Although oil shale method discredited, Bush pushes rules to develop

Bush proposes rules on oil shale development. Though energy retrieval through the process has been largely discredited, optimists remain. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune.

Folks might recall that Bush’s former Secretary of Interior, Gale Norton, the scourge of our public lands, is now a lobbyists for oil shale.

. . . . more . . . . Statement of the Center for Biological Diversity. On the Bureau of Land Management’s Draft Oil Shale Leasing Regulations. BLM Moves Ahead With Efforts to Squeeze Oil From Rock; Will Do Nothing to Lower Gas Prices.

Hmmm, guess I’m not very positive on oil shale. RM



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  1. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    I am not against oil and gas extraction in the right place if it’s done as responsibly as possible. Why would I be, I use both products in my life, and if I am anything, it isn’t a hypocrite.

    However, oil shale development is a whole another animal. It consumes far too much water, the process leaves enormous amounts of wastes and uses staggering amounts of energy, and it has not even been proven economically viable.

    This push towards oil shale processing is disappointing and ill-advised. It is not a step in the right direction.

    I am not surprised at Bush’s proposal; however, I would be surprised if anything that Bush proposed was actually beneficial for the U.S., though.

    Without a doubt, Bush has almost single-handedly killed the Republican Party. Well, the GOP lied and swindled to get Bush into the White House, so they fully deserve to have the worst President in history dragging them down into political powerlessness.

    Sorry about the rant…..

  2. vicki Avatar

    This is a bit off subject, but knowing you have a passion for the philosophic and perhaps, political, side of things…
    Watching the news and the barrage of political ads this a.m. I saw an anti-Obama commercial. McCain’s crew was pushing empty gas stations and saying national security requires drilling in America. The ad surmizes that the American family’s budget will be miraculously healed by drilling at home.
    (I personally call that “CRAP”, drilling is a treatment of a symptom-not a cure, and drilling here just brings the fight into our backyard….it isn’t sound economics unless you own stock in oil companies.)
    It seems that the republican party has created a new poster child for environmental issues and reform. Obama, intentionally or not, is being promoted as opposition to drilling, and will likely be seen as progressively green by some, and an environmental “whacko” by others.. There has been a line drawn, without Obama even being present to take part. Now we have green reform and oil dependence pitted squarely against one another as part of a campaign for presidential votes.
    I know that line is still very blurred. But most people will see it as clearly-pardon the pun- black or white.
    Do you think that Obama, if elected, will be compelled to live up to those expectations ? Or do you think he will now push to prove the other side wrong?
    I see that oil dependence if forcing people to look at the environment, and therefore the environment may become a REAL political issue, much like war, budgets, taxes. Do you think any progress will be made? Or would you antcipate that American’s will let their glutteny for easy and fast fixes continue to dictate the demise of the environment?

    I definitely think that drilling will occur. Even if the government decided to legislate that all people drive hybrids and have solar panels on every roof top, it will take time to get there. American’s couldn’t quit consumptions cold turkey, and can’t keep paying huge money to fill up.

    Why not use the leases they have now? Why give more?

    I personally think that Bush’s plans would leave the American landscape devoid of substainance, robbed of many animals, and looking like the golf course in Caddy Shack.

  3. Monty Avatar

    In the senate energy debate, the republicans refuse to respond to the fact that 68 millions acres are currently avialable for gas & oil exploration. The republicans want to give oil companies control of all remaining public lands & oceans that have the possiblity of oil reserves. Isn’t this just a 21 first century “1872 mining law”? Start drilling on the 68 million acres before opening up more leases!

    I agree w/SmokeyMtMan, oil shale scares the hell out of me.

    The oil billionaire-Pitkens–is spending 58 million to increase public awareness about our energy crisis–which is good–but he is pushing to drill everywhere & the majority are “buying” into this. This country encompasses some of the most productive chartiable lands on earth and, yet, it appears that we will have to “consume” every last acre in this country to sustain our unsustainable life style and, in addition, to continue to consume resources from other regions of the world. Our remaining atolls of wild lands will be fragmented with energy corridors, oil and gas wells, thousands of miles of roads and ever growing urbanization. And as humans numbers continue to increase the above “cures” will only be temporary as more & more will be required. Will it ever end?

  4. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    For some rather intelligent suggestions about solving our oil dependence check out:
    it certainly counters the drill for oil everywhere misguided solution. Luft testified after T. Boone and he criticized Boone’s proposal for Natural Gas cars citing that Russia, Iran and a few other top Mideast countries are forming a cartel similar to OPEC to control Natural Gas supply — thus invalidating Boone’s desire to eliminate the greatest transfer of wealth to countries who wish us harm.

