New York Times - Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown on Tuesday, with Republicans threatening to block a budget deal if it includes financing for Planned Parenthood, as President Obama prepared to join the fight by pushing Republicans to scrap a multibillion-dollar tax advantage for private equity managers. In a speech on Wednesday, Mr. Obama is expected to call on Republicans to end the tax break and use the funds to pay for spending increases on domestic and national security programs, and he will enlist business leaders to help him make his case. In a session at the Business Roundtable in Washington, Mr. Obama will seek to shame Republicans who control Congress for failing to strike a deal with Democrats to fund the government's operations, using the so-called carried-interest provision as an example of what he argues are misplaced priorities, according to White House officials.
Wall Street Journal - At least 16 people were killed by flash flooding in Utah, including 12 women and children who died after a torrent of water Monday evening swept through a tiny community on the Utah-Arizona border that is home to members of a polygamous sect. The other four found dead were hikers in nearby Zion National Park. In the town of Hildale, Utah, which had been drenched with heavy rains, a surge of water came roaring out of a canyon, washing away a van and sport-utility vehicle that were filled with women and children who were returning from a city park, said Kevin Barlow, the town's assistant fire chief. "I've never seen the likes of that, " Mr. Barlow said. "There's flash flood warnings almost every day during monsoon season, but this particular storm, it just came down fast and furious."
New York Times - Wildfires continue to simmer in bone-dry acres in Northern California on Wednesday, but firefighters said they were gaining control in some areas. The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, estimated Wednesday that the Valley Fire, which had torn through more than 67,000 acres in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, was about 30 percent contained with 585 homes destroyed. Fernando Herrera, a Cal Fire spokesman, said it might be weeks before the Valley Fire was under control. The area is still not officially open for evacuees to return. "Some people sneak in; some stayed, and some know back ways in; you can't control that," Mr. Herrera told The Associated Press. The agency reported that evacuation orders in Amador County from the Butte Fire had been lifted. Cal Fire said Wednesday that the Butte fire had burned almost 72,000 acres and was 40 percent contained; it reported that 233 residences had been destroyed.
Washington Post - Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent on Sept. 11, according to the Boulder, Color.-based National Snow and Ice Data Center - and only three years on record have seen a minimum ice extent that was lower than this one: 2007, 2011 and the current record-holder, 2012. "The minimum ice extent was fourth lowest in satellite record, and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent," the center said in a statement. The lowest extent this year, reached on September 11, was 1.7 million square miles. That's quite low, but still 394,000 square miles above the low extent that occurred Sept. 17, 2012, when ice only covered 1.31 million square miles at the top of the world. "The nine lowest extents in the satellite era have all occurred in the last nine years," added NSIDC - yet another clear indicator that declining sea ice is very likely part of a trend tied to global climate change. Indeed, this year's low ice extent was nearly 700,000 square miles less than the average from 1981-2010.
New York Times - President Obama's top climate change negotiator met with his Chinese counterpart in Los Angeles on Tuesday to announce joint actions by cities, states and provinces in both countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The summit meeting followed a historic accord reached in Beijing in November by Mr. Obama and President Xi Jinping, who pledged to enact policies to cut emissions significantly. Mr. Obama said the United States would reduce planet-warming carbon emissions up to 28 percent by 2025, while Mr. Xi vowed that China would halt its emissions growth by 2030. That announcement by the world's two biggest greenhouse gas polluters was seen as a breakthrough after decades of deadlock on efforts to forge an effective global accord on climate change. Now Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi are pushing for completion of such a deal, signed by every nation on earth, at a United Nations summit meeting in Paris this fall.
Washington Post - Later Wednesday, in a move that continues the Obama administration's romance with the clean energy industry, Vice President Biden will speak at the Solar Power International Conference in Anaheim, Calif. And the administration has announced an array of new clean energy initiatives in advance, encompassing $120 million in new research initiatives and programs to promote solar, as well as other renewables - and in particular, to get them into homes. The majority of the initiatives are based at the Department of Energy and focus on either advancing solar technologies, so that they can achieve even better levels of performance, or helping ease the installation of solar systems in homes and increase their reliability. For instance, one new $7 million investment will push new research on how the hardware of installed solar systems degrades over time, seeking to render this more predictable and better understood.
The Lens - The mouth of the Mississippi River should be moved to Port Sulphur or English Turn and communities south of those points will have to be abandoned if other parts of southeast Louisiana are to have a future into the next century. Those were among the more startling recommendations proposed by the winning team of coastal engineering and sustainability experts from around the world who took part in the Changing Course, a design competition sponsored by Louisiana that kicked off in 2013. Key features of the plans would represent dramatic departures from teh state's up-and-running Coastal Master Plan, a $50 billion 50-year vision that has received generally high praise from the scientific community. Experts said their recommended changes should be taken seriously because subsidence and sea level rise will make many existing communities indefensible in the coming decades. "We want to stress this isn't something anyone is saying needs to be done soon, but it something we think will be necessary in the future - so we need to start planning for it now," said Jeff Carney, Director of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio.
