Former Colorado U.S. Senator Mark Udall is warning that a proposed oil shale development project in northeastern Utah could cause serious environmental damage in the Colorado River Basin.
According to Udall, writing in the commentary section of The New York Times, the Bureau of Land Management is on the brink of permitting a utility corridor to the Estonian-owned company Enefit American Oil to develop oil shale.
Oil shale mining’s track record in Estonia “includes high carbon emissions, contaminated water, dirty air, poisoned farmland and heaps of mining waste so large they’ve been nicknamed the Estonian Alps,” Udall writes.
Oil shale is sedimentary rock that can be mined and processed to release petroleuum products.
Udall writes that oil shale – an entirely different process from fracking for gas – has never been commercially viable in the U.S.
Both Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron conducted extensive and expensive research dating back three decades and more into the viability of oil shale production on Colorado’s Western Slope. Both of those efforts have since been halted.