Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fossil Future

The ban on the commercial development of oil shale on federal lands expired on the first of October, but we’re far too distracted by "Drill, baby drill!" to notice. Oil shale is filthy. Its extraction requires obscene amounts of water and produces two to five times more greenhouse gases than conventional crude. Still, oil barons never met a dollar they didn’t like, and there are about 1.8 trillion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. It dwarfs all of Saudi Arabia. Big Oil wants us to talk about drilling for a few drops offshore. Seen There Will Be Blood? I drink your milkshake!

The milkshake is oil shale, literally extracted by cooking the planet. Huge blocks of Earth are isolated and cooked at 650 degrees F. After two years, oil slides out of the shale. I’m not kidding. We cook the planet. The Bush-Cheney administration has fought hard to get this shale for oil companies. The only remaining obstacle is the next President. John McCain has already voiced his support. While distracting us about this offshore drilling nonsense, the oil industry has almost secured rights to federal lands with the oil shale. When the ban on offshore oil drilling expired, so did the ban on oil shale development.

Congress opened the gates to almost two million acres of oil shale deposits and granted permission to initiate a cube-by-cube boiling of the planet. One could not design a more effective way to accelerate global warming as dramatically as possible. The development began early in the Bush-Cheney administration's first term. The Energy Act of 2005 (Section 369) required the Department of the Interior to develop a commercial leasing program for oil shale. The next President will have control over the program. In June, Senator McCain called for oil shale development and campaign contributions from the oil industry skyrocketed.

Senator Obama remains quiet on oil shale, but he has refused oil money. Oil shale is the most underreported energy story of the century. If the nation continues on the path prepared by Bush-Cheney and embraced by McCain-Palin, it leads to a fossil future.

We’re the fossils.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't remember where I heard it, but someone has suggested that the United States (and other nations) pool together for an energy project that gets greed out of the picture.

The Pickens stuff is just about making all cars and transportation based on natural gas, and guess who profits most from shifting everything to natural gas?

10/10/2008 10:36 AM  
Blogger TexPatriate said...

Pickens is all about Pickens. Check out his idea to buy up water rights only to pump out all the farmwater in the underground aquifers located in the rural parts of Texas and sell it to Dallas, Houston, Austin, etc. That probably wouldn't be so bad, EXCEPT the rural folks with those water rights actually USE that water to produce food, fiber, & fatten cattle. Urban folks use it to water their pampered lawns, fill up their fountains, and swim in it. God forbid Austin should use anything in Town Lake or Travis except as a landscape enhancement for their "view homes".

Oh, and Pickens would make a KILLING on this little "idee" of his, btw.

Given the choice, I know where I would prefer MY water to be.

(Disclaimer: I am from rural West Texas and know EXACTLY how precious water is to those folks. I have also lived in SA, Austin, & Houston as an adult and watched more water being wasted than I could nearly stand.)

10/10/2008 1:39 PM  

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