Here’s a whacky idea: oil shale industry could be powered by nuclear plants

Everyone agrees that tapping into the massive oil shale reserves of Northwest Colorado would be a huge power drain and that bringing enough coal-fired power plants online to handle production could be a virtual impossibility.

But now there’s talk of using nuclear power to provide enough juice to heat up and squeeze oil from the rocks and sand of the Western Slope. With some studies showing upwards of 10 coal-fired power plants would be necessary to power the oil-shale industry at peak production, going nuclear may be the next best option, according to Aaron Diaz, executive director of Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

“Now this is just me talking, but with all the advances they’ve made with nuclear energy, why would it be such a big deal to have a nuclear reactor, maybe more than one, on site?” Diaz asked members of the Parachute/Grand Valley Kiwanis Club earlier this month, according to the Rifle Citizen Telegram.

“But try telling the folks in Rangely they might have one near them and they’ll freak out,” he added.

No kidding. Not to mention the folks in Rifle, Glenwood Springs, Vail, Aspen and maybe even Grand Junction.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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