For many Americans, the idea that the country might someday run out of fresh water is unfathomable. And while that possibility is extremely far off, there is a chance that the country will start feeling some of the effects of a shrinking water supply much sooner.
Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., reminded the public of this potential problem at a conference Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M.
“The danger is clear, and we have to act to protect our way of life in the West,” Udall said at the conference. This week, he will propose what he called a modest amendment, one that would grant $15 million for water pilot projects nationwide, to a Senate bill on energy efficiency.
Global water consumption has tripled in the past 50 years. In the United States, the demand for fresh water will exceed the supply by 40 percent by 2030, according to a State Department report last year. Water scarcity results from short- and long-term droughts and human activity. Each month, 3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed in the United States. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a practice that many feel could give the U.S. energy independence, requires millions of gallons of water every day to extract natural gas from the earth. Nearly all of that water is lost.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at least 36 states are faced with local or regional water shortages. In New Mexico, the Rio Grande is on the World Wildlife Fund’s list of the top 10 endangered rivers in the world. Last summer, residential wells in the Midwest, from Indiana to Missouri, began drying up, making it difficult to “wash dishes, or fill a coffee urn, even to flush the toilet,” The New York Times reported.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday promised to oversee the divvying up of $2 billion to finance water projects.
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The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."
"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.
"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.
Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.