The Denver Post took note of leading state Democrats' objections to the Bush Administration's royalty rates for oil shale development in the state. Senator Ken Salazar and Governor Ritter's spokesman claimed that setting rates was putting the cart before the horse, as the technologies weren't fully vetted yet:
[Sen.] Salazar's brother, Democratic Rep. John Salazar, was also critical, saying water, energy and the impact of shale development on Colorado towns remain unresolved.
Harris Sherman, director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said it was "irresponsible" to move ahead before officials have a better idea of which technologies will work and what the likely impact will be on towns, air, water and land.
Of course, the Senator and the Governor have been among the most vocal in blocking the creation of a regulatory regime that would permit experimentation on a large enough scale to vet the technologies. Then again, Mr. Sherman claims that the "right rate" is unknowable, while Sen. Salazar insists that it's too low. The mutual contradiction here also goes unremarked.
Finally, the paper raises concerns over water. Now, water is a scare resource out west. But it also turns out that much of Colorado's oil shale has a high water content. As technologies are implemented, they'll become more water efficient, and much of the water trapped in the shale can be recovered during the oil recovery process, as well. Not to mention that the state currently makes no use of about 1 million acre-feet of water that it's legally entitled to under existing agreements.
For all the talk about putting the cart before the horse, it's likely that the only cart and horse the Democrats are interested in is the one that you're going to be reduced to using when gas prices recover.