Washington Post - The U.S. solar industry is on course for a new growth record in 2015, according to a new report that finds that solar photovoltaic installations now exceed 20 gigawatts in capacity and could surpass an unprecedented 7 gigawatts this year alone across all segments. A gigawatt is equivalent to 1 billion watts and can power some 164,000 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Associations (SEIA). The new report, from GTM Research and SEIA, covers the second quarter of 2015, which set a new record for residential rooftop solar installations in particular, a category that saw 70 percent year-over-year growth. 473 megawatts of residential solar capacity were installed, or nearly half a gigawatt. "It's setting records every quarter," says Shayle Kann, senior vice president of GTM Research and lead author of the report, of residential segment.
New York Times - The air in the San Joaquin Valley hangs thick with gray-brown dust, a result of the state's largest fire, which has burned through more than 160 square miles in the nearby hills. The fire has so far spared lives and homes. But it has exposed one of the obscured effects that four years of record drought has unleashed here: dangerous drops in air quality that exacerbate public health problems in this region and threaten to choke the quality of life. "With the fire, even with my inhalers, I'm still wheezing," Antoinette Wyer, 48, an asthmatic who has lived her whole life here, said at a health clinic on Wednesday. She has kept her 3-year-old grandson inside this week, while a 4-year-old grandson has stayed home from school.
Washington Post - There are many ways to measure the world's changing climate. You can chart rising global temperatures, rising sea levels and melting ice. What's tougher, though, is to find a measurement that easily relates all of that to what people experience in their daily lives. In a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, however, two Australian researchers do just this by examining a simple but telling meteorological metric - the ratio of new hot temperature records set in the country to a new cold temperature records. "In a stationary climate, a climate where we don't have any trend or long-term change, we expect hot and cold records to be broken at almost the same rate," explains Sophie Lewis, the lead study author of a researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra. "But in the last 15 years, we see a dramatic increase in the frequency of hot records and the decrease of cold records."
New York Times - In a major setback for environmental advocates in California, Gov. Jerry Brown and Senate Democrats abandoned a 50 percent cut in petroleum use by 2030 that was a centerpiece of emissions legislation, blaming an intense campaign against the mandate by the oil industry. The measure, the latest and most ambitious part of a series of legislation and regulations by the state to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions over the next 35 years, passed the Democratic-controlled Senate but faced almost certain defeat in the Assembly, where Democrats are also in control but tend to be more moderate and represent economically struggling parts of the state. Backers described those allegations as false - the bill does not mention rationing or any other specific measures - but those arguments seemed to go far in coalexcing opposition to the bill. The decision on how to carry out the proposed cuts would have been left to the state's Air Resources Board, a matter of strong concern to many lawmakers.
Washington Post - Climate scientists and economists have long argued that the world's cities have some of the greatest leverage when it comes to deciding our planet's climate future. The United Nations estimates that cities produced nearly three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions already, and rapid urban migration means this number has the potential to keep growing. But it also has the potential to shrink, saving trillions of dollars in the process, according to a new report from the New Climate Economy, a project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. The report claims that cities can save a collective $17 trillion or more by mid-century by investing in more efficient buildings, transportation and waste management. And that's not all: Over the same amount of time, the report argues, these investments could also cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 8 gigatons (that's 8 billion tons). Currently, the world emits about 32 billion gigatons of carbon dioxide every year, the most commonly emitted greenhouse gas, according to the International Energy Agency.
Los Angeles Times - Across California this summer, residents have been racking up water conservation numbers that defy expectations - a 27% reduction in June, followed by 31.3% in July. Perhaps more impressive than the percentage figures, however, is the actual volume of water saved over two months: 414,800 acre-feet. There's a lot of water - more than twice the amount projected to be available annually from two proposed storage facilities that would cost a combined $3.5 billion to build: the Temperance Flat Dam on the San Joaquin River and an expansion of Shasta Dam. The conservation performance raises a host of possibilities, and profound questions, for water policy analysts and managers as they contemplate California's hydrological future in an era of climate change and increased competition for an essential natural resource.
