New York Times - Some of the world's most prominent companies are expected to set a long-term target on Wednesday of powering their operations entirely with renewable energy, the latest in a wave of commitments suggesting that corporations are becoming more serious about battling global warming. In addition, backers of a campaign to divest from fossil fuels announced Tuesday that investment managers controlling assets of $2.6 trillion had joined their effort, a 50-fold increase from a year ago and a sign that the divestment movement had spread far beyond its modest origins on American college campuses. Nine major companies are expected on Wednesday to join a global coalition of firms intent on converting to renewable energy. The new members include Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and Goldman Sachs. A handful of the companies have already reached the 100 percent target; others do not except to do so for several decades, but they are typically setting aggressive interim targets.
Wall Street Journal - The Obama administration announced Tuesday that won't list the greater sage grouse as an endangered species, a widely anticipated decision that removes the threat of broad land-use restrictions to protect the bird across the West. Instead, the Interior Department said it would rely on a new land-management plan to protect the sage grouse's habitat at 165 million acres in 11 Western states - mostly on federal land. The Interior Department was facing a court-ordered deadline to decide by October whether to designate the chicken-like bird as endangered. The designation could have led to land-use and other restrictions that critics feared would have economic impacts, possibly restricting oil and gas development and home-building. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell credited what she called unprecedented state, federal and local cooperation for helping conserve enough habitat to stave off the listing. "These collective efforts add up to a bright future for the sage grouse," Ms. Jewell said in a video statement. The decision drew praise from environmental groups and natural-resource users who often are at odds with one another. Ranchers had worried a federal listing could have resulted in closure of public lands that many have relied on for decades to graze their cattle.
Washington Post - Pope Francis's six-day trip to the U.S., which begins on Tuesday, is highly anticipated - and not just among American Catholics. The pope's progressive stances have earned him nearly unprecedented favor with liberal-learning Americans, and his aggressive position on climate change has been one of his most applauded moves. While the pope has made his concerns about human-caused climate change known on numerous occasions, his position was largely summed up in his second encyclical, "Laudato Si," released earlier this umber - a document that made headlines around the world for being the first papal encyclical based entirely around environmental issues. Now, as Pope Francis makes his way through Washington, New York City and Philadelphia, climate activists are expecting a reaffirmation of his commitment to environmental issues and to climate action in particular.
Wall Street Journal - Hillary Clinton on Tuesday broke her silence on the long-disputed Keystone XL pipeline, saying in Iowa that she opposes the project and sees it as a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change." For months, Mrs. Clinton didn't offer her stance on the pipeline. The State Department, which she led in President Barack Obama's first term, is the lead agency in a yearlong review of the project, and Mrs. Clinton had said it would be inappropriate for her to spell out her views while the process was going on. But the Democratic presidential candidate continued to be asked about the pipeline on the campaign trail. At a campaign stop in New Hampshire this summer, after a man asked her for a "yes or no" answer on whether she supports the pipeline, Mrs. Clinton refused to say, suggesting people might need to wait until she is president to learn her position. With the Obama administration moving slowly in reviewing the pipeline, Mrs. Clinton said Tuesday she could no longer wait.
Washington Post - Last month, wildlife photographer Kerstin Langenberger shocked the world when she revealed a horrifying photograph of a severely emaciated polar bear, shot on the Norwegian island of Svalbard. In a Facebook post, she expressed her concerns about the health of the Svalbard polar bears and the ways climate change might be affecting the Arctic. Her photo visible here, quickly went viral - having been shared more than 50,000 times since then. So when Langenberger's photo surfaced, the immediate conclusion for many people was that the starving bear was the victim of warming-induced ice-melt in the Arctic. But while this is possible, experts are cautioning the public not to make the image the new face of climate change just yet. As a recent Live Science article pointed out, that bear's condition could have been caused by a variety of other factors. And while climate change remains a serious long-term threat to polar bears, immediately blaming global warming for a single bear's starvation could even be considered misleading, or could obscure some of the other challenges bears face in the short term.
Washington Post - The Obama administration has started formal preparations for a partial government shutdown next week, holding a conference call with senior agency officials and releasing a statement saying that "prudent management" requires that agencies get ready for a possible funding lapse. With just one week until spending authority in many federal operations expires - in the absence of either regular of stopgap funding for the new budget year that starts Oct. 1 - the White House's Office of Management and Budget is following a playbook last used in 2013 when a similar standoff resulted in parts of the government begin closed for more than two weeks. In mid-September that year, OMB had told agencies to update their plans for which operations will close and which will stay open, either because they have separate sources of funding or because they fall within an exception for protecting property, public safety or health.
Al Jazeera America - California’s historic drought is in its fourth year and gloom-and-doom scenarios of its impact on everything from killing the state’s vegetation and triggering bug infestation to destroying farming jobs have been trickling in daily. Now, there is another fear: The prolonged drought may have weakened California’s more than 13,000 miles of levees, which could result in floods and affect the quality of water for millions of Californians. That’s a scary prospect for parts of the state that could get doused with torrential rain this winter, thanks to an El Niño weather front triggered by unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. And the mere mention of levee breaks evokes terrifying images of the devastation Hurricane Katrina wreaked on New Orleans 10 years ago.
