'Let's look at what US companies are actually pursuing'

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch(R-Utah), testifying before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on oil shale leasing on May 15.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch(R-Utah), testifying before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on oil shale leasing on May 15:

"A favorite approach by opponents is to tie oil shale production being planned in the US to all the alleged negative aspects of oil sands production in Alberta, and then to completely ignore any comparison to the gigantic economic and energy supply successes that Canada has enjoyed by developing unconventional resources.

"From the standpoint of water and natural gas use, there is not that comparison to be made between the processes being used and considered in the two countries. Mr. Chairman, might I suggest that we evaluate oil shale and oil sands production in the United States based on the actual processes being developed by companies in the US.

"Of the two oil sands companies I'm aware of in Utah, both have developed separate methods that use water-based, environmentally benign solutions that effectively drop the sand right out of the bitumen at room temperature and then the water solution is recycled back into the process. Their energy inputs are basically the electricity to run the water pump. Rather than pretending to evaluate dirty phantom technologies that would never be used, let's look at what US companies are actually pursuing.

"For the most part, the very legitimate questions surrounding oil shale development have very good answers. But I've come to the conclusion that some opponents of oil shale would rather ignore the legitimate answers to their concerns. When that's the case, it tells me that their concerns are smokescreens for a hidden agenda. There are a number of environmental groups that have made it clear by their actions that they just plain oppose oil production and are especially afraid of any new sources of oil, such as from oil shale or from tar sands.

"The question for you, Mr. Chairman, and for the members of this committee and, I should add, for the Democratic leadership of Congress is whether you will adopt the anti-oil agenda of the environmental movement as an element of your own energy policy.

"So far, I have heard of proposals to tax successful energy production; to investigate the oil futures markets; to ban Canadian oil imports in favor of oil from Venezuela, Russia, and the Middle East; and to call for delay after delay in the commercial production of oil shale. At times, it almost appears that the anti-oil agenda is the only element of the energy policy of some members of Congress.

"These policies would not produce one drop of oil. In fact, they are sure to achieve the opposite effect. Last time I checked, less oil meant higher prices and economic harm, and more oil meant lower prices and economic benefits."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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