In the final few days before President Bush left office, his Interior Department worked out a sweetheart deal with oil companies, giving them great rates to destroy tracts of land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for oil shale. Nearly 10,000 Care2 members wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this spring, urging him to oppose this reckless oil shale development. And this week, Salazar did just that.
An Interior Department press release has the details:
Secretary Salazar has also asked Interior’s Inspector General to investigate a set of favorable conditions and low royalty rates that were offered on January 15, 2009 — five days before the end of the previous administration — to energy companies holding existing RD&D [research, development and demonstration] leases. Secretary Salazar determined that the timing and circumstances of the previous administration’s modifications of existing RD&D leases — called lease addenda — merit additional review.
“Taxpayers deserve answers to serious questions about why these lease addenda were granted at the eleventh hour, under what circumstances, and at what potential expense to the federal treasury,” said Salazar. “We must reform our nation’s oil shale program and ensure that the American people have the promise of a fair return from their resources.”
The L.A. Times reports on a collusion between Shell (who stood to benefit most from these sweetheart deals) and Bush officials all the way up to former Interior Secretary Gale Norton (who now works for Shell…coincidence?).
Previously undisclosed internal e-mails from the Bush Interior Department and Royal Dutch Shell PLC — which held three leases and stood to benefit more from the amendments than any firm — show a concerted if uncoordinated effort to deal with the expected blowback to the amendments. The e-mails were obtained by The Times’ Washington bureau.
One Interior official sent an e-mail to colleagues describing the amendments as a “nuclear bomb” that would spark a hostile reaction from Colorado leaders and at the highest levels of the incoming Obama administration, which had already pledged to overhaul Bush administration energy development programs.
These previously undisclosed emails just serve to show how right Care2 members are in urging Secretary Salazar to oppose these midnight Bush deals. Keep signing petitions — they really do make a difference!
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