  5. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    I think we should already be on the road to developing alternative energy sources to oil. Of course, we will use oil until the switchover is complete…..but the problem is that we aren’t on the road to developing alternative energy sources. Heck, we have a lot of traveling to do to even get to that road, and this is sad and discouraging.

    It is a monumental failure of our political leadership. Which, at this point, seems to fit the definition of an oxymoron.

    Vicky, there was an article on MSNBC recently that stated a new poll showed a large shift in people’s attitudes toward drilling versus conservation. Now that gas has hit 4 dollars a gallon, 50 percent of those polled now stated that they approved of more drilling for oil instead of conservation measures. The old number was 35 percent, and this change was rapid.

    My point is that weak politicians will always resort to using polls such as this to defend and justify their actions. Or non-action. This is not a solution, it is a bald attempt to get political power based upon a fleeting and basically un-important public perception; that is, we can drill our way to lower prices again.

    We should only be drilling at this point to satisfy our energy needs necessary to carry us through the transition to an economy based upon alternative fuels. Unfortunately, it seems we haven’t even begun the transition yet. And this is a shameful reminder of how little leadership our politicians have demonstrated on this issue for the last 30 years.

    McCain has it all backwards. Truthfully, the Republicans have always had it backwards regarding energy policy. I come from a Republican family, and today many of us would submit to torture before voting for a Republican.

    We drastically require leaders that will prepare us for the future, but I don’t see many of them. Not many at all.

  6. kim kaiser Avatar


    “Why not use the leases they have now? Why give more?”

    you dont understand the industry if you follow this notion.,, it simply goes way beyond just poking holes in the ground. From the time a prospect is looked at from some kind of geologic perspective, before the first lease is even bid on,,in the case of large companies, it could be several years before they bid on the leases. They then have to perform seismic test, which also takes years to get permits and do the groundwork do the shooting, evaluate the shooting of all the lines. And during that time, several price changes in oil can occur, which can render a project uneconomical by the time the project gets to some type of drilling mode, and if that is the case, they will hold them, hoping for a period pricing that will make profitable,,,remember folks, this is america, we are a capitolist nation, we work to make money, so they do to, and i would bet my last dollar that if you have a company supplied 401, you have an exxon or shell in your basket of stocks,, if you dont, its either because you ask them not to, or you have a inept broker handling your money.

    So please,, please,, please stop spouting off that use what you have argument, it is simply not valid,,

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    SmokyMtMan (and all)-

    No doubt the high prices of gasoline and rising prices of other kinds of energy are causing many big changes in public opinion, but it does not simply push people towards anti-environmentalism.

    A lot of the public opinion poll questions are poorly formulated, sometimes even though polling firms know it.

    Take, for example, the question “With which one of these statements about the environment and the economy do you most agree? Protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth. OR, Economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.”

    This question has been asked for years. Usually 5-10% of those asked insist on saying “both,” even though that is not one of answers on the interviewers’ forms. If “both,” was among the answers available, perhaps 50% would select it.

    A good questionnaire, provides a series of possible answers that are exhaustive and mutually exclusive.

    As for the question “drilling versus conservation?” both things can clearly be done. Then, in addition, what does a person think “conservation” means? If they think it means “energy efficiency,” fine. I don’t think a lot think that is what conservation means because this question sounds kind of odd or silly, “With the rising price of gasoline do you favor more drilling, or do you favor more efficient use of petroleum?”

    People need to understand the words in a questionnaire, and, too, the researcher or pollster needs to understand how the respondents interpret the words used.

    Many folks in the media and politicians don’t understand how to read a poll, and so they interpret them incorrectly. Others don’t choose to interpret them correctly.

    One of the classic modern political strategies is to get a poll with leading or loaded questions done by a reputable firm and then crow about the results. Fortunately, the better firms won’t do this. Good too, a lot of people are around to point to the misinterpretations.

    In academic sponsored polls, you often get much better constructed questions and accurate results.

  8. JB Avatar

    Just to follow up on what Ralph said. Politicians want to ask questions that force people to choose one alternative over another (e.g. environmental protection vs. economic security). These types of questions are useful for understanding how people prioritize issues. Of course, they also create false dichotomies–that is they force a “either or” choice that may that may have a “both or neither” answer. Knowing, for instance, that __% of people tend to prioritize the economy over the environment allows politicians to construct media messages that take advantage of this tendency. It’s all about marketing.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The Democrats have made a simplistic response — drill what you already have, because the Republicans made a simplistic proposal — we needs lots of new public land leases.

    It’s election year politics, but yet, politics with real on-the-ground consequences.

    The oil companies always use spikes in gas prices to advance not just their profits but their power as enshrined in the laws and regulations.

  10. Salle Avatar

    “It’s all about marketing.”

