The recent "Sego Canyon road plan" story leads to several questions and cautions.
Oil shale and tar sands are very dirty fuels which require considerable energy to extract and process. To date they have been economically marginal at best. And they have always been environmentally disastrous.
Also, due to the growing awareness and concern about fossil fuel-fueled climate change, there is likely to be a significant carbon fee or tax imposed on all sources, leakages, and uses of fossil carbon-based fuels and products. Such fees or taxes are likely to start off small and ramp up rapidly. Some may hope and wish otherwise — and lobby and work against carbon fees — but the fees will eventually come.
What does this have to do with Sego Canyon, Book Cliffs, Grand County, etc.?
What you invest today in trying to develop or foster fossil fuel development will bite you in the very near future. What is economically marginal — or barely viable — today will be uneconomic in just a few years. The investors are already leaving the fossil fuel development industry in droves. Your ‘friction fee’ and other expected income from such developments will be gone - and Grand County will be stuck with major bills, an economic ‘bust’, and a degraded landscape.
Be cautious, be careful, be very skeptical.
Salt Lake City
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