A manuever to stop the sale of any more public oil shale lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to private parties for $2.50 an acre is being spearheaded by Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, D-Colo.
Campbell wants to attach an amendment to a budget bill for the interior Department that would halt any more shale oil lands from being turned over to mining claimholders.Campbell is joined in the move by Rep. Morris K. Udall, D-Ariz. chairman of the House Interior Committee, and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W. Va., chairman of the House mining subcommittee.
They have sent a letter to Rep. Sid Yates, D-Ill., the subcommittee chairman with jurisdiction over the Interior Department's budget, asking that the amendment be included in the budget bill.
The move is an attempt to circumvent Sen. Bill Armstrong, R-Colo., Sen. Malcolm Wallop, R-Wyo., and other conservatives who are considered likely to prevent passage of a separate Senate bill on the issue.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., has been denounced by Armstrong, who thinks mining claimants have a legal right to the land.
Last year, after abandoning decades of legal action against claimholders, the Interior Department turned over ownership of more than 80,000 acres of prime oil shale lands in western Colorado for a $2.50-an-acre filing fee, as prescribed by the 1872 Mining Law.
Some of the claimholders immediately sold their land for $2,000 an acre to oil companies.
As many as 270,000 more acres are now at stake.