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The Economic Perspective 9/30/2022

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Demographic News Curated for You By The Balmoral Group

The Balmoral Group provides practical, professional and precise Economics, Data Analytics, and Engineering Consulting services and is part of a globally integrated team.

Last week Hurricane Ian closed theme parks, cancelled flights, and forced evacuation and sheltering, while delivering destruction and disarray to Florida shores in the form of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic flooding, damaged rooftops, and crushed infrastructure. As a Category 4 Hurricane, with storm surge hitting 12 feet in some parts of southwest Florida, Ian will go down as one of the worst hurricanes to make landfall in the state.

Thoughts go out to those affected right now. Please stay safe (and as dry as you can) during this time.

This week's flash report features a look at Florida mining concerns during Hurricane Ian, Australia's largest state-owned wind farm, and a new compost program in Richmond, Virginia, among others.

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Florida's Mining Ponds at Risk due to Hurricane Ian

Polluted leftovers from phosphogypsum in Florida's phosphate stacks are at risk for contamination during extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Ian. These stacks resemble open-air ponds and contain roughly 30 million tons of slightly radioactive waste. When environmental hazards occur, such as the Piney Point leak in Bradenton, Florida last year that resulted in the release of 215 million gallons into Tampa Bay, it can cause catastrophic effects to local communities, wetlands and wildlife. The phosphate industry has been in Florida since 1883 and utilizes phosphate rock to harvest fertilizer for food, animals, and other products (AP News).

New Compost Program Connects to Community Gardens and City Parks

The Richmond Compost Initiative, a new piloted initiative funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is hoping to connect people to their community through food. Richmond's community garden and the city of Richmond are rolling out bins at 20 locations including community gardens and libraries in an effort to collect and process items such as fruits, veggies, kitchen scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, paper towels, and bags. The bins are already receiving 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of food scraps a week and are hoping for more. Composting can be incredibly beneficial for the environment, as food makes up approximately one fourth of the country's landfilled waste. Additionally, it provides opportunities for the community to connect (VPM).

Australia's Largest State-Owned Wind Farm in Queensland

Queensland announced this week a $776 million (AU) project to build the largest publicly owned wind farm in Australia, featuring 150 wind turbines with enough clean electricity to power up to 230,000 homes. The construction start date is targeted for 2024 with the goal of having an operational wind farm by 2026. The construction will be paid for through the Queensland government $2 billion Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs fund. The 2nd largest state in Australia, Queensland was responsible for 32% of the nations GHG emissions. The state currently has a 30% emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2030 (electrek).

All 50 States Get Green Light Build EV Charging Stations Covering 75,000 Miles of Highways

On Tuesday, The U.S. Department of Transportation approved charging stations for electric vehicles in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. States will have access to $1.5 billion to help build these chargers along with the $5 billion allocated by the Biden Administration earlier this year. It is unclear the exact number of charging stations that will be constructed, but the goal is to cover 75,000 miles of highway with charging stations. This will increase the reliability of EVs, incentivizing more consumers to purchase EVs. The White House has also put $135 billion toward electric vehicle development with the hope of half a million charging stations in use by 2030 and 50% more EV sales for vehicles. Between this considerable investment and EV tax credits passed in the Inflation Reduction Act, EV’s have had many of their limitations reduced or on the path to reduction (CNBC).

Gulf, East Coast Port Volume Rises; West Coast Activity Lags

Container volumes at West Coast ports are beginning to moderate, while many Gulf and East coast ports are seeing significant increases. In August, Port of Savannah set an all-time record, the Port of Virginia recorded its second-busiest month and the Port of Houston reported a 19% increase year-over-year. The gain stems from some shippers moving cargo from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic due to labor concerns unions related to contract negotiations. Transport Topics

Data Visualization of the Week

How Major Hurricanes Impact Baby Names

A data visualization from the Axios depicts how major hurricanes affect the popularity of baby names, sometimes for years after the hurricane makes landfall. For example, Katrina was selected as a baby's name 83% less in 2015 than in 2005. The graphic below shows the percent change in names pre and post hurricane landfall (Center for Data Innovation).



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