Udall talks energy during visit | AspenTimes.com

Udall talks energy during visit

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler/Post IndependentCongressman and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall, left, asks a question of Encana Operations Field Leader David Grisso during a tour of a site southwest of Rifle on Saturday afternoon.

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall said Saturday that he will continue to fight to keep a ban in place that blocks the Bureau of Land Management from issuing final oil shale leasing regulations.In recent weeks, Republicans have criticized Udall, a Democrat who represents Colorados second congressional district, and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., for their support of that measure. President Bush argued on Saturday that the ban should be scrapped.Udall said he is going to try to retain that oil shale regulation moratorium because of concerns he heard from Garfield County residents and supporters. He made that statement in response to a question from Ed Sands, the chair of the Garfield County Democratic Party, who asked him about whether the ban will remain. It is slated to expire at the end of September.We are going to fight to the last minute to make sure that (the moratorium) is still in place, Udall told supporters and area sportsmen during a stop in Rifle. I can tell you that under a new administration, a responsible and responsive administration and a new Congress, that we are going to work to keep it in place or to reinstate it.Sands, a long-time Rifle resident, said he was worried that the moratorium will expire.Some of his concern stems from Exxons closure of its oil shale operation on May 2, 1982 a day locals know as Black Sunday. That move, which came with little warning, sent the areas economy into a tailspin. It took several years for Rifle and the surrounding area to recover from that decision.Udall was in Rifle after he visited two locations where EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), the second largest natural gas operator in Garfield County, has ongoing operations. He also made a stop in Glenwood Springs, where Udall fielded several questions from those who turned out to see him.Almost every question was focused on energy.We need a new kind of leadership that is going to throw the kitchen sink at our energy challenge, Udall told supporters in Glenwood Springs on Saturday.He also said that the United States needs to drill more, but that we have to drill it responsibly. He added that it is time to take a fresh look at nuclear energy, which is a change in his thinking, he said.

The possible development of oil shale has generated enormous controversy in the last two months as gas prices have shot past $4 a gallon.Thats because the BLM estimates that there may be up to 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Some of the richest oil shale deposits are in Colorado, where three companies have experimental leases to conduct research into possible oil shale extraction.Those companies say it could be sometime in the next decade maybe even 10 to 15 years before they might make a decision about whether to proceed with commercial development of oil shale.Udall is currently battling Bob Schaffer, a former congressman from Fort Collins, to replace U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo. A recent Rocky Mountain News poll showed Udall had a six-point lead against Schaffer.Dick Wadhams, Schaffers campaign spokesman, said Udalls support of the oil shale moratorium shows a clear contrast between the two candidates.It is consistent with Boulder-liberal Udalls opposition to us developing our domestic energy supplies, Wadhams said. It is another revelation that he wants to have $4 a gallon gasoline.Republicans have been attacking Udall and other Democrats for blocking oil shale development and for their opposition to offshore drilling which Udall now supports. Wadhams criticized Udall for now supporting offshore drilling when he has voted consistently in Congress to oppose it.Now that the public supports offshore drilling, he is trying to masquerade as someone who supports offshore drilling, Wadhams. He is essentially trying to perpetrate a fraud on the people of Colorado with his new position.

Udall said the concerns of some Garfield County residents over oil shale are the reasons the United States needs to move slowly and why the ban prohibiting the BLM from issuing final oil shale regulations is so important. The BLM issued draft regulations in July.The concerns some area residents have about oil shale come from the vast amounts of water and power that may be needed to drive the resources extraction, along with the possible impacts oil shale development could have on air and wildlife. Those residents also said that regulations should not come forward since there is no commercially-proven technology for oil shale development.Udall said it has galled him to listen to representatives from other states talk about oil shale like it is going to happen tomorrow and (that) those of us in Colorado are not doing our part.We are a net exporter of energy right now, Udall said. We are putting ourselves on the line day in and day out.The debate over oil shale regulations comes as the BLM continues to polish a draft environmental impact statement that sketches out three alternatives for possible oil shale and tar sands development in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.One option for oil shale leasing in Colorado would be a no-action alternative.Another would open 359,798 acres in the state. A third alternative would designate 40,325 acres open to possible oil shale leasing in Colorado. It is the BLMs preferred alternative to open the greatest amount of lands to potential oil shale leasing. A record of decision for the environmental impact statement is expected to come at the end of the year.Udall also said on Saturday that he and Ken Salazar are not giving up on the future of the Roan Plateau. Earlier this month, the BLM collected about $114 million from a lease sale where the agency auctioned off 54,631 acres of the Roan Plateau Planning Area, north of Rifle.Several people during Udalls stops in the area criticized the BLM for leasing the Roan for natural gas operations. Many have fought against the sale because the area provides habitat for elk and deer, along with the native Colorado cutthroat trout.Udall said he didnt have, at his fingertips, the next tactical options he and Salazar may propose for the future of the Roan Plateau.Clearly, the taxpayers didnt get the bargain on those leases, he said.pyates@postindependent.com

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