Dallas Observer - Why do I feel like I just got shot in the leg and now they're sending me to a tailor? The North Texas Tollway Authority which in the toll road business, is now going to review the latest planf or the road the mayor wants to build on top of hteTrinity River downtown. Presumably teh NTTA will look at the new design - a meandering park road on a raised bench next to the river - to see if it can collect enough tolls form it . I understand their concern. I hope they can understand why I'm more concerned with whether the thing is going to kill me. The road and especially the bench they want to build it on is in the middle the levee system that protects downtown Dallas. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated the catastrophe that would ensue if those levees ever failed as worse than what happened in New Orleans it the Katrina storm of 2005. Katrina is why I happened to be thinking about this. An article about to be published in the journal Water Policy makes an argument that Katrina was entirely the fault of the Corps and not at all the fault of New Orleans.
Lumina News - After months of work in Florida, a state-of-the-art dredging vessel based in Wilmington returned to the region on Tuesday, Sept. 15, for an Army Corps of Engineers project to deepen the Carolina Beach Inlet for recreational and commercial boaters. The Dredge Murton will spend three days clearing sand from the ocean bar channel just south of Masonboro Island, though the project likely won't last long enough to restore the waterway to its charted depth of 8 to 10 feet. Still, three days of nearly uninterrupted dredging should improve boater access through the inlet, even if it won't be able to clear the boating channel to its full slated depth in all places.
Charleston Regional Business Journal - The Army Corps of Engineers has given its official stamp of approval to deepening Charleston Harbor to 52 feet. Lt. Col. Matthew Luzzatto, commander and district engineer with the Charleston District, announced at today's S.C. International Trade Conference on the Isle of Palms that the Chief's Report for the Post-45 Harbor Deepening Project has been signed, clearing a major regulatory hurdle. The report, by Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, commanding general of the Army Corps, outlines the recommendation to deepen Charleston harbor's channel to 52 feet and the entrance channel to 54 feet. These deepening recommendations mirror those made in the corps' Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement. The Chief's Report will next be reviewed by the Assistant Secretary of the Army's office and the Office of Management and Budget before going to Congress for review and authorization, which will likely happen early next year.
My Northwest - The City of Seattle is hiring a private consultant to review its seawall replacement project that is now one year behind schedule and millions over budget. The consultant will cost the city $200,000. The consultant will investigate why the seawall along Elliott Bay will need an extra year and an additional $71 million dollars to get the job done. That's in addition to the $339.2 million that the job was initially budgeted for. One reason for the delay and budget woe could be a decision made earlier in the project, according to KING 5 Reporter Chris Daniels. "Because of a decision to create a temporary frozen wall to solidify soil on the east side of the project in the process to get rid of so-called grouting soils which have to be trucked offsite," Daniels said. "That has caused the seawall project to balloon in costs, well above the $300 million voter-approved price tag." Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is also organizing a review panel of peer agency experts that includes public works directors and chief engineers to review the project. That is in addition to the private consultant.
Press of Atlantic City - The city hopes to win a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project for as much as $12 million to fix the deteriorating seawall on the east side of town, which routinely lets in floodwaters during hurricanes and northeast storms. Hurricane Sandy, which brought floodwaters over the seawall and down to a low-lying section of town called Frog Hollow, also led to some money for a study on a possible project, and the Army Corps has a funding stream separate from beach replenishment that can provide as much as $12 million for construction. Army Corps spokesman Ed Voight said the agency has funded work on seawalls at Hereford and Townsends inlets. The Army Corps has kicked in $100,000 for a feasibility study on the project. The local share is $310,000, and the city passed a $500,000 bond ordinance earlier this year to cover any costs.
Miami Today - Commissioners were scheduled this week to approve increasing funds by $10 million for a program to re-nourish Miami-Dade's beaches and protect its shoreline. The legislation would reduce an allocation of $10 million to the Building Better Communities Obligation Bond Program project for "Purchase Development Rights" as surplus funds, reducing the original allocation of $30 million to $20 million and transfer it to the "Beach Erosion Mitigation and Renourishment" project, increasing its total allocation from $17.5 million to $27.5 million. The resolution also dictates that a policy be established to restore $10 million by September 2024 to the purchase of development rights program, directing the mayor's office to identify legally available funds toward that end in the proposed budget for fiscal 2019-2020 as well as the four subsequent proposed budgets.
The Day - Agreeing that long Island Sound's maritime economy is at stake, Sen. Chris Murphy heard from about 30 marina owners and state officials Monday concerned that opposition in New York state could derail a plan for handling dredge spoils from the Long Island Sound for the next 30 years. "We will presih as a shoreline economy," without offshore dump sites for the silt and sand that accumulates in harbors, navigation channels and marinas, Murphy told the group, meeting at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus. Without the ability to dredge periodically, he said, 15 to 20 percent of the state's navigation channels, marinas and harbors would become too shallow for boats to use in the coming decades.
Pensacola New Journal - To secure funding for the exorbitant costs of upcoming Pensacola and Navarre Beach renourishment projects, Escambia County and Santa Rosa County commissioners persuaded state lobbyists and dipped into a myriad of revenue streams. The renourishments are yet to begin, but unlike in the past, commissioners are already considering how to fund future projects. The reality for each county is that another multi-million dollar beach renourishment is only eight to 10 years away - or sooner if Mother Nature acts up.
Press Release, Senator Joe Manchin - U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today announced a total of $131,310 in funding for the West Virginia State Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) West Virginia Private Water Well Safety Project. The goal of the project is to identify and address drinking water program performance gaps, improve efficiency and effectiveness of drinking water programs and identify and reduce exposures leading to drinking water contamination. "Investing in water infrastructure projects are not only important to the health and safety of our local residents, but they also help boost economic development and improve the prosperity of our families, businesses and communities," Senator Manchin said.