Shale energy and water constraints in Colorado

The Colorado Independent asserts:

The Bush administration and the Bureau of Land Management are pushing relentlessly ahead with plans to fast-track Colorado’s long-dormant oil shale industry, but a study released this fall exposes one factor that could put a big damper on the boom: a serious lack of water.

The report, prepared for key government and private water stakeholders in the area, says that northwest Colorado rivers can supply enough water to meet the growing demands of the natural gas, coal and uranium industries, but unproven oil shale production technology would “require tremendous amounts of water” that might not be available.

“In a nutshell, the energy industry in Colorado will need a lot of water, but it’s manageable — with the exception of the speculative oil shale part of the equation,” said water consultant Caroline Bradford, the former director of the Eagle River Watershed Council, an organization devoted to preserving that tributary of the Colorado.

If true this is disappointing but not surprising. According to several sources I’ve seen, the Bush Administration seems to be pushing for a lot of environmentally doubtful intiatives in its waning days.

Regardless of the political machinations, this particular water/energy tangle is a good example of how everything is One Big Problem nowadays. Nice to see Andy Revkin catching on to how everything is all tangled up.


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