As to why Estonia is beating the United states in Oil Shale Production, I think the answer comes down to political will to get the job done. Lincoln Brown lays out for us how advanced their process is...
But is it useable? Well, unless the laws of physics in Estonia vary wildly from those in the United States, the Magic Eight Ball seems to say YES. The country of Estonia has a total of eight power plants running off of oil shale. Six of those are in operation and two are in the process of being refurbished. Construction is underway on a new power plant that will generate 600 megawatts of electricity when it goes online.
Impressive numbers? Yes. But a drop in the bucket when you consider that the seam of oil shale in my part of the world is not nine feet high but 70 feet. Consider the possibilities."
Perhaps we could learn something from the Estonians in so far as extracting energy from this abundant resource. There comes a time when, even if energy prices gradually lower over time, that we have to develope our own resources due to instability in the parts of the world where OPEC extracts their oil.