“Invest in our dirty fuels!” – U.S. Oil Sands, Inc.
“Divest in dirty fuels!” – President Barack Obama
“D’oh.” – U.S. Oil Sands, Inc.
President Barack Obama gave an historic speech on climate today, and at one point encouraged people all over the world to invest in clean, renewable technologies–and to divest in dirty energy projects.
This must have come as a devastating setback for executives at U.S. Oil Sands, Inc, a Canadian firm trying desperately to lure enough private investment to begin mining tar sands in Utah. It would be the first such mine in the United States. The company has already pushed its start date for production back several times.
If tar sands and oil shale mining in the USA takes off, it would become the largest source of atmospheric carbon on the continent. That’s right: they’re bigger than the Canadian tar sands reserves.
POTUS made no mention whatsoever of unconventional fuels like oil shale and tar sands. He certainly could have, given the “all-of-the-above” jargon that he’s been sticking with for years. He could easily have said, “Here’s what we do: we develop our current energy sources, even unconventional ones like the tar sands and the oil shale. We ramp up fracking and natural gas development, and we use that energy to transition to a cleaner economy.” Somewhere along the way, that first part got chopped off, no doubt to the chagrin of tar sands and oil shale lobbyists. And while this tragically leaves fracking at the center of his approach, the absence of support for unconventional fuels development may finally “put to rest” any lingering hope U.S. Oil Sands, Inc. and fellow oil shale start-ups may have for ever turning a profit.