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The Economic Perspective 04/12/2024

The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Infrastructure 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!

Welcome back to this week’s exciting edition of the Economic Perspective! This week we have pieces on regulatory changes. The EPA set limits on PFAs in drinking water, while the Federal Highway Administration's greenhouse gas emission standards is being challenged in the Senate and on Federal courts. Additionally, we have pieces on how gambling revenue will be used in Florida, how Washington State is considering building new nuclear reactors and a data visualization on short-term rentals occupancy for the solar eclipse.

We hope you enjoy the read and let us know what you think! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you’d like to view previous editions please click here, or to subscribe please click here!

Thank you and have a great weekend!


Federal Regulations on ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Drinking Water Will Impact People and Utilities in Florida

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulations setting limits on PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals,’ in drinking water. This is a historic regulatory change to address these water contaminants, exposure to which has been liked to serious health conditions including cancer and liver damage. The regulation has significant implications for utilities, particularly in Florida’s urban areas like Miami and Tampa, which will now be required to test for specific water contaminants and filter them out if they exceed allowable limits. Utilities may be able to offset costs through federal grants to avoid passing cost increases on to consumers. Read more here

US Senate Votes to Reject Rule to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Highways

This week the Senate passed a resolution that would overturn the Federal Highway Administration’s national performance management measures rule. The rule requires States to establish GHG emission targets in transportation projects. The House of Representatives has yet to vote and the White House said it would veto the resolution. However, in the first of week of April, Federal Judges in Kentucky and Texas sided with 22 States and declared the rule unlawful. They argued that the agency lacked the statutory authority to impose it. The FHWA could still appeal the decision. Reuters

Washington State Considers New Nuclear Reactors

Last month, along with other WA state capital budget changes, $25 million dollars was marked as a set-aside for Energy Northwest to complete a feasibility study for building small, modular nuclear reactors near the company’s current nuclear power plant. The allocation has been hotly contested by environmental groups who claim that these small nuclear reactors generate more waste than larger reactors to produce the same amount of energy, and building the reactors would cost a significant amount, which could be invested in less polluting clean power strategies such as wind and solar. Read more here and here

Gambling Revenue to be Used for Environmental Projects in Florida

Recently signed into law, an estimated $750 million annual gambling revenue in Florida will soon be used for environmental projects throughout the state. This comes from an agreement reached in 2021 between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida stating that the Tribe has full control of sports betting in the state. The environmental projects selected will be seen within water management, resilience, land acquisitions for the Florida Wildlife Corridor and the rest of the pot will be placed in the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund to reduce harmful nutrients from entering Florida waterways. Read more here

US Bets on Climate Friendly Farming; Experts Doubt it is Climate Friendly Enough

The White House is offering farmers money for adopting practices that store carbon in the soil to fight climate change. However, soil science experts doubt that these will be effective. The USDA is promoting farming practices such as cover crops, and reducing farmland tilling that will hopefully increase carbon soil levels and take it out of the air. Soil scientists say this will be a benefit to climate efforts but can easily be reversed if farmers plow their fields again, and that any soil carbon gains will be lost by a decrease deeper in the soil. Currently the USDA has spent $1.3 billion in financial assistance to farmers accounting for 8% of its farm conservation spending in that period. Read More.

Over 80% of people calling for Global Ban on Single-Use Plastics

According to a new survey by WWF and the Plastic Free Foundation, an average of 85% of people polled globally believe that the global plastic pollution treaty once concluded, should ban single-use plastics. These account for more than 70% of ocean plastic pollution. Accordingly, a similar study conducted by Greenpeace International showed overwhelming support for ending single-use plastics. Over 430 million tons of virgin plastic are made each year, of which 60% are single-use and only 9% of that plastic currently recycled worldwide. The results from the survey also show that bans are not enough to end the plastic pollution crisis. The call for immediate global action is required. Read more here

Data Visualization of the Week

Occupancy Rates for the Eclipse

AirDNA, a data company covering short-term rentals, mapped short-term rental occupancy rates this week (Apr 2 to Apr 11) to illustrate the rental occupancy increases aligning the solar eclipse path of totality.  The data (from Airbnb and VRBO) shows an overwhelming increase in occupancy rates along the eclipse starting around April 6 and ending after April 8 (day of the eclipse).  Orange dots indicate high occupancy, blue indicates low occupancy.  See the story and the data visualizations here


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