11/19/2010 01:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'Petroleum Literacy' Program Proposed By Utah Lawmakers

The Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee in the Utah State Legislature has recommended a bill that would use state money from the surplus mining profits to develop curriculum teaching public school Children about the importance of mining and petroleum.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining supports the educational effort, which would draw from the Oil and Gas Conservation Account. That fund comes from industry taxes that rise and fall with mineral prices, and state law limits its annual surplus to $750,000. It's unclear how much the education effort would cost -- a separate allocation bill would set the amount -- though it would be drawn from any surplus collected beyond the cap.

Division policy coordinator Steve Schneider doubts most Utahns understand that coal and petroleum operations disturb less than two-tenths of 1 percent of Utah's surface area -- and argued an education program could help change that.

As Mid-Utah Radio reports, the bill's sponsors hope the 'Petroleum Literacy' program, as it's being called, will help offset "misinformation" being espoused in classrooms by environmentalists.

The sponsors specifically cited the need to correct misinformation with regards to the controversial Natural Gas extraction method known as Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking.

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature sought to use eminent domain to take back energy-rich federal land that had been protected by the federal government under the Clinton administration. The goal of the legislation was to spark a U.S. Supreme Court battle, and inspire similar pieces of legislation throughout energy-rich states in the West.