Utah's Pursuit of Oil Shale and Tar Sands
In the report, "Fossil Foolishness: Utah's Pursuit of Tar Sands and Oil Shale," WRA examines what potential commercial development of oil shale and tar sands would mean for Utah. Our research focuses on the likely impacts of developing these deposits on Utah's water, air, and economy, as well as rural communities.
Click here to read:
- Full Report (2.6MB .pdf)
- Executive Summary
- What is Tar Sands?
- Utah's Water Situation
- Maps of Utah Oil Shale and Tar Sands Deposits
WRA releases this report as Utah's Governor Gary Herbert commits to work on a 10-year strategic energy initiative for guiding Utah's energy future. “Fossil Foolishness” demonstrates why the unconventional resources of oil shale and tar sands are not legitimate sources of energy to fuel our future. To see why, watch the video below:
Why Oil Shale and Tar Sands Won't Work for Utah:
- Tar sands and oil shale production would not contribute significantly to domestic U.S. oil supply – but, industrial production in Utah would have significant negative impacts. Production would require giant mining operations and huge infrastructure development, resulting in enormous damage to water, air, energy, and communities.
- Commercial shale development would require huge quantities of water in the country’s second most arid state. Utah’s remaining Colorado River allocation should not be used for a speculative energy source at the expense of municipal, agricultural, recreational, or ecological purposes.
- Commercial development of tar sands and oil shale would adversely affect water quality. Water used in tar sands and oil shale production would contain contaminants that would degrade the quality of the Utah’s water, raise costs for water treatment, and place burdens on downstream uses.
- Development of tar sands and oil shale would harm Utah’s recreation economy. Degraded water and air quality would adversely impact Utah’s $7.1 billion recreation economy, which provides 113,000 jobs.
- Climate change is real, and development can only make it worse. Tar sands and oil shale would be among the most carbon-intensive energy sources, further contributing to climate change
- Utah can be a new energy leader. By focusing finite human and financial capital on commercial tar sands and oil shale development, we divert attention from the very real opportunity to provide new, renewable energy sources that will power a vibrant economy and sustain livable communities for our children and grandchildren.