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The Green Life: Cat Facts: Mining Oil Shale Doesn't Add Up

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April 02, 2013

Cat Facts: Mining Oil Shale Doesn't Add Up

Yesterday, we had a little April Fools' fun at fossil fuels’ expense. The rest of the week, we’re getting into the silly spirit with cats. They fuel the internet, and since we haven’t hit peak cat yet, we're not above including them, just 'cause. 

This week, we'll give you some serious environmental facts paired with a kitteh. If you’re crazy for them, this week will be awesome. If not, write about canine superiority in the comments. The cats can handle it.

Cat Facts_oil shale_ecofacts

Just the facts:

It's a kind of dark comedy that the production of one finite commodity could require so much of another, especially when the other's essential to, you know, life. Coal, uranium, and petroleum production already uses 1 to 2.5 gallons of water in processing and cooling for every gallon of fuel product. But the quest for energy security has oil companies looking to other sources of fossil fuels, despite the even higher water cost. Basically, oil shale is sedimentary rock that must be heated either underground or mined and heated off-site to then separate and collect the resulting liquid. 

Though developing oil shale isn't financially viable yet, the U.S. Department of Energy purportedly finds a current plan from Shell Oil to be "a very promising technology." Oil companies have pushed for oil shale development on federal lands, where more than 70 percent of the nation's supply can be found in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Check out this Sierra Club fact sheet for more background on oil shale.


HS_Mackenzie_BLOG Mackenzie Mount is an editorial intern at Sierra. She's cleaned toilets at Yellowstone National Park and studied sustainable cooking at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas. She has a dog.



Wrapping our heads around oil shale subsidies

Is our oil problem running out or ruining the atmosphere?

Our Mr. Green answers, "What's the best oil company?"

--cat image courtesy of istockphoto/becks-foto 


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