Today in WaterWise news:
Senate passes budget bill, sending it to President Obama for his signature ♦ Rapidly warming waters in New England causing disruptions to cod fishing industry ♦ Freedom Caucus look to dealing with energy issues ♦ Senate opponents to WOTUS rule plan 2-pronged attack while EPA Administrator remains optimistic ♦ Shell's earnings take a big hit following abandonment of Arctic plans ♦ Jersey shore homeowners draw ire of neighbors, state, and New York Times ♦ Replenishing DE shoreline ♦ Rep. Huffman calls on USACE to dredge district bay ♦ Dredging across the states ♦ Emergency sand scraping to prepare for extreme high tides ♦ Could we run out of sand for eroded beaches?
Wall Street Journal - The Senate early Friday passed legislation boosting spending levels for the next two years and raising the debt limit in a move to curb major fiscal fights until a new administration is in office. The bill, already passed by the House this week, now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature. Friday's early morning vote of 64-35 will enact a sweeping deal that came together only days before. Congressional leaders reached an agreement with the White House late Monday increasing spending by $80 billion through September 2017 and increasing the federal government's borrowing limit until mid-March 2017. The Treasury Department had warned that Congress had to raise the debt ceiling by Nov. 3 to avoid risking a default on the country's debt. Senate Democrats embraced the bill, which raises spending evenly for both military and domestic programs: $50 billion in fiscal year 2016 and $30 billion the following year. Read more.
Washington Post - A new scientific study says that rapidly warming waters off the New England coast have had a severe consequence - the collapse of a cod fishery that saw too many catches even as overall cod numbers declined due to warmer seas. It's just the latest in a series of findings and occurrences - ranging from gigantic snows in Boston last winter, which scientists partly linked with warm seas, to a sudden and "extreme" sea level rise event in 2009-2010 - suggesting that this particular stretch of water is undergoing profound changes. "2004 to 2013, we ended up warming faster than really any other marine ecosystem has ever experienced over a 10 year period," says Andrew Pershing of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, lead author of the new study just out in the journal Science. Pershing conducted the work the researchers from his institution and several others in the U.S. including NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. and Stony Brook University in New York. Read more.
E&E Daily - Rep.Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) may be a newcomer to the conservative and controversial Freedom Caucus - but she's right at home among her fellow caucus members hoping to focus their newfound political muscle on energy issues. Lummis is one of the about three dozen House members with some hand in the energy world who now belong to the invitation-only caucus, which in recent weeks has plunged the lower chamber into chaos and attempted to reshape the top layers of leadership in the name of reform. During an interview on Capitol Hill last week, Lummis, who hails from Wyoming - the country's top coal producer - said that while energy isn't' a focus for the caucus now, she's hopeful the group will turn its powerful gaze to those issues in the West. Given that the caucus is heavily made up of members of the Natural Resources Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee - the two panels that Lummis belongs to - she's in good company. Read more.
New York Times - Rapid warming in the Gulf of Maine contributed to the collapse of cod fishing in New England, and might help explain why the cod population has failed to recover, even though fishing has largely ceased, according to a new study. A team of marine scientists found that rising temperatures in the gulf decreased reproduction and increased mortality among the once-plentiful Atlantic cod, adding to the toll of many decades of overfishing. Fisheries managers have tried to reverse the cod's decline in the gulf by imposing increasingly severe limits on fishing since 2010, reducing quotas to the point that recreational cod fishing has been effectively closed and few commercial fishermen now set out intending to catch cod. But the quotas, the study's authors say, were based on population estimates that did not take into account the temperatures changes and therefore were set too high. Read more.
E&E Daily - U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy gave a gathering of 300 Maryland environmentalists and their supporters an upbeat guided tour of her agency's top priorities last night, expressing optimism that even the most controversial among the efforts would clear all legal and political hurdles. In a quick and quick-witted speech to a fundraising dinner of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, McCarthy repeatedly expressed pride in the rules and regulations her agency has devised in recent months to combat air and water pollution and climate change. She exhorted the audience of environmental activists, state and local lawmakers and conservation donors to serve as EPA's partners and advocates. "I want you to leave here positive about the world and what we're trying to build here," McCarthy said. From the Clean Power Plan to the Waters of the U.S. rule to everything in between, McCarthy gave a point-by-point update of EPA's work in just 15 minutes. Read more.
