What Every Westerner Should Know About Oil Shale: A Guide to Shale Country

Oil shale has long been considered an ace in the hole for domestic energy production, but it is fraught with technical, legal, economic, and environmental challenges that have yet to be fully answered. The sheer vastness of the resource—more oil than then entire world’s proven reserves by some estimates—keeps interests alive, despite the challenges that the industry faces.

To help Westerners make an informed decision on oil shale development, the Center of the American West has provided a resource page with links to several documents and presentations concerning oil shale. Read What Every Westerner Should Know About Oil Shale report for a comprehensive history of oil shale in the West and an overview of where the industry stood in 2012. To keep up to date on oil shale news, read the Shale Country Blog, which is updated frequently with the latest news in Shale Country. Also check out “The Rock that Burns and the Laws that Bind” for a legal history of private oil shale claims, especially useful if you believe that you might have a lost family oil shale claim. Listen to Patty Limerick address the oil shale industry at the Oil Shale Symposium, where she advices them to stay nimble and look before they leap, and watch Jason Hanson’s presentation on what makes an oil shale boom happen.

We intend for this page to be a resource for Westerners seeking to make an informed decision on oil shale and the numerous potential consequences surrounding its development.

Praise for What Every Westerner Should Know About Oil Shale

“I think the Center’s report is terrific. It gives a good overview of the issues involved in oil shale development. It’s an important document for public education and to help inform the debate that we all need to have about oil shale.”

Karin Sheldon, Executive Director of Western Resource Advocates

“It’s a very well balanced, very well done, comprehensive report and it has a particularly excellent historical review of oil shale in terms of the efforts that have been done in the past and kind of drawing attention to the issues that oil shale development brings to a region.”

Tracy Boyd, Communications and Sustainability Manager for Shell’s Denver-based Unconventional Oil Unit