Friday, January 20, 2012

Oil shale projects could exhaust Colorado River water supply, enviros warn

Debra Kahn
August 18, 2011

Mining copious oil shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming could jeopardize water and power supplies for seven Western states, environmental activists warn in a report released today.
Oil companies hold unused water rights in the Upper Colorado River Basin area that could force agricultural and municipal water users to curtail their use, Natural Resources Defense Council analysts say in their report. The system may already be at its limit, according to recent federal estimates that have found the original 1922 and 1944 allocations to be based on atypically wet conditions.

Report co-author Barry Nelson, a policy analyst with NRDC, said the risk of oil shale development was worth sounding the alarm, although the practice is a specter compared to the type of hydraulic fracturing used to pry oil and gas from shale formations in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and other states...continued...