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The Economic Perspective 05/17/2024

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!

Greetings from our Seattle Office! It was a beautiful spring week in Western Washington, as Kitsap Transit's three fast ferry routes officially started operating on their summer schedules. These ferries will welcome between 1-2 million visitors this summer, who will use them to grace Olympic National Park's beautiful Sitka spruce, western red-cedars, and Douglas firs, contributing nearly $228 million to the local economy. If you find yourself on this side of the water this weekend, be sure to check out Viking Fest, located in Poulsbo (Washington’s own “Little Norway”). This event coincides with the Norwegian Independence Celebration “Syttende Mai,” and will feature live performances, a Carnival, and a parade.

In other news, President & Senior Consultant Valerie Seidel & Dr. Laila Racevskis are attending the AWRA Florida Chapter May Technical Meeting this afternoon at the University of Florida Roland T. Stern Education Center, Austin Cary Forest Campus. Be sure to say hello if you’re in the area! Meanwhile, TBG Vice President Jennifer Nunn and her team are attending the 39th Annual ASCE-ECB EWRI Water Resources Seminar where TBG Vice President/Chief Engineer Gregory Seidel is presenting lessons learned from resilience designs. In this week’s edition, we feature articles on the signing of Florida's HB 1645, HB 7071, and HB 1331, potential blackouts this summer, autonomous logging machines, 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!


New Florida Legislation Discounts Climate Change 

Despite a new survey by Florida Atlantic University finding that 90% of Floridians believe that climate change is happening, HB 1645, HB 7071, and HB 1331 signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will now make climate change a lesser priority in Florida. The signed legislation aims to boost natural gas, reduce regulations on gas pipelines, ban wind turbines, and remove climate change as a priority in state energy policy. Critics are incredibly disappointed, noting that, as a coastal state, Florida is incredibly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The bills signage comes at a time when Florida is facing hotter temperatures and more damaging natural disasters.  Supporters of the bills see it as a more common-sense approach to energy policy. The legislation goes into effect July 1. NPR

US Must Act to Slash Landfill Methane Emissions

Methane emission at nearly two dozen landfills have been regularly exceeding federal limits, as well as being higher than owners had reported. This was reported by the nonprofit Industrious Labs that has urged the EPA to heighten their regulations and increase monitoring on landfills. Landfills account for 14% of methane emissions, which act as a greenhouse gas. The EPA says that these emissions represent a lost opportunity to capture it and turn it into fuel. Read more

Autonomous Logging Machine Redefines Logging Safety

In a groundbreaking development, Swedish researchers have unveiled the world's first autonomous logging machine, heralding a potential revolution in the industry. This machine, called a forwarder, is designed to alleviate the dangers and challenges faced by traditional loggers. It utilizes cutting-edge technology to navigate forest paths, identify, and transport logs with minimal human intervention. A study, published in the Journal of Field Robotics, underscores the machine's capacity to mitigate fatalities and environmental damage associated with logging. While initial trials demonstrate promising results, challenges remain for widespread adoption, particularly in diverse terrain. Regardless, advancements continue in development, signaling a transformative shift towards safer and more efficient logging practices. Read more here.

FAA Set to Conduct SpaceX Environmental Impact Statement

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced its plans to assess the environmental impacts of SpaceX’s Starship launches, and future launch pad modifications in Florida. The assessment will be in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of issuing a commercial launch Vehicle Operator License to SpaceX for the increasingly more Starship rocket launches to occur annually. The environmental impacts of SpaceX launches are still hazy; however, this study will examine further into the emissions, carbon footprint, and other potential negative impacts the launces may have on the ecosystem. Read more about the FAA plan here, and about how environmentally friendly the Starship rocket is here.

The Use of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to Finance Climate and Social Programs Approved by the IMF

The IMF and other multinational organizations have been faced with challenges trying to find ways on how they could redirect SDRs from rich countries to poor countries. For instance, the IMF had issued $650 billion in SDRs in 2021, but these had little to no impact because the majority of the reserves were distributed to rich countries that didn’t need them. After its executive board unanimously approved the use of these assets for the acquisition of hybrid-capital instruments, the IMF plans to allocate SDRs worth $20 billion to fund green and poverty reduction projects. Read more here

Data Visualization of the Week

Parts of the US Could Face Energy Shortages and Blackouts This Summer

According to the 2024 Summer Reliability Assessment completed by the North American Reliability Corporation, some areas in the country (especially the Southwest) are at higher risks of blackouts in the summer during peak times. In states like New England, the higher risks are due to the retirement of power plants while other sources such as solar haven’t increased as much, thus limiting capacity. The use of AC is a major demand factor on the grid and extreme heat waves make transmitting power from other areas difficult. Read more here


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