Drought-Ridden Texas Could Use Clean Energy to Cut Water Demand
Although clean energy technologies are among the best hedges against overuse of scarce water resources, both Australia and Texas have been working to undercut renewable energy targets that could help their drought-stricken economies, Environmental Defense Fund’s Kate Zerrenner writes on Renewable Energy World.
“Energy efficiency and clean energy are critical to preserving health and economic stability, especially in the face of a changing climate, because they require little to no water,” Zerrenner writes. “Without environmental regulations and clean energy goals in place, Australia and Texas are due to experience a surge in both carbon emissions and water use.”
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Both jurisdictions are heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Australia, with per capita greenhouse gas emissions among the highest in the world, abandoned its carbon tax in July 2014, and is now debating whether to scale back its renewable energy target (RET). Legislators in Texas, now in the fifth year of its worst-ever drought, are “considering bills that would scrap the state’s successful wind renewable portfolio standard and prevent the state from complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan,” Zerrenner writes.
Texas’ current State Water Plan “does not connect the dots between clean energy and water savings,” she notes, even though “that simple connection could be a powerful weapon in the arsenal to protect the state’s critical resources.” That’s where the state could learn a lesson from the front lines in Australia, where the RET encouraged creative thinking about how to combine energy and water use.