Thank you to the loyal readers and supporters of The Colorado Independent (2013-2020). The Indy has merged with the new nonprofit Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) on a new mission to strengthen local news in Colorado. We hope you will join us!
In the late 1960s and early '70s, four nuclear devices were exploded underground on Colorado's Western Slope in an effort to free up commercially marketable amounts of natural gas from dense sandstone formations.
It’s been nearly eight months since former Garfield County Judge Steve Carter says he was ambushed by oil and gas money in his unsuccessful bid for county commissioner, but the Democrat is clearly still seething about what he considers a “stolen election.”
Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert, in an effort to offset the ups and downs of the fossil fuel industry, is offering free or very cheap city-owned land to renewable energy companies interested in relocating to the Western Slope natural-gas capital.
Recent talk of using nuclear energy to power the oil shale industry on Colorado’s Western Slope has elicited a wide range of reactions from government officials at what would be the epicenter of such a move — from serious doubt to matter-of-fact support.
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.