The total reserves of low-sulfur western coal and tar sands accessible by surface mining and current process technology, and in relatively high-grade oil shale, are staggering—the figure is a stunning 335 billion bbl of accessible reserves (34 billion tons of low-sulfur, surface-minable coal, with a BTU equivalency of approximately 119 billion bbl, 130 billion bbl of relatively high-grade oil shale, and 86 billion bbl of tar sands).

With deeper coal, both low- and high-sulfur, deeper tar sands and lower grade oil shale, the resources zoom into the trillions of barrels. There are no superlatives adequate to describe the immensity of...

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