The Atlantic Council Energy and Environment Program has undertaken a series of workshops to investigate the intersection between water and energy. The “energy-water nexus” examines water availability, or more accurately water scarcity, as a key energy-related issue. With this series of conferences, the Council built upon its work to better inform Congress, the American public, and key policy and industry leaders on energy-related issues that impact the United States’ ability to protect its energy, national, economic, and environmental security. In a follow up to the initial workshop on energy water implications of thermoelectric power generation, the Atlantic Council held a second workshop on November 10, 2011 aimed at examining how water resources are used throughout the production and usage of primary energy and transportation fuels. Primary energy and transportation fuel extraction and processing is responsible for less than 5 percent of US water consumption; however, in water scarce regions, extraction and processing has led to fierce competition for water rights among farmers, energy producers, and municipalities, which has only increased in the wake of severe droughts.

 Discussions during the workshop focused on current and the forecast levels of water and energy supply and demand, water intensity during extraction and processing of primary fuels, associated environmental issues, federal and state government oversight of water quality, and the prospect of technological advances. The goal of the workshop was to rethink how policy and business practices can adapt to accommodate the diverging interests of primary energy and fuel production and water sustainability.