Fox News-Oil Shale Exploration, CO 6-21-11

Jun 21, 2011

EcoFlight flew journalists from Fox News over oil shale exploration in Colorado. Some of the richest known deposits of oil shale lie in basins within the Green River Formation along the border of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

In an area that provides critical habitat and migration corridors for elk and mule deer and natural habitat for cutthroat trout, oil shale is being explored as a potential energy and fuel source. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued leases for sites in Colorado to be used for oil shale research and development. Oil shale development requires an incredible amount of energy because large amounts of rock must be heated to extremely high temperatures to release the oil. Technologies are already in place for heating fluids deep under the ground to dissolve other substances, such as nahcolite, or baking soda and would be one method adapted to bring oil shale to the surface through special production well bores, although all efforts to extract oil shale at a commercially viable level in the past have failed.

Farmers, ranchers and environmental groups are concerned about the impacts that oil shale development could have on western communities, wildlife, agriculture, water resources and the climate and are urging the BLM to take a slow cautious approach to oil shale technologies that have not yet been proven to be technically feasible, commercially viable or environmentally sustainable.