Letter: Agriculture, rural Colorado and the failed economics of oil shale | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Agriculture, rural Colorado and the failed economics of oil shale

As a sixth-generation rancher who also spent a career with leading oil and gas companies in the West as an engineer and business developer, I appreciate more than most the need for balanced, forward-looking energy solutions. While I was as surprised as everyone else that Shell decided to abandon its prolonged experiment with oil shale, it’s always been clear to me that attempting to squeeze low-grade oil from rock by using massive amount of energy and water (processes that took nature millions of years) was enormously unsustainable.

Contrary to what some conspiracy advocates would have you believe, Shell’s decision to pull the plug, as much was Exxon’s, Chevron’s and the many others that proceeded them, was most certainly an economic decision. In my experience, if Shell could have made oil shale development commercially viable in Colorado, they would have stayed.

For these reasons, I was disappointed by some of the news coverage of Shell’s decision. While journalists dutifully reported that conservationists were happy about the announcement, they omitted that diverse communities across Colorado were relieved about the news. Water is the lifeblood of farming and rural communities in Colorado, and we should all be firmly committed to not only growing jobs and sustainable energy, but preserving our rich way of life.

Rich Kaup


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