I have had a hard time making that argument to people from the wetter end of the country, who see the numbers on potential barrels of shale oil and simplistically say, "Problem solved"
Myth No. 8: U.S. Shale can Provide Energy Independence
Shale oil hasn't gotten too much attention since the oil crisis of the 1970s. But today, proponents are once again pointing out that there are more than a trillion barrels of oil locked in the shale deposits of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, more than all the proven crude-oil reserves on the planet. That would be enough to meet current U.S. oil demand for an entire century.
And just to get at these kerogens, energy companies would have to mine and process millions of tons of shale from the earth—leaving behind toxic heavy metals and sulfates that could seep into groundwater. "There's a water contamination issue," says Olayinka Ogunsola, an engineer at the Department of Energy. "There's also a land reclamation issue—[mining] would create a lot of disturbance in the area." Mining and processing shale also require vast amounts of water—producing 2.5 million barrels of shale oil per day would require 105 million to 315 million gallons of water daily. That might be the biggest deal breaker of all for parched western states.
But read the whole thing—these are not green vs. growth choices. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)