Today in WaterWise news:
Coal industry leader to disclose more climate risks ♦ President Obama missed an opportunity on Keystone XL Pipeline ♦ Bill Nye wants us to invent our way out of climate change ♦ States begin push for carbon tax ♦ Climate advocates and opponents prepare for Paris talks ♦ India is about to become the center of the energy conversation ♦ Army draws down its civilian workforce ♦ Offshore wind technology is rapidly advancing ♦ GE is finishing its cleanup of the Hudson River ♦ Savannah Harbor dredging bid protest is denied ♦ Coastal restoration along the Gulf ♦ Seawalls protect residents in Massachusetts ♦ Underground mapping of Louisiana coast will help build plans to fight coastal erosion and sea level rise.
Washington Post - Peabody Energy, the world's biggest publicly traded coal company, agreed Sunday to disclose more fully potential risks to its business from climate change regulations and resulting impacts on coal demand as part of a settlement with New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman. The agreement follows recent news that Schneiderman is also investigating ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading the public and investors about climate change. Taken together, the revelations suggest that we could be entering a world in which, as nations get more serious about capping and regulating greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel firms will also face more regulatory scrutiny for their statements to investors and the public. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - World leaders will gather later this month in Paris to set new targets for greenhouse-gas emissions. The targets will be the easy part. Meeting them with the least possible harm to the economy will be much harder, requiring a deft mix of science and economics. President Barack Obama missed a golden opportunity to show how when he formally filled the Keystone XL pipeline last week. In explaining his decision, Mr. Obama said saving the planet from a warmer climate will require that some fossil fuels, such as the carbon-intensive oil from Canada's tar sands, be left in the ground. Yet as Mr. Obama also knows, killing Keystone, which would have carried that crude to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, will have little impact on the production of such crude. World market conditions will determine how much of Canada's oil finds its way to market, either in Asia or the U.S. - whether via train, ship or pipeline. Read more.
Washington Post - When it comes to his role in the climate change debate, we've learned in recent years to think of Bill Nye as a kind of warrior on behalf of reason - the guy who goes on cable TV and stands up to voices of doubt and denial. But that's not the Nye of Bill Bye the Science Guy, the beloved kids show. And it's not the picture you get from reading his new book Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World - which is fundamentally about changing how we get energy and thereby solving global warming. Here, Nye the inventor and engineer shines through - celebrating causes ranging from designing better batteries (doing so could get someone "rich, crazy rich," he writes) to deploying fleets of robocabs in cities, to eventually powering rockets using hydrogen fuel. Read more.
Washington Post - In Washington state, a circulating petition might be the key to both permanently cutting down on the state's carbon footprint and also reforming what is widely considered one of the nation's most regressive tax systems. If enough signatures are secured, the petition will allow the United States' first-ever carbon tax a spot on the ballot. Carbon Washington is a grassroots carbon tax campaign founded by environmental economist and stand-up comedian Yoram Bauman. The idea of a carbon tax is pretty simple: It's a form of carbon pricing that aims to drive greenhouse gas emissions down by requiring people to pay a tax or a fee on either the carbon they emit or the fossil fuels they purchase, and then either returning the revenue to the public or using it for new government programs (Washington state would do the former). Read more.
ClimateWire - Congressional partisans on both sides of the climate wars are fortifying their positions as landmark U.N. negotiations in Paris near. For House and Senate Republican majorities, that means making the case to the world as forcefully as possible that White House pledges of aid and greenhouse gas emissions reductions are unlikely to materialize - and shouldn't be counted on in any agreement. Climate advocates, meanwhile, are preparing to counter that message by traveling to Paris to help President Obama and his Cabinet achieve their long-sought goal of facilitating a deal that allows for U.S. participation. "Part of what we're going to do is to walk anybody who has any misgivings about our level commitment - walk them through how our legislative process works, what the next steps are, how monumentally difficult it would be to undermine this," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said in an interview with ClimateWire. Read more.
Washington Post - The disconnect is huge: Even as countries of the world pledge to cut their greenhouse gas emissions going into the Paris climate talks, recent analyses suggest that overall emission will still rise through the year 2030, and current national pledges will merely blunt the force of that trend. The key reason, highlighted in the new 2015 World Energy Outlook by the International Energy Agency, is that the coming decades will also see an incredible one-third growth in overall energy consumption through 2040, much of which will still be satisfied by coal and other fossil fuels. The agency highlights one particular country to underscore this trend - though there are many other candidates - India, home to 1.3 billion people, 240 million of whom lack electricity, most of them living in rural areas. This, the IEA says, is why India is about to surpass China as the dominant global energy story. Read more.
Army Times - The Army has reduced the number of full-time civilian positions in its ranks by 37,000, with more cuts to follow in the next two years. The cuts, made since 2011, come as the Army draws down and are "largely in response to budgetary pressures," said Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, an Army spokesman. "Ongoing budget reductions and other legislative mandates require the Army to reduce the size of its total force, to include civilians and contractors," he said. "As a result, the Department of the Army civilian manpower is being reduced along with active-duty military end-strength reductions announced in July 2015." The Army projects it will lose 2,4000 more civilian full-time equivalent positions by the end of fiscal year 2017, with additional reductions possible after that, Buccino said. Read more.
