New oil shale rules: Fair to industry or fuel for another speculative boom?


The change received widespread industry support. But it is raising concerns that it could create an unwarranted incentive for producing an unproven fuel and contribute to the kind of speculative behavior that led to the last oil shale boom and bust in western Colorado in the 1980s.

“There is a potential of cooking of books for a fuel that already has a pretty checkered past,” said Chase Huntley, energy policy adviser for the Wilderness Society.

… The rule change also raised fears among critics that it would let energy companies hide potential costs for dealing with carbon emissions and other climate-related issues involving dirtier fuels such as oil shale. But Huntley is encouraged by new SEC guidance specifying the need for energy companies to make certain climate-related disclosures to investors.

“Publicly traded companies with large bets placed on carbon-heavy fuels like oil shale will now have to come clean on their gamble,” he said.