Spoiler Alert- Oil Shale Development May Harm Rivers in the Colorado Basin


Green River, UT

Green River, UT | Scott Bosse

If you were to draw up a list of rivers where you wouldn’t want to extract oil shale in the United States, the Green, the White and the Upper Colorado would be in the list. (Similar to developing a massive copper and gold mine in the most productive salmon watershed on the planet, but I digress.)

Yet, due to a curse of geology that is unfortunately exactly where industrial-scale oil shale production of oil shale is proposed that could require as much as 123 billion gallons of water, according to a new report [PDF] authored by Melinda Kassen.  

The Sportsmen for Responsible Development Coalition (I’m sure along with the sports women) are rightly concerned that industrial scale oil production could deplete stream flows, degrade habitat, cut off wildlife migration corridors along important rivers.  All of this will of course affect hunting, fishing and the local economies that depend on more sustainable industries.      

At the heart of the matter is the fact there are some places and rivers where development, including oil and gas, is simply not appropriate and this is one of them.

The rivers in the Colorado River Basin are under immense pressure from a myriad of development threats (See American Rivers’ listing of the Green River as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers) and along with our partners we will continue to fight for these special places.