Utah Oil Shale Plans—'First Commercial Production In Decades'

A proposal to build and operate the first commercial oil shale production facility “in decades” near the Book Cliffs in Utah is meeting legal opposition from environmental groups.

Amy Joi O’Donoghue reports that Red Leaf Resources is moving forward with plans to produce oil from oil shale in the Book Cliffs area of Utah. Red Leaf’s goal is to “[produce] 300,000 barrels of oil by the end of 2015.” The proposal is notable as the “the world's first commercial production of oil shale in decades.”

The land use concern of Red Leaf is not insignificant: “Red Leaf holds leases to 17,000 acres of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands,” reports O’Donoghue. “In this next phase, the company will use a 6-acre area involving a clay- and gravel-lined pit that is 200 feet deep, where the shale will be heated at 725 degrees to extract the oil.”

Red Leaf’s plans are meeting significant resistance from environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Living Rivers. Environmental groups and Red Leaf have framed the controversy of the operation as old energy vs. new energy. Jeff Hartley, spokesperson for Red Leaf, is quoted in the article: “My response to criticism of oil shale is that either you hate carbon-based energies or you don’t.”

Environmental groups “have also opposed the permit issued to U.S. Oil Sands for its operation to extract bitumen from Utah's oil sands resources. That case is pending before the Utah Supreme Court,” reports O’Donoghue.

Full Story: Fight erupts over uintah basin oil shale mining project, protection of water

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