Writing in today's Washington Post, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) cynically disparages the idea of opening up Colorado’s vast oil shale reserves as a way to lower the price of gasoline for American drivers (“Heedless Rush to Oil Shale,” July 15, 2008). However, even Sen. Salazar admits that new oil-shale technology currently being developed is “far more promising” than earlier efforts and that energy companies are having success in devising “a way to heat the rock that holds the oil and force the oil up and out of the ground.” Yet he supports a federal moratorium on oil shale development in Colorado, offering one excuse after another about the viability of the technology.
Of course, Sen. Salazar has also repeatedly voted against opening up the far reaches of the deserted northern Alaskan wilderness to energy exploration, and he refuses to support efforts to lift the Congressional ban on drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States. Do those ideas also represent “putting the cart before the horse” on untested technologies? Of course not. The only conclusion we can draw from his record is that he opposes increasing the supply of domestic oil – wherever or however it is proposed.
The fact is Colorado is sitting on one of the world’s largest deposits of oil. The Green River Basin in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah has an estimated 1.7 trillion to 2. 1 trillion barrels of oil. This accounts for 62% of worldwide oil shale reserves, which amounts to over 800 million more barrels of oil than the world’s proven oil reserves.
Our current energy challenges are mainly a product of the simple law of supply demand – increasing demand, and not enough supply. Cynical excuses for why every proposed way to increase supply isn’t going to lower the price of energy one cent. We’ve been suffering under that kind of cynicism for decades and the result has been that we are more dependent on foreign oil than ever. Those who, like Senator Salazar, continue this pessimistic approach to our oil crisis continue to hamstring our economy and assure that our reliance on oil from the Middle East and Hugo Chavez will remain for decades to come.