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WVU Energy Conference Features Talks about Water

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The WVU College of Law’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development hosted their 4th annual National Energy Conference last week in Morgantown. The day-long conference examined issues affecting water in energy production. 

The director of the Center for Energy and sustainable Development, James Van Nostrand, says the 4th annual energy conference was a success in that representatives from industry, government, and environmental groups all sat down at the same table to discuss important water issues.

“Energy is a huge user of water. 40 percent of the fresh water withdrawals in the United States relate to electricity generation,” Van Nostrand said. “So there’s a huge connection between water issues and energy issues.”

“We don’t necessarily see the quantity issues in this region,” he continued,  “but we definitely have water quality issues in terms of making sure that hydraulic fracturing and Marcellus shale development, that those don’t result in contamination of water supplies.”

One panel focused specifically on exploring the impacts of shale gas development on water; another panel considered the potential impacts of climate change.

Van Nostrand pointed out how the region is not likely to have water scarcity issues like those being seen in California; but he said likely increases in water call for improving the resilience of the energy system in the face of anticipated extreme weather events.

“Even though we don’t have scarcity issues other parts of the country have,” he said, “we do have climate change impacts that we’re seeing now in West Virginia.”

Other talks included discussions surrounding proposed rules from the EPA on “Waters of the United States,” and EPA’s cooling water intake rules. Keynote addresses were given from representatives of the US Department of Energy as well as the Environmental Council of the United States. 


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