Erika Johnsen
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On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office informed Congress that the Green River Formation, under a basically empty tract of mostly federally-owned land that covers the area where Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming come together, contains about as much recoverable oil as the rest of the planet's proven reserves, combined:

“The Green River Formation--an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming--contains the world's largest deposits of oil shale,”Anu K. Mittal, the GAO’s director of natural resources and environment said in written testimony submitted to the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

“USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions,” Mittal testified. …

“As you can imagine having the technology to develop this vast energy resource will lead to a number of important socioeconomic benefits including the creation of jobs, increases in wealth and increases in tax and royalty payments for federal and state governments,” she said.

In her written testimony, Mittal noted that three-fourths of the Green River shale oil is under federal land.

“The federal government is in a unique position to influence the development of oil shale because nearly three-quarters of the oil shale within the Green River Formation lies beneath federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior’s (Interior) Bureau of Land Management (BLM),” she testified.

Environmentalists have a peculiar penchant for predicting imminent catastrophe, which makes sense: nobody's going to help them get their way if we've got time and resources to spare! Besides humanity's forthcoming doom via global warming or population boom, one of their favorites is a looming energy crisis that will come to pass when we shortly suck Mother Earth dry of all of her oil supplies. For decades, they've been heralding a shortage only a few years away, but the calamity has never come to pass. After all, they reason, oil a finite resource, and there's only so much to be had, especially as other nations like China and India are hitting the road and increasing global demand.

But these greenies' doomsday predictions are often focused on scary statistics that only tell half of the story. Their conjectures usually assume current levels and methods of efficiency sans new innovation, as well as our known reserves that are currently recoverable given present technology. But the fact is, not only are we likely to continue the trend of increasing efficiency and getting more out of the resources we have (and perhaps even bringing non-traditional sources into the mix, if the government would just let 'investments' happen naturally), but improving technology is constantly  helping us to advance our access to oil as well as discover new deposits. The outlook really isn't all that bleak, folks, and shame on the Obama administration for constantly withholding permits that would bring us a greater market share in the global oil market, providing jobs and economic growth.

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Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.