Associated Press - Federal scientists said Wednesday that they expect nuisance flooding to more than double in Norfolk in the coming months. Sea level rise from global warming and the giant weather system El Nino will likely combine to increase the street flooding that causes inconvenience but no major damage, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. In 10 of the 27 coastal communities that NOAA examined, scientists predict the number of nuisance flood days will increase between 33 and 125 percent with El Nino. And it's likely to be in the worst in the mid-Atlantic region, from New Jersey to North Carolina, where nuisance floods could happen about once a week. The nuisance flood season runs mostly from fall to early spring. NOAA oceanographer William Sweet is forecasting that Norfolk's nuisance flood days will increase to 18 this fall, winter and spring, more than double the eight flood days observed last year.
Government Executive - In an escalation of the right's anti-EPA fervor, Rep. Paul Gosar is preparing to file legislation to open up impeachment proceedings against Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. Gosar is circulating a letter to colleagues and plans to introduce a resolution this week calling for McCarthy's impeachment, charging that she delivered false testimony before Congress when testifying about a clean-water rule. "Perjury and making false statements to Congress are an affront to the fundamental principles of our republic and the rule of law, and such behavior cannot be tolerated," Gosar's letter states. "This bill holds Administrator McCarthy accountable for her blatant deceptions and unlawful conduct." According to Gosar, McCarthy lied before Congress when testifying about the Waters of the United States rule, which clarified the administration's authority under the 1972 Clean Water Act and gave it authority over more streams, waterways, and tributaries.
Augusta Free Press - Catastrophic oil spills, nuclear power accidents, and erupting volcanoes all share a common thread. They are environmental disasters where the flow of hazardous materials, dispersed by the natural movements of air and/or water, seem uncontrollable. The prediction of where materials go in such complex environmental flows "remains a formidable scientific challenge," said Shane Ross, associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech. Ross, who received a national Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award in 2012 to study engineering tools to understand and predict fluid motions, is now the co-principal investigator on a new $2.6 million NSF award that will focus on specific methods for the successful prediction, mitigation, and response to an environmental flow hazard.
Word on the Shore - One of the last beach replenishment projects along the Jersey Shore is scheduled to begin this fall. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced this weekend that a federally-funded contract for beach replenishment from Elberon to northern Deal has been awarded. The work will be the second and final phase of the beach replenishment project from Elberon and Loch Arbour. The project will cover the area stretching from Lake Takanassee in Elberon to Philips Avenue in Deal. The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded the contract for the $87 million project to Manson Construction Company, which has handled several other sand replacement projects in the area.
Environmental Monitor - Georgia has about 30 percent of all the existing salt marsh on the United States' eastern seaboard. Much of that is expected to migrate inward with predicted sea level rise in the future, possibly impacting plant and animal habitats and commercial fisheries. Understandably, scientists have many questions for what these moving marshes could bring about. A few at the University of Georgia's Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and Georgia Southern University have embarked on a study to model what the state's coasts will look like within the next 100 years. Scientists are focusing their efforts on five coastal river systems: the Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, Satilla and St. Marys.
Florida Times-Union - The Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, strives to ensure our partners and the public are well-informed of our work. To this end, we post extensive libraries of documents relating to our projects on our website: www.saj.usace.army.mil/. I encourage the readers to explore these documents in depth. Because of recent commentary, I would like to discuss the upcoming Jacksonville Harbor deepening, specifically our confidence that the project will not significantly affect the St. Johns River. We studied the Jacksonville Harbor Project extensively, using the best science available. After the Corps' internal reviews, external experts, including members of the Jacksonville community, rigorously reviewed the project study. Without this coordination, the project study would not have been sent to Congress, which authorized the project in the 2014 Water Resource Reform and Development Act.