Third District Congressman Bill Orton told members of the Duchesne County Democratic Party that he is "strongly committed" to a national energy policy that would focus on the development of synthetic fuels buried deep beneath the Uintah Basin.

Orton made his remarks last week during the party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Roosevelt. Orton told fellow Democrats that President Bush has submitted a recommendation for a national energy policy. He said while he believes the proposal has merit, it doesn't go far enough, particularly in the development of tar sands and oil shale. Experts say millions of barrels of oil could be extracted from syn-fuel reserves in the Uintah Basin."I would like to see us go further. I would like to see us take significant steps back to where we were at the end of the 1970s. We had a much more aggressive energy policy in the '70s than we had in the entire decade of the '80s," he said.

"I think the government had a reasonable policy going previously where we used tax credits and research grants to encourage research and development into tar sands and oil shale. There was an energy development credit. I think these types of incentives go a long way toward encouraging and assisting private enterprise in developing mechanism for extracting the oil.

"We need to realize and understand that we are on a roller coaster of international oil prices. The public needs to remember what happened just three or four months ago when the price of gasoline jumped. There was always the same supply of oil coming to us. It just went up because producers increased the price. So if we want to be free from the type of economic blackmail in the future, we had better be developing our own policies so we're dependent on our own reserves of resources and energy."

One energy policy Orton would like to see enacted is a fee on imported oil. He said the United States needs to take control of the price of oil inside our own country. "The real problem and the reason the Uintah Basin went bust several years ago is because the price of oil, which had been increasing, plummeted. When the international price of oil went down, domestic oil, and in particular Uintah Basin oil, which is fairly costly to extract, was no longer economically viable," said Orton.

He said a fee on imported oil would bring the cost of that oil up to where domestic oil reserves could compete economically.