Oil shale is getting so much attention lately that it’s starting to feel like a cure-all pill for whatever ails us.
Need more energy?
Have some oil shale.
Fiscal cliff got you down?
How about a little oil shale?
The problem with this assessment is, fundamentally, we’re just not there yet. We have been hearing this same promise for decades. A viable commercial oil shale industry has yet to exist. And as we move forward, oil shale development needs to be done with considerable thought and caution.
Or so say the leaders from some of the nation’s most influential sportsmen’s groups, conservation organizations and scientific societies in a letter sent to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today.
“Research must precede any commercial leasing,” the letter states, “and that research must demonstrate that extraction technologies and mitigation options exist that will protect clean air and water, conserve fish and wildlife, and sustain the economies that depend on those resources.”
To be clear, we are not saying oil shale is bad - the problem is it’s too early to tell. There are significant concerns still associated with oil shale development - concerns like water supply, water quality and impacts to wildlife populations. They should not be taken lightly.
This is classic, “cart before the horse” type behavior - but it seems the BLM is working to right that situation. Its plan, released in early November, balances acres dedicated to oil shale research with protecting fish and wildlife habitat. (Click here to support responsible development)
Here’s what sportsmen are saying: Go slow. Let’s do this right. Think clearly. Evaluate what we stand to gain against what we could lose. And if we get to a point where oil shale technology is viable and impacts are acceptable, then we can make decisions about when and where. But we’re not there just yet.