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The Economic Perspective 05/10/2024

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!

In recent company news, this past Thursday - May 9th, marked The Balmoral Group's participation in the Orlando 2024 SimplyIOA Corporate 5K fundraiser, which was later converted to a 4K due to a near 100-degree heat index in downtown Orlando! 12,000+ runners and walkers, from more than 500 teams from local corporations and nonprofits participated. Together, more than 110,000 meals for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida were raised. Many TBG staff participated in-person or virtually, as our staff in Seattle did (see pictures below). The event led to a great time hanging with fellow colleagues, family members, and friends, as well.



On a different note, we are saddened to hear the passing of Dr. M. Dennis Hanisak from FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI). Dr. Hanisak was a long-standing friend of The Balmoral Group, and a pioneering conservationist. He is remembered as an eminent marine scientist, a devoted teacher and mentor, and a conservationist for the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). Read more on Dr. Hanisak's history and tribute on FAU's HBOI site.


In this week’s edition, we feature articles on interesting and relevent topics within CO2 extraction, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) revisions on environmental assessments, carbon offset measures, planned subdivisions within critical Florida conservation land, transportation proposals in Seattle, 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!

 

Climateworks Opens World’s Largest Plant to Extract CO2 from the air in Iceland

Climateworks has opened the largest air capture facility in the world in Iceland, which is ten times larger than the next largest one. This process will capture carbon dioxide and store it underground with the plant looking to capture at a rate of 36,000 metric tons a year. The process is expensive and energy intensive, but this facility will be powered by Iceland’s geothermal clean energy. Critics argue that carbon capture will keep other companies from reducing and that the costs are too high to be scaled up. Read More.


NEPA Revisions

On May 1st, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published the final rule that revises its regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Some of the revisions include time and page limits on agencies to complete Environmental Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments. Additionally, the agencies have to consider possible climate change effects as well as environmental impacts that can affect environmental justice communities. Many of the 2020 revisions were rolled back and to streamline lower impact projects, agencies can establish categorical exclusions. The rule goes into effect July 1st. Read more here


Study Warns of Overemphasis on Forests as Carbon Offset Measure

According to a new study published by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, forests have been overemphasized as carbon sinks to mitigate climate change, and not as living ecosystems with social benefits. The study claims that the success of efforts to prevent deforestation have been limited and hard to quantify, and that policy makers need to consider the other values of forest land and consider non-market-based criteria. Researchers warn that with continued focus on forest governance as an increasingly popular carbon offset resource, social issues regarding forests as a cultural resource are ignored and forests become seen only as a marketable commodity. Read more here.


Large Planned Subdivisions in Southwest Florida Intersect with the Florida Wildlife Corridor

Two large-scale developments in southwest Florida are planned for land that falls within the Florida Wildlife Corridor’s boundaries. The developments promise to help alleviate the housing shortage and create jobs, but this is countered by the expected negative impacts they would have on ecosystems and wildlife in the region. Several environmental groups and hundreds of local residents have held protests in opposition of the developments, and while a court ruled that the state did not have power under the Endangered Species Act to make decisions related to the developments, their future remains uncertain and conflicts over them between various stakeholder groups continue. Read more here.


Big Taxes on Fossil Fuel Firms Could Help Raise $900 billion in Climate Finance by 2030

According to the Climate Damages Tax Report, additional taxes on the major fossil fuel companies based in the richest nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has the potential to raise $720 billion by the end of 2030. These funds will go towards helping the most vulnerable nations cope with the escalating climate crisis. The report further states that this levy on taxes could be embedded in the existing tax system. Thus, the new extraction levy could raise the loss and damage fund by $720 billion. Read more here


Seattle Unveils New Transportation Levy Proposal 

On May 3rd, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell revealed an eight-year, $1.45 billion transportation levy proposal draft to replace the current, “Move Seattle” levy, set to expire. The proposal recommends more funding for modernizing streets, bridge projects and maintenance, and improvements for public transit connections. Additionally, there will be a strong focus on safety improvements for active transit users, including expansion of Seattle’s bike lane network, upgraded traffic signals, and lighting improvements to make getting around Seattle safer. While some are excited about the investments in transit walking and biking as well as trip safety, critics argue that these improvements come with too steep of a price increase at more than a 70% increase in costs to median Seattle homeowners. The final proposal is set to be shared with the Seattle City Council this month and will consider referral to voters for the November 2024 ballot. Seattle | Komo News


Washington Governor Issues Emergency Declaration Over Spongy Moths

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) will start treating for spongy moths on Friday after Governor Jay Inslee made an Emergency Declaration on Wednesday espousing the imminent dangers of the pest. Spongy moths, which feed off over 300 types of trees and which can defoliate entire forests, have been located recently in Thurston County and Skagit County where treatment is planned to occur. Treatment for these invasive moths is to spray bacteria which the WSDA says occurs naturally in soil and poses low risk to humans, pets, and wildlife, though the Washington State Department of Health precautioned those who do not want to be exposed to stay inside with doors and windows closed until 30 minutes after spraying occurs. Read more here and here.



Data Visualization of the Week

Climate Anomalies from April 

A recent study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), presented chosen climate, or weather-related anomalies seen from April 2024. Flash floods, strong precipitation, severe droughts, heavy snow, and more than 100 tornadoes were seen in last month. Also, April's weather conditions contributed to keeping 2024 the 5th-hottest year on the nation's record so far.


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