One of the nation's first commercial-level oil shale operations advanced on Thursday when the Bureau of Land Management posted a draft environmental impact statement for utility rights of way serving Enefit American Oil's mine that would extract and process kerogen-bearing rock in the Uinta Basin in Utah.
Enefit American Oil wants to develop a 15-mile corridor across public land to deliver power, natural gas and water to its plant and pipe up to 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day to an existing pipeline for delivery to Salt Lake City refineries. The Utah Geological Survey figures about 77 billion barrels of oil are recoverable in the Uinta Basin.
However, environmental groups question if the process of extracting oil from the shale is not only economically sound given the slack oil prices, but also question if the exceptionally dirty process of oil shale recovery is worth the risk to the surrounding public lands.
"We know that burning oil shale in a giant oven can produce shale oil; the question that needs to be asked is whether proceeding with this type of project makes any sense in a carbon-constrained 21st century," said Steve Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. "The unequivocal answer is no. The time has come to turn our backs on the carnival barker's promise that oil shale will be the answer to our nation's energy needs.
More than a trillion barrels of oil are in the Utah, Wyoming and Colorado region. That's big business but what is the ROI for the residents and environment?
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