Just when gas prices start to drop a little, Boulder's Congressman, Jared Polis, decides there's no need to search for future ways to lower prices at the pump.
Last week, Congress adopted Polis’ amendment that strips $25 million in federal research funding that was previously dedicated to oil shale research. None of Colorado’s Republicans voted for it, but Colorado’s Democrats Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter all voted for the measure.
Polis justified his amendment by saying, “we shouldn’t be throwing good money after bad on oil shale research that won’t produce energy for the foreseeable future.”
Somebody had better tell Shell, which has spent approximately $200 million on oil shale R&D in western Colorado, according to a Colorado Energy News article from April 2011.
According to the Institute for Energy Research, Colorado has a large, quality concentration of oil shale resources on the Western Slope called the Piceance Basin. In fact, just a few years ago, Obama’s own Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasized the importance of oil shale R&D in the Piceance Basin in a press release:
"For the first time in 20 years, we have an updated assessment of in-place oil shale in the Piceance Basin of Colorado," said Salazar. "The USGS scientific report shows significant quantities of oil locked up in the shale rocks of the Piceance Basin. I believe it demonstrates the need for our continued research and development efforts."
Even worse, the areas covered by the Piceance Basin – Mesa County, Rio Blanco County, Garfield County and Delta County – have been some of the hardest hit statewide by the current recession. Each county is hovering far above its normal average for unemployment and most are above the state averages. In February, Institute for Energy Research President, Thomas Pyle summed it up nicely:
“…the administration continues an ideologically-driven quest to stifle job creation in the energy sector and to raise the cost of energy through more regulation, more mandates, and more restrictions on affordable sources. At best, this administration is suffering from acute energy schizophrenia. At worst, the administration is using brute administrative force to hurt the oil and gas industries and reward its green energy cronies.”
The truth is that if oil and gas becomes inexpensive again, green energy shifts from really uneconomic to complete economically unfeasible. Too bad Colorado’s families have to suffer in order so that Polis can toe the liberal line on energy.