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House Adopts Connolly-Polis Amendment to Cut Oil Shale Subsidy

TheHouse today adopted an amendment offered by Congressmen Gerry Connolly of Virginia and Jared Polis of Colorado to slash $25 million from failed oil shale research subsidies and redirect the funds toward deficit reduction. Read more.

The U.S. House of Representatives today adopted an amendment offered by Congressmen Gerry Connolly of Virginia and Jared Polis of Colorado to slash $25 million from failed oil shale research subsidies and redirect the funds toward deficit reduction.  

The Connolly-Polis amendment passed the House Wednesday by a vote of 208-207.  The amendment removed the $25 million oil shale subsidy from the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which passed the House Wednesday evening during a late night session.
“For 100 years, oil shale advocates and big energy companies have been selling us the promise of cheap energy through oil shale.  Despite those efforts, no company has been able to deliver on that false promise,” Connolly said.  “There is no difference between shale oil and snake oil.”
“American taxpayers already have funded billions of dollars in subsidies for this failed research.  It is time to end this sham and stop wasting taxpayer dollars.  Our successful amendment stops this boondoggle in its tracks,” Connolly said.
“Despite industry claims, oil shale development won’t produce affordable American energy and won’t create jobs,” Connolly said.  “Just a few weeks ago, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pointed out that the House Majority continues to confuse shale oil with oil shale.  They sound similar, but they are completely different.”
Put simply, oil shale is a rock, while shale oil is a liquid.  While shale oil is experiencing a boom in development using technology similar to that used to extract natural gas, oil shale technology simply does not exist, a fact recently confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office.  
“Given current budget constraints we cannot continue to throw money after a non-existent, uneconomical energy source,” Connolly said.
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Connolly’s full floor statement follows:
June 6, 2012
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11th)
Floor Statement on Polis/Connolly Amendment to H.R. 5325 Energy and Water Appropriations for FY13
Mister Chairman, at a time when we should be working together to find ways to save taxpayer money and reduce the deficit, this bill proposes to waste millions of dollars on research into inefficient and highly polluting energy extraction process known as oil shale. 
For 100 years, oil shale advocates and big energy companies have been selling us the promise of cheap energy through oil shale. Despite those efforts, no company has been able to deliver on that false promise. 
It’s time to end the sham and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. That’s why this amendment, which I offer with my good friend Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, would save $25 million from this boondoggle and invest it in deficit reduction.
Despite what some in the industry claim, oil shale development won’t produce affordable American energy and won’t create jobs. 
Mister Chairman, just a few weeks ago, Interior Secretary Salazar pointed out that the House Majority, continues to confuse “shale oil” with “oil shale”… two completely different things. 
While they clearly sound similar, any undergraduate in geology can tell you that, in fact, one is a rock and one a liquid.  Let me say that again so my colleagues understand, oil shale, derived from a rock, is not to be confused with shale oil.  While shale oil is experiencing a boom in development, oil shale technology simply doesn’t even exist, a fact recently confirmed by the CBO. The CBO estimated that implementing a commercial leasing program for oil shale on federal lands under the Pioneers Act would not generate revenue over a ten-year period. 
The amendment I’m offering with my friend from Colorado, Representative Polis, would simply eliminate the research and funding dollars that are designated in this bill for oil shale production.
This is a simple, common-sense amendment. Given current budget constrains we cannot continue to throw money after a non-existent, uneconomical energy source.
There is no sense in wasting $25 million in taxpayer dollars on oil shale research and development when there is no commercially viable technology to bake rock and turn it into synthetic oil. 
In addition to the technological and economic hurdles facing oil shale, oil shale development threatens already scarce water supplies in the West. 
According to the Bureau of Land Management, industrial scale oil shale development could require as much as 150 percent of the amount of water the Denver Metro Area consumes each year. That not only would threaten Denver and eastern agriculture, but it also would throw a wrench in the delicate multi-state agreements over the Colorado River, which is already overtaxed. 
Simply put, every Colorado River state from Colorado to California should be concerned by this waste of money and support our amendment.  
Mister Chairman, we need more affordable American energy. Achieving that goal includes responsible oil and gas exploration, better use technology to capitalize on all available resources, and a greater focus on a cleaner energy future from renewables, such solar and wind. Some might call it an “all of the above” approach. But all of the above shouldn’t include things that science tells us are not possible and represent an unwise investment.  
Mister Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote YES on the Polis/Connolly amendment, and I yield back.
###
Connolly’s full floor statement follows:
June 6, 2012
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11th)
Floor Statement on Polis/Connolly Amendment to H.R. 5325 Energy and Water Appropriations for FY13
Mister Chairman, at a time when we should be working together to find ways to save taxpayer money and reduce the deficit, this bill proposes to waste millions of dollars on research into inefficient and highly polluting energy extraction process known as oil shale. 
For 100 years, oil shale advocates and big energy companies have been selling us the promise of cheap energy through oil shale. Despite those efforts, no company has been able to deliver on that false promise. 
It’s time to end the sham and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. That’s why this amendment, which I offer with my good friend Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, would save $25 million from this boondoggle and invest it in deficit reduction.
Despite what some in the industry claim, oil shale development won’t produce affordable American energy and won’t create jobs. 
Mister Chairman, just a few weeks ago, Interior Secretary Salazar pointed out that the House Majority, continues to confuse “shale oil” with “oil shale”… two completely different things. 
While they clearly sound similar, any undergraduate in geology can tell you that, in fact, one is a rock and one a liquid.  Let me say that again so my colleagues understand, oil shale, derived from a rock, is not to be confused with shale oil.  While shale oil is experiencing a boom in development, oil shale technology simply doesn’t even exist, a fact recently confirmed by the CBO. The CBO estimated that implementing a commercial leasing program for oil shale on federal lands under the Pioneers Act would not generate revenue over a ten-year period. 
The amendment I’m offering with my friend from Colorado, Representative Polis, would simply eliminate the research and funding dollars that are designated in this bill for oil shale production.
This is a simple, common-sense amendment. Given current budget constrains we cannot continue to throw money after a non-existent, uneconomical energy source.
There is no sense in wasting $25 million in taxpayer dollars on oil shale research and development when there is no commercially viable technology to bake rock and turn it into synthetic oil. 
In addition to the technological and economic hurdles facing oil shale, oil shale development threatens already scarce water supplies in the West. 
According to the Bureau of Land Management, industrial scale oil shale development could require as much as 150 percent of the amount of water the Denver Metro Area consumes each year. That not only would threaten Denver and eastern agriculture, but it also would throw a wrench in the delicate multi-state agreements over the Colorado River, which is already overtaxed. 
Simply put, every Colorado River state from Colorado to California should be concerned by this waste of money and support our amendment.  
Mister Chairman, we need more affordable American energy. Achieving that goal includes responsible oil and gas exploration, better use technology to capitalize on all available resources, and a greater focus on a cleaner energy future from renewables, such solar and wind. Some might call it an “all of the above” approach. But all of the above shouldn’t include things that science tells us are not possible and represent an unwise investment.  
Mister Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote YES on the Polis/Connolly amendment, and I yield back.
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