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The New Year is in full swing and we here at The Balmoral Group aim to make it a productive one! This edition of our weekly newsletter features a wide variety of topics ranging from state and federal legislation, environmental and consumer health concerns, hydrogen-powered vehicles, and the consequences of shipping blockades in the Red Sea.
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Florida Legislature Back in Session
Florida’s Legislature convened this week, with ambitious bills already filed in several areas, including SB 1788, banning social media for Florida youth under the age of 16; HB 49, relaxing child labor laws for children age 15 and up; SB 344/HB 1521 regarding Florida curriculum not implying that slaves benefited from enslavement; HB 1355/ SB 1414 to undo preferred pronouns legislation from last year; and using the $2.5 billion in agreed Seminole Tribe gambling revenues for environmental conservation and restoration. Research bills here.
States Sue Biden Administration Over Emissions Rules
21 States (Florida included) filed a federal lawsuit that aims to make the “National Performance Management Measures; Assessing Performance of the National Highway System, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measure” final rule be declared unlawful and vacated. States argue that Congress has not given FHWA or U.S. DOT authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. They also argue the rule will require significant administrative costs and effort to comply with the regulation. Florida is used as an example where the rule would require over 70 targets to be set. Texas filed a separate lawsuit over the rule. Transport Topics.
Reef Research Project Could Predict Future of Florida Keys’ Coral
Historically one of the Florida Keys’ healthiest reefs, Cheeca Rocks will serve as a predictor of how and if reefs will be able to survive climate change. A research team from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory has found that this location is part of a massive coral bleaching event following this summer’s unprecedented heat wave and high ocean temperatures. They are conducting frequent monitoring of the coral and ocean temperatures at this location and keeping an eye on areas that are recovering to determine whether there is hope for the Keys’ reefs to rebound in the future. Read more here.
Study Reveals Shocking Levels of Nanoplastics in Bottled Water
A new study reveals that one-liter plastic water bottles contain levels of "nanoplastics" 100 times higher than previously believed. The peer-reviewed study, testing particles under 1 micrometer, found an average of 240,000 plastic particles in each bottle, with potential health risks as nanoplastics can penetrate cells and impact organs. Researchers developed advanced microscopy to identify nanoplastics in 25 brands of 1-liter water bottles. Adults relying on plastic-bottled water for daily intake may ingest up to 888,000 particles. Researchers suggest switching to tap water and reusable bottles. The study follows Consumer Reports' findings of plastic chemicals in various food items, urging a phthalate ban. Read more here and find the full study here
During the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show, carbon-neutral technologies were dominated by electric vehicles, but hydrogen energy also staked its place in the showcase. Hyundai displayed their plans for cars powered by hydrogen-powered fuel cells and announced their work in supporting a “hydrogen society” for energy storage, transportation, and production. EV’s have made their mark in today’s world but another interesting, clean source of energy such as hydrogen energy could show up more in the future. Read more here. Image credit: Hyundai
Data Visualization of the Week
FRed Sea Disruption Could have ‘Significant Consequences’ for Global Growth
Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc has stated that it is unclear if safe passage in the Red Sea would be reestablished in “days, weeks, or months”. Maersk will be diverting vessels from the Red Sea to around the southern coast of Africa for the foreseeable future. This will add two to four weeks to Europe-Asia voyages, and with inland transportations facing delays due to strikes in Germany, there could be long-term consequences to economic growth. Ikea and other companies have already warned of potential product delays. Read more here and here.
Image credit: CNN