Letter: The same old innuendos, hyperbole and misinformation
This is in response to Randy Udall’s piece in the June 3 edition, “No thanks, Estonia.” No thanks for what?
Here we go again with the same old innuendos, hyperbole and misinformation that impede progress, or worse, precludes development of progress.
The “Stone Age energy system” referenced in the article simply no longer exists. Dredging up the past seems to be the favorite tactic of the folks vehemently opposed to oil shale development. And while the past cannot be changed, it can be learned from. In the development of any industry, mistakes are made. To dwell on errors initiated during periods of Nazi and Soviet domination seems a bit incongruous to say the least since the Estonian government and its people have spent so much energy in correcting decades of wrongs at the hands of these two horribly repressive systems.
Estonians are brave, courageous, and smart people. They don’t create petroleum coke piles, as in the past. They remediate them. They burn crushed oil shale in their power plants in compliance with EU emission standards. They have actively and successfully developed a new surface retorting technology that Enefit believes can be deployed in compliance with all environmental regulations and can produce high quality oil economically: But let’s speculate for a moment that all the horrors of the past remain unchanged and the “pilot” plant built in Utah fails to meet all of the standards the article assumes it will: not enough water, exceeds air quality standards, cannot manage solid waste … What happens then?
We may never know if speculative fear mongering is allowed to dictate energy policy and kill technical innovation before it has a chance to bear fruit. The “No thanks” article sells fear. Worst of all, it sells fear of a past that no longer exists. It sells images that are far from reality and designed to express an agenda full of angst and anxiety of the future. There is not a shred of technical merit in this screed against progress and, I might add, it is insulting to the Estonian people.
Between 1999 and 2005 I had the privilege to work with the Estonian government and its scientists and engineers on the “U.S. – Estonia Oil Shale Research and Utilization Program”, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Estonian Ministry of the Economy. Oil shale technology has progressed remarkably from the distant past portrayed in the “No thanks, Estonia” article. It would be wise for the authors of articles such as these to acquaint themselves with the present and leave the past to the historians.
former director of the Office of Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves, director of the Unconventional Fuels Program, and manager of the U.S. – Estonia Oil Shale Research and Utilization Program at the U.S. Department of Energy
McLean, Va. (formerly of Rifle, Vernal, Utah, Casper, Wyo. and other energy fields)
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