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Senate candidates examine oil shale

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – As gas prices accelerate past $4 a gallon, oil shale is fast becoming the focus of a furious national debate. Even President Bush has weighed in on the subject, calling for the removal of barriers to oil shale production.

The issues surrounding oil shale are key as U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, and Bob Schaffer, a former three-term Republican congressman from Fort Collins, battle to replace U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, who is retiring.

When the dust clears late in the night on Nov. 4, the winner of Allard’s Senate seat will be poised to have significant influence over the future of oil shale development in the state.

Udall, who is Eagle County’s congressmen, and Schaffer spoke to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent late last month about oil shale and other energy-related issues affecting the Western Slope, including whether communities in the area should receive a larger share of revenues generated by energy development.

Both men expect the issues surrounding oil shale to play a role in this year’s U.S. Senate race, especially as gas prices continue to surge higher and higher.

The Bureau of Land Management estimates that the amount of oil locked up in federal shale reserves in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah has more than 50 times the country’s proven conventional oil reserves and nearly five times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia.

“I would ask the president not to play politics with oil shale, but listen to the people of western Colorado who have to live with the consequence of irresponsible oil shale development,” Udall said.

Schaffer said the demand nationally and internationally is growing, and Coloradans sit on top of a vast resource, and “that demand is going to drive lots of controversy.”


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