"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

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.


Dano said...

What you didn't excerpt, Michael, was that the report stated that to develop the shale fields, Colo would have to forego the influx of ~485,000 households.

Yes, developing oil shale means restricting human capital growth.

Quite the Hobson's choice, in my view.



Michael Tobis said...

I figured this one would be Dano bait...

Anyway, the only co-measurement technique we have across multiple interests is money, and that one is failing fast. I'm busy but I have a post in mind about defining the economic crisis as confusion about monetary values.

Banking incompetence may have been the trigger, but something much deeper seems to be going on. I think it presents a huge opportunity, but one which we aren't likely to seize.

Dano said...

Well, Michael, I think we are starting to use human health as a co-measurement technique - I just submitted an abstract that had as one focus the large gains in human health impacts as justification for certain projects. We also see more people here concerned about the human health impacts of the oil & gas industry.

I like the value confusion angle and look forward to your post.