Friday, March 28, 2008

Oregon's Growing "Water Footprint"

The State of Oregon and the City of Portland are leading the way in sucking up water resources that leave a "water footprint" denying the rest of the world critical water resources.

That's the fallout from the current UN report on water needs around the world that are quickly growing to dire proportions. It takes massive amounts of water to produce biofuels such as ethanol--70 to 400 times as much water as producing oil.

Water guzzling ethanol is now required by Oregon state and Portland city law. An Oregon state law is ramping up to require all Oregonians to use at least 10% ethanol in their gasoline by September. The City of Portland already implemented a similar requirement last year.

From the AP story:

It's not only our carbon footprint we should worry about, U.N. experts say. They warn about our growing water footprint.

Nearly half the people on Earth, about 2.5 billion, have no access to sanitation, many of them in urban slums. The world's cities are growing by 1 million people a week, and soon their aging water systems will not cope. Farming demand on water is increasing.
. . .
A report published this month by UNESCO's Institute for Water Education in Delft said it takes 70 to 400 times as much water to create energy from biofuels as it does from fossil fuels.

It said 262 gallons of water is needed to produce crude oil that provides the same amount of energy from biomass grown in Brazil - primarily sugar cane used for ethanol - that requires 15,972 gallons of water. Biomass grown in the Netherlands needs 6,284 gallons, the report said.

[emphasis mine]

Why is Oregon and the City of Portland leading the way in hogging water resources essential to life? Because its leaders and advisory groups did not do the serious scientific work of studying the implications of proposed policies. (Not even on ethanol's impact on global warming.) They wanted the policy and fudged the science to approve it. Even a perfunctory check with the UN about current ethanol studies would have turned up the fact that massive waste of water resources in producing ethanol was being studied.

In politicizing science, State of Oregon and City of Portland leaders have produced and implemented bad science and harmful policy. They are forcing Oregonians to act like quintessential Ugly Americans who want their own way irrespective of the needs of the rest of the world.

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