EcoWatch - The race is on to prove that offshore wind power on floating platforms can be a significant power source of coastal states, with more than a dozen designs in development. All countries with deep seas off their coasts can exploit the technology by anchoring wind farms near their major cities. Countries supporting these floating power stations include Japan, the U.S. and European countries bordering the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. Island states with limited land space would also benefit. There are already successful demonstrations platforms in Norway and Portugal, proving that the technology works. The battle now is to get costs down so that offshore wind can compete with other renewables. The latest group to claim a breakthrough is the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - After seven years, the removal of 310,000 pounds of pollutants and at least $1.6 billion in costs, General Electric Co. is about to permanently shut down its dredging operation on the Hudson River, a final step in GE's toughest-ever cleanup job. The Environmental Protection Agency could approve as early as Thursday, the company's application to close a 100-acre plant it built here to process sludge from the river bottom that was contaminated by hazardous chemicals according to people familiar with the matter. GE factories dumped hundreds of thousands of pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into the river for decades until the late 1970s. Read more.
Savannah Now - the federal Government Accountability Office has rejected a protest from an unsuccessful bidder that threatened to delay the Savannah Harbor deepening project. At issue is a $99.6 million mitigation contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded in late July to CDM Constructors Inc. of Maitland, Fla., for a dissolved oxygen system. North Carolina-based Crowder Construction Company, which bid about $7 million less, filed a protest in August. Crowder challenged the Army's evaluation of both proposals and of its "best-value tradeoff," which allows a higher bidder to win if it offers better services. The Army received four proposals and narrowed them to Chowder and CDM. While more expensive, CDM outscored Crowder on three of four factors used to determine the best value. Read more.
Post and Courier - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday took a high-tech look at how much sand was lost here due to the stormy October weather. The results will help determine whether Folly qualifies for a federally-funded beach repair project. That decision will be made in about two months. "Today we are quantifying the damage," said Wes Wilson, the corps' Charleston District project manager. If approved, Folly will get a beach fix before the next hurricane season, he said. A city consultants said storms associated with Hurricane Joaquin robbed Folly of about 25 percent of its $30 million Corps beach renourishment project completed last year. To gather data, a Corps specialist drove a vehicle outfitted with laser technology that generated a detailed three-dimensional picture of the beach. Read more.
WVUE New Orleans - Chris McLindon surveys a little piece of history along Paris Road in Chalmette. McLindon, an oil industry geologist who has become active in coastal research, wades into 2 feet of water in search of the remnants of the Old Paris Road. "You can feel the road bed," McLindon said as he carefully shuffled through marsh in search of asphalt remnants. It's definitely a hardened road bed," McLindon said, using a shovel as a measuring stick. "And that's about a little over 2 feet deep." Built in the 1930s, most likely 2-3 feet above sea level, the roadway sank. "A fairly discreet hot spot, but the impacts are obvious," McLindon. A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranks parts of South Louisiana among the most rapidly sinking spots on earth. While opinions are sharply divided about the causes, McLindon argues the primary culprits of subsidence in the Delta are underground faults. Read more.
NECN - Cell phone video from past storms shows a giant wave crashing over the seawall at Crescent Beach in Hull, Massachusetts, flooding out in the entire area. Another video shows an arctic tundra, floodwaters iced over a frozen couch. "The waves, they just go right over the house. It's amazing," said resident Bill O'Donnell. Residents say they're pleased it's been quiet lately in their coastal community and that this storm won't be bringing any damage. Hull Conservation Administrator Anne Herbst said: "Because this is a very quick storm, the waves won't get a chance to build. When you have twenty foot waves offshore, you have an enormous amount of over-wash and damage here." To alleviate some of that damage, a new seawall will be built, partly due to a state grant. Read more.
Yellow Hammer News - Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced that in a third round of grants from the Gulf of Environmental Benefit Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has approved more than $21 million for five Alabama projects to restore some of Alabama's natural resources affected by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. "The Gulf Coast of Alabama is one of the state's greatest natural treasures, and it is important we restore it from the devastation caused by the 2010 oil spill," Governor Bentley said. "The $21 million we will receive from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will support our continued long-term recovery efforts from the adverse effects of the oil spill. I appreciate the unified effort of our local, state and federal partners who are working with us in this long-term recovery process to restore the Alabama Gulf Coast." Read more.
AmmoLand - Nearly fifty people gathered to celebrate completion of three coastal restoration projects yesterday at the Falgout Canal Marina in Theriot. Ducks Unlimited, ConocoPhillips, Apache Louisiana Minerals LLC, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council restored more than 2,500 coastal acres through the Liner Canal, Carencro Bayou and Lost Lake projects. The Liner Canal project was on the parish's desired list for several years, but a lack of funding delayed implementation efforts. The project will benefit hundreds of acres of fresh and intermediate marsh by increasing freshwater flow into an area severely threatened by saltwater intrusion. Ducks Unlimited built a multi-bay water control structure to increase the freshwater flow through Liner Canal by about three times. The structure will also prevent salt water from accessing freshwater marshes upstream. Read more.
Coastal News Today - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District awarded a $6,104,050 contract for Mike Hooks Inc., for maintenance dredging of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) navigation channel from the Galveston Causeway to Bastrop Bayou in Galveston in Galveston County, Texas. The contractor is required to remove approximately 1,035,000 cubic yards (CY) of maintenance material from this 25-mile reach of the GIWW using a pipeline dredge. "The GIWW is an essential component of the nation's navigation network extending for 1,109 miles from Appalachee Bay Florida to Port Isabel Texas," said Seth Jones, an operations manager with USACE Galveston District's Navigation Branch. "The GIWW is the third ranked inland waterway in the nation handling 126 million short tons of cargo. The 379-mile Texas portion of the GIWW handles more than 73 millioin short tons of cargo annually valued at $42 billion." Read more.