Time to Kick the Habit
Posted by mhudema on July 4, 2008
Kicking the habit: Headlong rush to oil shale won’t end energy woes
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:07/02/2008 06:35:46 PM MDT
A junkie gets desperate when his junk runs out. He’s got to have more, and he’ll do just about anything in order to keep feeding his habit.
America is like that about oil. As our supply from foreign sources gets more expensive and rumors float around that those dealers are running out, we’re panicking, ready to trade our natural resources, even the future of the planet, for one more hit.
And Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett are backing the deal, right behind President Bush. They want to fast-track the development of oil from shale and tar sands before the effects of the processes on the environment can be fully evaluated.
Because oil shale development uses huge amounts of water and creates tons of carbon dioxide, that fast-tracking could threaten the eastern Utah and western Colorado landscapes and Utah’s precious water resources and hasten the dangers of climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions.
Fortunately, other Western lawmakers are not in such a headlong rush to sell out. Colorado Democratic Rep. Mark Udall and Sen. Ken Salazar slowed the frenzy toward oil shale and tar sands development by convincing Congress to approve a moratorium on Bureau of Land Management rule-making needed before permits are issued.
Hatch and Bennett are demanding that the delay be rescinded to give the energy industry whatever it needs to put oil from shale and tar sands on the market as soon as possible, while admitting that oil from shale could not possibly be available in time to provide relief from today’s high fuel prices.
On the other hand, Bush has no compunction about tying the fast-tracking of oil shale and tar sands development to pump prices, just as he saw the value in tying the 9/11 attack to Saddam Hussein, although he had nothing to do with it.
But the energy industry is not ready with technology to make oil shale development feasible. It is experimenting with a variety of processes, and the moratorium does not affect those experiments.
A year’s wait to determine the potential benefits versus the costs of oil shale development and to refine better technology is reasonable. In the meantime, and for the forseeable future, it would be more in our interest to beat our addiction with energy alternatives and conservation.
It’s time we kicked the oil habit for good.