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GOP House Pushes a Fuel Dirtier and More ‘Disastrous’ Than the Tar Sands: Oil Shale

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"GOP House Pushes a Fuel Dirtier and More ‘Disastrous’ Than the Tar Sands: Oil Shale"

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Rep. Cantor (R-VA):  In addition, Chairman Hastings will add provisions boosting domestic energy production and American jobs both offshore and on, highlighting innovative new technologies that will unlock our vast oil shale resources and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil.

X-axis is the range of potential resource in billions of barrels. Y-axis is grams of Carbon per MegaJoule of final fuel. NASA’s Hansen has said, “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts.” Oil shale is much worse!  [Graph source: Farrell and Brandt, "Risks of the oil transition," 2006.]

The most “anti-environmental House in the history of Congress” wants to get dirtier in 2012.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already voted 191 times to roll back clean air and water rules, energy efficiency standards, and even to keep Styrofoam in the Congressional cafeteria.

Perhaps the worst casualties are the words “global warming” and “clean energy,” which have become more toxic in the House than the anti-environmental laws themselves.

Expect more of the same in the coming months.

With the legislative season back in full swing, House GOP leaders have made it very clear that fossil fuel production is their one and only energy priority.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) sent around a memo this week outlining his party’s agenda for the first quarter of this year, and energy is one of the most important issues for GOP leadership. The theme: drill, baby drill.

Along with celebrating the death of cap and trade, Cantor wrote about trying to pass a new transportation bill that would use (future and uncertain) oil and gas revenue from new drilling operations in pristine wilderness to fund transportation infrastructure upgrades — while at the same time reducing or eliminating programs for bicycle and pedestrian coordination programs. The bill would strip away dedicated federal funding for mass transit and put more money toward building highways.

This is part of a broader House strategy to focus on an aggressive push to dig deeper for more unconventional oil, not on the necessary transition away from fossil fuels. The strategy simply digs a deeper hole to prevent ourselves from addressing climate change. From the Cantor memo:

In addition, Chairman Hastings will add provisions boosting domestic energy production and American jobs both offshore and on, highlighting innovative new technologies that will unlock our vast oil shale resources and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Canada’s crown jewel of dirty, unconventional oil is, of course, the tar sands crude. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has made it very clear that Republican leaders are “going to do everything” they can to make sure the Keystone XL pipeline pipeline is built. However, it is unclear if Boehner will add a provision to the transportation bill that would allow Congress to directly approve the Keystone pipeline.

The final stated priority of House leadership will be to combat the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Because Congress couldn’t put together a flexible package to put a price on carbon, now it’s up to the EPA to establish rules — a regulatory instrument that Republicans have vowed to fight.

The standards, which have been underway for the last two years, would eventually cover facilities that make up 40% of U.S. emissions.

Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, continues to signal that’s a battle he’s prepared to take on. In a letter sent yesterday to the Office of Management and Budget, which is reviewing an EPA proposal to regulate emissions, Upton asked the agency to stop the rule from moving forward. He said the standard, which covers new power plants, would “send thousands of jobs overseas.”

Perhaps by saying “sending jobs overseas” Upton really means “creating domestic jobs” through deployment and manufacture of pollution controls, encouraging efficiency upgrades, and developing new renewable facilities?

That was unclear. What is clear is that any attempts to slow global warming pollution — from greenhouse gas rules to programs that encourage bicycle use — will certainly not be priorities for the most anti-environmental House in the history of Congress.

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6 Responses to GOP House Pushes a Fuel Dirtier and More ‘Disastrous’ Than the Tar Sands: Oil Shale

  1. M Tucker says:

    We have two different kinds of “oils” from shale. The filthy oil shale you speak of here is kerogen containing shale of the Green River Formation found in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. That is not what the oil companies want.

    They want the kind of oil found in the Bakken Formation in N Dakota, the oil responsible for our current domestic oil boom. It turns out the oil coming from N Dakota is light sweet crude. Who wants kerogen when you can get LSC? That stuff is called shale oil, or “tight” oil, it is found in some shale formations and the formation they are after in Colorado and Wyoming is called the Niobrara shale, not the crappy Green River Formation with its crappy kerogen. Just good old conventional LSC recovered using the unconventional practice of hydraulic fracturing.

  2. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    For reference, here is the short film on liquid coal by the NRDC. Frmr CIA director Woolsey is in it.

    http://vimeo.com/24595020

    • MorinMoss says:

      Thx for the Coal-to-Liquids video link. I had no idea there was such a strong push from Big Coal for this scheme.
      The amount of money they were talking about is staggering, not to mention the habitat destruction and overall pollution.

  3. John McCormick says:

    The oil shale nail. Been expecting it for some time. Time to mobilize the folks in Grand Junction and the Western Slope.

  4. Leif says:

    Some one needs to do a video of taking a block of concrete or even shale and show what happens when subject to the pressures used in fracking. (Don’t stand too close.) Are any of the escaping fluids lighter than water? We don’t know , they won’t tell us.

  5. What is clear is that any attempts to slow global warming pollution – from greenhouse gas rules to programs that encourage bicycle use – will certainly not be priorities for the most anti-environmental House in the history of Congress.

    I believe it is very much a priority – to see attempts to slow CO2 emissions stopped. Whether you are talking about solar power, wind, bicycles, energy-conserving lights or what have you, you are talking about reducing the profits of fossil fuel companies, either by diverting demand to other energy sources or reducing demand for fossil fuel. In their view, no doubt, investments in highways over mass transit, is a good thing insofar as it reduces the consequent cost of fossil fuel use for the life of the new roads, handicapping trains, and it reduces the congestion that might otherwise argue for an expanded bus system that gets people out of cars. As near as I can tell, they view this as win/lose.

    And viewed in terms of short-range profits, it doesn’t make much sense for them to invest in green energy as they have already invested a great deal into the infrastructure that supports the use of fossil fuels. Typically, the source of energy that insures that such infrastructure is fully utilized will be other fossil fuel, such as coal to gas. And thus the headlong rush into non-traditional fossil fuels where those that that are harder to get at, or of poorer quality and harder to process, and thus in both cases, dirtier, get used because we’ve already burned all of the more profitable, easier, cleaner stuff.