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Oil Shale: The World’s Dirtiest Fuel

Oil Shale: The World’s Dirtiest Fuel

After eight years of the oil and gas free-for-all on our public lands, the Obama administration is thankfully bringing some much-needed balance to how these lands are managed for energy extraction.

So far this year, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar has prioritized renewable energy, rescinded 77 oil and gas leases near Utah national parks and reversed a Bush administration decision to lease more land in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming for oil shale research and development.

We hope these are the first steps Salazar and the Obama administration will take to make a measured approach to public lands management the highest priority at the Department of Interior.

That kind of balance is an urgent need. Take oil shale development for example. The Bush administration pushed through last-minute regulations that could have allowed further development of oil shale in three western states. Salazar has criticized those regulations, and there is hope that he will change them.

If oil shale development does occur, it’ll be one of the dirtiest and most destructive forms of energy development anywhere in the West. So far, energy companies haven’t found a commercially viable way to extract oil shale in an environmentally safe way.

The technologies they are researching would use vast quantities of electricity and water and contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. These technologies are extremely energy intensive. Simply put, oil shale development will contribute significantly to global warming..

One method is called “in-situ” oil shale extraction. That’s where kerogen is baked out of the rock underground at very high temperatures using giant heating rods. It’s extremely energy intensive, and will require enormous amounts of electricity generation, probably from new coal-fired power plants.

Oil shale development is a bad energy bet for America. We should instead be concentrating our efforts to develop clean energy technologies, and using energy more wisely and efficiently.

Sign our oil shale petition today!

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By Doc Searles
By Bobby Magill

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10:26PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you for interesting article.

10:26PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you for interesting article.

10:24PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you for interesting article.

3:49AM PDT on Apr 21, 2009

Not at all concerned about the Global Warming issue

--- but, you point out that the extraction process is very energy intensive!

That alone would seem to disqualify this process as a potential source of energy, as the price per unit of energy would be far too high.

Do you have any hard numbers on the real production costs? For example, what is the electrical input?

10:25PM PDT on Apr 20, 2009

Thanks for your most interesting article. If only more people would look beyond their noseand their own needs and see what the future for our children will be if we don't wise up and stop destroying the earth. I have a couple of grandkids that I'd like to see have a clean future, with trees and wildlife still around. If they start with this oil shale drilling, they destroy all of it, and pollute the lakes and streams where the runoff ends up.

9:59AM PDT on Apr 20, 2009

care for our nature, or else pack ur bags and be ready to be extint species, save earth save ourselves, dont be selfish for short term benfits think of dark future ahead that will be result of our irresponsible acts,so wake up now

1:24AM PDT on Apr 18, 2009

Bobby, thanks for the great article!

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