In the light of the foregoing we can quickly deal with the problem of environmental costs in oil-shale operations. As with coal mining, the regulations contemplate a combination of prevention and restoration. We can suggest no adequate, economically feasible substitute for the preventive measures required. As for corrective measures, the same considerations apply to the matter of taxation and compensation versus restoration of the surface. However, it is our understanding that the lands thus far affected by leases are valuable primarily for recreation, wildlife, scenery, and the like--rather than for agriculture, grazing, or forestry--so that the determination of surface value would be difficult. Moreover, there is no real experience with large-scale commercial operations, so that it may not be possible to anticipate all the problems of either valuation or restoration that may be encountered. We are left with the uncomfortable conclusion that the lease provisions for preventive and corrective measures in oil shale operations are perhaps the best we can do; but that they may unnecessarily and uneconomically deny us some part of our fuel resources.
For the most part we are unable to suggest feasible changes in the present approach to environmental regulation in fossil fuels production. We have, however, attempted to define the problem in a way that may be helpful in future decisions. We should, in any case, bear in mind that the objective is not to protect the environment at any cost and to the exclusion of other objectives, but to properly allocate costs to the minerals we do and may produce. With this objective in view, we should continually seek ways to measure environmental costs so that we can make taxation and compensation as feasible as prevention and correction in environmental regulation.