By Peter O'Dowd
Laramie, Wyo. – The federal government took a step toward establishing a major commercial oil shale program today.
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne says public lands at home can help America shed its dependence on foreign oil. He says the US holds more than half of the world's oil shale resources, more than 800 billion barrels spread across Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.
"This region contains an amount of oil that is almost three times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia, or Iran," he said.
Kempthorne and the Bureau of Land Management published regulations Tuesday that offer commercial investors the rules they'll need to know before going forward with financial commitments.
Kempthorne called on Congress to lift a moratorium on oil shale development so the project could go forward.
Conservation groups across the region fired back. They say Kempthorne is giving a false hope that oil shale can some how reduce the cost of gasoline.