Washington Post- Ever since humans uncovered the fossil records of the mammoths, giant sloths and other extinct megafauna that walked the Earth until about 11,000 years ago, scientists have been trying to solve the mystery of why they vanished. Was it human hunting and activity? Or did climate change bring about their end? A new study suggests that the key to solving the question lies in a series of abrupt warming events over the course of the Late Pleistocene era, going back at least 50,000 years.
Washington Post- Outrageously, the bottled water industry has successfully lobbied Congress and, through a budget amendment, is forcing the National Park Service to sell water in disposable bottles. There are many benefits of not selling water in disposable bottles in national parks, including reducing trash at parks, carbon emissions and the litter that despoils our parks, landscape and waterways.
The Hill- Superstorm Sandy caused $23 billion in damage in New York state alone and delivered the highest water levels there on record, according to a new federal report. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said this week that the 2012 storm produced sea levels much higher than other historic storms to hit the New York region. Peak storm tides from Sandy were more than 9.5 feet above sea level, according to the agencies' report. On average, those tides were about half a foot, or 9 percent, higher than those produced by a 1992 nor’easter, and 2.5 feet, or 48 percent, higher than those associated with tropical storm Irene, a weakened hurricane that hit the region in 2011.
The Hill- Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton late Sunday unveiled a set of goals to expand the use of renewable energy and solar power specifically as part of an effort to fight climate change. As president, Clinton would try to reach a level of 500 million solar panels installed throughout the country, an eightfold increase over the current capacity, by the end of her first term in January, 2021. She would also aim to expand renewable power sources to the level that they could provide enough electricity for every United States home by 2027, 10 years after she would take office. Clinton pledged to outline more about her energy and climate platform in the coming months. Those goals, along with a video posted late Sunday, should start to answer frustrated environmentalists, who have been calling for Clinton to take a stand on various green issues since long before she declared her candidacy for president in April.
The Hill- Fourteen states are asking a federal appeals court to revive their challenge to the Obama administration’s signature regulatory proposal on climate change. The states, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, want all 17 judges on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to hear the case that a three-judge panel rejected last month against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).That panel of judges decided the challenge was premature because the rule has not yet been made final, and a court has never reviewed a proposed rule before.
The Hill- Thirteen of America’s largest companies are joining President Obama to agree to a slew of policies meant to curb the effects of climate change, the White House announced Monday. “Climate change is a global challenge that demands a global response, and President Obama is committed to leading the fight,” the White House said in a statement. “And while the United States is leading on the international stage and the federal government is doing its part to combat climate change, hundreds of private companies, local governments, and foundations have stepped up to increase energy efficiency, boost low-carbon investing, and make solar energy more accessible to low-income Americans.” The group of companies includes Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart. The White House noted that the combined group represents a market capitalization of at least $2.5 trillion.
The Hill- Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has told the Environmental Protection Agency his state might not comply with a forthcoming Obama administration rule on carbon emissions from power plants. “We do not see how it will be possible to reasonably develop a State Implementation Plan [SIP] given the burdensome requirements of EPA’s proposal in its current form,” Bryant wrote in a Thursday letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. Bryant said the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is an “unfunded mandate” that would require the state to build new energy infrastructure in order to bring down its carbon emissions. He complained that the proposed plan set more stringent emissions goals for Mississippi than other states and that it does not credit the state for reducing its emissions in previous years. The letter also reflected concerns shared by many opponents of the Clean Power Plan, primarily that it could hurt electricity reliability or raise energy prices by forcing coal-fired power plants to shut down.
E&E Daily- The House is likely to pass a bill this week to combat illegal fishing, signaling bipartisan support for at least one priority of the Obama administration. H.R. 774 would streamline enforcement of high-seas fishing laws, implementing several treaties. Supporters say it is needed to ensure fairness for U.S. fishermen and tackle a $20 billion illegal fishing industry. The House is slated to consider the bill this week under suspension of the rules, a procedure typically reserved for noncontroversial bills that allows no amendments and requires a two-thirds vote to pass.
E&E Daily- Congress would create a dedicated fund for renovating Arctic icebreakers under a bill that lawmakers will debate in a hearing this week. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will tackle a long-standing debate: How can the Coast Guard ensure it has enough working icebreakers to navigate frozen seas? The panel's Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee will hold a hearing tomorrow on several bills, including the "National Icebreaker Fund Act." Officials from the Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation will testify. Construction of icebreakers is expensive, and some have argued that the Coast Guard shouldn't have to carry the burden alone because the heavy ships are used to help multiple agencies. Earlier this year, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said congressional support is growing to build new icebreakers.
Climate Central- Thousands of dams, levees, hurricane barriers and flood walls built across the country by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers may be at risk from extreme weather and sea level rise driven by climate change, but the Army Corps has only just begun to assess how vulnerable they are and suffers from a lack of funding, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. The Army Corps may not be the most prominent of federal government agencies, but the dams, levees and other infrastructure it builds, critical to the lives of millions, can be seen everywhere across the United States, often keeping rising waters away from low-lying communities.
Democrat & Chronicle- Dredging in the Genesee River is not to blame for water-quality problems along Lake Ontario shoreline this spring and summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has concluded. The Corps of Engineers reviewed its dredging practices after numerous complaints from shoreline residents that the work was releasing sediments into the water. The season has been marred by the frequent appearance of muddy, discolored water and debris near the shoreline in the Rochester area. But a Corps of Engineers ecologist, Scott Pickard, said the quantity of dredged material that was released into the water was "very small and short-term." A Corps dredging contractor removed about 340,000 cubic yards from the Genesee ship channel between May 3 and July 12.
Sandusky Register- Lake Erie is at its highest elevation in 17 years, shrinking the size of beaches and making other changes that affect people who live along the shore. According to the Office of Coastal Management — a state agency in Sandusky — Lake Erie's water elevation this month is 19 inches above the level of a year ago. One of the results of that is more erosion. One of the effects of the higher water is that water comes much further up on shore, encouraging erosion when the wind is blowing, said Rob Quinn, a Kelleys Island resident who lives on the east side of the island. Many beaches that used to slow down the lake's waves may be underwater, allowing waves to hit farther inland, says the Office of Coastal Management, which is suggesting that property owners who live along the lake keep an eye out for damage.
The Post & Courier- The middle of this barrier island is said to be one of the lucky stretches in the Lowcountry — a beach that is accreting, or gaining sand. Except high surf is now scarping its dune line, collapsing the front dunes to a sharp-edged, crumbling cliff. Isle of Palms officials have their engineers looking at a possible overall beach renourishment, said Mayor Dick Cronin, possibly within the next five to seven years.That doesn’t bode well for other efforts to keep sand on popular Lowcountry beaches, as more people swarm Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach and nearby destinations.The beaches are barrier islands, really not any more than big sandbars sifting and sliding through the surf. Sands erode and pile up downstream, continually reshaping even the most stable stretches. The beach that was there yesterday won’t be tomorrow. The beach you rebuild doesn’t stay put.