that economy relates to the corporations that have literally invested billions

Want proof that this is exactly what the Obama administration and the environmentalists want? How about this fact: The BLM and Department of the Interior were in the midst of a lawsuit filed by environmental entities stating various concerns over the Bush administration PEIS. The lawsuit was holding up the full implementation of the PEIS and that had the investing energy companies concerned. Therefore, the energy companies went to court to seek a way to be combined into the environmental lawsuit as an interested party. A judge agreed and ordered the energy companies to be included in the suit. In what must have been a vision from above (or the Obama administration), miraculously the original suit was settled in meeting all of the environmentalists’ demands in what one of my sources called, “the most wobbly kneed acquiescence they have ever seen in their career in working in the energy industry.”

So let’s get this straight. The Obama administration throws out all of the research, capital and effort that created a PEIS that was acceptable to state and local entities and the energy industry. It then hides behind a “lawsuit settlement” from a court proceeding that resulted in a “preferred alternative” PEIS being forced upon states and local governments that meets literally every demand the environmentalists wanted while ignoring another judge’s order to include interested parties. The result is a new PEIS that will have investors and localities questioning the reliability of anything that comes from Washington when making investment and economic decisions. Worse yet, there is no recourse for anyone as it relates to this decision.

Yup, Barack and Michelle sure are worried about how you feel when you’re scrounging up the funding to fill your gas tank. They must really hate that momentary lapse of elitism as Air Force One is fueled for another campaign stop, platitude filled, empty speech or is preparing to head to another vacation destination on the top 10 list of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

The fact is we’ve been working with oil shale for over 40 years now. Shale and tar sands are being extracted and refined in several countries. We know how this works and what the risks are. Plus, we know how to monitor the process to keep it environmentally sound. We invented doing this stuff.

Sadly, the “environmentally sound” sounds the Obama administration hears are the demands of the environmentalists.