U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) this week introduced bipartisan legislation recognizing the important connection between energy and water.
Vast amounts of water are used every day to produce vital fuels and to cool power plants in the United States. Without this water supply most of our electricity would stop flowing and our economy and other essential functions would come to a complete stop. At the same time, a great deal of electricity is needed to treat, transport and convey water across the country not only to support economic growth and well-being but also to sustain basic life. These inseparable links of "water for energy" and "energy for water" comprise the energy-water nexus.
The Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability (NEWS) Act of 2014 (S. 1971) would create a committee within the National Science and Technology Committee (NSTC) to coordinate and streamline federal activities related to the management of this energy-water nexus.
Wyden and Murkowski, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recognize that all forms of energy production require water and that our use of water requires energy. Together, energy and water resources are the foundation of our nation's economy and are essential to our nation's future and international security.
Murkowski: "I believe that the federal agencies must do more to ensure that we have the best possible data, technology, and know-how to ensure that the energy-water nexus is well understood and continuously optimized to sustain quality of life and promote economic growth. This bill facilitates better interagency cooperation and provides for a national platform to these important energy-water interrelations."
Wyden: "Energy and water are connected in so many ways that it is long past time for federal agencies to be working together to get the most out of these two vital resources. I'm happy to introduce this bill with Sen. Murkowski to encourage that coordination, and to make sure policymakers are giving these issues the attention they deserve."
The new committee would be established by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the NSTC and would be co-chaired by the secretaries of Energy and Interior. The committee would identify energy-water nexus activities across the federal government; enhance the coordination of research and development activities; improve relevant data collection and dissemination capabilities; and promote public-private collaboration.
The bill also calls for the Office of Management and Budget to submit to the relevant congressional committees a so-called "cross-cut" budget soon after enactment of this act. The cross-cut budget will detail various expenditures across the federal government related to energy-water activities and will greatly assist in our coordination and streamlining efforts.