Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chris Cannon's Oil Shale Grandstanding

I've been working on something like this, waiting for a call back from a friend at the BLM who has a lot of experience with the oil shale production research conducted so far. Today, the tribune lays it out, however, very clearly and succinctly in an editorial:

Rep. Chris Cannon's claim that oil shale is the answer to higher gasoline prices is nothing more than political grandstanding, designed to use the fears of Utahns to his advantage just two weeks before the Republican primary.

Although Utahns are as frustrated as all other Americans with the high cost of fuel, we believe they are not so gullible as to buy Cannon's pitch that he can provide relief by tossing out regulations meant to protect the state's natural resources from plunder by energy speculators.

Cannon is sponsoring legislation that would let developers more easily obtain permits by sidestepping a ban on oil shale leasing imposed by Congress last year. Cannon's bill has almost no chance of winning approval by his fellows in the Congress, who are well aware that the technology to make oil shale development feasible is at least a decade away.

The ban, sponsored by Colorado Democrats Rep. Mark Udall and Sen. Ken Salazar, delays the completion of Interior Department rules for leasing public lands for oil shale development. The two congressmen are rightly concerned about the potential impacts of opening up thousands of Bureau of Land Management acres in Colorado to developers who don't even have an economically viable way to turn shale rock into oil, let alone an environmentally sound method. Wyoming and Colorado governors share their view.

Cannon obviously has no such concerns about lands in eastern Utah.
Strip mining Utah's mountains, or super-heating rock to "boil" out oil will have zero effect on the world market of oil, therefore zero effect on the price of gas at the pump. Methods of extraction consist of two choices: strip mining or "boil out" super-heating of rock - a method which leads to acidic rock sediment leaching into ground water. Neither method stands the test of either ongoing research, or cost to benefit analysis from potential producers. There is no economically sound method of energy in vs. energy out oil shale extraction. And yet, in 2008, "Oil Shale" saturates Chris Cannon's speechifyin' like the very groundwater he wants to pollute for re-election.

What is dangerous about this is that after (if?) Cannon is elected, the idea has now been distorted and rooted in the minds of Utahn's who will expect a follow up amounting to a waste of tax payer dollars for nil, when the Congressman could be offering one of many viable solutions to the current gas price / energy cost dilemma.

Hasn't Cannon cost this state enough already in simple terms of poor leadership. His oil shale stumping serves only to further undermine his credibility. Voters in his district should accept this as a final service from the Congressman: a wake up call to his lack of understanding and vision.

For those who would like a little more fact in their reading than what Cannon offers, a few articles/sites to check out:


  1. Jason,
    Lets not expand our minds. Lets just sit on our hands and complain.
    I believe that we need to find a progressive method to use the Land that was given to us by God. Why is there Oil in Oil Shale? Why is there Oil in the Ground? Why is there water? Why is there Minerals in the Ground? Everything has a purpose. The Oil Shale in most part is in rual america. If you take the Oil out, what is left over? It is a cleaner more inviromentally Shale. Jason, what do you do for a living? Where do you reside? What is your last name. My belief is, is that you don't have much of a life. You probably don't visit or live by the green river formation.

  2. You are actually quite wrong. The Green River area is one of my favorite parts of Utah. Let this be a lesson to you not to make assumptions if you would like to also have your point taken seriously. Also, posting anonymously doesn't help with that much either.

    And inspiring speeches as you've written here sound warm and fuzzy, but there are also a few passages in the bible that suggest we should act as stewards o the earth, not just rip it apart to satisfy every selfish need we may concoct.

    Oil Shale production will not lower gas prices, nor will it make a large dent in the oil market. And again, there are two ways to extract it: strip mining entire mountain sides, or super-heating the rock, which test have shown create acidic runoff (like drinking water?).

    Everything does have a purpose. Who are we to assume everything's purpose is more fuel for our addiction to petroleum?

    And finally, what I do for a living has nothing to do with this argument, it is quite childish of you to bring it up.

  3. I have to be honest and admit that I don't know too much about Shale. The thing that bothers me is that Cannon has decided now to start making legislation about this a couple weeks before the primary. I don't believe he will follow through with it. It's all for show.