Today in WaterWise News:
NASA has new way to track oceans from space ♦ Lawmakers still have to pass spending bills ♦ House to vote on NDAA today ♦ Obama administration releases details of Trans-Pacific Partnership ♦ Our complicated relationship with environmental risk ♦ Senator Smith goes after NOAA over emails ♦ West Coast warned about toxins in crabs and sea mammals ♦ Scientists find illegal pot farming poisons weasels ♦ Asian carp study to take 4 more years ♦ Savannah Harbor Navigation Project will restore 1.5 miles of Cockspur Island ♦ Long Beach Island beachfill extended ♦ Louisiana gets creative with addressing coastal erosion ♦ Georgia tackles trio of coastal issues
Washington Post - There has been growing concern, of late, that one predicted consequence of a changing climate - the slowing of the great "overturning" circulation in the Atlantic Ocean - is already starting to happen. Some scientists have already suggested that the odd cold "blob" pattern on the map above, featuring record cold North Atlantic temperatures on an otherwise quite hot planet, may be attributable to this development. The gigantic circulation, technically termed the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation or AMOC, carries warm water northward even as it also sends cold salty water back south at depth. Thus, changes can reverberate around the globe - even found that a full AMOC shutdown could trigger a temporary period of global cooling. Read more.
Government Executive - As some lawmakers warned the recent budget deal has not yet staved off a government shutdown, others on Wednesday looked to reform the budgeting process in the long term. Federal agency planners spend a disproportionate amount of their time preparing for various budget contingencies, senators said during a Budget Committee hearing, instead of conducting more mission-critical work. The current system is broken, expert witnesses and members of both parties agreed, leading to less transparency and oversight of federal spending. The committee held the hearing to review an oft-floated proposal from its chairman, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to move to biennial budgeting. After approving a two-year measure to setting top-line spending, Enzi's bill would require lawmakers to pass half of the 12 appropriations each year. The more controversial spending bills would be reserved for non-election years. Read more.
E&E Daily - After basking for a few days in the glow of a two-year budget deal, partisan bickering over spending has returned to Capitol Hill. The Senate will vote this morning on a motion to proceed to the defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2685), the politically popular bill that funds the military. Senate Democrats yesterday signaled they'll once again filibuster the measure, despite winning the two-year budget deal that will boost discretionary spending by $80 billion over two years. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the decision to try a "piecemeal approach" to the appropriations process, arguing the Senate should focus on an omnibus spending bill to replace the continuing resolution that expires Dec. 11. Read more.
Politico - The House is set to vote Thursday on a new version of the National Defense Authorization Act - and, assuming it passes, Republican leaders will scrap their plans to vote to override President Barack Obama's veto of the earlier version of the annual defense policy bill. Republican defense hawks had vowed to hold an override vote Thursday and were whipping support in a long-shot effort to get the two-thirds majority required to overcome a presidential veto. But the budget deal forged last week between the White House and Congress resolved Obama's main objection to the defense bill, with both sides agreeing to a spending blueprint that sets the Pentagon's budget for this fiscal year $5 billion below what the White House requested. So, with the $5 billion in reductions agreed to, the House passed an adjustment to its rules to hold a "suspension" vote on Thursday for the NDAA, which is a way to quickly bring bills to the floor without amendments but requires a two-thirds majority for passage. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - The text of the sweeping Pacific trade agreement that the U.S. concluded with Japan and 10 other countries around the Pacific was released on Thursday, setting off a public battle over the merits of the deal and whether it should be ratified. The Trans-Pacific Partnership's 30 chapters and annexes set out lower tariffs on everything from imported Japanese cars to New Zealand cheese, as well as opening up the 12-country bloc to more trade in services and electronic commerce. The TPP also sets international rules on matters ranging from intellectual property of advanced pharmaceuticals to a controversial form of arbitration that lets investors challenge foreign governments. Read more.
Washington Post - Human attitude toward risk is a complicated thing - and it doesn't always seem to make sense on the outside. In a lead-zinc mining village in China's western Hunan province, for instance, scientists recently observed some confusing patterns when it came to the villagers' perceptions of the environmental and human health risks associated with mining for heavy metals. In their study, published on Oct. 22 in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the researchers found that villagers who were not directly involved with the mines (which were privately operated, no government-owned) perceived the risks associated with mining to be much higher, and were more likely to oppose the practice than people who actually worked in the mines and were more directly at risk of heavy-metal toxicity. Read more.
E&E Daily - The chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is doubling down on his demand for the emails and communication of scientists who published research that disputes the global warming "pause." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declined to provide Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) with those internal documents, asserting that they are confidential and not key to the study's conclusions (ClimateWire, Oct. 28). In a letter yesterday to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Smith accuses the agency of violating his subpoena - and threatens civil or criminal enforcement. Read more.
New York Times - The authorities in California are advising people to avoid consumption of crabs contaminated by a natural toxin that has spread throughout the marine ecosystem off the West Coast, killing sea mammals and poisoning various other species. Kathi A. Lefebvre, the lead research biologist at the Wildlife Algal Toxin Research and Response Network, said on Wednesday that her organization had examined about 250 animals stranded on the West Coast and had found domoic acid, a toxic chemcial produced by a species of algae, in 36 animals of several species. "We're seeing much higher contamination in the marine food web this year in the this huge geographic expanse than in the past," Ms. Lefebvre said. Read more.
