White House Should Make Water Conservation a National Priority
WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 16, 2013 – A detailed executive order making water a major national priority and moving the nation to a clean energy future is being submitted today to the White House for the consideration of President Obama.
As composed by the Committee for an American Clean Energy Agenda (ACEA), which represents 120 citizen organizations with nearly 2 million members in 33 states and the District of Columbia, the draft executive order would require: (1) the completion of a long-overdue national water census; (2) the first “U.S. Water Budget”; and (3) a plan for a shift by 2030 from fossil fuel and nuclear power to clean energy, increased energy efficiency, and enhanced energy storage technologies within key watersheds identified by the US Geological Survey.
For the full copy of the draft executive order, go to http://www.americancleanenergyagenda.org/news/.
Pam Solo, president and founder of the Civil Society Institute, said: “Without this vital information and deliberate planning process, federal policy makers are flying blind when it comes to developing an energy policy reliant on the availability of fresh water. America should have an energy policy where people matter and that means protecting our access to clean and safe water. The draft executive order outlines a process for getting that important job done now while there is still time to do so. The President’s climate initiatives are necessary but insufficient. Without this understanding of our most vital resource and energy production’s impact on water quality and availability, we pursue business as usual recklessly.”
Heather White, executive director of the Environmental Working Group said: “When it comes to protecting water and making ‘water smart’ energy choices, we already are far behind where we need to be as a nation. The Department of Energy has delayed for years the release of the 'Water Nexus' roadmap. We are now at the point where energy production increasingly threatens water quality across the country, as well as quantity in places where water is scarce. We need to start planning today if we want to avoid disaster in the years to come.”
In its most recent report to Congress, the U.S. Geological Survey identified three critical watersheds as the subjects of their initial studies. These include the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin, the Delaware River Basin, and the Colorado River Basin that encompass many smaller, impaired bodies of water. USGS chose these watersheds due to their importance to the country and because they represent “watersheds with potential water-use conflicts.” USGS also found in its report to Congress that thermoelectric power and irrigation are the largest users of water in the Nation.
Titled “Identification of Critical Water Resources and Mitigation of Water Use Competition in Vulnerable Watersheds,” ACEA’s draft executive order for consideration by President Obama would do three things:
- Complete the federal government water budget study (the National Water Census) for the United States for water management purposes ordered by Congress in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11, also known as the SECURE Water Act) as quickly as practicable and take steps to reduce water consumption, especially in vulnerable watersheds.
- Create the Water Budget Planning Commission. The Commission would consist of the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Defense, Interior, EPA and the Council on Environmental Quality and make recommendations for water use mitigation approaches consistent with the sustainability criteria established in this Order. The Commission would establish recommendations to address the growing competition for water by thermoelectric power plant use (including fuel extraction to operate thermoelectric power plants such as mining and fracking) and farming through mitigation efforts that reduce the burden on water resources without threatening the food supply.
- Reduce or eliminate, to the extent practicable, by 2030 water-intensive, steam-cycle coal-fired, nuclear and natural-gas fired power plants that derive water from or impact the three river basins cited above (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin, the Delaware River Basin, and the Colorado River Basin) with the less water-intensive optimal electric generation mix of: (1)End Use Energy Efficiency; (2) Solar PV and Wind Power (non-combustion renewables, both utility-scale and distributed); (3) Distributed Power Technologies; (4) Demand Response; (5) Storage Technologies; and (6) Simple cycle and combined cycle natural gas-fired power plants, with the goal of limiting deployment of these resources as much as practicable. Recommend the optimal electric generation mix cited above to reduce or eliminate the water-intensive, electric generation resources cited above to be completed within 12 months of adoption of this order. In recommending the optimal electric generation mix, the subcommittee would select technologies that are affordable or have the greatest potential to come down in cost, use and consume the least amount of water, generate the least pollution, effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain grid reliability.
On May 24, 2013, leaders of the Committee for the American Clean Energy Agenda praised Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and 22 of her House colleagues for publicly urging U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to release a long-overdue “road map” of how to manage the development of U.S. energy resources without harming the quality and supply of water supplies. These water-related recommendations were required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and have yet to be submitted to Congress.
A January 2013 ACEA national opinion survey found that 92 percent of Americans think “U.S. energy planning and decision making” should be based on “a comprehensive understanding of what our national water resources are” – a national water roadmap that Congress asked for, but which was never produced. The national water roadmap attracts the support of 92 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Democrats. For more information about the full survey, go to http://www.americancleanenergyagenda.org/poll-water-is-high-priority-for-bipartisan-majority-of-americans/ on the Web.
In the US Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress instructed the Secretary of Energy submit a report assessing the state of water supply and demand and recommending future actions. DOE split the report into two parts: a general review of the connections between water and energy in the US and recommendations to offer Congress guidance in policy making. The general review portion was submitted to Congress in 2007. However, the recommendations part, called the “Roadmap” has still not been released, though it was prepared some time ago.
ABOUT THE GROUPS
The Committee for an American Clean Energy Agenda (www.americancleanenergyagenda.org) is comprised of 120 citizen organizations with nearly 2 million members in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Organized by the nonprofit Civil Society Institute and the Environmental Working Group, it is committed to promoting new, grassroots-driven politics to bring about a renewable energy future that goes beyond “business as usual”. Instead, taxpayer dollars should support an energy system that prevents degradation of the environment, protects public health, preserves access to clean water, sustains the electric grid and combats global climate change, all while laying the basis for an adequate standard of living for today’s populations and future generations.
Based in Newton, MA, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org) is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 25 major national and state-level surveys and reports on energy and auto issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org.
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