New York Times - When the Obama administration announced last month that it would not add the greater sage grouse to the endangered species list, some conservation groups predictably criticized the ruling. “It’s a sign that politics as usual has taken over the process,” said Erik Molvar of WildEarth Guardians, which had lobbied to protect the bird. A more surprising development was that many other environmental organizations applauded the decision and the Interior Department’s proactive approach: With the threat of regulation under the Endangered Species Act hanging in the background, the department prodded states, federal agencies and private landowners to work together on a conservation plan that could make an endangered listing unnecessary.
New York Times - Environmentalists praised wildlife protections included in the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal announced Monday, calling them groundbreaking. They said the pact would strengthen international environmental enforcement agreements and could go a long way toward diminishing the illegal trade in certain plants and animals.
New York Times - After watching the price of oil and the size of their profits plunge, a dozen top executives from some of the nation’s largest oil exploration companies flew to Washington late last winter on an urgent mission: push Congress and the White House to allow unlimited exports of American crude oil. Now, their long-shot lobbying effort to repeal the 40-year-old export ban has gathered considerable momentum. Approval by the House is expected in the coming weeks, and two Senate committees have already endorsed the idea. The White House and Senate Democrats may still move to block it, but the fact that the legislation is even moving ahead in an era of extreme gridlock affirms the deep-pocketed oil industry’s durable power in nation’s capital.
New York Times - Speaker John A. Boehner announced Monday that the entire House would select his replacement on Oct. 29 and that all other openings in the House Republican leadership would be filled subsequent to that vote. The new schedule is a pronounced shift from plans to choose a Republican candidate for speaker and possibly a new majority leader and party whip on Thursday when Republicans are to gather to pick their choice for Mr. Boehner’s successor. Some conservatives have been clamoring for more time so they could identify other candidates.
New York Times - The Obama administration announced plans on Monday to step up the fight against illegal fishing, pollution and other crimes at sea, including the creation of two new national marine sanctuaries, one in Maryland and the other in Lake Michigan, the first in 15 years. Administration officials also said they intended to expand the use of satellites that track illegal activity by detecting night lights used by fishermen to attract fish, and committed to better track all seafood that enters American ports.
New York Times - The United States concluded a big trade agreement on Monday with 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, Peru and Japan. It is impossible to know whether the deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be good for the American economy and average workers until the complete text is made public in the coming weeks. President Obama assures everyone that it will be. He has made the accord a centerpiece of his trade and foreign policies, arguing that it will strengthen American influence with Asian nations at a time China, which is not part of the deal, has become more assertive. Mr. Obama also insists that the agreement will be good for workers and businesses by forcing other nations to lower tariffs and other trade barriers imposed on American goods and services. But critics, including many Democrats in Congress, argue that it will encourage American companies to send more jobs to countries with low wages.
New York Times - The South Carolinians walked along the bridge over the Congaree River, hoods up against the pelting rain, their heads cast downward to marvel at the red-brown water churning violently below them. They had never seen the river so turbid. They had never seen it rise like this, up near the tips of the light poles of the river walk park that meanders along its western bank. They had never seen a hole like the one that blew through the side of the nearby Columbia Canal.
Wall Street Journal - The Obama administration said Monday it has finalized the terms of a record $20.8 billion dollar settlement with BP PLC over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement by top officials at the Justice, Commerce, Agriculture and Interior departments, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, puts the final touches on the biggest pollution penalty in U.S. history. A consent decree was filed in federal court in New Orleans Monday morning outlining the settlement terms.
Wall Street Journal - Oil prices oscillated in volatile trading on Tuesday as investors searched for clues about the impact of the continuing global glut of crude. Comments by industry executives and reports about a potential meeting between Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss the conditions on the oil market provided some support to prices. Analysts were cautious about the prospects for such a meeting because the global battle for market share shows no signs of ending soon. While U.S. production has started to decline this year, other major suppliers like Russia and Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s most important member, have kept the crude taps wide open.
Wall Street Journal - Days of gusting wind and pounding surf have caused severe beach erosion in many spots along the New Jersey shore. Some beaches, including ones devastated by superstorm Sandy three years ago and not yet replenished, appear to have lost most of their sand. And in many places where protective dunes stood between the ocean and homes, the surf cut large cliffs into the sand, leaving drop-offs of as much as 10 feet. Bay Head lost much of its sand, and walkways that once led down to the beach now dangle in midair. The beaches weren’t wide before the storm, and Bay Head is one of several shore communities resisting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to widen beaches and construct protective sand dunes. The residents don’t want the dunes to block their oceanfront views, and they object to the government taking their private property by eminent domain.
Washington Post - The Environmental Protection Agency appears to have rushed to judgment when it decided to preemptively block a proposed gold mine from being built near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, according to a yearlong review of the case led by former defense secretary William Cohen. Cohen faulted the EPA’s actions in seeking to stop the controversial Pebble Mine project, saying the agency was “not fair” in its decision to rule out gold mining in the region before the developers had even applied for permits to build the mine.
