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West Has Oil That Equals 'World's Proven Reserves'

But GAO official warns Congress about environmental impact
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2012 3:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – Maybe President Bush should have invaded the Rocky Mountain region instead of Iraq: Turns out that a mostly vacant area of land across Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming has about as much recoverable oil as the world's reserves combined, according to a US official. A government agency "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,” GAO auditor Anu K. Mittal told Congress this week.

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Washington is in "a unique position to influence the development of oil shale," said Mittal, because about 75% of it is on federal land, CNN reports. She acknowledged that developing the shale would create jobs and "go a long way to help to meet our future demands for oil," but she warned about damaging the region's air, water, topsoil, vegetation, and wildlife. A boom-and-bust influx of workers could also be tough for officials to handle, she said. (Read more oil shale extraction stories.)

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