Hispanic Access Foundation Commends Sec. Salazar for Adopting Plan to Protect Western Water

November 9, 2012 by  

WASHINGTON – Today, the nonprofit Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) commended Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for adopting a common-sense plan to protect Colorado’s water from oil shale speculation.

“We needed a smart approach to oil shale development and Secretary Salazar deserves credit for making this a priority for Colorado, and for the state’s Latinos, which make up a significant portion of the state’s population and depend on Colorado River and water supplies for their quality of life and economic opportunity,” said Maite Arce, executive director of HAF. “Costly, water-hungry oil shale speculation would put western families’ health and safety at risk.”

A significant portion of western Latinos supports this sentiment. Released last month, a Latino Decisions poll commissioned by Nuestro Rio showed that 70 percent of those surveyed favor a plan requiring oil companies to complete successful research of oil shale technologies, and its potential impact to western water prior to commercial development on public lands.

The Salazar plan released today would require oil shale companies to conduct successful research and development projects and prove the economic and ecological viability of oil shale prior to commercial leasing.

“The Colorado River doesn’t just run through the southwest; it runs through our culture and it nourishes our lives,” said Andres Ramirez, Director at Nuestro Rio.  “Saving the Colorado River is about protecting our Latino heritage and promoting our future.”

Estimates by the Government Accountability Office have projected that full-scale oil shale development could require more than 123 billion gallons of water each year, enough water for more than 750,000 households. Additionally, the mining and processing of oil shale can leach toxic metals and pollutants, such as lead and arsenic, into rivers and groundwater. These concerns have led to other states in the region such as Arizona and Nevada, to take an active interest in the protection of their Colorado River water supplies.

In September, HAF launched an ad campaign with the message “Don’t Let Oil Shale Drain Our Water Away” to educate Latinos about the risk oil shale production could pose to water quality and quantity. For more information about oil shale and the need to protect western water, visit www.safeguardwater.org.

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