Anyone got a spot for 20,000 cubic yards of oil-shale waste from the 1940s?

Even as oil and gas lobbyists ramp up the rhetoric against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for tightening the screws on oil shale research – and environmentalists praise him with equal gusto – consider this from Tuesday’s Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

“Federal officials are looking to find a place to bury as much as 20,000 cubic yards of waste material from a 1940s-era research project.”

A potential fuel source in the research stages for that long, oil shale is frequently touted as the answer to energy independence and extracting America from costly wars in the Middle East. Problem is, it’s still experimental, all these years later, and it clearly produces waste at a rate that makes is difficult to cope with even 60 years later. More from the Daily Sentinel:

“The Bureau of Land Management, which is in charge of cleaning up the Anvil Points Oil Shale Research Project located in Garfield County, already has shipped 90,000 cubic yards of material to the Denver-Arapahoe Disposal Site near the Lowry Landfill, bureau spokesman David Boyd said.”

Opponents of continuing to lease big chunks of public lands for oil and gas companies to keep dumping millions of dollars of research into for oil shale production say that money would be better spent on clean energy research given looming climate change legislation and the power and water demands of producing oil from shale rock and sand.

Still, an industry that continues to present waste disposal problems all these years later, without producing commercially viable oil, is the political darling of fossil fuel fanatics on the right. Witness the ambush last summer of Gov. Bill Ritter’s by U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma.

Maybe Inhofe wants a truckload or two of spent shale?

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.