Oil shale is a rock that produces oil when heated to temperatures reaching 1,000°F. Because the production of oil shale requires incredible heating and cooling, its demands for energy are huge.
It is estimated that it would require the energy equivalent of roughly 10 giant new power plants and 5 giant new coal mines to produce 1 million barrels per day.
Extracting oil shale is harmful because it...
- Releases toxic substances that can seep into and pollute surface and ground water;
- Produces massive amounts of waste, creating waste storage problems;
- Wastes as much as five barrels of water – for dust control, cooling and other purposes – for every barrel of shale oil produced; and
- Destroys wildlife habitat by stripping lands of native vegetation.
The United States is home to approximately 50 percent of the world’s oil shale deposits. The Green River Basin in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah is not just home to large scale oil shale deposits, but also supports an abundance of mule deer, elk, mountain lion, black bear, bald eagles and other outstanding wildlife species.
Recent record-high gasoline prices have led the federal government to re-evaluate oil shale as a potential source of domestic liquid fuel, threatening wildlife habitat on our public lands. Right now, crucial mule deer habitat in northwestern Colorado's Piceance Basin is currently being considered for dangerous oil shale development. But this is only half the story--the development of tar sands is also being considered.
This plan has the potential to open 2 million acres of public lands for oil shale and tar sands development in northwestern Colorado, southwestern Wyoming, and northeastern Utah. Now is the time to protect our public lands from the destructive extraction of a dirty fuels.
Oil Shale: Bad for Wildlife, Water, Climate Change, and the Western Way of Life