Curtailment First: Why Climate Change and the Energy Industry Suggest a New Allocation Paradigm Is Needed for Water Utilized in Hydraulic Fracturing

Victor Flatt *
Heather Payne **

Water, always necessary, is becoming less available. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) predicts water use will increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050, and that by 2050, over 40% of the world’s population “will live in river basins under severe water stress.”[1] Climate change is making this worse. Approximately 486 million people will be exposed to water scarcity or aggravated scarcity even if the average global temperature rise is limited to 2°C.[2] If temperatures rise further, the numbers increase.[3] Looking at food production globally, a quarter of croplands lack adequate water, and 56% of irrigated land is under high to extremely high water stress.[4]

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Hydraulic Fracturing and the Baseline Testing of Groundwater

Keith B. Hall *

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that often is used to stimulate the production of oil and natural gas from low permeability formations. The process is controversial. Some people passionately support the use of hydraulic fracturing, while others fervently oppose it. Much of the controversy arises from the fact that many people fear that hydraulic fracturing might cause contamination of underground sources of drinking water. In part, the public debate and disagreement regarding hydraulic fracturing is fueled by competing opinions regarding how society should balance the tradeoffs between economic development and environmental protection. But this is only part of the disagreement.

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Reconciling Energy and Food Security

Rhett B. Larson *

Achieving food security and energy security are two primary policy aims of international and domestic law. Ironically, the pursuit of energy security can often frustrate efforts to achieve food security. Energy security is the condition of a nation and its citizens having reasonable physical and economic access to sufficient and sustainable energy.[1] Food security is the condition of a nation and its citizens having reasonable physical and economic access to sufficient and sustainable food.[2] These two objectives often collide in the area of agricultural water management. It is in that realm that, frustratingly, the goal of achieving food security most frequently comes into conflict with the ambition to achieve energy security.

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Developing Adaptive and Integrated Strategies for Managing the Electricity-Water Nexus

Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool *
Alex Gilbert **

Existing and planned reliance on thermoelectric power plants—facilities that burn oil, natural gas, coal, and biomass, or fission atoms—depends too heavily on assumptions of widespread, abundant water resources. As the Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated, power plants in the United States take in almost triple the average amount of water flowing over Niagara Falls each minute to meet their cooling needs.[1] Or, put another way, on a typical day more than 500 billion liters of fresh water travel through power plants in the United States—more than twice the amount flowing through the entire Nile River.[2] Yet water is a critical constraint often overlooked in electricity and energy decisions. When considered, it challenges us to think more broadly about integrated resource planning, reliability challenges, and resource selection.

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Insurance at the Energy-Water Nexus

Donald T. Hornstein *

As the outstanding contributions to this symposium demonstrate, the on-the-ground connections between water and energy are pervasive, multidimensional, and sobering. And, at the legal nexus between water and energy, the symposium’s contributors generally hint at some mix of land-use controls, common-law liability, or regulation to help mediate the challenges. Yet precisely because the challenges are so sobering, perhaps an even broader range of social institutions and solutions ought to be considered. In this essay, I offer some observations of the role that insurance may play at the energy-water nexus.

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Energy Versus Water: The Growing Role of Water in Controlling Energy Decisions

Andrea West Wortzel *

Energy and water are integrally linked. Water is necessary to produce and deliver energy,[1] both for cooling and for pollution control. For certain energy sources, such as natural gas and coal, water is needed in the extraction process. Energy powers water treatment processes and pumps for transporting water to end users. Energy is also needed to treat water after it has been used and to return it to the stream or to another user.

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Avoiding the Catch-22: Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard to Protect Freshwater Resources and Promote Energy Independence

Leah Stiegler *

“No beaches have been closed due to ethanol spills!”[1] An ethanol advocacy group near the United States Capitol shouted these words in 2010. Proponents of ethanol parade an environmentally benign image that plays up ethanol as a “clean fuel” that could never harm water resources, unlike well-publicized oil spills, such as the Exxon Valdez incident.[2] But this is not the case.

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