Salazar, who halted leases for oil and gas development on some federal lands in Utah earlier this month, said that while the administration will focus on energy efficiency and renewable sources, there is still room for conventional fuels. Oil shale, he added, still has "great potential," and he may revise rules on harvesting that energy source "in the near term." "We intend to move forward with a comprehensive energy plan," Salazar told a bipartisan group of Western governors huddled in Washington for a national summit. "You should take away from this conference in Washington that the Obama administration is not against developing any of those resources. … Let's put everything on the table."
He further criticized the hastiness of the decision in light of the failure by BLM to analyze the potential environmental impacts, and the additional and enormous resource contention that would ensue over dwindling water supplies:These regulations are premature and flawed. The Bush Administration has fallen into the trap of allowing political timelines to trump sound policy. Over and over again the Administration has admitted that it has no idea how much of Colorado’s water supply would be required to develop oil shale on a commercial scale, no idea where the power would come from, and no idea whether the technology is even viable on a commercial scale.
At a news conference in Washington, Salazar said he will move to slow the "headlong rush" to "drill, drill, drill." Salazar said Bush's midnight five year plan, which covers the years from 2013 through 2017, accelerated by two years the regular process for creating a new plan for the outer continental shelf. It "was a process rigged to force hurried decisions based on bad information," he said. "It was a process tilted toward the usual energy players while renewable energy companies and the interests of American consumers and taxpayers were overlooked." "It opened up the possibility for oil and gas leasing along the entire eastern seaboard, portions of offshore California, and the far eastern Gulf of Mexico - with almost no consideration of state, industry, and community input and, in the case of the Atlantic coast, with very limited information about the nature of offshore resources," the secretary said. Despite the sweeping proposal to open up as many as 300 million acres to new offshore oil and gas leasing, the Bush administration's notice called for the completion of scoping meetings and public hearings on the new plan for the outer continental shelf by March 23 - less than 45 days from today.
The Bush administration was so intent on opening new areas for oil and gas offshore that it torpedoed offshore renewable energy efforts... This rulemaking will allow us to move from the oil and gas only approach of the previous administration to the comprehensive energy plan that we need.
The accelerated Outer Continental Shelf five-year plan process, which the secretary placed on hold today, was designed to address the critical energy concerns facing Americans. The draft plan already received a record 120,000 comments from states, environmental groups, industry, labor groups and members of the public - with 87,000 of those comments supporting expanded and expeditious development... Secretary Salazar's announcement means that development of our offshore resources could be stalled indefinitely.
Offshore drilling as part of a comprehensive energy strategy may make sense. In isolation, it's short-sighted. I hold out for a more comprehensive strategy before I sign off on whole-hog drilling offshore.
...we should just be prudent in how we develop it. It's heartening to me that [Salazar is] going to be thoughtful and that he'll only allow oil shale to be developed when the technology is such that we can also protect our air and our water and our wildlife.