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March 08, 2011 01:28 AM UTC

Tipton: We Can Drill Our Cake and Eat It Too

  • by: ClubTwitty

(While I still think TABOR and the revenue problems are #1 (tied with water) this is #2. And when we get real about severance tax, this is tied for #1. – promoted by MADCO)

Rep. Tipton has just sent out a weekly update to subscribers touting his work this past week in Washington D.C.  Top on the list of accomplishments is the criticism he leveled at Sect. Salazar, although in his video clip he makes gutting regulations and ending government ‘inefficiencies’ the theme of the week.  

So far a bit of a one hit wonder, Rep. Tipton has been taking his tour on the road to friendly crowds across his district: urging less regulation and promoting it’s on-the-ground counterpart, what the GOP calls an ‘all of the above’ energy policy.  Which is really just more taxpayer subsidies and government favor for dirty fossil fuels

Tipton said he thought it was time to curb America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and said the Western Slope can play a positive role in the nation’s energy portfolio.

“I believe it needs to be all of the above,” he said. “You know, wind, solar, geothermal – let’s take advantage of those. Let’s also develop coal, let’s also develop nuclear energy in this country, let’s develop our oil and our oil shale and do it in a responsible way.”

The details of this dirty energy wish list can be found in HR 909 short titled “A Roadmap for America’s Energy Future,” another item touted in the congressman’s weekly report.  

Dusted off (and retitled) from the last time the GOP controlled the house, HR 909 would open up the outer continental shelf, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and the Mountain West’s oil shale lands to development.  

But it wouldn’t stop there.  These long-sought (by industry) giveaways of public resources for dirty energy development are not enough on their own apparently.  

If the Free Market cannot support such activity itself, Mr. Tipton and the GOPers want to sweeten the deal with some subsidies, even though–in the case of oil shale, for instance–the technology does not yet exist for commercial development:  

HR 909,Subtitle C sect 141


The Secretary of the Interior may temporarily reduce royalties, fees, rentals, bonus bids, or other payments for leases of Federal lands for the development and production of oil shale resources as necessary to give incentives for and encourage development of such resources, if the Secretary determines that the royalties, fees, rentals,bonus bids, and other payments otherwise authorized by law are hindering production of such resources.

No where, other than in the obligatory nod to ‘sustainability’ and ‘responsibility’ does Mr. Tipton sing the praises of his district’s clean water resources, abundant wildlife, or tens of thousands of constituents who depend on a beautiful, unmarred and healthy environment for life and livelihood. Indeed, in the Craig Daily Press article linked above, he seems to think we can have it all, as simple as that:

The congressman said he thinks such an energy policy creates “win-wins.”

“I believe the winner is going to be the American people because we have two things in my estimation that are critically important,” he said. “We are in a weakened position when we rely on other countries for our energy (and) we are in a crippled position when we start relying on other countries for our food.”

But some Colorado farmers might disagree with this straight-from-the-energy-lobbyist-mouth rosy assessment:

RMFU applauds oil shale announcement Colorado

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Kent Peppler praised Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s announcement that Interior will look closely at water issues and agricultural impacts as the discussion of oil shale development moves forward.

“Secretary Salazar described water use as an essential issue in the oil shale debate, and we couldn’t agree more,” Peppler said. “Most of the oil shale lands are on the Colorado River basin, which has been over-allocated from the beginning of the interstate compact. We need to know how much water oil shale developers need, where they expect to get it, and what condition it will be in when they are through with it. Agriculture is the cornerstone of Colorado’s economy and the basis for America’s food security. The secretary understands this, and we urge him to keep it in his thoughts as we move forward slowly on oil shale development.”

This certainly comports with what Congress’ own investigative arm was reporting last November:

Scarce water resources could limit the growth of oil shale development in Colorado and Utah, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Monday.

Oil shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming hold an estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, but companies are still trying to find commercially viable ways to extract it.

Oil shale development could have “significant” impacts on water quality and availability, but the exact effects are unclear, partly because what’s known about current water conditions is limited and processes for extracting oil are still being researched, the GAO said.

The GAO urged the Interior Department to figure out the baseline conditions for water resources in the Piceance and Uintah Basins in Colorado and Utah and to coordinate research by other agencies. It also recommended modeling regional groundwater movement to help understand how possible contaminants from oil shale development might travel.

Past studies indicate one to 12 barrels of water, or up to about 500 gallons, may be needed to produce a barrel of oil, though the average for in-situ oil shale production is estimated at five barrels of water, the report said.

