The hits just keep coming against Estonian oil shale. A new story from Estonian Public Broadcasting sheds more light on the devastating environmental impact oil shale has on the small, European nation.
“The oil shale industry, which produces the bulk of Estonia’s energy, is responsible for about 80 percent of the pollution and carbon emissions produced by Estonia, as well as nearly all of the sulfur emissions. Quarries and landfills have also spoiled around 15 percent of Ida-Viru County’s territory, as 150 square kilometers of land has sunk or become unstable.”
Just the week before, Estonia’s Environmental Minister said that the country has maxed out on oil shale due to high water use and pollution.
Oil shale waste piles are also prone to catching fire. Last week the Estonian government had to allocate 38 million Euros [$4.9 million according to today’s conversion rate] to extinguish a fourteen-acre fire at an oil shale site.
If these problems weren’t enough, the Estonian Economy Minister is under fire for a sour investment it made with Eestia Energia, known as Enefit in the U.S., to build a new controversial oil shale plant – which has since been abandoned. A majority of Estonians surveyed want to see the Minister resign over this deal and other questionable decisions.
Thankfully, on this side of the Atlantic, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently finalized a smart approach to costly oil shale speculation that should help the United States avoid Estonia’s problems. The Salazar plan requires companies to prove they’ve developed oil shale technology that works, is commercially viable and won’t deplete our scarce water resources or harm our air, land and wildlife, before any commercial leases are considered.
The environmental devastation and questionable investments from Estonian oil shale are good examples of why we need Sec. Salazar’s common sense oil shale plan.