Washington Post - While there’s been extensive research attempting to predict the future of Earth’s vulnerable plants and animals, there have been comparatively few studies investigating the extinctions that have occurred in the past. Looking backward is an important method of understanding how extinction rates have changed over time, the environmental factors that have influenced them and how seriously they have affected Earth’s ecosystems. Now, a researcher from Macquarie University in Australia has published a study examining recent extinctions within two vulnerable groups of animals — reptiles and amphibians — and the results are cause for alarm. Most notably, they indicate that approximately 200 frog species have already gone extinct, and hundreds more may be on their way out.
Washington Post - In 2013, after some controversy, South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources released a report on risks the state could face due to climate change. One of those risks? “A predicted result of climate change is the increase in intense storm events causing greater water inputs in shorter periods of time, affecting flood frequency and duration,” the report noted. Now, with an unfathomable amount of flooding hitting the state, it’s easy to wonder if this is precisely the sort of event that South Carolina’s scientists had in mind. After all, as our very own Capital Weather Gang has noted, this isn’t merely a 1 in 1,000 year event for rainfall totals — in some locations the amount of rainfall “blows NOAA’s 1,000-year events scale out of the water.” And some have already suggested a “probable” climate change connection.
Pilot Online - Opponents of a high-voltage transmission line near historic Jamestown received a blow when the Army Corps of Engineers released its preliminary evaluation of the proposed project. Regulators tasked with granting or denying a permit agreed late last week with Dominion Virginia Power: It's not practical to bury the line under the James River, as opponents wanted.
Coastal Review - To put this in some kind of human frame of reference: Imagine a crowded bar and a bad rock band so loud you can’t make a pass at the girl on the bar stool next to you. Doug Nowacek, a marine ecology and bioacoustics expert at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, is pretty sure that’s what whales and other sea creatures that rely on sound to communicate or navigate are faced with when high-decibel sound waves are used in the ocean to test for oil and natural gas. Further, Nowacek and other experts said in a recently published paper, that the sounds from seismic guns can “mask” the sounds that whales and other creatures in the water rely upon to navigate, find food and avoid predators.
Seaside Courier - I’ve modified my position on seawalls and stairways from private homes to the sand. In the past, I’ve railed against the California Coastal Commission for imposing what I called onerous restrictions on the owners of blufftop homes who want to protect their expensive investments from the ravage of Mother Nature. I still believe the Commission has no business telling homeowners they can only rebuild protective seawalls, damaged by high seas, if they agree to a 20-year time limit on these walls, after which they need to apply again for a permit that may or may not be granted.
Forbes - It could cost more than $120 billion to protect New York City from rising seas and storm surges expected by the end of this century, according to a Rutgers University expert on climate change effects on sea level. But the risk to New York is even higher: almost $170 billion in property losses alone. Bob Kopp, associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, offered what he called this “rough guesstimate” of costs at the University of Chicago last week in response to queries by Chicago economics professor Michael Greenstone, former chief economist for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.
App - Nearly a dozen people leaned over the boardwalk railings at Ortley Beach to watch the surf pound the base of the remaining dunes there. Behind them, fresh sand patched a hole where the ocean had snaked under the Block House, a lifeguard building under construction, near Ocean and Fielder avenues. Three blocks north, workers with heavy earth-moving equipment rushed to reinforce the dunes.
Coastal News - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, awarded a contract in the amount of $6,521,000 to Weeks Marine Inc. for maintenance dredging of the Brazos Island Harbor (BIH) Jetty and Entrance channels in South Texas. The contractor is required to remove approximately 651,000 cubic yards of sandy material using a pipeline dredge to clear the navigation channels; all sandy material will be used beneficially to nourish South Padre Island beaches.
Great Lakes Announces Award of Three Projects on the Delaware River -- Combined Value of $99 Million
NASDAQ - Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation ("Great Lakes") (NASDAQ:GLDD), the largest provider of dredging services in the United States and a major provider of environmental and remediation services, announced today the receipt of three awards with an approximate aggregate value of $99 million for projects along the Delaware River. Valued at $77 million, the Delaware River Rock Reach award is a capital project that includes dredging approximately 320,000 cubic yards of rock and gravel material, which will deepen the main channel of the Delaware River.
City Lab - Last October, officials revealed a potential doomsday scenario for the Northeast Corridor: the century-old Hudson River train tubes connecting Manhattan with the mainland would need to be taken out of commission for lengthy maintenance at some undetermined point in time. Hundreds of thousands of riders a day would be impacted, from Amtrak travelers to New Jersey Transit commuters, as would local and regional economies. The only thing more frightful than that prospect were the images of tunnel damage suffered during Superstorm Sandy.