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The Economic Perspective 04/26/2024

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!

This week we celebrated Earth Day, the world’s largest environmental movement that reaches over one billion people a year in over 192 countries with over 150,000 partners working to protect our planet. TBG is proud to be certified as a platinum-level Green Business by the City of Winter Park, and we demonstrate our commitment to protecting our planet every day through the work we do under our company pillar of sustainability, volunteering for community clean-up events, adding electric vehicles to our company fleet, and more. This year’s Earth Day theme focused on the goal of reducing global plastics production, and while the official day has passed, there are still ways to get involved – you can check them out here!

In the past week, TBG President Valerie Seidel and Laila Racevskis attended the first Mind the Gaps Workshop in Bartow, FL, hosted by the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation that focused on helping find solutions to preserve critical conservation gaps within the Polk County portions of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Valerie Seidel also participated this week in the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance and Virginia Department of Transportation's Cost Estimation Summit in Richmond, Virginia, where she presented the VDOT Economist update.

In this week’s edition, we feature articles on the latest in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting of navigable waters, new fossil fuel power plant standards, solar funding, and more.

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!


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Moves Forward with Section 404 Permits

In an update to the ongoing litigation between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the State of Florida, a U.S. District Court this week denied the State a motion to stay. The court asserted that the State failed to make a persuasive argument that it would be likely to succeed with the merits of an appeal and failed to persuade the court that it would experience an unlikely injury absent a stay. The court's decision gives USACE authority to process all current and future Section 404 permits, giving it control over regulation of any work in the nation’s navigable waters. The State has a pending appeal but in the meantime must transfer existing permit applications to USACE. Read more here

Wind Overtakes Fossil Fuels for UK Electricity Generation

The past two quarters the UK’s primary source of electricity has come from wind power, marking the longest stretch on record that renewable energy has surpassed fossil fuels in U.K. electricity generation. Along with solar power, renewable energy now accounts for 42.2% of total electricity generation, 39.4% coming from wind alone. Next quarter may see declines due to seasonal drops in wind speed, and while solar will help offset this loss, total renewable energy generation will likely decline in the middle of 2024. Read more here

New Standards for Fossil Fuel Power Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday new standards to fossil fuel-fired power plants in the U.S. Some of the new rules include a requirement for all new and existing power plants to control 90% of their carbon pollution, 67% for toxic metal emissions, 70% in mercury emissions, a reduction in wastewater by 660 million pounds per year, and a rule that will require the safe management of coal ash that was previously placed in unregulated areas. These improvements will help protect and improve public health, particularly in communities near power plants that tend to be more vulnerable to environmental justice concerns. The EPA conducted analyses of the new rules set, with net benefits delivering in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Read more here.

Federal Solar Funding Available for Low- and Moderate-Income Homes in Florida

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced over $156 million to fund solar panels for Florida homes through the Solar for All program, which is part of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund within the federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. These funds will support about 10,000 single-family homes in the state to provide them with financial support to install rooftop solar, with subsidization rates of about 80% to 100% for low-income households and 60% to 80% for moderate-income households. Read more here.

Little Baby Rupert Marks a Milestone for the Vulture Species

Little Baby Rupert, a Rüppell's griffon vulture staying with caretakers, was successfully reunited with his parents after being incubated and hand-reared inside of the London zoo. This team of experts watched over the critically endangered hatchling for 55 days, turning it three times a day, along with taking measurements to ensure a healthy hatch. Rupert’s parents, Phil and Cuthbert, who also live inside the zoo, were provided with a dummy egg to keep warm, and since have been reunited with their chick. This milestone represents a key step in boosting the Rüppell's griffon vulture population, the world’s highest-flying birds and also key to cleaning up carcasses as well as ridding landscapes of diseases. Read more here.

Data Visualization of the Week

Biggest Driver of Global Plastics Use is Packaging

Research from Statista and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows the rapid increase in global plastics use over the past several decades, increasing by over 250 percent since 1990. OECD projects an additional increase of 67 percent in plastics use around the globe by 2040. The largest driver of this surge in plastics is packaging, with other contributing industries including building and construction, transportation, and the textiles. Read more here.


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