Oil Shale Lands and Public Policy
Policy Debate Over Vast Potential Riches
For the first time in four decades, the federal government on Dec. 20 will lease a part of its vast acreage in the Rocky Mountains for oil shale development. The stakes are immense for industry and the public. Government geologists estimate that up to two trillion barrels of oil lie encased in shale rock beneath 11 million acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming—an amount six times greater than all proved reserves of crude petroleum on earth. Seventy-two per cent of these lands, containing four-fifths of the oil, are federally owned.
The Department of the Interior, which administers the federal domain, concedes that it is moving cautiously to avoid any hint of “another Teapot Dome” scandal.1 ...