Energy & Environment — Arizona weighs piping in Mexican water

Arizona is considering a plan to pump water from Mexico in order to reduce its dependence on the Colorado River. Meanwhile, Congress passed a major spending bill and a winter storm is continuing to cause issues.  

This is Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Subscribe here or in the box below.

(Programming note: We’ll be taking a break next week and return in the new year. Happy holidays!)

Arizona mulls plan to lessen Colo. River dependence

Arizona’s top water authority is mulling a plan to pump water from a desalination plant by the Sea of Cortez, in a bid to lessen the state’s reliance on the Colorado River.

  • The plan, pitched by Israeli water treatment company IDE Technologies, would involve a binational effort led by Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora to build the desalination plant and canals to pump water into Arizona and two Sonoran cities.
  • Arizona’s Water Infrastructure Finance Authority this week resolved to move ahead with the nascent plan, which still has to clear regulatory hurdles at the state, local and federal levels in both Mexico and the United States. 

If constructed, the desalination plant would be placed on the Sea of Cortez coast near Puerto Peñasco, a resort town on the Sonoran panhandle that’s long attracted Arizonan tourism. 

The main canal from the plant would shoot north through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument toward Arizona’s main population center surrounding Phoenix, according to a report by AZ Central. 

A secondary route would pump water south from the plant to Hermosillo, Sonora’s capital, and a third canal or pipeline stemming from the main line would send water to the border city of Nogales, Sonora. 

The plan would supply up to 1 million acre feet of water for purchase to Arizona, according to the IDE pitch. One acre foot is roughly the amount of water necessary to provide water to two households for one year. 

Arizona’s fast-growing population has contributed to water shortages in the Southwest, as the overtaxed Colorado River struggles to supply its seven basin states and Mexico.

Read more here.

Bill with billions in disaster aid heads to Biden’s desk

The House passed a mammoth $1.7 trillion omnibus package on Friday, capping off weeks of drama to lock down government funding for the 2023 fiscal year.

The bill includes $772.5 billion in nondefense discretionary spending and $858 billion in defense funding. 

It passed the House largely along party lines, 225-201-1, a day after the Senate approved the bill in a bipartisan vote.

The legislation now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature. 


  • The bill includes $40.6 billion to help communities recover from “drought, hurricanes, flooding, wildfire, natural disasters and other matters.”
  • That includes money to address the impacts of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian and help repair the damaged water system in Jackson, Miss.
  • It provides modest increases to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior and Energy departments. 

Read more here.


The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday said the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package moving through Congress will put North Atlantic right whales on the path toward an “irreversible extinction.”

  • A provision included the bill would make it so that the lobster industry doesn’t have to take certain steps to protect the endangered whales.
  • Fewer than 350 North Atlantic Right Whales are left, including less than 100 breeding females, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, slammed Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday, calling the “needless suffering” of whales “heartbreaking.”

Some lawmakers also lamented the provision, like Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who called it “a step backward for conservation.” 

The package also included a provision preventing the sage grouse, a bird residing in the Western U.S., from receiving endangered species protections, also rankling environmentalists.  

Read more from The Hill’s Brad Dress


A massive winter storm has left thousands stranded at U.S. airports on Friday, just days before the Christmas holiday.

  • More than 3,200 flights were canceled as of Friday morning, piling on top of the more than 2,600 flights canceled on Thursday, according to commercial flight tracker FlightAware.
  • More than 500 flights alone were canceled at Chicago’s two major airports — O’Hare and Midway — on Friday, in anticipation of wind gusts up to 40 to 50 miles per hour.  

Holiday travelers could struggle to find other options to get to their final destinations after Amtrak announced earlier this week that some Midwest and cross-country routes would be suspended through Sunday. 

Read more here, from The Hill’s Julia Shapero


  • China’s aluminum plants spew climate emissions that last 50,000 years. There’s a surprisingly simple solution. (Grid and Inside Climate News)
  • A Water War Is Brewing Over the Dwindling Colorado River (ProPublica)

📺 Lighter click2022 was wild

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage.

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