This week, the House will vote on a bill that could impose a $5,000 fee on any person who opposes a proposed drilling project. The bill, also known as the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, will make it easier for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, ClimateProgress reports.
Should the bill become law, onshore drilling permits will automatically be approved if the Department of the Interior (DOI) does not act on the permits within 60 days. It will also require any individual who wishes to oppose a proposed drilling project to pay $5,000 to file an official protest.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), would also direct the DOI to begin leasing for the development of oil shale. Extracting hydrocarbons from shale is a controversial process that requires extracting oil from sedimentary rock by injecting steam to heat the rock to 900 degree temperatures for 5 years or more.
The extensive heating process of converting oil shale into liquid petroleum and then transportation fuel uses massive amounts of energy and water. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has called oil shale one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. Oil shale is found in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming – three states where water is already scarce, and drought is prevalent.
According to the NRDC, commercial oil shale technology is largely untested and oil shale releases four times as much global warming pollution as does conventional fuel. Because oil shale must be heated to 900 degrees for 5 years or more, the process uses vast amounts of energy. It also requires a ratio of 5 units of water for every unit of oil shale produced.
Though evidence of the need to curb the use of dirty energy is continually emerging, proponents of oil and gas companies continue to push for more dirty energy practices and attempt to impede any who oppose them.
Lawmakers opposing the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act have called the bill “dangerous.” According to their dissent, “It would harm the environment, short-circuit critical reviews, and establish barriers to people wishing to challenge decisions on oil and gas development in their backyards.”
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.