"Making good on a promise he made a week before President Barack Obama took office, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday tossed out a Bush administration move to speed oil-shale development on public land in Utah and Colorado.

During a teleconference, Salazar called the Bush rule one of many flawed last-minute policies "that don't pass the smell test."

Earlier this month, the new Interior boss shelved leases for oil and gas drilling near national parks in Utah.

Wednesday's announcement means any additional research-and-development leases the U.S. Bureau of Management may have offered after mid-January won't go forward.

Under the Bush regulation, the leases would have allowed substantially more acreage and set royalties at 5 percent, a figure Salazar said would sell taxpayers short."


"Salazar denied his move ignores the desire for energy independence. Citing the new Economic Recovery Act, he said the Obama administration would pursue energy efficiency, nurturing of renewables and investment for new development technologies.

"We recognize that development has to be part of what we need to move forward," he said. However, "those that have fantasized that oil shale is the answer to America's oil needs are living in a fantasy world."