This is not your father's oil shale

Published September 28, 2008 12:00 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In its Sept. 9 editorial ("End the addiction: Oil shale plan no answer to oil dependency," Our View), The Tribune severely exaggerated the environmental effects of oil shale development, downplayed the pivotal role that such development promises to play in stimulating Utah's economy and securing America's energy independence, and bashed U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett for supporting it.

In so doing, The Tribune relied on outdated and inaccurate information and repeated the absurd notion that the United States has no need to increase domestic production of oil from all available sources, including oil shale.

Even the most optimistic projections suggest that global demand for fossil fuels will continue to grow for several decades. In the United States we produce approximately 8.5 million barrels of oil every day, but use nearly 20 million barrels for fuel, plastics and other manufacturing. As a result, we rely too heavily on foreign sources.

Given the very real limitations of renewable energy sources, given that oil prices have risen 63 percent since 2004, and given that higher fuel prices are creating a tremendous drag on the U.S. economy, it is imperative that we develop all domestic energy sources - including oil shale.

New technologies for extracting oil from shale deposits have emerged in recent years, facilitating the development of this important resource in a manner that is both economically feasible and environmentally friendly. In fact, technologies now exist that require little or no process water, minimize surface disturbances and significantly reduce emissions. While some of The Tribune's claims about purported environmental impacts may have been true several decades ago, that is no longer the case.

Reasonable Americans recognize that we have no choice but to promote the development of all domestic energy resources. Politics and emotion must be placed aside as we seek to assemble a diverse array of sustainable, environmentally responsible options for energy development.

There are no silver bullets providing easy solutions, but the price of failure - economically, militarily and otherwise - is too high for us not to explore our most promising alternatives.

Utah's congressional leaders deserve praise for their commitment to the development of all energy sources for the benefit of this generation and generations to come.


* JEFF HARTLEY is the director of Utah's Responsible Energy Developers Forum.

Jeff Hartley

New technologies for extracting oil from shale deposits have emerged in recent years.

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