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The Economic Perspective 03/15/2024

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.

Happy Friday!

Earlier this week TBG’s Dan Dourte, Michaela MacDougall, and Laila Racevskis were in Palatka, FL to host a public workshop on the Putnam County Flood Vulnerability Assessment, where they presented an overview of TBG’s current study in which we are identifying and prioritizing projects, actions, and policies to reduce flood risks in Putnam County. Through interactive map activities, community members shared valuable insights and information on high priority areas for resilience investments and areas of greatest flooding concerns in the county. Thank you to all who came out and participated.

Articles included in this week's Economic Perspective are on the EU's deforestation policy, Amtrak's attempt to build a bullet train in Texas, culvert removal to protect fish populations, and more! Our data visualization covers the necessity of not just carbon emission reduction but also carbon removal from the atmosphere to combat climate change.


EU Deforestation Policy

This past Wednesday, the European Union (EU) faced ridicule from its future policy to start banning South American imports that are linked to deforestation by the end of 2024. This applies to imports such as soy, beef, coffee, palm oil, and other commodities. Deforestation is the largest source of gas emissions in South American countries while forests help curb global warming because the trees absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide. The criticism came from countries who worry over the impacts to their own country’s economies and protection. The EU Environmental Policy Chief is set to tour South America this week and ensure no bias of trading due to a country’s past damages to their environment, and to set a “turning point in the global fight against deforestation”. Read more here at Reuters Sustainability - Land Use & Biodiversity news

Why Amtrak is Attempting to Revive the Texas Central Bullet Train

Since 1987, investors have attempted to introduce bullet train service to Texas. Despite this, and other attempts in other states, he U.S. lacks true bullet train services. In 2014, Texas Central launched the most recent attempt to connect Dallas to Houston with a bullet train that would reduce the three-and-a-half-hour drive to a 90-minute train ride. Amtrak would announce a partnership with Texas Central in 2023, reviving hopes for the bullet train. The reason for the renewed interest comes from the $66 billion in commitments to passenger rail from the U.S. government. Read More.

$3.33 Billion Awarded to Reconnecting Communities Pilot

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $3.33 billion for 132 projects through the Reconnecting Communities Pilot and Neighborhood Access and Equity discretionary grant programs. The projects aim to bring historically connected neighborhoods cut off by transportation infrastructure back together, improving access schools, jobs, medical offices, and places of worship. The community investment, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, is 18 times larger than the previous year’s standalone Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program. Read More.

Is $7.8 Billion Going to Bring Back Salmon?

By 2030 the State of Washington is required to tear out hundreds of poorly designed culverts that have blocked fish passage under state highways. However, the federal court order won by Northwest tribes a decade ago doesn’t require other non-state-owned culverts that block salmon migration to be removed. For every barrier WSDOT fixes, ten others partially or fully block fish migration. The roughly $1 million a day being spent to meet the 2030 deadline has restored some salmon habitat, but some worry that the narrow focus of the court order without addressing any non-state culverts will prevent salmon from reaching their final destination and render the investments ineffective. Additionally, the state is not required to track fish through the new stream crossings, so there is no proving that these benefits are being realized. Seattle Times

Highlights of Environmental Legislation Passed in Florida's 2024 Legislation Sessions

With the Florida 2024 legislation session that wrapped up recently, some notable environmental legislation passed the House and Senate. The legislature passed bills to improve community resilience to natural disasters and empower citizens by requiring sellers to disclose whether a property has been damaged by flooding, rules for managing stormwater runoff, and budget legislators sent a bill dedicating gambling revenues for investments for more than $400 million in land conservation and management, and more than $900 million in water quality programs and projects. Also seen was a $750 million budget to Everglades restoration. On another note, the legislature stopped the “sprawl free for all” bill that would have removed almost all state laws intended to prevent urban sprawl, which was a huge win for conservationists. More info here.

World's Oldest Fossilized Forest Found in UK Cliffs

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists from Cambridge and Cardiff Universities identified the world's earliest fossilized forest on the coast of South West England, near Minehead. Dating back to the Devonian Period, around 419-358 million years ago, the calamophyton trees, resembling palm trees, shaped a semi-arid plain that was once connected to parts of Germany and Belgium. The findings, four million years older than the previous record holder in New York State, shed light on how these ancient trees influenced landscapes, stabilized riverbanks, and provide crucial insights into early plant growth dynamics. Read More.

Data Visualization of the Week

How Carbon Dioxide Removal is Critical to a Net-Zero Future

Visual Capitalist and Carbon Streaming have partnered to take a deep look at carbon removal methods. It is expected that carbon removal will pull an estimated 3.8 GtCO2 (Giga tones of CO2) out of the atmosphere by 2035 and 9.2 GtCO2 by 2050. Currently afforestation and reforestation are the primary ways of carbon removal, but this is limited as the U.S. alone would need to plant a forest the size of New Mexico every year to cancel out their emissions. More expensive methods such as carbon capture, and enhanced weathering have a greater impact on carbon removal. Working with several solutions and providing carbon credits to industries that cannot decarbonize in the short term will likely yield the best results. Read More.



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