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Letter: Oil shale, tar sands and living in a checkmate

Published: Friday, Nov. 2 2012 5:23 p.m. MDT

From left, Isabella Cowgill, Casie Norris and Pearl Laterza protest tar sands strip-mining in front of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) office in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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Last night, I realized again the checkmate we are living in. Romney valiantly declared that "by virtue of new technology we can get all the energy we need in North America."

In Utah, this means oil shale and tar sands extraction. This unconventional oil extraction is being explored through leases from the School Institutional Trustlands Administration (SITLA) which provides money for public schools.

It would also make emissions from fossil fuel combustion more than five times what scientists tell us is allowable between now and 2050 to avoid catastrophic changes in climate. As a teacher, I rely on that money and it also sacrifices my future. Checkmate.

But, a few rule changes might help create a new game. One, create a federal fee and dividend on carbon-based fuels with 100 percent of the revenue returned to American households.

Two, eliminate incentives for tar sands and oil shale production by increasing SITLA royalties from 5 percent to 16 percent, making them equivalent to conventional oil, coal, and gas.

Three, divestment campaigns and civil disobedience targeted at the fossil fuel industry.

Ryan Pleune

Salt Lake City

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