Drought’s Impact on Energy Production and Water

Drought’s Impact on Energy Production and WaterNew Markey report connects the dots between climate change, energy production and water needs

Washington, D.C. (August 17, 2012) – New polling shows Americans’ concerns about the drought and the extreme weather events that have punished our nation this year are on the rise. Their concerns are real: Nuclear power plants are shutting down over water concerns. Farmers and ranchers are suffering from fewer crop yields and higher feed prices. Families will pay more at the grocery store. The drought has turned more than half of U.S. counties into disaster areas. 

The new poll from the Civil Society Institute released yesterday indicates that 81 percent of Americans are concerned about “increased drought” and extreme weather events. Respondents in ten drought stricken states indicated that safe drinking water and “the diversion of water for energy production” is their number one overall worry.

In order to help understand the relationship between water and our nation’s energy production, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released a new report today detailing the connection between energy production and water use. The report highlights solutions to address water resources as the population grows and the climate continues to warm. The report, “Energy and Water: Connection and Conflict”, makes the case that to meet future energy demand, the U.S. will need to ensure that water resources are easily accessible and reliable.

“Americans are feeling the pain of this historic drought and are worried about the availability of safe water resources,” said Rep. Markey, top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. “This Congress has failed to address extreme weather events that are hurting families across the nation. This season’s drought may be a harbinger of water wars to come. We need a plan to address climate change before water wars erupt pitting frackers against farmers and food plants against power plants.”

A copy of Rep. Markey’s report, “Energy and Water: Connection and Conflict” can be found HERE.

The report includes these highlights:

·      Due to temperature increases and changes in precipitation, more frequent droughts in most of the continental United States are expected by 2050.

·      The energy sector is the fastest-growing water consumer in the U.S., with studies predicting it will be responsible for 85 percent of the growth in water consumption between 2005 and 2030.

·      Fourteen states face an extreme or high risk to water sustainability, with limitations on use expected as demand exceeds supply by 2050. 

·      Water scarcity, lower summer river flows, and higher river water temperatures due to global warming could lead to a 4-16 percent decrease in power plant capacity by 2060.

“Understanding water’s relationship to energy in a warming world is critical to protecting consumers and ensuring our national security.  The earth is warming, America’s energy needs continue to increase while our water resources become more scarce. We must take action now on climate change and clean energy solutions before our own soil becomes the next energy conflict zone,” said Rep. Markey

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