In a speech to Greene County Republicans, the incumbent 1st District Congressman David Davis made some claims which capture the imagination, but blur the facts.
He says "There is more oil in Colorado than in the entire nation of Saudi Arabia".
Well - Saudi Arabia has crude oil aplenty, yes. Colorado and other western states have huge shale oil deposits, which could create trillions of barrels of oil. Emphasis is on "could". In the 1980s, the Exxon corporation spent some $8 billion on the Colony Oil Shale Project, which ultimately failed. The cost of production plus the then-low price of oil per barrel made it a losing game.
" ... the plan to develop synthetic fuels was to be another Manhattan Project, a dramatic, accelerated national effort to meet energy needs from American resources and help make the U.S. less dependent on foreign crude."
Ah, the well-worn "Manhattan Metaphor" sure has been around for a long time. And experts agree the oil from shale does not make gasoline quality products. But the hopes remain that it could ... one day .. be viable.
Many patents exist to try and make it a more worthwhile project - but we aren't there yet.
The current pricing for crude oil may change that, and a 2006 federal program called for development of such technologies, but again, we're just not there yet. A 2006 Congressional report on the shale oil deposits in the western U.S. says:
"However, because oil shales have not proved to be economically recoverable, they are considered a contingent resource and not true reserves. It remains to be demonstrated whether an economically significant oil volume can be extracted under existing operating conditions."
But saying all of that is not nearly anywhere as catchy or as quotable as what Rep. Davis says, is it? (He's also on record saying OPEC sets oil prices, when they do not.)
Rep. Davis goes on to say "China is 90 miles off the coast of the U.S. drilling for oil, and the (Democratic-led) U.S. Congress won't let us drill there ourselves".
Well, again, that's not a factual statement.
China has partnered with Cuba's national oil company to allow Cuba to use Chinese-made equipment to explore and drill, and they (along with Spain and Canada) are drilling off of the coast of Cuba. Last time I checked, that would make it a Cuban coast and not a U.S. coast. True, though, that getting to Cuba from the U.S. is a 90-mile trip.
Once again, the facts just don't make the same snappy campaign talking points as Rep. Davis makes.
Oh, and it's the state of Florida which has prevented more oil exploration and drilling off of their coasts and Congress has agreed with them.
Alternatives to imported oil, alternatives in all areas of energy creation, are absolutely needed. But fudging the facts to score campaign-trail points serves only to keep the public ill-informed.