The Colorado River is expected to provide less water in years to come:
Flows into Lake Powell are projected at 59 percent of normal this year, and the Bureau of Reclamation could very likely begin operating its reservoirs under critical drought conditions by the end of the year, he said.Meanwhile, Colorado and Nebraska continue to bicker over water rights:
Nebraska has been using more than its legal share of the Republican [River]'s water. Underground water pumped by farmers is partly blamed for the problem. The state must reduce its consumption of the river water or face possible legal or financial penalties.In Arizona, booming development is putting a strain on private wells:
[R]esidents who have wells and live next to large developments may find their wells too shallow to draw water when those developments start to fill with people.And in California, a battle is looming over control of groundwater:
[T]he state is under increasing pressure to quickly develop new sources of water. Climate changes brought on by global warming threaten to disrupt water supplies and increase the risk of floods. Reservoirs, if approved, would take years to build and fill. At the same time, California continues to grow.In other words, it’s business as usual in the desert West. However, the article on the Colorado’s dwindling flows makes an important point:
Royal Dutch Shell and other companies researching oil shale here have not divulged how much water in situ oil shale extraction will consume.How much water are we talking about? A lot:
“There’s a misconception that it’s (oil shale development) all going to be new water, it’s really not,” Kuhn said. “Oil companies have existing valid water rights.” Some of those companies have water rights dating from the 1950s or 1960s....During a water shortage, water consumptive oil shale extraction could deny Gunnison Basin or San Juan Basin or other water users their water rights if they date from 1970s or 1980s, he said.
The United States Geological Survey has predicted that 1.5 to 1.8 trillion barrels of recoverable oil can be developed from oil shale in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. The U.S. Water Resources Council estimates that three barrels of water will be needed for one barrel of oil produced from oil shale.The USGS figure is probably a tiny bit inflated, given that the Energy Information Administration recently estimated the total US supply of shale oil at about 1.2 trillion barrels, and no reasonable person – so far as I know – would dream of claiming that all of it is extractable (or that its energy density is comparable to that of real oil). Regardless, the (optimistic) 3:1 water-to-oil ratio bodes ill for those states “blessed” with shale oil deposits, and those adjoining them.
This story - about the Interior Department’s secret plan to destroy the wildly popular Endangered Species Act - probably has nothing whatsoever to do with shale oil development:
The proposed changes limit the number of species that can be protected and curtail the acres of wildlife habitat to be preserved. It shifts authority to enforce the act from the federal government to the states, and it dilutes legal barriers that protect habitat from sprawl, logging or mining.In unrelated news, the Pope has made an shocking announcement:
Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, the Pope said.(Photo: "Uinta Basin Drill Pads" by Lin Alder.)