Now Would Be A Good Time To Get A National Exemption From The Endangered Species Act: And Avoid Water Conservation
So goes the State Legislature's thinking for the majority of both political parties in the drought-plagued US State of Georgia. When we previously thought up Water Crisis Scenarios For The US Southeast, which got at how continuing, severe drought might play out in the Atlanta Georgia region over the next year, we weren't clever enough to see this coming. (More down-page on a third scenario.)
Georgia's congressional delegation proposed legislation Tuesday aimed at replenishing the state's shrinking water supply by suspending Endangered Species Act regulations during periods of extreme drought...The bill would apply nationally, but Georgia lawmakers particularly hoped to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' practice of releasing water from Georgia lakes to protect threatened mussels and sturgeon downstream in Florida.As long as we're at it, might as well drop the thermal discharge limits for open loop cooling water discharges from both nuclear and coal plants. Cook them 'handful of sturgeon,' so the endangered feces thing just goes away. And let's make that national too, while were at it, because that's what good deregulation is all about. One size fits all. Nature: always subservient.
The bill will probably face strong resistance if it advances. But, in a rare show of bipartisan unity, Georgia's lawmakers rallied around it as a "common sense" solution to the state's persistent drought.
Enough joking around. If you've taken the time to look over the two scenarios we mentioned, then you probably noticed that this news item indicates Vote For Rain is fully underway. But to be realistic, we should have added a third, equally plausible, scenario, where drought impacts worsen fast, causing heads everywhere to completely lose their cool.
In that third scenario, - how about we call it "Power Scramble" -- no amount of holding back on water releases can make up for evaporative water losses from reservoirs and continued consumptive water withdrawals. If this happens, power plants that rely on cooling water to function are going to have to shut down and people will get stinky and thirsty and hot. Possibly in the heat of the summer of 2008. Then what? There's an election just months later. It's going to get crazy and dangerous.
Here's a few of the more critical questions we can think of to help get ready for Power Scramble.
Have the numbers been crunched to see how far emergency water conservation can go compared to dam release withholding?
Can an emergency water-well drilling program help make up the difference?
Has the Governor considered talking with those folks out in Fresno California who are evaluating using wastewater effluent as evaporative cooling device makeup water for power plants?
And, what about all those who are advocating adding nuclear generators as a solution to Climate Change. Maybe not in the Southeast, eh? At least not without the added expense of evaporative cooling systems. Who pays for that incremental cost? The national government?
There's plenty of more urgent issues to deal with in both Vote For Rain , and Power Scramble. Unless, of course, the objective is just to go after the ESA one more time and look like you're doing something useful.
Update:: Drought in the Southeast is indeed worsening. Click here to see an animated progression of the Palmer Long-Term Drought Index map of the US. Try staring at the SE part of the map while it flips through the months and you'll see the progression easily.