Full Title: Protecting the Lifeline of the West
Author(s): S. Tellinghuisen, J. Milford
Publisher(s): Environmental Defense Fund
Publication Date: 01/2010
Length: 44 pages, PDF
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Water is the lifeline of the West, and is essential to sustaining our people, economy, rivers, and wildlife. In the words of a Montana business owner and fly fishing guide, “Our livelihoods depend on it.” However, climate change is threatening the West’s water. Meeting the water demands of the region’s vibrant cities, burgeoning recreational industry, and agricultural sector – the bedrock of our rural communities – is already a challenge. But scientists project that climate change will make the West both hotter and drier, with longer and more intense droughts — exacerbating today’s challenges.
A national climate policy would protect the West’s water supplies and create important incentives for energy efficiency and electricity sources, such as wind and solar photovoltaics, that do not emit greenhouse gases and use no water. Likewise, these policies could incentivize innovative, resilient water supply strategies — including water conservation, reuse, and smart projects that provide a steady flow of affordable water while minimizing new energy demands.
A well-designed national climate policy is vital to protect the lifeline of the West’s environment and its economy, ensuring that westerners continue to have clean, safe, reliable water supplies for decades to come.