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The CHAIRMAN. Well, wait 1 minute, Mr. Gavin.
As stated in this report, the Government owns a large area in Colorado and Utah classified as the naval oil shale reserves—something like 150,000 acres.
In 1944, and when Mr. Short was chairman of the committee, we made a complete investigation of the future availability of oil and including that in the shales.
We found that in so many years the supply of oil in this country might be in danger.
So we made an inquiry as to use of the shale. And as I said, 150,000 acres of this shale is owned by the Government, and was under the jurisdiction of the Navy.
It has been set aside by the Executive some years prior.
So in 1946 Congress appropriated some $4 million to build an experimental plant, to see if we could extract the oil from the shale.
And so that was built.
The Interior Department, the Bureau of Mines, had jurisdiction over it, as it started to work.
Mr. GAVIN. Also-
The CHAIRMAN. There was one plant there, owned by the Union Oil Co.
They found valuable information. But from a commercial standpoint, it was not profitable at this time to extract the oil from the shale, because of the high cost.
So the plant has been standing there idle.
The Attorney General rendered a decision that cast doubt as to who owned what and where. So the purpose of this bill mainly is to settle the jurisdiction between the departments, by classifying positively that it belongs to the Navy—the oil reserve--and removing any doubt as to the ownership of the pilot plant. And the bill provides that goes to the Interior Department.
Then also the Interior Department is given jurisdiction to lease or to operate in an experimental manner the facilities out there.
And that is all the bill does.
No contracts can be made to get rid of this shale, or any phase of it, without coming back to the committee and getting a clearance.
It is a step toward private enterprise. I hope they might be able to lease this out. It is strictly for experimental purpose. It is not for production. If you had followed the language closely, it says: Reactivation of the Rifle facility would provide a source of oil shale and shale oil for research and development work for various public and private organiza
Now, it may ultimately turn out whereby it can be extracted at such costs there might be some use for it.
Of course the Navy is not going to go to any great lengths in this matter.
We are not going to use this shale oil now, because it is our nest
examined this bill. I introduced it. I have been handling this subject for the committee for 15 or 16 years. And I think this is a step in the right direction. We will carry this on, if they can find somebody to run it, and if Congress appropriates the money.
Now, Congress may not appropriate 1 penny for any operation of this plant.
But it does one thing: It puts the jurisdiction of the pilot plant in the Interior Department. It fixes beyond question the jurisdiction of the Navy in regard to the shale reserve.
Now is there any other question?
Mr. BRAY. First, now, my apprehension to this is because I am aware of the intense pressure that was brought a few years ago to stop the operation of the Rifle plant and to stop at least any attempt to produce oil from either shale or coal to any great extent.
I am aware of that.
Now, the first question is, what would the Navy have to do to get authority to lease or otherwise dispose of this shale that is under their jurisdiction?
The CHAIRMAN. To go into production they would have to go to Congress and get a resolution to do it, and we would have to pass it.
Mr. BRAY. And that resolution would have to come
The CHAIRMAN. That is right, have to have a resolution passed by Congress, because it has been set aside as a naval shale oil reserve.
Mr. Bray. And that has given more protection than we have at the present time.
The CHAIRMAN. They can't move without coming to this committee. That has been fixed now, on all the oil reserves.
They have to get the clearance of this committee.
Mr. BRAY. I wanted to make sure that that was in the record, that that is the situation.
The CHAIRMAN. That is right.
Mr. Bray. In a sense, we have a more careful protection of this than we would have if this was not done by the Navy.
The CHAIRMAN. Exactly.
Mr. Wilson. Mr. Chairman, have any commercial operators indicated to the Vary
The CHAIRMAN. Not that I know of.
I have been trying to work out some way whereby we could preserve the plant in a little bit better shape. I don't know what the Interior Department is going to do with it. They may just let it fall down. Because the Congress has not been appropriating any money at all.
Mr. BECKER. Mr. Chairman, I am opposed to this bill, and I shall oppose it on the floor, of turning it over to the Interior Department.
am opposed to turning this over to the Interior Department, because all they are going to do in their usual way is ask for appropriations.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, the Navy is not in that type of business.
The CHAIRMAN. The Bureau of Mines knows how to operate this. They operated it in the first instance.
The law gave the Interior Department the running of the pilot plant.
Mr. BECKER. Mr. ChairmanThe CHAIRMAN. We are not taking anything at all from the Navy. We are protecting the Navy.
