Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Final Days of the Bush Administration 3

Photo: Nathan Bilow for The New York Times

Source: "In Waning Hours, Bush Administration Fortifies Oil Shale Industry," Jad Mouawad, Green Inc. (New York Times blog), November 18, 2008.

The article states:
Firing off another decision that is angering environmental groups, the Bush administration has issued new regulations to develop oil shale deposits straddling almost two million acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

The rules lay out the framework to develop these deposits over the next decade, including royalty rates, how to evaluate bids for leases, mitigation requirements and other procedural elements......

Oil shale is a controversial and environmentally damaging source of hydrocarbons since it requires vast amounts of energy and water to squeeze oil out of sedimentary rocks. The process emits far more carbon dioxide, which is responsible for global warming, than ordinary refining operations.
Perhaps even worse was the effort to lease lands near national parks for oil and gas exploitation:
It is not the first time this month that the Bush administration has sought to make the best of its last days in office. Earlier this month, the Bureau of Land Management expanded its oil and gas lease program in eastern Utah to include tens of thousands of acres on or near the boundaries of three national parks.

The decision angered environmental groups, who feared it would lead to industrial activity in some of the state’s renowned empty regions, like Desolation Canyon.

According to a report from Felicity Barringer in The Times earlier this month, officials with the National Park Service said that the decision to open lands close to Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument — and within sight of Canyonlands National Park — had been made without the kind of consultation that had previously been routine.
One piece of good news is:
In 1996, the Republican-controlled Congress passed the “Congressional Review Act,” which gives lawmakers a 60-day window to repeal new rules issued by executive agencies. The law was intended to prevent outgoing administrations from passing “midnight” rules in their waning hours.
Comment: Fortunately, the Congress will be able to review any regulations issued by Bush from now on, and of course if the Bush administration can rewrite regulations, the Obama administration will be able to rewrite them again and put things right.

The problem is that there is a ratchet effect, and there will be firms that take action under the Bush administration rules. They will no doubt lobby for the continued permission to implement their programs, and if that is not given will lose money as a result of the changes in government regulations.

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