Dept of Interior Hearts Oil Shale: Has 'Great Potential' Salazar Says

oil shale facility colorado photo

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has certainly sent mixed signals when it comes to how his department will handle energy development on federal lands. Good news: Exploration leases on federal lands near several sensitive areas in Utah were halted. Middling news: Offshore oil drilling would be part of his "comprehensive energy plan" (we knew that would be coming, based on Obama positions on the campaign trail). Here's the bad news:
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that at a summit of Western state governors Salazar was all about oil shale. SLT reports that oil shale "has 'great potential' and he may revise rules on harvesting that energy source 'in the near future'."

I suppose that's tempered a bit by the fact that Salazar has called last-minute Bush Admin. rulings on oil shale were "misplaced", but ultimately Salazar still has said that he wants to make his own decisions on the matter with the first six months of the Obama presidency. Great....

Oil Shale Development a Climate Change + Water Disaster
In case you hadn't heard, developing oil shale is just as bad (if not worse in some ways) from an environmental perspective as tar sands. In terms of additional greenhouse gas emissions, producing fuel from oil shale produces eight times the emissions of making fuel from conventional sources of petroleum. Yes, eight times. In terms of water usage, for every barrel of oil taken from oil shale, it requires two to five barrels of water, and in an area which the Dept of Interior lists has being in the midst of long term drought.

I can see the energy independence pull on tapping into these fuel sources, but frankly any government which advocates developing oil shale or tar sands seriously loses its credibility in terms of its commitment to tackling climate change and on the environment more broadly.

via: Salt Lake Tribune
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