Groups Urge White House to Make Water a National Priority

American Clean Energy Agenda submits executive order to shift the U.S. to clean energy future

American Clean Energy Agenda Executive Order Water National Priority

A detailed executive order making water a major national priority and moving the nation to a clean energy future was submitted to the White House for the consideration of President Obama.

As composed by the Committee for an American Clean Energy Agenda (ACEA), which represents 120 citizen organizations with nearly 2 million members in 33 states and the District of Columbia, the draft executive order would require: the completion of a national water census; the first "U.S. Water Budget"; and a plan for a shift by 2030 from fossil fuel and nuclear power to clean energy, increased energy efficiency, and enhanced energy storage technologies within key watersheds identified by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

In its most recent report to Congress, USGS identified three critical watersheds as the subjects of its initial studies. These include the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin, the Delaware River Basin and the Colorado River Basin, all of which encompass many smaller impaired bodies of water. USGS chose these watersheds due to their importance to the country and because they represent "watersheds with potential water-use conflicts." USGS also found in its report to Congress that thermoelectric power and irrigation are the largest users of water in the nation.

Titled "Identification of Critical Water Resources and Mitigation of Water Use Competition in Vulnerable Watersheds," ACEA's draft executive order for consideration by President Obama would do three things:

  • Complete the federal government water budget study (the National Water Census) for the U.S. for water management purposes ordered by Congress in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11, also known as the SECURE Water Act) as quickly as practicable and take steps to reduce water consumption, especially in vulnerable watersheds;
  • Create the Water Budget Planning Commission. The commission would consist of the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Defense and the Interior; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the Council on Environmental Quality, and make recommendations for water use mitigation approaches consistent with the sustainability criteria established in this order. The commission would establish recommendations to address the growing competition for water by thermoelectric power plant use (including fuel extraction to operate thermoelectric power plants, such as mining and hydrofracturing) and farming through mitigation efforts that reduce the burden on water resources without threatening the food supply; and
  • Reduce or eliminate by 2030, to the extent practicable, water-intensive, steam-cycle coal-fired, nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants that derive water from or impact the three river basins cited above with the less water-intensive optimal electric generation mix of: end-use energy efficiency; solar PV and wind power (non-combustion renewables, both utility scale and distributed); distributed power technologies; demand response; storage technologies; and simple-cycle and combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plants, with the goal of limiting deployment of these resources as much as practicable. It would also recommend the optimal electric generation mix cited above to reduce or eliminate the water-intensive, electric generation resources cited above to be completed within 12 months of adoption of this order. In recommending the optimal electric generation mix, the subcommittee would select technologies that are affordable or have the greatest potential to come down in cost, use and consume the least amount of water, generate the least pollution, effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain grid reliability.

For the full copy of the draft executive order, go to


American Clean Energy Agenda

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options