Washington Post - A popular fund that has supported hundreds of parks around the country is set to go away in less than two weeks, and Congressional dithering is to blame. That's the essence of a charge by House Democrats who say the Congressional majority is making no move to reauthorize the fund, despite its history of broad support among both political parties for half a century. Several Democrats took to the House flood on Wednesday night to call on leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee to allow a vote on reauthorizing the program, called the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Bills that would permanently authorize the LWCF, as the program is called, have been introduced with bipartisan backing in both legislative chambers, but there have been no hearings and no move to schedule votes on the House side. The program uses royalty money from federal oil and gas leases to pay for land acquisition for federal, state and local parks in all 50 states. Throughout its history, it has helped preserve battlefields and other historic sites as well as scenic and recreational treasures, such as the Appalachian Trail.
New York Times - The death toll from the devastating fires that have scorched large stretches of California rose to five on Thursday, as officials investigated whether one of the fatal blazes was started by a power line's making contact with a tree. Two bodies were found Thursday in the smoking ruins left behind by the Valley Fire, northwest of Sacramento, raising the number of confirmed dead in that fire to three, the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported. A day earlier, the Calaveras County coroner confirmed two dead in the Butte Fire, in the Sierra Nevada foothills southeast of Sacramento. The Valley Fire and the Butte Fire have charred more than 144,000 acres. The Butte Fire was 49 percent contained, and the Valley Fire 35 percent. The largest wildfire in the state, the Rough Fire, in a sparsely populated area of the rugged southern Sierra Nevada was 141,000 acres and 67 percent contained. Those blazes rank among the most destructive in the state's history, and they are expected to keep burning for days or weeks.
The Guardian - They are two of the biggest cities int he world and both are set to grow significantly over the next decade, yet Mumbai and São Paulo are still unable to supply the clean and safe water residents need. Precarious water supplies are nothing new in São Paulo but today Brazil's largest city is suffering the worst drought since records began in 1930. This urban crisis is being replicated across the world, with one in four of the biggest cities experiencing water stress. Much of the focus on water scarcity has been on agriculture, which accounts for the lion's share of global water consumption - more than 90% of the total on average. Yet the fundamental reason for the precipitous drop in water supplies is the explosive expansion of cities and their growing demand for high quality water.
Washington Post - The Navy's reputation as a fearsome fighter is more than earned - on the high seas and in U.S. courts. In the 75 years since the Navy started conducting war games in a vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean between the Hawaiian and California coasts, conservationist have often sought to restrict its use of bombs and sonar that harms marine mammals. Each time, the military branch blew the activists away, arguing that what's good for the Navy is best for American. That's why a recent court loss, and the Navy's surprise capitulation to working out a settlement agreement with conservation groups that was announced this week, is startling. For the activists, it was win by a hopeless underdog, a mouse chasing an elephant, an ant moving a rubber tree. The talks began in April after U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oi Mollway in Hawaii sided against the Navy and its claim that it couldn't avoid sensitive whale habitat while conducting exercises that would drop a quarter-million explosives in the Pacific and blast sonar for half a million hours during five years of war games that started in January.
E&E Daily - Forty-seven senators, led by Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), yesterday filed a resolution to kill the Obama administration's controversial water rule using the Congressional Review Act. the 1996 law allows expedited procedures to be used to block new regulations. They are most significant in the Senate, where the law limits debate time and bans the use of some common procedural delay tactics, including the filibuster. That means a resolutions needs only a simple majority to pass. "Hardworking Iowans don't need more Washington bureaucrats from the EPA telling our job creators how best to use their land," Ernst said in a statement. "This ill-conceived rule ignores the thoughtful comments and serious concerns raise by farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses across the country." Nebraska Republican Rep. Adrian Smith already filed a joint resolution of disapproval for the Waters of the U.S. rule in July, which was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee but hasn't moved since.
E&E Daily - The House passed a measure yesterday that could fast-track spending legislation next week and help Republican leaders avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month. The procedural move, which came in the form of an amendment to a rule, allows House Rules Committee to send legislation to the floor the same day its introduced, bypassing a committee vote that typically slows down the process. The amended rule, which passed 238-183, gives House GOP leaders a way to expedite consideration of a continuing resolution to fund the federal government, which is slated to shut down at the end of September if Congress doesn't act. But with few legislative workdays left between now and the end of the month - and a papal visit in between that is taking attention away from a push by the House GOP's conservative flank to force a government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood - it's unclear if the strategy will work.
San Jose Mercury News - Rising sea levels threaten not only structures around San Francisco Bay and Delta but the shoreline marshes critical to the environmental health of the estuary, and the results could be "catastrophic" if action is not taken, scientists warned Thursday. Predicted sea level rises of 3 feet or more by 2100 resulting from climate change could wash out and cover shallow tidal wetlands that act as important nurseries and habitat for wild fish, birds and other aquatic sea life, according to the scientific report on the state of the bay-Delta estuary. To keep the wetlands from sinking under water, the scientists called for a major, sustained public campaign to build up and replenish those marshy areas with sediment. Creeks, streams and rivers used to carry the silt and dirt naturally into the bay and Delta. Construction of dams, levees and shoreline developments, however, has largely cut off those flows in the past 160 years and also filled in most of the wetlands.
