The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Demographic News Curated for You By The Balmoral Group
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This week we are covering western U.S. drought and flood patterns, newly announced funding for Everglades restoration, carbon dioxide removal success, and more. Be sure to check out our data visualization for this week where we show the rising costs of disasters in the U.S. annually as 2022 brought 18 extreme weather events causing over $1 billion in damage per event.
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Drought and Floods Collide in U.S. West
The extreme rainfall in CA and other parts of the west have caused terrible flooding, but incredibly: the entirety of CA is still in moderate to severe drought. The map illustrates the depth of the drought, dating back to winter 2019/2020. Some parts of California have received over 20 inches of rain in the last two weeks, and a lot more rain is expected in the coming week. The water stored in the state’s 6 biggest reservoirs has gone from 5 million ac-ft at the end of November to about 7.5 million ac-ft this week, but that storage is still only 74% of the long-term average despite all the recent rain. Read more from the national Drought Monitor.
Additional Funding for Everglades Restoration
This week, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order that secures $3.5 billion over four years for Everglades restoration. It also establishes the Indian River Lagoon Protection Program and secure at least $100 million each year for priority projects. Other things covered include protection of coasts and resiliency, and funding for land conservation. FL Gov
States Best Positioned to Adopt Energy Codes
A new analysis from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) identifies the states best positioned to take advantage of the unprecedented level of new federal funds to cut energy use by as much as a third – significantly reducing utility bills and emissions. The analysis finds that by adopting the most recent national energy codes, 16 states can reduce energy costs in new homes by at least 20% and 14 can reduce costs by 20% in new commercial buildings. Last month, the Department of Energy announced the first $45 million of the 5-year $225 million grant program for states and localities to update building energy codes; the Inflation Reduction Act will also provide an additional $1 billion. The full ranking and details for all states are included here.
New Smyrna Beach Halts Residential Development
This week, City of New Smyrna Beach commissioners voted unanimously to pause new residential development for six months. In the meantime, a review of the city’s stormwater regulations, impacts of new residential development on existing stormwater, and aging drainage systems in older neighborhoods will be conducted to prepare for or avoid another historic flooding event in the future. Read more here.
Success in Removing CO2 from the Air and Put into Ground
Swiss company Climeworks announced it has successfully taken carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and buried it underground where it will eventually turn into rock. This marks the first time a company has permanently removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Climeworks’ largest removal facility dissolves the gas in water then intermingles that mixture with basalt rock formations; natural processes convert the material to solid carbonate minerals in about two years. In June, Climeworks announced the construction of its second plant predicted to store 36,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. While this is dwarfed by the 36.3 billion metric tons of emissions annually, this will be a proof of concept for other carbon removal investments in the future. Read more here.
Cap-and-Invest and Clean Fuel Standard Programs Kickoff
Washington State’s marked-based cap-and-invest and clean fuel standard programs went into effect with goals of combating climate change and prepare the state for the future low-carbon economy. The cap-and-invest program sets a limit on overall carbon emissions in the state, requiring businesses to obtain allowances equal to their covered greenhouse gas emissions; allowances are obtained through quarterly auctions, or purchased and sold on a secondary market. The Clean Fuel Standard requires fuel suppliers to gradually reduce carbon intensity of transportation fuels to 20% below 2017 by 2034. The goal of these new laws is gradually achieving the greenhouse gas limits set in state law to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (WA Dept of Ecology, King5) Photo Credit: WA Dept of Ecology.
Data Visualization of the Week
Climate Change Cost U.S. $165B in 2022
According to a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 18 extreme weather disasters caused at least $1 billion in damage each, totaling more than $165 billion, in 2022. The costliest U.S. weather disaster last year was Hurricane Ian in Florida ($113 billion), followed by the widespread drought that occurred in the Western and Midwestern states ($22 billion). In all, the list includes three hurricanes, two tornados, drought, wildfires, and several extreme storms that disrupted multiple sectors of the economy. Climate scientists warn that managing climate risks is harder and more expensive than ever, with associated costs likely to continue to rise. Read more from PBS.