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Water Consumption of Our Fossil Fuel Energy System

I spent Columbus Day speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Opinion Journalists, the folks who write the opinion pages of newspapers. I was joined by Andy Rosenberg with the Center for Science & Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Dave Gallo with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Cory Dean of the New York Times and Jim Ludes, Executive Director of the Pell Center for International Relations & Public Policy. My presentation, which you can read here, discusses how electric power plants use 41% of America’s fresh water. That’s because 88% of our electricity is generated by super-thirsty nuclear and fossil fuel power plants. With looming water shortages in North America over the next generation, we need to become smarter about our water consumption—and that means getting away from centralized nuclear, coal and natural gas power plants and moving towards rooftop solar and energy efficiency. My presentation also outlines the extensive water use of the oil & gas sector, particualry fracking.

Tyson Slocum is Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Follow him on Twitter @TysonSlocum