But we are trying to utilize, if it is possible, a facility on which we have spent over $4 million.
Mr. BECKER. Mr. Chairman, I still oppose turning it over to the Interior Department. Because if the pilot plant is no good, we ought to get rid of it, or let it fall down.
The CHAIRMAN. All right.
The CHAIRMAN. That is right, exactly.
The CHAIRMAN. Not a bit in the world, just clearing of the jurisdictional void created by the Attorney General's opinion.
Mr. Hall. Mr. Chairman
Mr. BECKER. You are, in this bill, as I understand it, turning the complete authority of the plant over to the Interior Department to either lease out or operate
The CHAIRMAN. That is right.
Mr. BECKER. And if it is not worth while operating now, because the plant has deteriorated, why give them the authority to seek funds to biuld it and onerate it?
The CHAIRMAN. Some private enterprise might be able to enter into a contract, and try to extract the oil from the shale and make it economical.
And I must say that in developing the colloquy, I felt as our colleague, Mr. Becker, does, in the beginning.
And I would like to make a point that this morning is the first time I have seen, even though a member of the subcommittee, the amendment. But I believe as a result of those hearings and of the colloquy and in recognition of the fact that we have taken interim action in the Congress for the Laramie plant under the Department of the Interior, which is more or less in competition with the big retorts and research plant at Rifle, that this bill as amended is all right.
And I am strong for it.
And I think we must realize, as stated in Congressman Price's opening remarks, that at the present time we cannot even thin the deer herd because of this Attorney General's ruling.
But even more to the point is we cannot even take shale off of any of those naval reserves at this time up to Laramie or even to the Rifle retorts should they be reactivated, in order to carry on this research and experience.
Now as I understand it, further, the total of oil in the shale reserves is about as much as our known oil naval reserves elsewhere
The CHAIRMAN. That is right.
And I think it is probably time that we did get some constructive research to an economical and/or feasible way for the Government to produce this.
Now, if you will read the last page and a half of the amended bill, there are certainly saving provisions in there to give free or competitive enterprise or private industry, whatever you want to call it, an even shake with whatever research is found as a result of this.
Mr. GAVIN. Where is that?
Mr. HALL. I think this is a good amendment, and I think it will help us in this purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Hall.
Mr. Gavin. Say, for instance, here, on reading H.R. 5423—which is not the committee print
Mr. PRICE. Use the committee print, because that is the bill that we are recommending.
Mr. ARENDS. (Aside to Mr. Gavin.)
The CHAIRMAN. This bill is all right. No man need worry about this bill.
Mr. PRICE. This bill gives Congress tighter control than it now has.
All in the favor of this bill as amended when your name is called vote aye and all opposed, no.
Call the roll.
Mr. HALL. Mr. Chairman, while we are waiting, may I ask one more question ?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. Hall. I would like to ask a question of the subcommittee chairman, Mr. Price, who is handling this today.
What is the effect, if any, of that bill we passed, after considerable discussion on the floor of the House the other day, giving the Department of Interior authority to operate similar research on shale up at Laramie?
Mr. PRICE. That one was just a normal bill for the Bureau of Mines.
I do not think it would have any effect one way or the other in relation to this enactment.
The CHAIRMAN. It has no naval relation at all.
Mr. Hall. What is in my mind is that, at the time of that discussion on the floor, how in the world it is operated up at Laramie if they could not get the shale.
Mr. PRICE. They will get the shale. And this bill will help them to get the shale.
Mr. Hall. So we are going to be operating the plant at both Laramie now and at Rifle?
Mr. PRICE. Laramie is more or less of a laboratory.
The CHAIRMAN. It has no relation whatsoever to the Department of Defense.
Mr. Hall. Mr. Chairman, it will be the Bureau of Mines that will be operating this one at Rifle after this amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. PRICE. Some of the basic research and research vital to the operation of this plant now goes on at Laramie.
The CHAIRMAN. There won't be any conflict.
A contract to sell oil and gas, other than royalty oil and gas, oil shale, and products therefrom produced from any part of the naval petroleum and oil shale reserves.
That authorizes the Department to contract to sell the oil and shale and oil shale and products therefrom produced from any part of the naval petroleum oil and shale reserve.
Mr. PRICE. Yes, but you have to read the first part of that section. That first part of the section reads like this:
The Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Repre sentatives must be consulted, and the President's approval must be obtained. before any condemnation proceedings may be started under this chapter, and before any of the following transactions authorized by this chapter may be effective.