BLM told by public not to develop western oil shale

It’s a dirty and marginal source of fossil fuel energy-

Oil sands of Alberta are bad enough, but they look good compared to Western oil shale. Its development will produce little, if any, net energy,  while leaving much waste and giant pits. It takes a lot of water too, and the deposits are in the driest part of the United States.

BLM hearing in Salt Lake City sees much opposition to oil shale. Salt Lake Tribune. By Brandon Loomis.



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  1. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Yes, but… who usually prevails in cases like this ? The ten thousand concerned citizens, or the one concerned multinational corporation ?

    Just be thankful the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission and Wyoming State Lands Office aren’t the deciders.

  2. WM Avatar

    Been there…done that. This marginal source of energy, with huge demands for water (anybody hear that is getting scarce these days) and huge amounts of environmental degradation and waste (water quality and scars on the land, bad air quality from fugitive dust and retort operations), was explored to death nearly 40 years ago. All the big players were involved then as we presume are now, and they even got federal money for some of the exploration, if I recall correctly: Chevron, Shell, Tesoro, Apache, to name a few.

    They made big promises, did not follow through when the R&D didn’t pencil out on the $$$ numbers, and even left small Western Slope CO communities holding the bag for massive infrastructure development and investments for community water, wastewater and other utilities, as well as schools for populations anticipated as a result of providing jobs for the oil shale industry that neve came. The town of Parachute in W. CO, dependent on the promised development of the Piceance Basin is but one example. The Piciance is also home to the largest migratory mule deer herd in the world. The oil shale folks left over night, and the communities with no new population had to pay off these infrastructure debts. Erosion prone exploration roads will scar the parched landscape for the next century.

    These a$$holes will do the same thing this time around in order to muster local support in these communities all over oil shale country to get them to lobby for grant money and politicals support to make it happen.

    I don’t care if there is new technology. It is still a bad idea for the environment, made worse by the state of our economy, increasing oil prices and dependence on foreign oil. Now they are trying to pull the same crap in Utah, that failed in CO. This needs to be stopped.

  3. mikepost Avatar

    Now the latest…the oil industry is EXPORTING 20% of their diesel and gas to South America while making record profits. Refineries are at 80% capacity. Gas prices are being manipulated to create not only profits but public support for these kinds of projects.

  4. Alan Gregory Avatar

    And for decades, I thought that the played-out anthracite coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania were bad enough. Just how many stripping pits can Earth absorb?

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Alan – I often wonder what the extraction of crude oil (miles down) might be doing to the “bowels” of this planet……

  5. mikarooni Avatar

    I read recently, someplace, that oil shale is the fool’s gold of the petroleum industry. It’s just too difficult to cost-effectively drill at the density required, wastes too much energy in being extracted, and the extraction process needs too much water that isn’t available where the oil shale is. But, it couldn’t happen to nicer people.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan