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Matheson disappointed in new oil shale program

Congressman Jim Matheson said he disagrees with today's announcement by the Department of Interior regarding the federal government's policy for research, development and demonstration (RD&D) leases for oil shale. The decision follows a seven-month review of the policy by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

"In order to become less dependent on foreign oil supplies, we need more domestic supply. Oil shale deposits in Utah and Colorado could potentially become that source. In Utah, several companies are already working with promising technology that could unlock oil shale's commercial potential in an environmentally-responsible way. Without a level playing field at the federal level, their efforts are stalled," said Matheson.

Matheson noted that today's announcement allows energy companies to submit applications for a new, more limited round of RD&D leases, but commercial activity is still prohibited. The Interior Department continues to question the five percent royalty rate that was offered to the initial RD&D lease-holders in January.

Matheson notes that when he successfully overturned the 30-year federal moratorium on oil shale leasing regulations in 2008, he proposed allowing states to "opt-in" to the leasing program. Activities on several BLM oil shale leases showed promise but companies were being held back by the lack of a regulatory structure establishing ground rules.

"New methodology is on the horizon in Utah. It should be allowed to compete for commercial development. Today's decision by Interior is unfair economic policy and unwise energy policy," said Matheson.

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