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 Ken Salazar has prioritized renewable energy, rescinded 77 oil and gas leases near Utah national parks and reversed a Bush administration decision to lease more land in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming for oil shale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!
By Doc Searles
By Bobby Magill