Energy Dispute over Rockies Riches

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Meanwhile, already-parched Western states bracing for more growth are completing water supply inventories. A Colorado study projected that by 2050, with the state's oil shale operations at full capacity, the industry will require 14 times more power than currently generated by the state's largest power plant.

…The governors of Colorado and Wyoming have expressed concerns about the venture's effect on water in their states.

Not so, Utah. The state contains the least-rich shale deposit but is the most enthusiastic booster of the unconventional oil source. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. recently declared Utah "open for business as it relates to oil shale."

…For now, with the support of Congress and the Bush administration, oil companies appear to have the upper hand. That might change with President-elect Barack Obama's selection this month of Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, a former water lawyer, to head the Department of Interior.