Biophysical limits on the production of energy are important considerations for the development of energy resources. Production of energy requires inputs—among them, energy and water. In a case study in western Colorado, a water rights application to facilitate commercial scale production from oil shale development was debated. The public process of coming to an understanding of local implications is analyzed through analysis of discourse in mass media. Energy return on water invested surfaced as a great concern to regional residents. Energy return on energy invested, however, did not appear to be overtly present in the public debate about energy resources. Through their discussion of water requirements, citizens demonstrated a capacity to understand biophysical limits and interpret the information in terms of personal consequences. This study suggests information about resource constraints focusing on personal or local concerns, experiences, and impacts may contribute to better development and planning outcomes for residents in areas targeted for energy development.
|Keywords:||Energy, Fossil Fuels, Planning, Development, Water, Oil Shale, Discourse, Mass media|
Graduate Fellow, Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management, Department of Environment and Society, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA