Click here to download a copy of the report Oil Shale 2050: Data, Definitions, & What You Need to Know About Oil Shale in the West. Here’s an excerpt:
As the debate over potential oil shale development in
the western United States continues, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) has focused on understanding the nature of the oil shale deposits; the state of the technologies companies are trying to advance; the environmental, economic, social, and climate impacts of exploiting these deposits; and what development would mean for our energy demands and goals. This report explores these matters.
This report is largely an educational tool, concentrating on the salient issues central to the ongoing debate over the wisdom and feasibility of producing liquid fuel from oil shale. Many of the issues discussed in this report are framed from the perspective of the year 2050. Why 2050? First, it is a baseline that states commonly use to project water demands. It is also roughly the date by which such companies as Royal Dutch Shell predict they might be in a position to produce large quantities of oil from shale, depending on the results of current research and testing…
By the year 2050, economists, biologists, climatologists, and a variety of other scientists predict huge changes to the West. Their models forecast that there will be less water in the Colorado River Basin, with escalating demand from a rapidly growing population. The population of the state of Colorado is projected to swell by 57% over the next 30 years. Utah, the second-driest state in the nation, anticipates a 105% increase in its population by 2050. Because of this growth, in Colorado alone, municipal and industrial water demands are estimated to increase by as much as 83%.
By 2050, the competition for water will be fierce and will only be compounded by climate change. Decisions we make today about a host of concerns, including whether or not to develop oil shale, will directly impact the amount of available water in 2050. As a result of climate change, water in the Colorado River Basin is projected to decrease anywhere from 5% to 20% by 2050. Current projections conclude that we will rely heavily on water currently used for agriculture to cover growing municipal and industrial demands.
By 2050 we might be less reliant on fossil fuels for planes and automobiles. Alternatives might include electric cars powered by renewable sources, or biodiesel made from algae, or energy sources that researchers are not yet exploring.