Oil shale producers risk Biblical wrath with Holy Land extraction plan

A key national park beloved by hikers, bikers and outdoor enthusiasts is threatened by an experimental oil shale extraction plan. Area residents rally to save their park, citing a lack of water, the unproven nature of oil shale production, a lack of commercial viability.

Sound vaguely familiar?

Oil shale operation

Oil shale operation

In a story that mirrors the battle over oil shale production on public lands in Colorado, Israeli conservationists are passing around a petition on Facebook and their own site to try to save Adullam National Park near Jerusalem.

While Colorado’s national parks, forests and BLM lands have a lot to offer in the way of natural heritage, check out the historical and religious heritage of Adullam, according to the Jerusalem Blog:

“The exploratory drill is in the valley where Judah is said to have gone to the sheep sheering, in Adullam, near the cave where David hid, at the edge of the Ela Valley where we hear of David fighting Goliath. All to be heated for years. Meanwhile truck traffic is already injuring the national park.”

Oil shale production, once thought to be the key to energy independence and a potential end to petroleum imports from the Middle East, went bust in Colorado in the 1980s, devastating Western Slope boom towns. Now political forces, mostly on the right, are waging a war to revive the idea, even though 25 years later the process has yet to be proven commercially viable.

The process involves super-heating shale rock and sand to extract kerogen, an organic precursor to oil, which then must be further processed to produce commercial petroleum. Critics say oil shale extraction consumes far too much power and water to be viable on Colorado’s arid Western Slope, and that it would devastate natural landscapes and wildlife habitat.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has risked the wrath of the oil and gas industry by moving to roll back more shale-friendly Bush administration policies — a move lauded by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and blasted by oil shale production proponents.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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