The correlation of job loss with disruptions in oil supply underscores the importance to the US economy of transportation, which is 95% dependent on oil, the only primary fuel currently being imported by the US in massive quantities. One solution is to promote oil supply stability, but at a sustained higher price, by migrating to unconventional primary fuel resources such as heavy oil, shale oil, tar sands, orimulsion, or coal, that are available on the North American continent. Another solution would be to shift as much transportation as possible to electrically powered vehicles because electricity already uses a diverse selection of energy resources. This paper compares the use of unconventional oil for electric power generation to its use as a source of transportation fuels.

Like coal, unconventional oil can be burned for power generation, or alternatively, both coal and heavy oil gasification processes are described in the literature. Gasification processes can make more efficient use of the energy content, and they reduce atmospheric emissions.

The comparison considers cost, energy efficiency, and environmental impact of the two transportation options on a "well/mine to wheels" basis as well as the estimated coal and unconventional oil reserves.

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