Printed letters, Oct. 26, 2011
Thank you to The Daily Sentinel for the opportunity to read about the good things associated with oil shale. It seems every day I read about the negative elements about energy development.
There’ve been many columns and letters to the editor this month, decrying oil shale research and exploration. The truth is, we are on the verge of unlocking a resource that will have a profound effect on our energy future and energy security.
Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have the largest concentration of oil shale in the world.
Being able to responsibly and sustainably extract this resource would be a benefit for America, the region, the state and the many communities in northwestern Colorado. Unfortunately, many of the plans to develop this resource are being stymied by the vast political insecurity and the misinformation disseminated by special-interest groups.
It is important to see oil shale for what it is. It is a resource that will help to secure our energy independence as a high-quality transportation fuel. It will provide countless direct and indirect jobs, large revenues to the state and local economy via taxes, royalties, company spending and wages. It is also a resource that is not yet ready to be considered commercially viable. However, that does not mean we should not encourage and support this resource development.
I hope our elected officials will do the right thing and allow the companies to move forward with their research and development leases so we may finally release our large oil shale reserves.
Oil shale development remains 10 years away
The companies involved in the last oil shale boom still own 20 percent of the state’s oil shale land, still have the designs for the processes, still have Colorado River water rights and have plenty of money to make oil shale happen in the near future, if it were economic to do so.
According to industry insiders at a recent oil shale symposium in Grand Junction, technological advances and increased demand is the reason for interest in western Colorado’s oil shale. They claimed federal policies were getting in the way of their progress.
Recent experiments have succeeded by using huge amounts electricity to make tiny quantities of exceedingly expensive oil. Other experiments have failed to get off the ground or even break ground. These efforts have been ongoing for 100 years.
Oil and gas production has increased in the last several years, but oil shale is still stagnant. Oil production from shale has been “10 to 15 years away” for a very long time, and I think it always will be. If energy companies could produce oil, they have the resources to make it happen. The only thing standing in their way is the rock. They have failed to create jobs or generate income because they have failed to produce energy.
Colorado should promote all of its energy resources
I wish Colorado was a lot more like Utah in terms of energy development. Just last week, Utah’s lieutenant governor said, “Utah is open for the energy business.” Why aren’t our elected officials backing up energy development like our western neighbor?
It seems like Colorado is doing everything in its power to kill off every energy source that has kept western counties afloat for more than a century. First they implemented HB 1365 that hurt coal, then these mountain counties started trying to stop energy development in their boundaries and outside their jurisdictions, then came the attacks on oil shale. What’s next? It’s just unfair, if you ask me.
We have some of the largest gas fields in the nation. We have some of the best-quality coal reserves. We have untapped nuclear potential. We have an oil shale resource that is exponentially bigger than Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves. But, are we promoting this development? No, quite the opposite.
How does this make sense?
Utah has the second largest oil shale reserves and that state is bending over backward to promote this resource. Why aren’t we?
It’s a question we should all be asking ourselves and our elected officials. If Colorado is going to remain competitive, we need to start changing how we do business.
Many questions remain on oil shale development
Does it make sense that the energy required to get the kerogen out of the deep underground shale should be less than the energy required to access it and convert it to oil and bring it to the surface for home use?
Does it take energy to get access to the rock in the first place? Does it take energy to break it up and/or heat the rock? Does it take energy to protect the environment from this process? Does it take energy to refine it and bring it to market?
Do you expect the promoters of oil shale to care as long as they profit, even though an audit will show there is a net energy loss and possible health concerns for all oil shale schemes?