Claim: No "peak-oil crisis" -- thanks partly to Western Colorado oil shale

Claim: No "peak-oil crisis" -- thanks partly to Western Colorado oil shale

Worried that the world's oil supplies will soon dwindle into nothingness? Relax -- we've got plenty. At least that's the assertion of H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, which describes itself as a "nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization" with a goal to "develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector." In "New North Dakota Oil Find Could Be a Gusher," an article in The Heartland Institute, a free-market mag/site, Sterling does plenty of his own gushing about the riches waiting to be unearthed in ND's Bakken oil field. Along the way, he dismisses the idea that oil will be in short supply by referencing oil-shale reserves here and in other nearby states, as well as alarmist assertions from the past:

The Bakken and Three Forks-Sanish oil fields, along with enormous oil shale deposits in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, are shredding assertions that the United States and the globe as a whole are facing a "peak oil" crisis.

Peak oil warnings have come and gone for well over a century, in fact. A 2003 National Center for Policy Analysis report by geologist David Deming noted the first prediction of peak oil and impending exhaustion occurred in 1855, before the first oil well was ever drilled.

Deming also notes seven oil shortage scares occurred prior to 1950. But proven reserves have increased faster than depletion because of new oil field discoveries and technological innovations that allow extraction of previously unrecoverable oil.

Sterling grudgingly acknowledges one of the main reasons why full-scale production from oil-shale fields remains (pun alert) a pipe dream -- economic feasibility -- while ignoring environmental concerns. Still, he clearly sees shale as part of America's energy future, rather than a tantalizing resource that may never fulfill its potential.