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Not good business

Dear Editor:

On Oct. 13 you ran an article by Associated Press reporter Judith Kohler (“Utah governor wants feds to move quickly on oil shale”) noting that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has declared his state “open for business” on oil shale and urged the Department of the Interior to quickly write the rules before the next administration takes office. In my view, the governor’s boosterism is simply bad policy.

When the BLM published its final environmental impact statement last month, the oil shale industry had not perfected a technology that was commercially viable. Most industry officials admit the technology for a commercial program may be years, if not decades, away. Premature development of an unready industry could put communities at risk of a bursting bubble if volatile oil prices settle below a level that prices oil shale out of the market. This is what happened on Colorado’s “Black Sunday” of 1982, when the Colony Oil Shale Project shut down and took with it nearly 2,000 jobs, crippling the local economy.

Moreover, throwing Utah “open for business” flies in the face of the governor’s stance on global warming. Three months ago, he proclaimed before the Western Regional Climate Action Partnership that “we are leading the charge. We are not waiting for Washington any longer.” At the same time, he is aggressively promoting an industry that will produce upward of 50 percent higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels.

Gov. Huntsman advocates the development of oil shale at the expense of Utah’s local economies, communities, public lands, waters and wildlife. It is simply not good business to push regulations for an industry that does not even exist.

Steve Smith

Denver


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