Transitioning to a Sustainable Energy Economy: The Call for National Cooperative Watershed Planning

By Drobot, Ann E. | Environmental Law, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview
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Transitioning to a Sustainable Energy Economy: The Call for National Cooperative Watershed Planning


Drobot, Ann E., Environmental Law


I.   INTRODUCTION

II.  THE ENERGY-WATER NEXUS: HOW ENERGY AND WATER ARE LINKED
     A. Energy Supply and Fuel Production Are Water Dependent
        1. Water Use in the Energy Generation Process
           a. Water Use by Cooling Process
           b. Water Use by Fuel Type
        2. Water Use in Fuel Production
           a. Oil
           b. Oil Shale
           c. Coal
           d. Natural Gas
           e. Nuclear
           f. Biomass
     B. The Reciprocal Side: Water Supply is Energy Dependent

III. THE GATHERING STORM: CURRENT AND FUTURE THREATS TO THE NATION'S
     WATER RESOURCES
     A. Potential Impacts from Projected Population Growth
     B. Predicted Impacts from Climate Change-Related Conditions
        1. Predicted Source Impacts
        2. Impacts from Mitigation Measures

IV.  COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF ENERGY POLICY AND WATER POLICY UNDER
     CURRENT REGULATORY REGIMES
     A. Energy-Based Regulation that Integrates Water-Related Issues
        1. FERC Hydropower Licensing
           a. The Pre-Application Process
           b. Factors Considered by FERC in Its Licensing Decisions
        2. NRC Nuclear Power Plant Licensing
           a. The Environmental Report
           b. The Site Safety Analysis Report
     B. Water-Based Regulation that Integrates Energy-Related Issues

V.   ENERGY AND WATER POLICY: DOES IT HELP OR HINDER?
     A. Energy Policy
     B. Water Policy

VI.  CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS: STEPS TOWARD ACHIEVING A "MORE
     SUSTAINABLE ENERGY" ECONOMY
     A. Challenges Associated with Pursuing National Watershed
        Planning The Concept of Federalism
     B. Challenges Associated with Pursuing National Watershed
        Planning Identifying the Appropriate Governance Structure
     C. Taking Steps Toward Achieving a More Sustainable Energy
        Economy: Cooperative National Watershed Planning and
        Management
        1. OPLMA: The Integration of Energy and Water PoKey on the
           Federal Level
        2. OPLMA Title VI: The Integration of Federal and State
           Watershed Planning Efforts
        3. Cooperative Watershed Planning. Ensuring Participation
           by the States

VII. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

   Climate change looms as a defining issue of the 21st century,
   pitting the potential disruption of our global climate system
   against the future of a fossil fuel-based economy. (1)

The United States energy sector exists at the center of this defining issue. Because greenhouse gas emissions from the energy industry are a primary component in what is said to be anthropogenic-induced climate change-related impacts, (2) curbing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector has been and will continue to be the focus of the policy debate concerning effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. The United States energy sector also exists at the center of national efforts to break our addiction to foreign oil in order to achieve energy independence. Given that 51% of the 6.9 billion barrels of oil consumed in the United States in 2009 were imported from foreign countries, (3) achieving energy independence will be no small undertaking, particularly in the face of steady forecasted growth in United States' energy demand. (4) In the context of both climate change and energy independence, developing a "more sustainable energy economy" has become the battle cry for today's policymakers.

But what does a more sustainable energy economy look like? As described in the current Administration's National Security Strategy released in May 2010, a more sustainable energy economy incorporates the development of clean energy technology, increases the use of renewable energy, and reinvigorates nuclear power. (5) For example, in response to the "real, urgent, and severe" dangers associated with climate change, the Administration targets actions that will "stimulate our energy economy at home, reinvigorate the United States domestic nuclear industry, increase our efficiency standards, invest in renewable energy, and provide the incentives that make clean energy the profitable kind of energy.

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