Wall Street Journal - Brent crude oil—a blend of crudes from different fields in the North Sea—is the primary benchmark for international oil prices today, serving as the price reference for roughly two-thirds of the world’s traded oil volume. Yet there are growing doubts about its suitability for that role. Is Brent crude oil sufficiently representative of the dynamics of the world’s oil markets to be the basis for global pricing decisions? Driving these questions are a number of factors, the most critical of which is the faster-than-expected decline in oil production in the North Sea.
Wall Street Journal - The depressed price of oil has spurred a new wave of innovation in energy exploration. When a barrel of oil fetched $100 or more, energy companies were focused on drilling wells and pumping crude just as fast as they could. But now that prices have settled around $50 a barrel, companies are focused on efficiency—getting the most petroleum for the least amount of money. And many are turning to advanced technology for help. Big oil-field-services companies like Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. say their customers are hungrier than ever for technology that saves them cash.
Washington Post - Researchers knew California’s drought was already a record breaker when they set out to find its exact place in history, but they were surprised by what they discovered: It has been 500 years since what is now the Golden State has been this dry. California is in the fourth year of a severe drought with temperatures so high and precipitation so low that rain and snow evaporate almost as soon as they hit the ground. A research paper released Monday said an analysis of blue oak tree rings in the state’s Central Valley showed that the amount of mountain snow California relies on for moisture hasn’t been so low since the 1500s. That was around the time when European explorers landed in what became San Diego, when Columbus set off on a final voyage to the Caribbean, when King Henry VIII was alive.
Washington Post - Virtually every ecosystem of the world — from forests to the oceans — raises concern about the toll that a warming climate will take. There’s one type of landscape, though, that doesn’t get talked about very much in this context — so-called “drylands,” a grouping that includes arid and semi-arid regions ranging from many deserts to grasslands. Drylands are one of the more important ecosystems in the world, comprising fully 40 percent of the Earth’s land surface. And now, an alarming new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says the impact of a warming climate on these ecosystems could be much worse than expected — comparable to humans trampling the landscapes underfoot or driving off-road vehicles across them.
Washington Post - Even as President Obama further amplifies his rhetoric about addressing climate change, a coalition of environmental organizations released a letter Monday seeking to push his administration much further still. Not content with recently announced curbs on emissions from fossil fuel fired power plants, the groups want the president to use his authority to stop new leases for the development of fossil fuels in public lands and waters — a dramatic change in policy that would not only affect major companies but could also decrease future federal revenue collected from these leases. “Here at home, the longstanding U.S. policy of leasing federal public lands and oceans to corporations for coal, oil and gas extraction must end,” the statement reads. “As the world focuses on climate change in advance of negotiations in Paris this winter, we urge you to demonstrate strong climate leadership by stopping new leasing of our publicly owned fossil fuels.”
BBC - At the Deltares Research Institute, just outside the city of Delft in the Netherlands, engineers are carrying out the final tests on their new machine. In a huge concrete tank, colossal wave after colossal wave crashes down with an ear-splitting roar. This is the Delta Flume, and it can create the largest artificial waves in the world. "Yesterday, we had a wave of over 5m, but we're hoping to get some larger ones," Dr Bas Hofland, a coastal engineer explains.
Savannah Now - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers survey vessel Georgia left the docks at Tybee Island Marina at first light Monday. She made it to her offshore destination before sunrise, as muted colors of pink and orange streaked the nearly cloudless sky. But Corps officers and staffers, Georgia Ports officials and other members of Savannah’s maritime community had come to see the towering sight of the 220-foot dredge Alaska working away to deepen the port’s outer channel some five miles out into the Atlantic.
Post and Courier - With the final regulatory hurdle cleared to deepen Charleston Harbor and more than $1 billion in other projects on the table, the State Ports Authority is embarking on a critical five-year journey to sharpen its competitive edge and expand its business. The dredging project, which will allow larger, heavier ships to visit the Port of Charleston at any time regardless of the tide, received final approval Monday from the Army Corps of Engineers’ top official. Lt. Col. Matthew Luzzatto, the permitting agency’s district engineer, announced that “the ‘chief’s report’ has been signed” to applause from state and local officials at the S.C International Trade Conference on the Isle of Palms.
New York Governor Cuomo Announces $388 Million in Funding for Critical Coastal Resiliency and Sewer Expansion Project in Suffolk County
Press Release, Governor Andrew Cuomo - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $388 million in State and federal funding to expand sanitary sewer service to 8,075 parcels of land in Suffolk County which currently utilize on-site septic systems. This project, which has been approved the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, represents the first step in instituting extensive measures to mitigate flooding and septic system failure in Suffolk County caused by Superstorm Sandy. “Long Islanders have seen first-hand and up-close the damage that Mother Nature can inflict on a community and its ability to provide vital service for its residents," Governor Cuomo said.
