Randy Udall at The Oil Drum puts shale “oil” in clear perspective:
Let’s try a redneck experiment.
Winter’s coming, and I’m willing to pay $1,000 to the first Coloradan who decides to heat their house with oil shale. I’ll deliver it in October, free of charge.
Such an experiment would teach you a lot. First, you’d learn that there’s three times more energy in a pound of split pine or recycled phone books or cattle manure or Cap’n Crunch than in a pound of oil shale.
Next, you’d learn that 85 percent of oil shale is inert mineral matter. This means that on a cold winter day you’d have to shovel about 700 pounds of rocks into your oil shale furnace and remove 600 pounds of ash.
If, during the course of the winter, you burned 40 tons (about what you’d need), come spring you’d have 36 tons of hazardous waste, enough to fill three dump trucks.
I’ll pay for the dump trucks, you deal with the EPA.
For those who dream of cheap energy, it is always worth reminding them that all these “new” sources of “oil” come at a price tag. We might drill the Arctic or extract oil from shale, but we are NEVER going back to cheap energy – in fact, this is the most expensive energy in economic and environmental costs in human history. And that’s saying something.