Washington Post - In California, a little weasel called the "fisher" may be exposing a big environmental problem: Research shows that the species is being heavily exposed to, and even killed by, rat poison used on illicit marijuana cultivation sites. And scientists are concerned they're not the only animals being affected. A new study, released Wednesday in the Journal PLOS ONE, investigated the causes behind fisher mortality in California and identified a common form of rat poison - which you wouldn't normally expect to find in the middle of their remote forest habitat - as an "emerging threat" to the species. After collecting and performing necropsies on more than 150 dead fishers in three California locations between 2007 and 2014, the researchers concluded that predation by other animals, such as bobcats or coyotes, was the top cause of death, accounting for about 70 percent of all the moralities. Read more.
Detroit Free Press - Nearly two years after the release of a landmark report on alternatives for keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, federal officials told members of Congress on Wednesday it could be another four years before recommendations for stopping the invasive species at a key chokepoint outside Chicago are ready. "Four years is too long," U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told the Free Press following a 1 1/2-hour meeting between her and some 20 other U.S. House and Senate members and representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and other agencies trying to keep Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. "The whole process takes way too long in my judgment." Read more.
Coastal News Today - Officials at Fort Pulaski National Monument have gained precious ground thanks to a multiagency project that wrapped up this week. The monthlong shore stabilization project used dredged material from the Savannah Harbor Navigation Project to restore a 1.5-mile section of beach along Cockspur Island's north shore. Erosion over the past decade was threatening the park's historic North Wharf and dike system, which date back to the fort's construction in the early 1800s. According to Ronnie Westbury, a construction control inspector with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, workers placed more than 200,000 cubic yards of dredged material along the island's north shore. Read more.
SandPaper.net - Current beach replenishment work on Long Beach Island was initially, under the base contract with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., required to complete by April 12, 2016. However, due to "weather delays and the need to repair areas damaged by the recent storm, we have extended the contract," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a spokesman Steve Rochette noted on Tuesday. "The required completion date is now approximately May 21, 2016." The recent renourishment efforts began in Ship Bottom in early May, then moved to Long Beach Township. As of Monday, Nov. 2, beachfill discharge was between 75th and 77th Streets in Beach Haven Crest. The dredge Liberty Island has departed the LBI project, and is expected to the return in January, while the dredge Dodge Island remains. Read more.
WWLTV - As erosion robs Louisiana of a football field of coastline an hour, the land is sinking and the sea is rising. "The delta is consolidating and shrinking," said Jonathan Hird of Moffat & Nichol. Three winning teams in a competition of scientists and engineers focused on finding a solution. All call for moving the mouth of Mississippi north, with one channel as far north as just below English Turn. "Our idea was slightly to the west of the modern Mississippi channel, a dredge through Barataria Basin into somewhere below English Turn," said Prof. Harry Roberts, of LSU marine geology. Roberts, a member of the Baird engineering team, specializes in marine geology. "We are going to have to retreat from our present coastline, and the reason is that we can't save it all," he said. Read more.
New Haven Register - Finding alternatives for placement of dredge material outside the Long Island Sound has been a primary focus of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the last 10 years, but many concerned citizens still fear the opposite is true. Earlier is month, the Corps released a fact sheet addressing these concerns and advising the public that the 149 possible locations for dredge material that studies have identified are just possible options. Each of the 149 sites would have to be re-analyzed before any depositing of dredge material occurred. The plan was created for future federal dredging projects in the region. "Recent concerns that the Corps is recommending placing millions of cubic yards of dredged material in Long Island Sound are simply incorrect," the release dated on Oct. 7 stated. Read more.
Savannah Now - The Georgia Water Coalition on Wednesday announced its annual "Dirty Dozen," highlighting threats to Georgia's water. The list includes three local coastal issues: offshore drilling, pollution in the Atamaha River and continued risks to coastal groundwater. And it gave a special shout out to the state's stalling of the Palmetto Pipeline, adding it as a "Clean 13" to the dirty dozen. "It is not a list of the most polluted water bodies in our state," said Juliet Cohen, executive director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a member of the coalition. "Nor is it a list of the biggest water pollution problems in our state, though some of the biggest are included." Read more.
Times-Picayune - Jefferson Parish's coastal communities will get at least $15 million - and possibly as much as $60 million - for flood protection and coastal restoration. Breaking a months-long stalemate, the Parish Council voted unanimously Wednesday (Nov. 4) to divide about $35 million in BP settlement money it received for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil disaster. The council's five districts each will get $5 million, to be spent largely at the discretion of the council member for the district. The exception at the discretion of the council member for the district. The exception is Councilman Ricky Templet's 1st District, which covers much of the coastal area and will get no earmarked money. Instead, the 1st District share, plus another $10 million from the BP settlement, will be designated for flood protection in unincorporated coastal areas such as Crown Point, and Barataria. Read more.