WASHINGTON, DC (July 22, 2008) – In a potentially disastrous plan that would destroy large tracts of the Rocky Mountain region, the Bush administration today announced its draft regulations for opening 2 million acres of public lands in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah for commercial oil shale production, according to experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The following are statements from Amy Mall, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Senior Policy Analyst regarding today’s announcement:
“Our addiction to oil has gotten so bad that the Bush administration is considering cooking rocks as an energy solution. By putting out long-term oil shale production regulations, they are proposing that we swap oil for water in the Rockies. There is a better way. We can use the resources we already have more efficiently, such as doubling the fuel economy performance of our vehicles which would be the same as cutting gas prices in half.”
“Instead of smart investment in clean, efficient energy for the long term, this proposal offers false hope and hollow promises to everyday Americans who are struggling with energy gas prices. This is more evidence that President Bush has no intention of curing—as he calls it—‘the country’s addiction to oil.’”
“Some of our largest oil companies have stated that current research efforts into oil shale will not produce any tangible results for decades. It is impossible for a government agency to develop sensible regulations for an unknown industry, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
“The technological hurdles to actually cook oil out of rock are enormous. We have limited understanding of the long term impacts of this process, aside from destroying some of America’s great landscapes and sucking up the most valuable commodity in the West—water.”
NRDC analysis confirms that a commercially viable oil shale industry would have enormous environmental impacts. Oil shale production is expected to emit four times more global warming pollution than production of conventional gasoline—making it the dirtiest fuel on the planet. It could require as much water as almost 1.5 million people use in one year, a threat to an arid region that depends on every drop of water. Because oil shale will be far more costly to produce than conventional fuel, commercial oil shale development may not even reduce gas prices.
The Bush administration should be offering positive solutions to Americans, such as incentives to keeping vehicles properly maintained and using transportation alternatives one day per week, which can save the average driver about $800 on gasoline per year. For more information on solutions, rather than false promises, see: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/oilshale.pdf