    …and furthermore,

    Marketing is all about language and how it is interpreted by the audience, participant when answering the questions. In academic polling, a human subjects committee is often there performing oversight to ensure mutually exclusive/exhaustive queries are used for the sake of legitimacy in the response pool.

    Marketing is about results that lead to monetary acquisition.

  11. JB Avatar

    If you haven’t seen the news today, a diesel tanker spilled its contents near New Orleans. Now we have diesel fuel spread across a 90 mile area. Just in case you needed a reminder of why alternative fuels are a good idea.

  12. Brian Ertz Avatar

    the polls indicate a lack of resource deployed from the local to national level on the part of conservationists – if what conservationists want is the those polls on our side.

    oil money is being spent in local commercials and local newscasts all over the country, all the way up national commercials and to our politicians. The narrative they have contrived has been executed with remarkable discipline, continuity, and exposure. Any such influx of remarkably disciplined media resource would evoke such a response in polls – especially given folk are not yet acclimated to higher gas prices. the change comes from those people with apathy – those who don’t care or know – that’s the contingent swinging. polls are a fickle thing.

    playing with this contingent variable of respondents results in a short-term turn in polls that could be replicated with just about any issue to desirable effect when such resource/exposure, discipline, and immediate condition (we’ve yet to acclimate to higher prices – when we do, the immediate malleability of these respondents to oil will decrease as the longer-term aversion to Oil Companies seen in other polls – retakes footing) are deployed at such a wide level. Big oil is counting on the idea that this will be enough to garner the political capital to push something along right now. They need this immediacy – it’s an investment in short-term political capital. Time is on conservationists side with this one. The longer the hold out – the more the the population will mitigate the immediate shock of exposure to higher gas prices – and the less malleable they will be to the media blitzkrieg from Big Oil that’s going on right now.

    Again – this is a hold-out game for enviros. Time works on our side with this one.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You are absolutely right, and there is little any group can do to counter the money and expertise in “public relations” the oil companies can buy.

    You have to hope the Democrats can hold on a few more weeks until Congress adjourns.

    So far they have been using their procedural advantage in the House, bringing oil bills to the floor under suspension of the rules. This method allows no amendments, but requires a 2/3 majority to pass.

    A oil-company sponsored drilling/leasing amendment would probably pass, so no amendments are wanted.

  14. vicki Avatar

    Wow, thanks all, I hadn’t expected so much input.

    I do know all of what you stated. None of it answers the question though. We already have leases in place so why not use those before getting more. It may not seem valid to you, but it is a simple question that republicans prefer no one ask.

    Yep, you are correct. Capitalism reigns, however, we are failing to address the obvious when we just opt to drill, drill, drill. What would we do without oil? Eventually, maybe a century from now, but eventually… we will not have oil. Then what? Well, I pray my furture decendants have the foresight to have invested in solar energy. (By the way, there are subsidies available from Uncle Sam for those enterprizing enough to start solar production businesses.)

    At this point, it may be political, but eventually it will be reality. Why not begin to prepare now? Or is it better let the whole thing blow up in our faces later?

    Excellent point. Time will weigh in our favor. Every year that passes, people will become less effected by the “shock and awe” of gas prices.
    The minimum wage just got raised…so that’s 70 cents an hour more that poor people will have to pay for gas…perhaps another incentive check will help us buy gas…or if the government helps excuse billions in home debt the people will be able to pay their mortgage and still buy gas…..not one real solution, not one! A short while later, people will still be broke, and we will still need alternative fuels. Perhaps when all of the band-aids being used become obvious failures, people will get a clue. (Or perhaps they just keep looking for hand outs to ease their worries.)

    The wise man plans for a future and can afford to live in it, an adventurous man lives in the moment and cannot afford to live comfortabley when he is old. Most of us would be the later. At the moment we want cheap gas, but when we are older, it would sure be nice to be able to retire and not stare out from our porch swing at the waste-land we once knew as a national forest.

    There will always be industry for people to work in, drilling, making solar tiles, or building hydro-cells….republicans would have us believe that if we don’t allow drilling at their discretion then tens of thousands of people will be unemployed. Ha! Politicians would find a way to boost the employment numbers…..after all, unemployed people can’t pay taxes, and no politician would get a raise.

    Sorry, I was ranting too.

    Sadly, as mentioned above, I worry that Obama would use polls to go two steps backward again. I’ll hold out hope to the contrary though.

  15. vicki Avatar

    p.s. more on subject here, it is worth noting that the recent slight decline in gas prices is directly attributed to decreased consumption and the worry that it caused tgo oil producers…or atleast according to news analysts it is.

    Would it not then stand to reason that using other fuel sources would further lower oil costs and provide more ecofriendly resources in the process?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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