James Bartis, senior policy researcher for Rand Corporation, testified this morning before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on oil shale. His second appearance before Congress has added to the confusion around the failed energy solution.

Tuesday, June 07

In response to a question from Sen. Joe Manchin about whether the “country could be energy independent if we use the resources we have available,” Bartis said:

“We have so much oil shale, coal, and biomass, that together it is easy to see that we could be using, making, well over 5 to 6 million barrels per day, from these resources alone. Combine that with efficiency measures and I think we could easily make that. But we have, we have to unleash these other fuels.”

Yet, in his written testimony to the ENR Committee, Mr. Bartis’ says oil shale development in the U.S. is still “uncertain” and recommends:

“The prospects for oil shale development in the United States remain uncertain. With regard to oil shale, most of the high-grade shale is on federal lands. Six years ago, when we published our examination of oil shale, we concluded that the prospects for development were uncertain. They remain so today.”


“It is our understanding that privately-funded research activities are ongoing but that no private firm is prepared to commit to commercial [oil shale] production.”


“It would not be advisable to develop detailed regulations that would pertain to full-blown commercial development until more information is available on process performance and impacts.”

Despite nearly a century of failed research and trillions of dollars wasted, Bartis told the committee oil shale is a viable energy solution, disputing the facts in his own written testimony.

Friday, June 03

In his written testimony to a House Energy and Power subcommittee, Bartis said:

“none of these [oil shale development firms] has gathered enough technical information adequate to support a decision to invest hundreds of millions, and more likely billions, of dollars in first-of-a-kind commercial oil shale production facilities.”


I see no reason to promote oil shale as above other promising areas for advancing technology and creating jobs.”

Bartis’ oral testimony continues the nearly 100 years of false promises of oil shale, while his written testimony affirms that we still do not know how or whether the U.S. will ever develop oil shale.