Policy Analysis of Water Availability and Use Issues for Domestic Oil Shale and Oil Sands Development

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Oil shale and oil sands resources located within the intermountain west represent a vast, and as of yet, commercially untapped source of energy. Development will require water, and demand for scarce water resources stands at the front of a long list of barriers to commercialization. Water requirements and the consequences of commercial development will depend on the number, size, and location of facilities, as well as the technologies employed to develop these unconventional fuels. While the details remain unclear, the implication is not – unconventional fuel development will increase demand for water in an arid region where demand for water ... continued below

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Ruple, John & Keiter, Robert December 31, 2010.

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Description

Oil shale and oil sands resources located within the intermountain west represent a vast, and as of yet, commercially untapped source of energy. Development will require water, and demand for scarce water resources stands at the front of a long list of barriers to commercialization. Water requirements and the consequences of commercial development will depend on the number, size, and location of facilities, as well as the technologies employed to develop these unconventional fuels. While the details remain unclear, the implication is not – unconventional fuel development will increase demand for water in an arid region where demand for water often exceeds supply. Water demands in excess of supplies have long been the norm in the west, and for more than a century water has been apportioned on a first-come, first-served basis. Unconventional fuel developers who have not already secured water rights stand at the back of a long line and will need to obtain water from willing water purveyors. However, uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of some senior water claims combine with indeterminate interstate river management to cast a cloud over water resource allocation and management. Quantitative and qualitative water requirements associated with Endangered Species protection also stand as barriers to significant water development, and complex water quality regulations will apply to unconventional fuel development. Legal and political decisions can give shape to an indeterminate landscape. Settlement of Northern Ute reserved rights claims would help clarify the worth of existing water rights and viability of alternative sources of supply. Interstate apportionment of the White River would go a long way towards resolving water availability in downstream Utah. And energy policy clarification will help determine the role oil shale and oil sands will play in our nation’s future.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FE0001243
  • DOI: 10.2172/1113669 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1113669
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc872449

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • December 31, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 16, 2016, 12:32 a.m.

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  • Jan. 9, 2018, 12:57 p.m.

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Ruple, John & Keiter, Robert. Policy Analysis of Water Availability and Use Issues for Domestic Oil Shale and Oil Sands Development, report, December 31, 2010; Utah. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc872449/: accessed December 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.