Robert Abrams (one the leading water law experts in the country) and I have just finished an extensive and detailed (even by law journal standards) new article “Framing Water Policy in a Carbon Affected and Carbon Constrained Environment,” to be published later this year in the Natural Resources Journal. A prepublication draft is now available, and here is the abstract:
Immense stresses are being thrust upon the nation’s water resources by massive changes affecting water supply and demand. The climate, driven by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, is changing in ways that substantially alter water availability in the United States. Concurrently, dramatic shifts in domestic energy policy and production are underway through which the nation is seeking to reduce GHG emissions and increase energy independence. Somewhat paradoxically, it will take far more domestic electricity generation to make headway in simultaneously reducing carbon emissions and reducing dependence on insecure sources of supply. These energy sector changes and other water demand escalators will vastly increase water demand, with much of the increase coming in areas that are now water short and are predicted to lose usable supply according to most climate change models. This article examines the extent of those changes in water supply and demand and assesses how water demands will be met in the four overarching water use categories: water for population security, water for ecological security, water for energy security, and water for food security. Finally, the article suggests that water governance institutions and policies need to be retooled to better accommodate the necessary reallocation of water that will serve the nation’s water security needs.