Energy, water discussed among governors
Jackson – According to Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director Duane Smith, both federal agencies and states have their hearts in the right place when it comes to water management across the West.
“When are we going to do something about water supply that doesn’t utilize traditional methods? We have to sustain growth,” he told the Western Governors Association in Jackson in late June. “We believe technologies to reuse and recharge water can provide significant water increase, as well as weather modification – one inch of rain on an ag crop can mean millions of dollars to that economy. We need to have that discussion.”
“Without water there’s no energy, and without energy there’s no water,” commented Idaho Governor “Butch” Otto. “We need a good partnership with the federal government. We need them to understand our water rights and uses and its importance to us. The management has to have an overload of state interest and state influence, and that’s not only in Idaho but in every Western state.”
“Managing conflicts is very difficult when it comes to water, and Governor Freudenthal has agreed to give all of Wyoming’s water to the state of Nebraska,” joked Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman.
Despite recommendations from panelist members, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson only said, “We’re talking to each other on water and not being bold. I believe we need a national water policy and a national dialogue. We’re just talking to each other but we’re all doing the right things.”
He said the national perspective, with droughts in Atlanta and floods in the Midwest and a declining Lake Mead, are a national problem. “What we need are national solutions. The dialogue being recommended is good but it’s among each other,” he said. “There is a recommendation to urge the federal government to develop a national water policy, but they’re not going to do that. They can barely walk and chew gum at the same time.”
“We’ve got to get transmission infrastructure right,” said Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, turning the discussion to energy. “Many of our resources – wind, sun and geothermal – come from rural areas without infrastructure. If we’re going to take the energy seriously we’ve got to get the transmission and infrastructure piece right.”
“I look forward to entering a world where we are relying more on sun, wind, geothermal and the atom,” said Huntsman. “The mix of energy opportunities will be significantly different in the years ahead. We all know it’s possible, but the infrastructure must be in place for us to succeed.”
Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal defined Wyoming and other western states as the “Saudi Arabia” of solar power.
“Generation and transmission are two components, but they must be integrated because you can’t do one well without the others. It’s a significant challenge that’s getting bigger,” said Jeff Sterba, chairman, president and CEO of PNM Resources.
Sterba said over 35 percent of the resources the U.S. will need in 2030 don’t yet exist. He said he thinks that 40 to 50 percent of that needed increase may come through energy efficiency alone.
MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company CEO David Sokol concluded the panel by introducing philosophy from Warren Buffet, “We should err on the side of the planet as we make decisions.”
Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.