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Ensuring our energy policy doesn't compromise our water supply

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (pdf) into law. This comprehensive law does everything from providing new subsidies and incentives for renewable energy production (like wind, solar, biomass, wave & tidal, and geothermal) and tax breaks for energy conservation improvements on homes to providing incentives for increased drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and exempting oil and gas producers from certain requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. It even extended Daylight Savings Time by a week. There's a fine summary of this 551 page bill HERE.

One of the components of the Energy Policy Act was Section 979 which compelled Energy Secretary to study the interaction and interplay of water-related issues and energy-related issues. The intent was to ensure that we fully understand how our country's energy policy impacts our water resources.

Here's the relevant section:

(a) IN GENERAL. -- The Secretary shall carry out a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application to—
     (1) address energy-related issues associated with provision of adequate water supplies, optimal management, and efficient use of water;
     (2) address water-related issues associated with the provision of adequate supplies, optimal management, and efficient use of energy; and
     (3) assess the effectiveness of existing programs within the Department and other Federal agencies to address these
energy and water related issues.
(b) PROGRAM ELEMENTS. -- The program under this section shall include—
     (1) arsenic treatment;
     (2) desalination; and
     (3) planning, analysis, and modeling of energy and water supply and demand.
(c) COLLABORATION. -- In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall consult with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of the Interior, the Chief Engineer of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Defense, and other Federal agencies as appropriate.
(d) FACILITIES. -- The Secretary may utilize all existing facilities within the Department and may design and construct additional
facilities as needed to carry out the purposes of this program.
(e) ADVISORY COMMITTEE. -- The Secretary shall establish or utilize an advisory committee to provide independent advice and review of the program.
(f) REPORTS. -- Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the assessment described in subsection (b) and recommendations for future actions.
Note that this study was supposed to have been completed by 2007. Eight years later, however, that study has NOT been completed. A White House petition has been created by our very own Muskegon Critic, asking the Obama administration to move forward with the completion of this study:
Compel the Department of Energy to complete its report on how energy production impacts water quality and availability.
Americans need information about how national energy use affects our water resources. In Section 979 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 16319, Congress directed the Energy Department to document the impact of our national energy choices on our nation’s water cycle. Eight years later the report is still unfinished and Americans still don’t have the basic facts about how our energy portfolio affects water quality and availability in the United States.

Without this information, states and cities are flying blind on energy policy.

We ask the White House to compel the Department of Energy to fulfill the Congressional mandate of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and prepare a comprehensive analysis of the impact of current energy production on our nation's water quality and water supply.

You can sign the petition HERE.

This does not seem like something that the Obama administration should be against. During his Inaugural speech, President Obama spent more time talking about environmental issues than any president in our country's history. Here are some of the things he said:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.

The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

With a vision and philosophy like that, perhaps a nudge is what is needed to move the administration forward on this important study. The petition could be that nudge. It needs 100,000 signatures by February 24th. Won't you lend yours?

[Cedar River photo image credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]

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