Washington Post - Royal Dutch Shell reported weak third quarter earnings Thursday morning, hobbled by a triple whammy of low oil prices and losses related to suspended projects in the Arctic and Canadian tar sands. The company lost $6.1 billion overall in the quarter, compared with gain of $5.3 billion a year earlier. The oil giant took a staggering $7.9 billion in write-offs, including $2.6 billion for the dry hole drilled in Alaska's Arctic waters, $2 billion related to the suspension of the Carmon Creek oil sands project and $3.7 billion due to lower oil and gas price forecasts, including $2.3 billion related to shale oil properties in the United States. In Chukchi Sea, Shell noted, it drilled the Burgher J well which was "considered a dry-hole, with minor oil and gas shows, and the result renders the Burger Prospect as uneconomic. This, combined with the current economic and regulatory environment, has led shell to cease further exploration activity offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future." Read more.
E&E Daily - Senate opponents of the Obama administration's major water rule are preparing to launch a pair of legislative attacks beginning next week. Both are essentially guaranteed to be shot down by Senate Democrats or President Obama, but the maneuvers would force presidential candidates and senators up for re-election to go on record on a politically contentious issue. And if any lawmakers flip positions from previous votes, it could alter the momentum around efforts to block the rule through the end-of-the-year funding bill. Driving the action is the looming deadline for a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, filed by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). The CRA requires only 50 votes to pass a resolution of disapproval, as opposed to the 60 votes normally necessary to move legislation through the upper chamber. But those special procedures are only available for the first 60 days of session after a rule is issued, and 52 days have now passed on the water rule. Read more.
Government Executive - The House on Thursday elected Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to be its next speaker, elevating one of the country's elected officials who has most consistently targeted federal employees to cut spending. Ryan rose to prominence in part when he put forward budget plans in several consecutive Congresses that aimed to eliminate annual deficits within 10 years. To accomplish that goal, Ryan proposed draconian cuts to federal agencies' spending levels. Part of those cuts went directly after the federal workforce: Ryan's blueprints would have slashed the number of federal employees by 10 percent through attrition. Agencies would have been required to replace just one worker for every three that left federal service. He also pitched higher pension contribution levels, suggesting feds contribute 6.35 percent of their paychecks toward their defined benefit. Read more.
New York Times - Three years after Hurricane Sandy left the Jersey Shore in flood-soaked tatters, the debate over how to defend homes and businesses there against the next big storm rages on, pitting neighbor against neighbor and driving the state to sue owners of beachfront property. The obvious answer, many flood-prevention experts and elected officials say, is to build huge dunes to hold off the surging tide. But even as crews bulldoze sand dredged from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean to form a bulwark along stretches of the shore, homeowners are still standing in the way of consensus. The holdouts have driven the state to invoke its eminent domain over their land and angered Gov. Chris Christie enough that he urged residents of some towns to go "knock on doors" and confront the homeowners, who he said were being selfish. some of those residents, in turn, have challenged the Christie administration to be more forceful in support of the dunes. Read more.
Delaware Online - When Hurricane Sandy made landfall just north of Atlantic City three years ago, it swept away homes, beaches and dunes. But the storm left another legacy: a shift in the approach state, federal and local regulators take to make shorelines storm ready and resilient. From New England to the Carolinas, dredges have pumped millions of cubic yards of sand, in the three years since Sandy struck, to build storm-ready beaches and form engineered sand dunes. The trend is coast-long, even in places where the strategy had been to allow nature to take its course. Delaware alone received $30 million in federal Sandy relief money to restore sand that was swept away during the hurricane in 2012. Another $38 million is being spent at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge to restore wetlands and fill shoreline breaches that Sandy worsened. The sandy pumping there - in an area that federal officials had allowed to retreat as sand washed over into the adjacent marsh during storms - started last week. Read more.
