Senator Warren and Rep. Khanna Reintroduce Bill to Stop Wall Street from Profiting Off Water and Water Rights

Published Apr 18, 2024


Clean Water

Washington, D.C. – Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) have re-introduced the Future of Water Act to amend the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit the trading of water and water rights in commodity futures contracts.

Under current law, water prices are vulnerable to manipulation and speculation from futures markets. Without limitations on these markets, passive investors are incentivized to purchase acres of farmland purely for the commoditized water rights that accompany the land, giving control of the water futures market to individuals with no personal or commercial stake in it. This regime could lead to physical water hoarding and price increases, harming American families and farmers and incentivizing further farmland consolidation. 

“Water is not a commodity for the rich and powerful to profit off of,” Senator Warren said. “Representative Khanna and I are standing up to protect water from Wall Street speculation and ensure one of our most essential resources isn’t auctioned off to the highest bidder.”

“Access to clean, drinkable water is a basic human right,” said Representative Khanna. “I’m proud to be introducing this legislation with Senator Warren that prioritizes human needs over corporate profits. Large companies and investors should not be allowed to use an essential, too often scarce, public resource for their own gain. We must stand together to protect our water.” 

The 2020 announcement of water futures trading opportunities received condemnation from the global water community, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation who stated: “Water is already under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands and grave pollution from agriculture and mining industry in the context of worsening impact of climate change. . . I am very concerned that water is now being treated as gold, oil and other commodities that are traded on Wall Street futures market.”

The Future of Water Act, which was first introduced in the 117th Congress, would: 

  1. Prohibit the trading of water and water rights in commodity futures contracts. The proposed bill would add “water and water rights” to the current list of prohibitions in the Commodity Exchange Act.
  2. Protect American families, farmers, and ranchers from water price spikes. Wall Street’s interest in financial derivatives based on water and water rights could lead to severe real-world water price spikes due to market manipulation and/or excessive speculation. Prohibition of water and water rights futures trading stops this dangerous speculation and protects American families, farmers, and ranchers.

Senate co-sponsors of this bill include: Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

House co-sponsors of this bill include: Representatives Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Jesus “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.). 

The Future of Water Act of 2024 is endorsed by over 275 organizations including: Americans for Financial Reform, Center for Biological Diversity, Demand Progress, Demos, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth United States, Greenpeace USA, Indigenous Environmental Network, National Family Farm Coalition, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Open Markets Institute, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, and Sunrise Movement. 

“As Wall Street investors are scrambling to grab up dwindling water supplies, it is clearer than ever that water must be treated as a public trust resource, not a commodity for financial speculators,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “We thank Senator Warren and Representative Khanna for their leadership to ban water futures trading and protect access to safe, affordable water for all.”

Press Contact: Peter Hart [email protected]