Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, has announced he will run a bill to "incentivize" commercial oil shale production by cutting the state's severance tax on the fuel. "(It's) an incentive by discounting the oil shale severance taxes through the year 2020 if any company will start to develop a commercial program by 2012," Lundberg said...
Glenn Vawter, executive director of the National Oil Shale Association, said it is good to see lawmakers gearing up for that future. "I think any encouragement at the state is helpful," Vawter said. "I think right now with oil prices the way they are ... there's a lot of people thinking, Utah is a better place to do business, shall we say."
Even if the governor signs the bills into law, commercial oil shale could face steep opposition at the federal level thanks to President-elect Barack Obama's appointment of Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., as the head of the Interior Department. Salazar, whose agency will oversee and issue permits for energy development on federal lands, has announced his opposition to a series of proposed federal rules governing oil shale extraction. "If we are to succeed in developing oil shale responsibly, which I support, we need to establish an orderly process for development that protects Colorado's communities, protects our water and helps us avoid the busts that have, in the past, set us back," Salazar said in a November statement.
White acknowledged some might see his and others' efforts as premature, but it is better to be proactive rather than reactive after a boom.