New Haven Register - It was deja vu all over again. Morris Cove residents Thursday came out, as they did five years ago, and opposed the possibility of any contaminated dredging material being dumped into a "borrow pit" in New Haven's outer harbor, yards from their homes on the East Shore. The Army Corps of Engineers in October 2010 had a hearing on a proposal to deposit up to 400,000 cubic yards of material in New Haven pit as the most cost-effective plan for the long-delayed dredging of Bridgeport Harbor. That has yet to be approved or federal funding allocated for Bridgeport. The Army Corps hearing this time was on a draft of a long-term plan that looked at all the dredging projects in Connecticut with a ranking of potential disposal sites over the next three decades. The comment period on this Draft Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) is open until Oct. 16.
Press of Atlantic City - Atlantic City's efforts to adapt to a world of rising seas and stronger storms was the focus of a public meeting Wednesday hosted by planning director Elizabeth Terenik. The gathering also highlighted a proposal from architecture and design firm Perkins+Will to turn the island into a center of research and experimentation into coastal living. Terenik said the substantial financial physical damage caused by Hurricane Sandy revealed how critical it is for the Atlantic City to become more resilient in the face of extreme weather. Ongoing infrastructure projects, such as a $43 million effort to construct a new seawall and boardwalk along Absecon Inlet, and a $6.5 million project to refurbish the century-old Baltic Avenue Drainage Canal, are a key part of that, she said. Projects like these, funded almost entirely by state and federal money, will reduce both flooding and flood insurance rates, Terenik said.
The Daily Press - Have an iPhone? See how wide it is? Six centimeters - or about how much the Atlantic Ocean is predicted to rise here in Hampton Roads over the next 10 years. See how tall the iPhone is? Twelve centimeters - or about how much rise the region will see over the next 20 years. It's a visual aide favored by Col. Paul B. Olsen, who spent nearly 28 years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and just took a position with Old Dominion University in Norfolk to help lead governmental planning partnerships for sea level rise and climate change. "Is it an emergency?" said Olsen, who lives in Poquoson. "Well, as an engineer I'd say it's an emergency. But, for most people, it really shouldn't be."
WSAV - Tybee's first line of defense against dangerous storms and floodwaters is slowly withering away. The dunes lining the Island's north side have fallen victim to erosion and in some places are almost entirely gone. But a new project to re-build those dunes is well underway and neighbors feel it's much needed. "I'm thinking it's about time," said Tybee residnet Barbara Hayser. "This is really going to help for our tourism and even more important than that it's going to help for our environment so that we won't have as much erosion." The city has partnered with the state to provide 400 dump trucks full of sand to help rebuild the natural barriers.
The Sandpaper.net - The Long Branch Island Historical Museum was packed Monday evening, Sept. 14, with local residents of Beach Haven and surrounding towns who were eagerly seeking information about the upcoming beach replenishment that he borough has been awaiting. As part of the town council's regularly scheduled monthly meeting, officials form the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Coastal Engineering and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia District provided a detailed overview of the Long Beach Island New Jersey Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project designed to reduce storm to infrastructure. Replenishment in Beach Haven as well as in the Holgate section of long Beach Township will being in January and continue for approximately 100 days, officials announced, answering a question that had many residents waiting on the edge of their seats.
Lost Coast Outpost - Remember last year when that levee blew out near College of the Redwoods? Water from an extra-high tide rushed in, flooding a 50-acre parcel known as White Slough. It was repaired - quite impressively - with a massive water bag from Scotia-based company Aqua Dam, Inc. That land is owned by the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which had long been aware of the sorry state of the levees on the property. In a press release the refuge folks said, "Other dike sections are severely eroded and expected to fail in the near future." The plan, as explained last year by the refuge's deputy manager, Ken Griggs, has been to launch a full-on restoration project. The idea is to reestablish a "mosaic of tidal, brackish, and salt marsh habitats." The project will get underway tomorrow.
Cape Cod Times - State environmental leaders will be spending Monday at the beach and they'll be packing a $1 million check for beach restoration next to their sunscreen. Katie Gronendyke a spokesman for Matthew Beaton, secretary of the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, confirmed Beaton will be in Sandwich to announce the $1 million grant. The announcement came fresh off a decision two weeks ago at a special town meeting where voters agreed to spend $1.25 million in community preservation funds to salvage 150,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils from Cape Code Canal. The overall cost of the dredging project is $1.7 million. The state had included $5 million for Sandwich beaches in an environmental bond bill. The $1 million that will be announced at Monday's event represents the first funds to be released by state as part of the bond bill earmark.