Thursday, January 31, 2013
In a recent article, I argued that certain policies in the electric power sector could further both climate change mitigation and adaptation (Adaptive Mitigation in the Electric Power Sector, 2011 BYU L. Rev 2116). An important example relates to the differential water requirements of power generation technologies: wind and solar PV have low water requirements, while fossil fuel and nuclear generally have very high ones. Astoundingly, about 40% of withdrawals of freshwater in the US are for thermoelectric power plants.
In my research for the article, I was delighted to find that a provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 required the Department of Energy (DOE), within 2 years, to produce a report on the nexus between energy and water supply and demand and a set of recommendations for future actions (42 USC 16319). But I soon learned that only an initial report had been produced. “Energy Demands on Water Resources” was publicly released in February 2007. The process of putting together recommendations was dubbed the “Energy-Water Roadmap process,” with the goal of “summarizing the needs, prioritization criteria, major gaps, innovative technical approaches and associated research needs, R&D priorities and strategies, and associated policy, regulatory, and economic assessments.” Now, five years after its due date, the Roadmap has still not been publicly released and, as of 2009, it had reportedly already been rewritten 22 times.
A few days ago, a petition was created asking the White House to compel DOE to complete the Roadmap report. The petition has fewer than 1,000 signatures and it needs 100,000 within 30 days (by February 24) to get a response from the White House. The odds seem long, but perhaps not impossible. You can sign it here (whitehouse.gov).
- Lesley McAllister