The Stream, July 17, 2020: Closing Coal Plants in the Western U.S. Expected to Free Up 76 Billion Gallons of Water

The Global Rundown

The closure of 30 coal powered plants in the western United States could free up 76 billion gallons of water annually. A statement by Sudan’s Foreign Ministry claims that reports of Ethiopia filling its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam were inaccurate. A new study by the University of California, Davis predicts a 54% increase in California’s rainfall variability by the end of the century. Water levels drop “dangerously low” in Thailand’s drought-stricken Prachaup Khiri Khan province. U.S. President Donald Trump moves forward with plans to change the long-standing Environmental Policy Act, a move that would expedite permitting for oil pipelines and other infrastructure. 

“Today’s action is part of my administration’s fierce commitment to slashing the web of needless bureaucracy that is holding back our citizens.” –U.S. President Donald Trump, in reference to his plans to alter the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The change would allow fast-tracking of permits for infrastructure projects like oil pipelines and roadways. It would also eliminate the need for public input on such projects, which environmental groups say could erase the voices of minorities across the country. Reuters 

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By The Numbers

76 billion gallons Amount of river and groundwater that could be freed up every year as 30 coal-fired generating stations in the western U.S. close over the next decade. The nonprofit watchdog Energy and Policy Institute said the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Wyoming could all experience “significant” water savings as the plants close, with the largest amount of water being freed up in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The Colorado Sun

In context: Navajo Generating Station, a Union of Coal and Water, Shuts Down

25% Percentage of water left in the Pran Buri reservoir, the largest in Thailand’s drought-stricken Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Seasonal rains have so far failed to fill the reservoir, a key supplier of agricultural and drinking water. Bangkok Post

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study by the University of California, Davis claims that California’s rainfall variability could increase by 54% by 2100. The research predicts more frequent, monthly swings between extremely wet and dry weather in coming years, which will seriously impact agriculture, flood control and water management.

On the Radar

A statement by Sudan’s Foreign Ministry indicates that Ethiopia may not have begun filling the reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, despite reports on Wednesday that the process was underway. According to the statement, an Ethiopian official told the Sudanese Foreign Ministry that the dam gates had not been closed and that Ethiopia was committed to continuing negotiations with Egypt and Sudan. Reuters

In context: HotSpots H2O: Egypt and Ethiopia Spar Over Nile River Dam in Latest Round of Talks

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