Today in WaterWise News:
Solar energy in trouble? ♦ Oil firms and Earthquakes ♦ Sunoco energy transfers ♦ Oil prices climbing amidst post-Paris airstrikes on ISIS ♦ Coral reefs in danger ♦ Greenland flooding the ocean ♦ Climate change will begin affecting society in a more direct way, experts say ♦ Red River diversion project lawsuit ♦ North Texas push for reservoir approval ♦ Louisiana fuel supply threatened ♦ Route 5 anti-flooding project underway ♦ "Disgusting" dredging video ♦ Coastal State plan brought forward by Army Corps of Engineers? ♦ Nauset Beach disappearing ♦ Catalina Island and sea-level rise ♦ Transportation negotiators working up to their deadline
Wall Street Journal - What’s going to happen when a huge incentive to invest in solar power shrinks or vanishes? At the end of next year, the 30% investment tax credit for solar and other renewable power is set to expire for residential systems and plunge to 10% for commercial installations. Boosters are calling for Congress to extend the credit in its current form. The tax-credit crunch is looming at a time when solar is on the rise. Solar installations increased 30% last year, thanks partly to cheaper photovoltaic panels. Solar proponents note that the solar industry employs more than twice as many U.S. workers as coal mining and has added jobs 20 times faster than the rest of the economy. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - In 2011, a string of powerful earthquakes struck near the town of Prague, Okla., part of a surge in seismic activity in the state. Geologists eventually linked the quakes to increased oil and natural-gas production in the area—specifically, to the practice of injecting wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, into wells deep underground. Sandra Ladra, a Prague resident who was injured in the most severe of the quakes, brought a lawsuit against New Dominion LLC and other oil and gas companies that operate injection wells in the region, accusing the companies of engaging in “ultrahazardous activities” that led to her injuries. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - Energy Transfer Partners LP said it would sell its remaining Sunoco-related retail and wholesale holdings in a $2.23 billion drop-down deal to Sunoco LP, another company in the Energy Transfer family. The move completes a total of $5.7 billion of so-called drop-down transactions. The mostly cash deal will be effective Jan. 1 and is expected to close in February, accelerated timing from previous plans, the companies said. Sunoco doesn’t expect to need to raise any additional equity financing in 2016 following the deal. Energy Transfer Partners will remain the largest holder of Sunoco, with an about 46% interest. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - Oil prices traded higher early on Monday after France escalated its air campaign against Islamic State following the Paris terror attacks, but bearish crude fundamentals kept the gains in check. While France’s military foray failed to ignite a strong rally, it injected a layer of geopolitical uncertainty to the oil market, long plagued by an oversupply of crude. The airstrikes, which France launched on Sunday against Islamic State’s stronghold in Syria, increased market jitters about the Middle East, the world’s most prolific oil producing region. Read more.
Washington Post - As if the world’s coral reefs didn’t have enough problems — killer rising ocean temperatures, crazy bleaching events and oil slicks comprised of sunscreen from sunbathers that denude them, they are now under attack by hordes of thorny sea creatures. That’s what some scientists are calling an explosion of voracious crown-of-thorns sea stars in Maldives that are eating coral reefs with mouths in their stomachs. For some reason — no one quite knows what — their numbers have grown out of control. Where once divers would see one or two eating coral across about a mile, they’re now seeing 100. And a single sea star can produce 50 million eggs per year, scientists said. Read more.
Washington Post - As the world prepares for the most important global climate summit yet in Paris later this month, news from Greenland could add urgency to the negotiations. For another major glacier appears to have begun a rapid retreat into a deep underwater basin, a troubling sign previously noticed at Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier and also in the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica. And in all of these cases, warm ocean waters reaching the deep bases of marine glaciers appears to be a major cause. Read more.
Washington Post - Much of the scientific work on the fascinating and unique organisms occupying the seas around Antarctica has focused on concerns that rising temperatures will upend these communities. But that’s not the only aspect of climate change we should be worrying about, scientists say. New research suggests that melting glaciers, which produce runoff water that carries extra sediment down into the ocean in the form of silt or clay particles, could be causing big changes in some Antarctic communities. So-called “benthic” zones, or the areas at the bottom of the ocean, are some of the most diverse and productive ecosystems in Antarctica, said Craig Smith, a professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii. Read more.
BBC - Prof Richard Tol predicts the downsides of warming will outweigh the advantages with a global warming of 1.1C - which has nearly been reached already. Prof Tol is regarded by many campaigners as a climate "sceptic". He has previously highlighted the positive effects of CO2 in fertilising crops and forests. His work is widely cited by climate contrarians. Read more.