Times-Standard - Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today called for full funding of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects across California's North Coast, including dredging Humboldt Bay and a flood control project in Orick. In a letter sent yesterday, Huffman requested Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget include these projects in the Fiscal 2016 work plan and Fiscal Year 2017 budget. In the letter, Huffman called for the full funding of dredging in Humboldt Bay, noting that inadequate funding results in insufficient dredging, increasing the chance of collisions, and causing higher costs for consumers. Huffman wrote that, "Since Humboldt Bay is also a harbor of refuge - the only deep-water port between San Francisco and Coos Bay - its operation is also vital to marine safety..[and] consistent maintenance dredging is needed to keep the harbor entrance safe for transit for commercial and recreational vessels. I also ask for your continued engagement in supporting dredging and addressing the disposal and use of dredged materials in Noyo Harbor." Read more.
Ashland Daily Press - Since August, workers operating heavy machinery from barges on Chequamegon Bay have worked round the clock to construct a 900-foot-long rock breakwater from the Kreher Beach boat landing to the Ashland Marina peninsula. The work has been done to prepare for nearshore lake bottom dredging in the second phase of the Ashland Lakeshore Super Fund project. The project was undertaken by the Forth engineering firm of Green Gay as a joint project with Envirocon Environmental Services, headquartered in Boston and Roen Salvage of Sturgeon Bay. That process was substantially completed Tuesday, nearly a month ahead of schedule, as workers on a barge laid down the last of the large anchor stones at the marine end of the breakwater. "There is a bit more finishing work that remains, but the project is pretty much done," said Xcel Energy Community Service Manager Michael BeBeau. Read more.
OC NJ Daily - On the third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, state and federal officials announced the completion of a $57.6 million project to construct beaches and dunes in southern Ocean City, Strathmere and Sea Isle City. That paves the way for the start of a new project at the northern end of Ocean City starting next week. The contractor's dredge, the Illinois, will move to Ocean City to start a $9 million beach renourishment project. The project will pump 700,000 cubic yard of new sand to beaches from the "terminal groin" (the first jetty at Seaspray Road) to 12th Street, according to a news release from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The project is expected to take between 45 and 60 days. DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, commander, Philadelphia District of USACE, were joined on Thursday morning by Sea Isle City Mayor Len Desiderio and other federal, state and local officials at 58th Street in Sea Isle City as machinery from contractor Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. began demobilizing. Read more.
Coastal Observer - Five days after a team from the Corps of Engineers assessed beach erosion on Pawleys Island caused by the "1,000-year storm," an extreme high tide coupled with strong northeast winds compounded the damage. This week's events amounted to the perfect storm that Mayor Bil Otis hoped to avoid. "There was significantly more damage, particularly toward the south end," Otis said. At high tide Tuesday morning, the surf broke under several houses on the narrow south end of the island. At the same time, the highest tide of the year - created by the proximity of the moon to the Earth - brought the water in Pawleys Creek over the road. The town closed the public parking lot on the south end because erosion left a steep escarpment below the walkway. Read more.
Fed Biz Opps - This solicitation will be an Unrestricted competitive procurement. Any resulting contract will be firm-fixed priced. The solicitation for this project will be available by INTERNET ACCESS ONLY and will be available for download on or about 17 July 2015. Access to the documents will be through a link of the FedBizOpps website: http://www.fbo.gov. Use the Advance Search function and use this solicitation number to Search by Solicitation/Award Number. Any future amendments to the solicitation will also be available for download from the FedBizOpps website DESCRIPTION OF WORK: Contractor shall repair the detached breakwater and construct scour protection at three locations in the harbor utilizing 17,5000 cubic yards of graded rip rap and undersized armor stone; maintenance dredge and dispose of approximately 94,000 cubic yards of sands and gravels in the St Paul Harbor. Read more.
Sun Sentinel - With king tides, persisent winds and large waves from Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Joaquin making erosion particularly bad this year, the demand for sand is high - but is it possible we could run out? The state says there is a ready supply for the next 50 years. But experts say it has become ever more difficult to find sources of high-quality beach sand for renourishment, an ongoing practice in southeast Florida since the late 1950s. Sand must be dredged from areas relatively close to shore yet a safe distance from sensitive coral reefs. It can also be dug up from inland mines but they, too, could eventually run out because the sand was originally deposited by ancient rivers and seas that no longer exist. Read more.