Today in WaterWise News:
Record-breaking hurricanes on a warmer planet? - Species protection on Mauritius - Skeptics on the Hill demand climate change records from scientists - Oil firms getting nervous over low prices - Obama's team tackles nuclear policy - Paul Ryan: Unifying the Republican Party - EPA shipping system under scrutiny - Water wars in the South - Towns take the lead in Post-Sandy improvement - Corps challenged on Snake River dams - South Carolina dams avoiding scrutiny - Climate change issues in the Northeast and Miami - Sandwich Beach nourishment project - Kenai bluff erosion project sees costs double - Rising Tide Summit pushes for change at the Federal level - Smith Island facing climate change pressures - and New York wetlands being restored.
Washington Post - First there was Supertyphoon Haiyan — which peaked at 170-knot or 196 mile-per-hour winds in 2013 as it slammed the Philippines. And now there is Patricia, forecast to soon hit Mexico, with currently estimated maximum sustained wind speeds of 175 knots or, that’s right, over 200 miles per hour. It is officially the strongest hurricane ever measured by the U.S. National Hurricane Center, based on both its wind speed (175 knots) and its minimum central pressure (880 millibars). The wind measurement “makes Patricia the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center’s area of responsibility (AOR) which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins,” the center said this morning. Read more.
Washington Post - In a move that has outraged conservationists, the government of the Indian ocean nation of Mauritius is planning to kill off nearly 20,000 Mauritius fruit bats, a protected species that is found only on the island. Mauritian fruit growers are claiming that the bat is responsible for significant agricultural losses, but scientists say that’s dubious — and that the planned number of bats killed could imperil the entire species. It wouldn’t be the first time human actions have threatened a Mauritian animal. Over the past few centuries, several species have disappeared from the island, the most famous of these being the Dodo, which was hunted to extinction by the beginning of the 18th century. Read more.
Washington Post - The head of a congressional committee on science has issued subpoenas to the Obama administration over a recent scientific study refuting claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the last decade. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and a prominent congressional skeptic on climate change, issued the subpoenas two weeks ago demanding e-mails and records from U.S. scientists who participated in the study, which undercut a popular argument used by critics who reject the scientific consensus that man-made pollution is behind the planet’s recent warming. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - The world’s biggest oil companies are struggling to generate enough cash to cover their spending and dividends, despite efforts to slash billions of dollars from their budgets in the face of tumbling oil prices. Spending on new projects, share buybacks and dividends at four of the biggest oil companies known as the super majors — Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Exxon MobilCorp. and Chevron Corp.—outstripped cash flow by more than a combined $20 billion in the first half of 2015, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Read more.
BBC - The number comes from Europe's Cryosat mission, which has just restarted its near-real-time data service. It is slightly higher than for the same period in 2010, but 1,500 cu km below the 2013 high point seen by the space sensor, now in its sixth year in orbit. A rapid data feed is aimed at those sectors that need to be aware of the position of the most robust floes. These include shipping and oil and gas operations. Users can get snapshots of the Arctic basin covering two days, two weeks or one month. New data is added just a couple of days after being acquired by the spacecraft and its radar instrument. Read more.
Politico - Weeks after forging President Barack Obama’s Iran deal, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz are eager to move on to a daunting new challenge: persuading the Senate to reconsider the nuclear test ban treaty that it rejected in 1999. Reviving the treaty — the first to fail in the Senate since the Treaty of Versailles after World War I — would be a huge step toward preventing the emergence of new nuclear weapons states and controlling nuclear outlaws, the two Cabinet members believe. Read more.
Politico - Senate Republicans who’ve been sparring all year with their counterparts in the House suddenly see a silver lining: the Ryan Reset. The expected ascension of Rep. Paul Ryan to House speaker offers the GOP a fresh start after flailing attempts at coordination and bombs thrown all year long between the two chambers under Republican control. Ryan is said to be much more comfortable with setting expectations about what the Senate can realistically accomplish than was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who annoyed the Senate GOP with suggestions that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell change Senate rules to make it easier to overrun Democrats. Read more.
EE News - Maybe third time's the charm for a House subcommittee to evaluate the progress of a multiyear U.S. EPA initiative to update how it tracks hazardous waste shipments. After having scheduled and postponed the hearing twice before, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will meet tomorrow to check on the program. Under the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act of 2012, EPA is authorized to implement a national electronic manifest system for tracking hazardous waste. In 2014, the agency issued a final rule authorizing the use of electronic hazardous waste manifests. Read more.
