Is oil shale economically viable? Even the federal government doesn’t know. A close review of economic data reveals that potential economic benefits of oil shale are are far different than what proponents claim.
The federal government has a poor understanding of the economic and socioeconomic impacts of commercial oil shale development. Despite the Department of the Interior’s attempt to address the information deficit through the federal RD&D program, there are inextricable questions that need to be answered regarding how industrial scale oil shale operations would impact the region and the nation – questions that cannot be answered by the current scale of research.
More research is needed, including:
- updating current employment data
- quantifying impacts to water supply
- understanding demographic shifts since the 1982 oil shale bust
- comparing oil shale development to alternative energy sources