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Murkowski Calls for Proactive Government, Private Sector Approach to 'Energy-Water Nexus'

Stakeholders in government and the private sector should support research, development and demonstration of new technologies that can reduce energy and water consumption in an effort to ease strains on both ends of the energy-water nexus, according to a white paper released by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the ranking Republican member of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"All forms of energy production, energy distribution, fuel extraction and fuel refinement require water or affect water resources in some way," Murkowski wrote. "Every aspect of treatment, transport and distribution of water, as well as the treatment and reuse of wastewater, is dependent on sufficient and reliable energy. Moreover, energy use by these systems is significant regionally.

"The interdependencies between the two are clear, though often tested during periods of water stress, as demonstrated presently by the ongoing western area drought, other extreme temperatures events, or prolonged electricity outages. It is in our own best interest to preserve, secure and strengthen these critical energy and water resources."

Included in the white paper are five recommendations that Murkowski said "would enable innovation and its optimal application to energy-water nexus activities. They are:

  • Address data gaps on energy-for-water and water-for-energy use;
  • Promote federal leadership and public-private partnerships;
  • Document and publicize best practices;
  • Encourage generation and adoption of more efficient technologies and practices; and
  • Coordinate federal actions.

"Conservation can help reduce demand from both water-for-energy and energy-for-water activities, but it can only go so far," Murkowski said in a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, Tuesday. "Innovative energy and water use strategies, coupled with advanced technologies, are equally important when trying to optimize our limited supplies."

In January, Murkowski introduced legislation (S 1971, the Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability Act of 2014) that would direct the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish a committee to coordinate and streamline federal energy and water activities.

The white paper is the fourth in a series released by Murkowski as part of her "Energy 20/20 blueprint." In January, Murkowski called for an end to restrictions on crude oil and condensate exports in January (see Daily GPI, Jan. 7). In March, she urged the U.S. Energy Information Administration to conduct an economic analysis for lifting the U.S. crude oil export ban (see Daily GPI, March 4). She also issued a 51-page white paper, urging the Obama administration to streamline regulations on condensate exports.

Last month, Murkowski issued a report that concluded the Department of Commerce (DOC) has the authority to change its regulations and allow condensate exports (see Daily GPI, April 2).

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