NJ - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to give business owners and homeowners whose properties were damaged by Hurricane Sandy a new chance to get low-interest federal loans. The Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act of 2015 would reopen the application process for U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans, even though the original deadlines expired long ago. Read more.
Northwest Georgia News - The tri-state water wars are being waged in the U.S. Senate as senators from Georgia and Alabama are on opposing sides in the long-running dispute. Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue went on the offensive after Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., added wordage to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to bar the Army Corps of Engineers from reallocating water in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa basin until the governors of the Alabama, Georgia and Florida agree on a settlement. Read more.
Philly - It was 1912, a century before Hurricane Sandy, and Atlantic City was engineering a brash future, both as a place that could tame floodwaters and a coastal town that could be something vaster. "TEST OF BIG RAIN SHOWS DRAINAGE CANAL WILL WORK," the headline trumpeted. And it did, for decades. The city flourished. Fast-forward a century, to Oct. 29, 2012, with old marvels like that Baltic Avenue Canal long dormant, chronic flooding a way of life. Atlantic City, like other Jersey Shore towns, was caught looking. Read more.
The State - Thousands of dams across South Carolina go un-inspected by state regulators every year because the structures aren’t considered significant enough to warrant government oversight. But experts say some of these unregulated dams pose risks to people and property if they fail – particularly in urban areas like Columbia, where a massive rainstorm Oct. 4 broke numerous dams. Read more.
Cape Cod Times - On a winter night two years ago, Tom and Carol Edmonson were sitting inside their modest bayside home at the end of Ellis Landing in Brewster during a storm so powerful that waves ripped out 25 feet of asphalt from the nearby town landing in just 10 minutes. Without the landing protecting the flank of their property, water flooded around their retaining wall and hit their house at an angle, taking out about 32 feet of foundation. “It was completely terrifying,” Carol said. “The force of the wind was such that we literally couldn’t leave the building.” Read more.
Go Erie - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying whether material dredged from Erie's harbor could be used to build up Presque Isle State Park's Gull Point. "Gull Point is a very rare feature in the Great Lakes," said Andrew Hannes, an ecologist with the Corps of Engineers. The peninsula's eastern tip is a dynamic and fragile area full of unique and rare habitats as well as being an ideal nesting spot for the endangered piping plover. But the rate of erosion there is outpacing the rate of growth, and the Army Corps of Engineers is looking for a way to combat the problem with natural materials like sediments dredged from the harbor. Read more.
Cape News - The town will have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of a beach nourishment plan for Town Neck Beach, aside from whether an appeal is filed concerning a key Land Court decision in the town’s favor. The US Army Corps of Engineers previously had planned to open contractor bids on the Town Neck project this past Monday. The work involves placing 150,000 cubic yards of sand on the eastern section of the badly eroded beach. But the Corps now has pushed the bid opening to next Tuesday, October 27. Spokesman Timothy J. Dugan said that the Corps had adjusted technical specifications on the project and wants to give potential bidders the opportunity to take those changes into account. Read more.
Peninsula Clarion - The cost of an upcoming Army Corps of Engineers study necessary to proceed with Kenai’s bluff stabilization project has increased from a May 2015 estimate of $650,000 to a present $1.17 million. The Army Corps and the city of Kenai are splitting the study cost in half. Kenai had previously paid its $252,000 share of the initial cost, and on Wednesday the Kenai City Council unanimously agreed to pay the $333,000 increase with money from a $4 million state grant dedicated to the bluff erosion project. The Army Corps final feasibility study is one of the last pre-construction steps in a project to shield around 5,000 feet of bluff face near Old Town Kenai from the erosion that presently consumes around 3 feet of bluff-top per year. Read more.
Sea Coast Line - Elected officials from coastal communities across the nation on Saturday called for Congress and presidential candidates to make coastal climate change and its effects a higher priority. The Rising Tides summit brought more than 30 mayors, state legislators, state commissioners and other officials together to exchange ideas over the weekend at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel on Ocean Boulevard. They shared how their communities have combated flood problems caused by rising tides as well as storm disasters. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Director Dr. Kathryn Sullivan said heavy downpours have become more common across the nation in the past five years. Read more.