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Title: Water for commercial oil shale development in Utah: Clarifying how much water is needed and available
Authors: Ruple, John C.
Keiter, Robert B.
Issue Date: Feb-2010
Publisher: International Bar Association
Citation: Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law; vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 49-86 (2010)
Type: journal article
Pages: 38
Abstract: Utah contains an estimated 150 billion barrels of ‘recoverable’ oil trapped in its extensive oil shale formations – enough oil single-handedly to satisfy 100 per cent of the United States’ oil demand for 21 years at current consumption rates. Most authorities assume that commercial oil shale development will require significant quantities of water, a constraining resource in a region that receives, on average, less than nine inches of precipitation annually and where water resources are already over-appropriated. The technical water requirements of commercial oil shale development are poorly understood, but this represents only part of the problem. Utah operates under the prior appropriations system of water allocation whereby the first in time is the first in right. Unanswered legal and political questions create uncertainty regarding the amount of available water within the most geologically prospective area and the rights of competing water appropriators. This article addresses two foundational questions: (1) apportionment of the only major surface water source within the most geologically prospective area between competing users in Colorado and Utah; and (2) the terms and extent of Indian reserved rights.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/10991
Appears in Collections:ICSE Scholarship

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