On May 6, Senator Murkowski spoke at an Atlantic Council event, “The Nexus of Energy and Water for U.S. Sustainability and National Security,” about the release of her fourth white paper in the series, Energy 20/20: A Vision for America’s Energy Future. The fourth white paper, The Energy-Water Nexus: Interlinked Resources That Are Vital for Economic Growth and Sustainability, reviews energy and water use in the United States, looking first at the water needed to power the nation, or the Water-for-Energy relationship, and then looking at the energy required to transport, treat, and distribute water, or Energy-for-Water.
The relationship between water and energy is critical but often overlooked. A great deal of water is used to produce energy, and a great deal of energy is used to treat and transport water. The white paper’s section on Water-for-Energy estimates that energy will be the economic sector with the fastest growing consumption of freshwater through 2030. The Energy-for-Water section notes that in 2010, nearly 13 percent of the nation’s energy was used for water consumption.
In her address, Sen. Murkowski called on stakeholders in the government and the private sector to support research, development, and demonstrations of new technologies to increase efficiency and to reduce energy and water consumption. “If we can demonstrate savings and efficiencies from new technologies and better resource management approaches, stakeholders will realize this is a win-win for their own bottom-lines and for their customers,” said the senator.
The Energy-Water Nexus report recommends addressing data gaps between public and private stakeholders, promoting federal leadership and public-private partnerships, documenting and publicizing best practices, encouraging generation, adopting more efficient technologies and practices, and implementing greater federal coordination between the executive branch and Congress in order to advance energy-water nexus technologies. According to Sen. Murkowski, “A focused and well-coordinated public-private approach to the energy-water nexus issues can promote economic growth and lead to new breakthrough technologies in water and energy resiliency.”
On January 29, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) introduced the Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability (NEWS) Act of 2014 (S.1971), which would lay the groundwork for several of the report’s recommendations. The NEWS Act would create an interagency coordination committee or subcommittee under the leadership of the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior “to identify all relevant energy-water nexus activities across the federal government.” The committee or subcommittee would serve as a platform for coordinating federal goals and plans on energy-water nexus issues, and facilitate data collection, categorization, and dissemination of data between federal departments and agencies. The bill includes provisions for identifying funding opportunities, public-private partnerships, innovative financing mechanisms, and for collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget to monitor spending on energy-water nexus projects across the federal budget.