BBC - The El Niño weather event is expected to gain in strength before the end of this year, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). In its latest update, the WMO says the 2015 occurrence will be among the three strongest recorded since 1950. Severe droughts and significant flooding in many parts of the world are being attributed to this El Niño. The WMO warn these impacts are likely to increase and this event is now in "uncharted territory". El Niño is a naturally occurring weather episode that sees the warm waters of the central Pacific expand eastwards towards North and South America. Read more.
Star Tribune - Opponents and proponents of a planned Red River diversion project around Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota say they're happy to have a chance to lay out their positions in front of a judge. The $2 billion channel is designed to move water around the flood-prone Fargo metropolitan area, but would need a staging area south of the city to store water in times of serious flooding. A group representing about 20 upstream cities and townships in North Dakota and Minnesota filed a federal lawsuit in August 2013 asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a cheaper project that doesn't flood farmland. Read more.
Dallas News - Three North Texas congressmen are urging the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to move quickly in granting the last major permit needed by the North Texas Municipal Water District to build a new reservoir in Fannin County. The Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir would be the first new reservoir in Texas in decades, and utility officials say it’s critical to meeting the region’s water needs through 2060. Read more.
The Advertiser - Northeastern Louisiana’s largest fuel terminal could go dry if repairs to the closed Columbia lock on the Ouachita River take an extended period of time. The Army Corps of Engineers’ Vickburg (Mississippi) District closed the Columbia lock Saturday after workers discovered a sand boil compromised the lock floor. “It could have a major adverse impact if it’s shut down for any extended period,” said Bill Hobgood, executive director of the Ouachita River Valley Association, whose members include all of the major companies who do business on the river. Read more.
Buffalo News - Ed Hoak has seen worse. The Hamburg native who runs Hoak’s Lakeshore Restaurant has seen his share of storms roll over Lake Erie at Athol Springs. Waves crash over his two-story restaurant building and across Route 5 in front of St. Francis High School, leaving behind tree limbs, sticks, ice and other debris. But maybe for only two more winters. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is designing a stone barrier, or revetment, that will slope down into the water, where it will be anchored into the bedrock. A 15-foot wide “splash apron” will top the 1,325-foot long revetment between Hoak’s and where Foits Restaurant once stood. Read more.
Bensonhurst Bean - Assemblyman William Colton is outraged over raw footage which appears to show a moving construction container dropping black sludge and debris into Gravesend Bay. Dredging at the site of the controversial Southwest Brooklyn Marine Waste Transfer Station — located off Shore Parkway’s service road along Bay 41st Street — was filmed on Thursday, November 12, at 4:40pm, by the Brooklyn assemblyman himself. “There was a piece of metal that was stuck in it, so therefore was a clamshell was not closed … And it’s supposed to have a sensor to alert them, if it’s not completely closed. Read more.
NOLA - The federal government's lack of an overarching plan on how to fight land loss in Louisiana is wasting money that could be spent on fixing the state's problems, a top Louisiana coastal official told a congressional panel on Friday (Nov. 13). Kyle Graham, executive director of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said Louisiana's "largest stumbling block" with the Army Corps of Engineers is that agency's lack of a comprehensive coastal plan. Read more.
Chatham - When the youngest Orleans elementary school students head to middle school the iconic Liam’s will likely be replaced by a food truck, there will be no dancing to music by the gazebo, and folks will be parking in a 400-space parking lot on the hill as the town’s current 800-space lot will be gone. Nauset Beach, as it is known now, will be gone, according to a new study by the Woods Hole Group commissioned by the town. “It is kind of jaw dropping to hear we where stand,” said Natural Resources Director Nathan Sears when he was briefed on the study. Read more.
Daily News - Catalina Island is a hot spot for more than snorkeling and rustic getaways. It’s one of the world’s most pristine grounds to research how, when and why ancient sea levels rose and fell — a topic of intense interest worldwide as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris approaches later this month. Stanford University geophysicist Chris Castillo is doing cutting-edge research on the submerged portions of the island, made up of rocks more than 100 million years old. He is seeking clues to ancient weather and ocean circulation patterns, sea-level changes and seismic events that can shine a light onto climate change predictions by confirming what happened historically. Read more.
Politico - Congressional leaders have just five days now to either reach bicameral consensus on a sweeping transportation funding plan or to again buy themselves time with a short-term policy patch. Because the Highway Trust Fund isn’t dangerously depleted just yet, a brief extension probably wouldn’t be so hard to pass. But the transportation-focused lawmakers trying to move this multiyear deal are unlikely to publicly throw up their hands just yet — hoping to keep the pressure on for making progress in the next few days, even if they’re unable to get a final bill off to the president by Friday’s deadline. Read more.