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A national moratorium on oil shale development on federal lands expired last week when Congress failed to renew the ban, but it is hard to get too excited about it.
Proponents of producing petroleum from oil shale view it as a partial answer to the nation's energy woes. Fact of the matter is, technology hasn't caught up with their hopes. It could be years, if not decades, before any American will be filling the tank with oil shale based gasoline.
Regardless, valid questions about the economic viability of oil shale will never be answered unless companies willing to invest in research and development know that they'll eventually have access to the natural resource.
The potential is there. As many as 1.8 trillion barrels of oil may be trapped in the oil shale found in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. It is estimated that half of it is recoverable and could be refined into petroleum.
So, even though any excitement about this untapped source of oil is tempered by the reality of what it will take to produce it, KSL welcomes the end of the moratorium. The development of oil shale, if eventually proven viable, could be an important part of the nation's quest to become energy independent.