As if we didn't already have enough filthy, inefficient, unconventional oil-extraction techniques in use in North America, here's one more: oil shale mining.
A Utah company has received the go-ahead from the state’s water-quality department to begin operating the first commercial oil shale mine in North America.
Oil shale is not to be confused with shale oil, or shale gas, or oil sands. So what the hell is it? "Contrary to its name," explains Western Resource Advocates, "oil shale contains no petroleum but is instead a dense rock that has a waxy substance called kerogen tightly bound within it. When kerogen is heated to high temperatures, it liquefies, producing compounds that can eventually be refined into synthetic petroleum products."
Companies have mulled oil shale mining in the Mountain States for more than a century, but previous efforts have foundered as energy prices have been too low to justify the large expense associated with the complicated extraction process. Now Red Leaf Resources is ready to give oil shale another crack. Here's more from The Salt Lake Tribune: