People are beginning to realize that the cost of burning their food (corn) to fuel their automobiles is pretty high. Now that the Iowa caucus is over, perhaps some rationality will filter down to the politicians on this issue.

A much worse energy tradeoff, however, is oil shale. There are huge deposits of it in Utah and Colorado, but the costs of extracting it are enormous. It’s a bad net energy tradeoff because it doesn’t really contain oil, but rather a precursor to it, and not even in a very high concentration. Oil shale will be tremendously destructive to the environment too.

With all these things against it, naturally the Bush Administration thinks it’s a great thing. The Salt Lake Tribune does some reality-based analysis. Price too high. Editorial. Salt Lake Tribune.

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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

One Response to Editorial: Weigh all costs of energy from oil shale, tar sands. Cost of oil shale is too high

  1. Please take the time to read this paper by Elliot Grunewald of Stanford University. He is an Ivy League educated graduate student in the Earth Science department. It is relatively short and has a thourough look at the environmental impacts of oil shale in the mountain west. If nothing else, start at the section titled “the implications of oil shale development. This is on par with mountain top removal in the Smokey mountains, if not worse. Yes it is a class paper, but it’s clear and concise, and has good references.

    http://srb.stanford.edu/nur/GP200A%20Papers/elliot_grunewald_paper.pdf

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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