Congress Set To Allow Destructive Method of Oil Production

Oil shale extraction poses major global warming risks, says Earthjustice President


Terry Winckler, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6716 

In the same week that science reveals that global warming emissions are far worse than expected, Congress is considering unleashing an oil production method — oil shale extraction — that will contribute more greenhouse gases than conventional methods of obtaining oil.

A ban on finalizing leasing regulations for oil-shale extraction expires on October 1 unless Congress acts to re-impose it, but it appears for the time being that Big Oil’s dirty agenda has won out over rational energy policy once again, observed Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen.

“For every good reason, this country has banned the pursuit of oil shale on our federal lands until now, but that moratorium is on the verge of being lifted in an election year ploy to misguide voters about creating energy independence,” Van Noppen said. “Oil shale development is exactly the wrong direction the Congress should be heading to create a clean energy future and get climate change under control.” 

Nothing good can come out of this, Van Noppen said, giving these reasons why:

  • Even the most advanced oil shale technology will create 20-45% more global warming pollution per gallon of gasoline compared to conventional gasoline. The cruder approaches that rely on strip mining shale will generate twice as much carbon dioxide per gallon as gasoline.

  • Oil shale removal will require vast quantities of water — up to 300 million gallons a day — in a drought-parched West that has barely enough to sustain agriculture, cattle raising and human consumption. That’s at least 3 to 5 gallons of water for every gallon of gasoline produced.

  • It could also destroy up to two million acres of prime wildlife habitat that supports economies throughout Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. 

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