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Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense Fund released a new report this month that, “shines a spotlight on the strong ties between climate, energy, and water in the West and highlights pioneering policies and practices already taking place in the region. These practices, in tandem with federal legislation that limits carbon pollution, will help build a stronger clean energy economy in the West.”
The report is called Protecting the Lifeline of the West: How Climate and Clean Energy Policies Can Safeguard Water. One of the report’s key messages is that passing a national climate and clean energy bill that limits greenhouse gas emissions is critical to protecting water supplies in the West for two reasons: 1) climate change is going to make water even more scarce than it already is, therefore reducing the effects of climate change will increase the stability of water supplies, and 2) switching to clean sources of energy such as wind and PV solar will significantly reduce water demand. A great statistic from the report that illustrates this point is that thermoelectric power plants in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah consumed an estimated 292 million gallons of water per day in 2005 – approximately equal to the water consumed by Denver, Phoenix and Albuquerque, combined.
The report is a must-read for people living in the Western U.S., and although it is Western-centric, many of the key principles and strategies it explores are relevant everywhere.