Mercury News - Two endangered species have returned to a nearly lifeless former salt pond in the southern San Francisco Bay, the first proof that the ambitious 30-year South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is helping nature heal. Clapper Rails and Salt Marsh Harvest Mice have been discovered in a rehabilitated pond on the edge of Fremont, buoying hopes that the creatures are returning a century after they vanished due to salt harvesting by agricultural giant Cargill.
Asbury Park Press - When people envision entrepreneurs working to save the world, it’s not likely they picture someone like Dr. Sarah Mack. A fast-talking farm-raised gal who fishes and hunts (including alligators), Mack’s a whip-smart scientist determined to help save the Gulf Coast from the devastation of another Katrina. Mack is one of the new breed of New Orleans-based entrepreneurs dedicated to reviving the region and preventing another hurricane from devastating the area.
Wilmington Biz - Sand, a seemingly inexhaustible commodity along the coast of North Carolina, is a fickle resource, continually shifted by wind and water. “You can’t control sand, but you can manage it,” said Layton Bedsole Jr., New Hanover County’s shore protection coordinator. Carolina Beach officials say their community is an example of successful sand management. Because of the peninsula’s significant erosion problems, it was the first community in the nation where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implemented its 50-year Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Program, said Carolina Beach town manager Michael Cramer. Through that program, approved for the town in 1962 and implemented in 1965, engineers determined that beach nourishment was the best way to address the erosion problem.
Florida Water Daily - The St. Johns River Water Management District has completed several critical steps to ensure that the Eau Gallie River dredging project stays on schedule. On Sept. 8, the District’s Governing Board approved an agreement with Brevard County to obtain temporary easements to use county property for transfer and storage of dredge material during the planned cleanup of the Eau Gallie River. The Board also approved a contract amendment with Taylor Engineering, Inc., the firm hired to design and facilitate permitting of the project, as well as managing construction. The amendment increases the agreement with Taylor by $719,000 for additional pipeline design work, construction management and related tasks.
Sunshine State News - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District awarded a $197 million construction contract Friday for a reservoir that will clean water bound for the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. The reservoir component of the Indian River Lagoon-South’s C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) project is in Martin County -- one of the counties devastated in 2013 by Lake Okeechobee water releases. During periods of prolonged rainfall, millions of gallons of fresh water from the big lake infuse brackish waterways, releasing dangerous toxins and carrying them into local rivers.
Ocean City Patch - At least three sharks were caught off the New Jersey coast this week - the most recent on Tuesday - as some believe that a habitat could be forming off the shoreline. Perhaps the biggest came from hanny @hbirddd on Saturday, who filmed a shark swimming onto the Avalon beaches (see video). The most recent was captured by tonyb1957@tonyb1957 on Tuesday in Ocean City (see photo below). “Shark caught off the 28th St beach in ocean city nj today. Yikes!” the Twitter user wrote.
News Journal Online - As sea turtle nesting season comes to a close over the next few weeks, officials and turtle nest monitors are celebrating another banner year. Thousands of loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles have deposited eggs along Florida's coasts, nearing or setting records in some cases. More leatherback turtle nests were found along Volusia County beaches north of Canaveral National Seashore than at any other time since county officials started keeping track, said Jennifer Winters, habitat program manager for Volusia County. Nest monitors found 14 leatherback nests, one more than the previous record, set in 2011.
Myrtle Beach Online - The deputy director of planning and zoning for Horry County will be joining Myrtle Beach next month as the city’s new planning director. Carol Coleman, who has been with Horry County for 10 of the past 12 years, will replace Myrtle Beach Planning Director Jack Walker, who retired abruptly in June after 31 years with the city. Coleman said she applied to be Myrtle Beach’s planning director because she has great respect for the city’s accomplishments.
WKRN - Eight sea turtles made their debut into the big ocean blue Wednesday. Hundreds came out to the release in Surf City to cheer on the sea turtles who had been rehabilitating for months. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center said the turtles suffered from things like starvation and broken fins, but they were able to treat them and release them back where they belong.
Island Packet - The 2015-2016 season for harvesting shellfish in South Carolina's coastal waters begins Oct. 1 and remains open through May 15, 2016, according to a release from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. DNR, which manages nearly 90 shellfish grounds statewide, has maps of designated harvest areas that can be found by calling 843-953-9854 or by going to http://dnr.sc.gov/marine/shellfish/shellfishmaps. Recreational harvesters must have a saltwater recreational fishing license, which can be obtained at a regional DNR office and most fishing supply stores.