In your recent article, ìEnvironmentalists stymie oil recovery in Utah,î (June 26) you quote Senator Orrin Hatch as claiming, ìWeíve been stifled by liberals and environmentalists.î I have a few comments.##M:MORE##
First, there are varying degrees of environmentalism in each of us. Roger Barrus (R, Centerville), Chair of the Utah State Legislative Natural Re-sources, Agricultural and Environment Interim Com-mittee, for example, is both a sensible and reasonable environmentalist and a great legislator working to expand oil development in Utah. (Roger has been employed as an environmental engineer and has completed graduate environmental education at the University of Utah.) Reasonable people interested in the environment arenít against development. We just want to do it cleanly, safely and fairly. Does Hatch include people like Roger Barrus in his blanket indictment?
Third, during the Carter Administration in the late 1970s, many demonstration projects were conducted in Eastern Utah. I was a young engineering consultant hired to study occupational health and safety issues at an in situ demonstration project to recover oil from shale. (The in situ
process was very clean because it produced recoverable oil underground.) The oil was expensive then (about $30-40 per barrel in 1980 dollars) but it clearly
demonstrated the projectís technical feasibility.
A refining unit near Salt Lake was built to process the crude oil. Gasoline was flowing! We were excited and knew that this was going to be a big part of meeting our future energy and national security needs.
Then in the early 1980s, the newly-elected Reagan administration and its backers had the demonstration and pilot projects scrapped. Support from the government and the oil companies disappeared. The project site I was working at was leveled. The SLC refining unit was dismantled. The company I worked for moved to California.
Who is it, then, that actually stifled oil recovery in Utah? Where were you, Senator Hatch, when all this was going down?
In Canada, north of Calgary in Fort McMurray, very similar oil shale and tar sands demonstration projects were encouraged to go forward. Today billions of U.S. dollars (borrowed from the Chinese?) flow north every month to purchase recovered Canadian oil that we could have been producing right here in Utah.
Utah could have been the Alaska of alternative oil sources, reaping the same ìresource depletionî benefits that Alaskans enjoy today.
And we could have done it cleanly and safely.
D. Jeff Burton