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The Economic Perspective 05/31/2024

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! 

Next week The Balmoral Group will have several team members in San Francisco for the National Capital Symposium, which focuses on integrating natural capital approaches in policy and investment decisions.

In this week’s edition, we feature articles on clean watershed survey results showing the cost of maintaining water quality, orange juice supply problems in Brazil and at home causing price spikes, metal concentrations in water posing problems to ecosystem health, 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!


2022 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey

The EPA recently published the report to Congress with the results of the 17th survey done by the agency. It compiles the investment needed for states to meet water quality goals over the next 20 years. In total, the nationwide reported needs are $630 billion as of 2022, with 55% needed for wastewater projects, 18% for stormwater, 15% for non-point source control and 12% for decentralized. Additionally, six states (New York, California, Florida, Virginia, Louisiana and Georgia) comprise for 42% of the total. A summary can be found here and a dashboard with the data here

Gov. Inslee Argues Wind Farms Necessary for WA to Meet GHG Goals

Although the Washington Energy Facility Siting recommended the approval of Horse Heaven wind and solar project last month, it was based on the recommendation that the number of turbines of what would be the largest wind farm in the state, be cut in half in effort to mitigate for perceived threats to tribal cultural resources and endangered hawks. This week, Governor Jay Inslee rejected the recommendation, asking the Council to reconsider and find ways for compromise, and noting that the massive wind and solar farms were necessary to meet the future energy demands of the state and GHG goals of 95% emissions reduction by 2050. Spokane Public Radio | Image: Annawjacobs

Orange Juice Prices are Going Through the Roof - Forcing Some Makers to Consider Alternative Fruits

Due to supply problems of orange production in Florida and climate-fueled extreme weather in Brazil, orange juice producers have been considering other fruit options. Producers will likely decrease the portion of orange juice that goes into their blends and use pear juice, apple juice, grape juice, and others. This will likely be a long-term change as year-over-year production continues to decline, and South America is currently on track to experience its worst orange harvest in three decades with a 24% decline in production. The price per pound of oranges has nearly doubled in the last year, and will likely continue to climb from $4.77 to $5.16. Read More.

Study Identifies Increased Metal Concentrations in Water Supply

A recent study suggests that climate change, not just historical mining activities, is causing increased metal concentrations in Colorado's high mountain streams. Analyzing 40 years of water chemistry data, researchers found zinc and copper levels doubled over 30 years due to thawing permafrost and acid rock drainage. The phenomenon poses risks to ecosystem health and mountain communities' water supplies. Despite efforts by a diverse workgroup to address contamination, responsibility remains unclear. While impacts on large municipal water supplies seem limited, high-elevation communities reliant on smaller tributaries may face challenges, so source water protection measures are crucial in mitigating risks. Read more here

Criminal Climate Change Case Filed Against European Oil Firm

Last week, a criminal case was filed in Paris, France by eight individuals and three NGOs against the French oil firm TotalEnergies. The plaintiffs allege that the company’s exploitation of fossil fuels contributed to the deaths of victims of climate-related natural disasters, and they believe it to be the first criminal climate change case of its kind. The company has been the target of several climate change cases, and climate change litigation against companies and governments continues to increase around the world. As the intensity of extreme weather events continues to rise around the globe, cases like this are likely to increase as well. Read more here.

Increased Use of Renewable Energy Reaping Benefits

From a recent study published in Cell Reports Sustainability, the U.S. is gathering massive benefits from the ever-increasing use of renewable energy within the country. The study shows between emission reductions, air quality improvements, and more from the increased wind and solar energy production between 2019 and 2022, have provided $249bn in climate and health benefits. Both wind and solar generation increased 55% between the two dates, cutting CO2 emissions by 900 million metric tons, the equivalent of removing 71 million cars off the road every year. Determining the impact economically, the study used an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dollar value for the reduction in health impacts from the decrease in harmful toxins and emissions in the environment, along with other factors. Read more about the impacts and a link to the actual study here.

Climate Finance Goal Met by Wealthy Nations Two Years Late

For the first time, developed nations have finally met their goal to provide $100 billion to aid developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to rising temperatures and extreme weather. As climate change exacerbates, which is believed to agitated by natural disasters, it is critical for developing countries to invest in clean energy. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a total of $115.9 billion was provided in climate finance in 2022, while two years behind schedule.  The majority of the billions of dollars provided in climate finance was from loans, and this prompted criticism from some climate-vulnerable countries. Read more here

Data Visualization of the Week

Consumer Confidence Ticks up After Three Straight Declines but Consumers Remain Anxious About the Future

As the labor market sees improvement consumer confidence has made some improvements in the month of May. The biggest improvement in consumer confidence has come from the under 35 and making over $100,000 demographics. Fewer consumers are expecting job losses as well which contributes to their consumer confidence. However, consumers have cited prices for food and groceries as their biggest concern, as well as family financial situations. Recession fears are still looming and signs of a possible one remains present. Read More.


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