VIDEO: Session 5: The Impacts of Oil Shale Development on Water Resources

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Event Date




1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

SESSION 5: The Impacts of Oil Shale Development on Water Resources

Moderator: Doug Kenney, Western Water Policy Program, Natural Resources Law Center


Bart Miller, Water Program Director, Western Resource Advocates

Ben Harding, Principal Engineer, AMEC Earth and Environmental

Dan Birch, Deputy General Manager and Chief Engineer, Colorado River District


Doug Kenney

Streaming Media


The largest known oil shale deposits in the world are in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Fully one-half of the world’s oil shale lies within 150 miles of Grand Junction, Colorado, and about 80% of these reserves are on federal land. Estimates of recoverable reserves in the Green River Formation range from 500 billion to 1.53 trillion barrels. At present consumption rates, this is enough oil to satisfy 100% of U.S. demand for well over 100 years.

Development of oil shale could cause significant impacts on the Colorado Plateau. It would provide for a major economic boom, but the costs to the environment and to the rural communities of the West will be considerable and potentially irrevocable.

This event will engage the various stakeholders and interested parties in a discussion of various proposals to develop oil shale in western Colorado. A full-day program will address the myriad issues involved including the technology, economics, politics, and environmental impacts. We hope to compile and publish a compendium of materials from the proposed conference and from other sources that will help the public and policy-makers alike understand the key issues surrounding the various proposed actions for oil shale development.