Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday reversed the Bush administration’s move to open up tens of thousands of acres in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to oil-shale development, the latest in a series of energy policy overhauls out of his department.

Salazar — who as a senator was the most vocal opponent of the Bush administration’s drive to open the region to shale development — announced that the DOI is withdrawing the leases on federal land that were made available on Jan. 14, at least for now.

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“We are not taking it off the table for the possibility of development, but we are going to be thoughtful and deliberative,” Salazar in a call with reporters. He didn’t say when new leases would be offered, and his department is seeking comment on new lease terms.

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And the enviros rejoiced.

“The Bush administration pushed these regulations through in its waning days in an effort to fast-track this destructive and unproven energy source,” said Lawson LeGate, director of Sierra Club’s hunter and angler program in a statement. “We are encouraged to see Secretary Salazar bringing science and public review back into this process. Before we rush to develop this unproven energy source, we need to know more about how it will impact our water, wildlife, and economy.”