Letter: Tar sands, oil shale

I would like to comment on the anonymous contribution to your paper last week extolling the virtues of unconventional energy resources such as tar sands and oil shale. That opinion included extended quotation from testimony by Anton Dammer before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The opinion neglected to identify Mr. Dammer as an independent energy consultant recently retired from Red Leaf Resources, Inc., an oil shale company in Utah. Neither the opinion nor the written record of his testimony (Dammer, 2012) provides specific references to document Mr. Dammer’s claims. For example, according to the opinion, tar sands development has made Canada “energy independent.” In fact, Canada imports 1.2 million barrels per day (Index Mundi, 2012). (The oil companies generate greater profits by transporting western Canadian oil south, to the United States, and importing oil for the eastern provinces, including Canada’s major cities. (Cobb, 2011)). The opinion also failed to mention testimony by other witnesses in that same hearing which document the environmental disasters attributed to tar sands development (Laboucan-Massimo, 2012; Rooney, 2012) and devastating impacts on the native aboriginal population (Laboucan-Massimo, 2012).
The Herald Times has published a series of rosy opinions on oil shale development over the past several months. No attribution has been provided for the claims made in those opinions and the opinions are generally without any documentation. Your readers deserve to know who is writing those opinions, including the authors’ affiliations. And, out of respect for your readers, the authors should provide accurate, objective references for their claims.
Index Mundi. 2012. Comparison of world oil imports by country. http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?c=ca&v=93
Cobb, Kurt. 2011. How international oil companies have thwarted Canadian energy independence. http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/How-International-Oil-Companies-Have-Thwarted-Canadian-Energy-Independence.html
Anton Dammer. March 20, 2012. Testimony before House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/20120320/HHRG-112-IF03-WState-DammerA-20120320.pdf
Melina Laboucan-Massimo. March 20, 2012. Testimony before House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
Rooney, Rebecca C. et al. 2012. Oil sands mining and reclamation cause massive loss of peatland and stored carbon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:4933.
Dr. Bob Dorsett

Editor’s Note: The article to which Dr. Dorsett refers was submitted to the newspaper by Glenn Vawter, the executive director of the National Oil Shale Association. Vawter also submitted Dammer’s credentials, which we did not publish in full. Anton Dammer, who testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, is the retired director of the Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves for the U.S. Department of Energy, the retired senior vice president of Red Leaf Resources, Inc., and an independent energy consultant on unconventional fuels.