According to the Government Accountability Office, the Green River Formation covers areas of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and together has about as much recoverable oil as the entire world’s proven reserves, combined. The land that the large oil field sits on is mostly vacant and under federal control.
The GAO testified before Congress saying that the US government was in “a unique position to influence the development of oil shale” because the Green River deposits were mostly on federally owned land. However, the GAO did warn of possible environmental impact which could pose a problem as this area would swell up with workers in these small towns. The GAO went on to say that local governments could have a hard time adapting to accommodate higher populations.
The USGS has estimated that the Green River Formation has about 3 trillion barrels of oil which about half may be recoverable. However, even after only half is recoverable, it is still the largest reserve in the world.
This is huge for the US who has been trying to gain energy independence for some time. Originally, people thought the only way to get there was only natural gas. After this find, it appears oil is here to stay a little longer.
Not only will our oil costs be lower but this massive oil field will require lots of hard working Americans to man the field and extract the oil, etc. This could potentially solve a couple of big issues that the US has been facing for awhile. However, before we break out the champagne, realize that most of this land is under federal authority which means we need Congress to open up the area to oil drillers to begin extracting the oil. Unfortunately, gridlock government is worst government to have if you want to get things done.
My only hope is that the GAO Congressional testimony was enough to wake up Washington to realize that our goals of energy independence and speeding up the economic recovery are within reach. Obviously, this won’t happen overnight but certainly a reasonable timeframe would be great as Americans continue to pay high prices at the pump, causing strain on the economy as well.
The bottom line is that this Green River Formation has a lot of potential but there are some hurdles we have to clear first which could take some time. However, this has a lot of potential for the US and a lot of reward as long as we do this right. Keep an eye on Washington to get an idea on the timeframe of this project.