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The Economic Perspective 05/03/2024

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 past week was May Day! While in some cultures this holiday -which celebrates the coming of summer- is better known as the Walpurgis, Beltane, or Mary's Day, many in the U.S. celebrate International Worker's Day, and use the first day of May to remember those who have fought and are fighting for worker's rights, honor labor unions, and celebrate workers all over the world. However you May have participated, we hope you've had a pleasant spring and a happy May Day! 

In the past week, TBG President Valerie Seidel participated in an FSU Technical Advisory Board meeting that focused on Machine Learning with Water Quality Data. 

In this week’s edition, we feature articles on the latest in the U.S, Securities and Exchange Commission's climate rules, land conservation in Florida, Grizzly bears in Washington State, 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!


SEC Climate Rules Put on Hold

Last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) put their final climate disclosure rules on hold. Despite the pause, which came less than a month after the passing of the rules, the SEC remains unshaken in their position that the requirements on climate-related disclosures fall within the Commission’s authority. The Rules require publicly listed companies in the United States (with few exceptions) to provide disclosure on climate risks, mitigation/adaptation activities, and climate strategies/plans, among other information. Challengers have claimed these rules exceed the SEC’s authority, as well as being burdensome and unreliable, with some calling the requirements an “outrageous climate mandate;” The states and business groups who oppose the rules have swayed the SEC with legal challenges, leading the Commission to temporarily stay the rules pending judicial review. Read more on mondaq.

Study Reports Benefits of Land Conservation in the Florida Wildlife Corridor

A new study from the Archbold Biological Station and several Florida universities projects population growth, development, and climate trends in Florida over the next 50 years. Results show continued rapid population growth occurring alongside increases in temperature and severe weather including intense rain events, flooding, and wildfires. Undeveloped lands, particularly in the Wildlife Corridor, are critical to protecting people from these extreme events. Authors found that the state would lose about 40% less rural lands under a land conservation scenario than the current sprawl trajectory, but that policies and incentives are needed to ensure protection of these lands and a sustainable future for Floridians. Read more here and find the full report here.

Grizzlies a Green Light in the Cascades

The North Cascades National Park will soon bear witness (pun intended) to the reintroduction of the currently threatened Grizzly bear. The grizzly once thrived in states like Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, but due to eradication programs in the 1800s to shoot, poison, and trap grizzlies, these iconic symbols of American wilderness were reduced to just 2% of their former population. Starting in the 1970s, FWS and other organizations worked to protect and recover the dwindling population, setting up recovery zones to support the population. Nearly 55 years later, wildlife biologists will be able to move bears from now healthy populations in Montana, Wyoming, and British Columbia, back home to Washington. The initial goal is to build a starting population of 25 bears and grow to 200 by the end of the century. A conservation success story, grizzly bears are beloved by millions of people around the world and bring in both existence and economic value to communities and tribes, National Parks, and the ecosystem that they inhabit. Read more here.

World's Largest Olive Oil Producer Says Industry Faces One of its Toughest Moments Ever

Spain’s Deoleo, which is the world’s largest olive oil producer, is facing combined struggles between climate change, inflation, and high interest rates. While inflation and interest rates affect many businesses, scientists have pointed out how olive trees are especially vulnerable to climate change, caused by droughts and high temperature, which has lead to olive fruit not developing. This has been affecting the ‘price at origin’ of olive oil and accounts for 80% of total costs in production. While no plans exist yet to combat this the industry is hoping to find some predictability in olive oil price changes. Read More.

Revolutionizing the Rainforest Industry

On the edges of the Amazon, forest restoration company aims to make standing trees more profitable than cattle ranching by selling carbon credits. Their strategy revolves around intensifying cattle ranching on degraded land, while restoring forests elsewhere. This initiative, along with others, seeks to combat deforestation in the Amazon, while maintaining ranching industry capacity. Despite skepticism, companies like Mombak and are gaining traction with investors like Microsoft. Though there are concerns about displaced cattle and wildfires, as well as while facing challenges such as measuring carbon storage and ensuring credit quality, efforts are underway to create sustainable ecosystems. Farmers are cautiously optimistic about the potential benefits of forest restoration for their communities and the environment. Read more here.

Data Visualization of the Week

ACPA and MIT Pavement Study Reveals Benefit of Competition

A recent study commissioned by the American Concrete Pavement Association and conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Concrete Sustainability Hub, analyzed bid data on asphalt and concrete pavement from DOTs across the country between 2005 and 2018. The results showed that the two most influential factors in asphalt and concrete paving costs are project size and inter-industry competition. The study stated that “States with high industry competition pay 8% and 29% less for asphalt and concrete pavements respectively vs. states with less competition.” Read more here.


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