And a little more than two years ago Shell’s announcement that it would file for a large right on the Yampa created quite a dust up, according to a 2009 article from the Colorado Independent:

Towns and counties along the Yampa River in rural northwest Colorado are starting to gird for battle against mighty Shell Oil, which in December filed a claim on the Yampa for enough water to fill a proposed reservoir for future oil shale production.

According to the Steamboat Pilot and Today newspaper, the town of Yampa’s board of trustees last week voted unanimously to join any organized legal efforts to block the water grab by Shell.

…Late last month Moffat County commissioners met with the board of commissioners for Routt County (home to Steamboat Springs) to discuss jointly opposing Shell’s water rights application and sharing potentially massive legal fees. Moffat County officials said they plan to follow their land-use board’s suggestion that the county file a formal protest.

But such concerns, I guess, are unfounded. At least Mr. Tipton didn’t mention them last month, when he blasted Sect. Salazar for his decision to review federal oil shale policy from the previous administration.  

Mr. Tipton seems to believe that ‘all of the above’ means keeping AND eating our cake; that wells can be drilled and fracked, that oil shale can be mined, heated, and shipped off to market; AND that Colorado farmers and towns can be well-watered, wildlife not be harmed, and hunting, fishing–and yes, tourists buying pottery–will all continue happily along.  If only government would quit caring about water for farms and towns, wildlife, recreation and an environment that attracts tourists.    

But energy is about tradeoffs.  The more water we use in developing fossil fuels (conventional or un-) the less will be available for agricultural, recreational, and municipal use–and for aquatic and other life downstream.  The more our natural places become industrial zones, the less attractive they will be to tourist and new residents alike.  

Mr. Tipton might score political points and win cash rewards from the drillers and diggers and Big Oil barons in spreading his simplistic ‘win-win’ rhetoric around the safe turf of his district.  But many of us, even in the hinterlands, know enough to know a little: that we can’t have it all.  

Mining for oil shale–like drilling for gas or digging coal–will have impacts on people and communities.  Some might be good (jobs!) but others are–at best–significant challenges and– more often than should be the case–significantly harmful.  If Mr. Tipton is unaware of these trade offs, then he owes it to himself to get educated.  We in his district owe it to ourselves to make sure this happens.  


10 thoughts on “Tipton: We Can Drill Our Cake and Eat It Too

  1. If you are the owner of shares in O & G. If you are the guy drinking the water, it’s sort of a lose-lose. But then again, who gives a shit about the guy drinking the water?

  2. to read a typically “out o’the park” diary from CT.

    Our congressman is a fraud.

    My wife sent him a letter asking him to support the regulation of fracing. The form letter he sent back almost put me off my lunch. He talks of the damage control going on over at Interior as “new regulations”…and he throws out some statistics I will address in a diary I should have ready by morning.

  3. “In addition to exploring new technologies, we must end the de facto drilling moratorium on the Gulf of Mexico, rein in the EPA, and repeal the onerous regulations that have stifled oil and natural gas production. Our position must be yes-to-all.”

    Colorado is part of the Western U.S. region that is estimated by the USGS to hold as many as 1.5 trillion barrels of oil-six times that of Saudi Arabia, and enough to supply the U.S. for 200 years. Since 2005, BLM oil and gas leasing has decreased by 67% in the Rocky Mountain region.

    “Abandoned oil rigs on the Western Slope, foreclosed homes in Grand Junction, and vacant offices in Denver-are all remnants of a once booming industry silenced by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and President Obama,” Tipton said. “We have a tremendous untapped energy potential and I encourage this Administration to do more than stand in the way.”

    Read more:

    I don’t expect much more truth or accuracy from the ‘State Column’ than I do from Mr. Tipton–but ‘oil shale’ does not contain oil.  

    1. Oil is in the name.  It’s like clean coal.  It must be clean- it’s called clean coal.

      And everyone knows there’s oil there. We just need to extract it – and the reason we can’t extract it has nothing to do with technology or innovation. It’s all politicians’ fault. Somehow.

      Energy Returned on Energy Invested

      In pictures:

      oil over time

      Angry face

      Angry face

      But it’s obviously al political bullshit.  There has always been oil, therefore there always will be oil. Just the way God intended.

  4. Abandoned oil rigs on the Western Slope, foreclosed homes in Grand Junction, and vacant offices in Denver-are all remnants of a once booming industry silenced by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and President Obama,” Tipton said. “We have a tremendous untapped energy potential and I encourage this Administration to do more than stand in the way.

    has it all going on. I wonder who wrote it?

    It isn’t true, of course. The downturn was caused by the price crash of natural gas and the disappearance of easy credit. Blaming it on Governor Ritter and President Obama is a lie..but that wouldn’t matter to any Republican legislator from western Colorado, now would it?

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