Sault Ste. Marie Evening News - Saying he welcomes another set of eyes at the Soo Locks Area Engineer Kevin Sprague of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated the necessary corrections are already underway following a U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection. OSHA issued a notice on Monday 21 serious and two repeated violations following the inspection earlier this year. The list included a lattice boom crawler and barge mounted crane in disrepair, dangerous confined space hazards, improperly secured scaffolds, guard floor openings, stairways lacking handrails and improperly stored gas cylinders. The citations also address shortcomings in fire extinguisher training, sling, crane and other equipment inspections, inadequate protection from operating machinery parts and inadequate respiratory protection.
Huffington Post - The main barrier to rebuilding America's decrepit infrastructure is not financing, but red tape. Delays of a decade or longer are common. Now, ironically, it turns out that years spent in environmental review dramatically harm the environment. A new study by Common Good, which I led, found that delays in replacing obsolete infrastructure prolong massive amounts of pollution. America's antiquated power grid wastes six percent of total electricity - the equivalent of 200 coal-burning power plants. Delays in permitting wind farms and other renewable power projects cause over 350 million tons of carbon to be released annually by plants using fossil fuels. (Review and permitting of the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts took nine years, and the litigation still continues.) Road bottlenecks cause traffic congestion, burning almost 2 billion extra gallons of gasoline each year. Leaky pipes, installed a century ago, waste 2.1 trillion gallons of water. Waterways are polluted because inadequate sewage treatment plants overflow whenever there's a big storm.
Grand Rapids Press - When 19th century surveyor Lucius Lyon first clapped eyes on Michigan, he excitedly wrote his friends back east to tell of a pristine wilderness that had been "undervalued" by a port 1815 report. "Michigan has been considered but little better than the waste land of the United States, but when the country was explored and surveyed...it was found to possess as good a soil and greater advantages than the famed Ohio." At the time of Lyon's 1822 letter, there was about 10.7 million acres of wetlands across Michigan, then just a territory of the expanding United States. Today, nearly 200 years later, that acreage has dropped to about 6.4 million. According to a new report authored by Chad Fizzell at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan has lost more than 4.2 million acres of wetlands to farming and development since European settlement began in the 1800s.
Logistics Management - The Port of Oakland said today it's nearly a third of the way through its annual maintenance dredging program for 2015. By November, the Port plans to scoop 185,000 cubic yards of sediment from 17 deep-water shipping berths. The goal of the $3.7 million project: maintain 50-foot depths so container ships aren't stuck in the mud. "This is one of the least glamorous, but most important jobs a port authority has every year," said Chris Chan, the port's Director of Engineering. "Few ports nationwide have the deep-water capability to the berth the biggest container vessels, so we need to continually protect that advantage." Vessels capable of carrying up to 14,000 20-foot containers berth at Oakland. These are the largest ships calling U.S. ports. Berths and approach channels must be 50-feet-deep to accommodate them. The port said it has dredged 45,000 cubic yards of materials from six berths since dredging began in August. It will clear another 140,000 yards of material from 11 additional berths.
Business Report - Billions of dollars in new money for coastal projects in Louisiana is on the way. But work to enhance and protect the state’s fragile coastal regions has been going on for years.Greg Grandy is a senior environmental manager for Coastal Engineering Consultants in Baton Rouge. His firm worked on the feasibility study for the state and the Army Corps of Engineers for the restoration of Caminada Headland, a 14-mile stretch of beach east of Port Fourchon. Over the past century, Caminada annually has lost an average of 35 feet of shoreline, according to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The work began in March 2005, and the study was supposed to be ready by September of that year, Grandy says. As you might expect, that year’s infamous hurricane season blew away the original timeline.
Baltimore Sun - Waterfront property owners all around the Chesapeake Bay have bulkheaded and riprapped their shoreline to protect it from erosion. It's their legal right to keep their land from washing away, and over the years a growing share of the water's edge has been "armored" with low wooden walls or large rocks. But a six-year, federally funded research effort is finding that the bay's increasingly hardened shoreline could be hindering the estuary's recovery from decades of pollution. It may be limiting where crabs, fish and terrapins can find food and shelter. It also may be aiding the rapid spread of an invasive marsh grass and helping to sustain the population of stinging nettles, a summertime nuisance for swimmers.
The Triton - When Ismael “Issy” Perera’s marine business on the New River in Ft. Lauderdale was asked to leave this summer to make room for condos, he could have closed down. Instead he picked up Apex Marine’s operations and moved down to the Miami River. It turned out to be a great move. “We have land no one else has,” he said, noting the five acres he’s leased on the South Fork Canal where the facility can now handle boats up to 130 feet. “Plus, this is different than the New River because this is a working river.” After years of economic upswings and down times, Perera joins a resurgence of new and growing marine facilities in the Miami area. “We have two new facilities being built in Miami,” Mayor Tomás Regalado said of projects on Watson Island and the Miami River. “We are very excited because finally the megayacht industry is coming in a grand way.”