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Oil Shale Mine In Utah Could Set Precedent In The West

Oil shale deposits exist in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, according to a 2012 DOI analysis.
Oil shale deposits exist in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, according to a 2012 DOI analysis.

The nation’s first commercial oil-shale mine could be built here in our region. The Bureau of Land Management issued a decision that allows a mine in Utah’s Uinta Valley to move forward.

Oil shale is an expensive and difficult type of oil to extract, but there’s a lot of it in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. The BLM approved crucial transportation access for the proposed 9,000 acre mine in Utah. If it goes forward, this project could set a precedent for similar mines in the West. 

Michael Saul is with the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit that opposes the mine. Saul calls this kind of mining “climate suicide." 

“This is essentially the filthiest and least efficient form of fossil fuels on the planet,” he says, pointing to the huge amounts of electricity and water that go into oil shale production before it can become useable energy. 

In a press release, the BLM said, “the project advances Trump Administration goals of American energy dominance and fostering economic growth in rural communities.” 

The proposed mine would be developed by an Estonian company and could produce up to 50,000 barrels of oil a day.


Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter  @amandapeacher .

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.


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