Chris Cannon (R-Utah)
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I saw a story in the paper over the weekend and it is about an oil shale proposal in congress. The headline says representative Cannon's bid to boost oil shale seen as a pre-primary PR stunt and then the very last, the second to the last line is the person who said it was a PR stunt is his opponent. So I thought I would get down to the bottom of the oil shale thing. Chris Cannon is a representative. Which district?
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: Third congressional district, Glenn.
GLENN: Chris, tell me your idea on the oil shale.
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: You know, if we're going to bring down the price of gas, you have to have three things. You have to have a big reserve, you have to have the ability to develop oil out of that reserve quickly, and you have to be able to produce oil at a relatively low cost. And that's oil shale. In Utah and Colorado and to some degree in Wyoming we have an amazing amount of oil. If you compare the size of our reserves of Saudi Arabia and the whole Middle East, it's like three times as much as all of that combined and that's just the easily, readily available 1800 billion barrels and there are probably 3 billion barrels that are commercially just under that, available. And long term if we change the technology, perhaps as many as 4 trillion, with a T, 4 trillion barrels of oil. There's enough, marginally if we just supplied all of our use in America instead of importing oil, it would be enough for 100 years or so. There's just no energy crisis in the world. There's a regulatory crisis. So what I've done is I've introduced a bill that would give the President the authority to draw people together that can understand these issues in government and to sit down with people that want to develop that shale and say, okay, let's figure out what you need to do to do it in an appropriate, careful, environmental manner and then let's go forward with it. And that would mean fairly quick production of oil and that would have a big impact on the price of gas at the pump.
GLENN: Okay. Now, I know the environmentalists are against this, and I'm trying to find the name of this, the wilderness society says that the oil companies already own some land with shale on it and they can't come up with a technology to get a drop of oil out of it. Is that true?
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: No, that's actually ridiculous. The regulatory burdens are great. We do have the first commercial test of shale, extraction of oil from shale going on right now. It should be done by the 15th of this month. They could be -- and I don't want to speak for them, the company, but my understanding of their technology is that they could be in full production in relatively short order, within six or eight months of their test if they didn't have to spend two years waiting for air quality permits. Now, they are operating on school trust lands. That's essentially private land. So they don't have the big DOM problems that people with government leases have. I think that when society talks about owning it, they are talking about leases. But a lease is no good unless you have the ability to produce off that lease, and the problem is not technology. There are at least five, six technologies that are really good out there for producing oil out of shale and it's a seven year process to do that. I think the leading company on this has been Shell. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their technology, and the head of that operation came into my office a couple of weeks ago and dropped a couple of pieces of paper on my desk. It was a list of 46 agencies with multiple permits each. They have eight-year leases to do experiments on 160 acres, two parcels 160 acres. Those leases are for eight years. It's going to take them seven years to get the permits. O'Connor said to me, how do I tell my board of directors they should invest in that? Seven years of permits for one year production when it's a multiple year process to produce off that land? The technology is there. The regulatory hurdles are just plain too high.
GLENN: All right. So what is the -- your bill takes all of the burden out of congress and puts it on the President's desk?
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: Well, yeah. He is the executive and what it does is it gives him the ability to cut through seven years and make that seven weeks and so you sit down and you say, what do we need to do to protect the environment and what's the process we're going to use. And there are various processes that are very different and they are going to have different constraints. But then you give the President the authority to come to a conclusion and give a permit in a short time and then you monitor, see what's going on. You may have to adjust that permit over time but at least you get people producing oil.
GLENN: The will in the country with the American people is extraordinarily high.
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: Yes.
GLENN: Yet the will in congress is not. I've got a guy here who's been waiting for a while to talk on the air and I'm going to put him on the air. His question is don't you think that congress is intentionally trying to sabotage our economy for the election. Give me a reason here, Chris, why congress is doing the things that they're doing. Why are they doing this? This is not in our economic long-term health by any stretch of the imagination to keep us shackled to terror states.
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: Yes, Saudi Arabia funding Al-Qaeda, Iran funding Hezbollah, Hamas. Human events had an article two weeks ago about an Iranian funded terrorist camp in the Venezuela. You know, we're paying these people to undermine our interests and we're propping up a --
GLENN: So what is stopping the congress? What is the motivation of congress to not free our hands?
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: Well, if you look at the numbers, they're fascinating. The bulk of Republicans will vote to drill in ANWR, to drill in the continent she will, to drill in the Midwest to drill for shale. About 90%, in some cases a little more, a little less of Democrats vote against that and with the reps cans who vote against this and the Democrats who vote against this, we've not been able to get those things passed. We passed the right -- there's a prohibition against drilling in the Alaskan national wildlife preserve but we have to overcome what's positive law. We passed that in the House a couple of times and the Senate actually passed it as well but the times we passed it in the House and the Senate didn't pass it, then we had problems with a potential candidate being the critical vote there. So we have to get -- the American people have got to express themselves on this issue and we're about to put up a website called dollargas.us. I think it's up yet but we want the American people to be saying we want a dollar, a dollar and a quarter gas. That's where it ought to be. And if we were producing our own gas, our own oil out of our own resource here in America, one, we would have cheaper gas. And two, we wouldn't be funding our enemies.
GLENN: Chris Cannon from the great state of Utah. Thank you very much. We'll look at the bill. What is the bill number?
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: Oh, it's -- I think it's 6811, but I apologize.
GLENN: That's all right. No, that's in that left field question. We'll look it up. Thanks, Chris, I appreciate it.
CONGRESSMAN CANNON: Thank you.
GLENN: You bet. Bye-bye. You know, I've got to tell you. I told you a little while ago I wouldn't mind if congress got trapped on a golf course some place for the rest of eternity. This guy might be an exception. I mean, I don't want them doing anything unless they are doing something to get out of our way.