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We hope you all had some enjoyable Thanksgiving times last week! We're back at it this week, and can you believe we're into the final month of 2022?! The Balmoral Group celebrated the Holiday season with our annual Holiday party last night, so we're feeling especially festive. We hope this season brings some fun and special times to you all!
This week we have stories on updated USDOT "Buy America" provisions, contested water use permits, relocation funding for Native Tribes, Architecture Billings Index slowdowns, and several more.
USDOT Issues New "Buy America" Waivers
After the waiver for construction material requirements expired on November 10th, the DOT issued two new waiver proposals. The first one proposes to waive the requirements for iron and steel, manufactured products, and construction materials for de minimis costs, small grants, and minor components. The second one waives the requirements for contracts entered into before November 10 or for projects that were solicited before May 14 and entered into contract before March 10, 2023. Roads & Bridges
Florida Springs Council Contests Water Permit
The Florida Springs Council is challenging a permit issued by the Suwannee River Water Management District that allows Seven Springs Water Company to withdraw nearly 1 million gallons per day of water from Ginnie Springs in Gilchrist County. A three-judge appeals court panel is now allowing a hearing to move forward over the bottling plant’s controversial permit after it was initially dismissed by different judge in January 2021. Read more here and here.
Grants for Relocation of Native Tribes Away from Rising Oceans
The Department of the Interior is providing three Native tribes $75 million to relocate from coastal areas at risk of destruction. This money comes from the first federal grants that were competed for by various Tribes across the country to help relocate communities under climate threats. The tribes that have received $25 million each in funding are the Newtok Village and Napakiak Village of Alaska, as well as the Quinault Indian Nation in Washington. Smaller grants of $5 million each will also be going to eight other tribes to help them in relocation. Native tribes are often at most risk of climate change related crisis and the Bureau of Indian Affairs has estimated that $5 billion will be needed over the next 50 years to help with relocation infrastructure. Alaskan Native Tribes are also at severe risk due to encroaching waters and coastal erosion. Read More
Olympic Peninsula Glaciers Might Disappear by 2070
Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula glaciers are at high risk of shrinkage due to warming temperatures combined with the low elevation in which they reside. Since 1980, 35 glaciers and 16 perennial snowfields have disappeared on the Olympic Peninsula. The glaciers on this mountain range are closer to the ocean and therefore, have more moderate temperatures than their inland counterparts. In addition to the summer melt, warmer winter temperatures have changed the phase of precipitation from snow to rain, reducing snow accumulation. The disappearance of glaciers can massively impact the Alpine ecosystems, which usually support organisms such as ice worms, rosy finches, and algae. This loss in clean water moving to rivers will also negatively impact essential fish species such as salmon and steelhead, thereby hurting nearby indigenous tribes and other communities that rely on those populations for sustenance. Additionally, the loss in glaciers could have impacts on tourism. For example, Olympic National Park draws over three million visitors a year that rely on the glaciers for rafting, skiing and other recreational opportunities. Read more from Columbia.edu.
October ABI Indicates Slowdown
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell below 50 in October after more than a year and a half of positive growth. Any number below 50 indicates a decline in design firm billings, so October’s score of 47.7 indicates the construction market may be starting to slowdown. “Economic headwinds have been steadily mounting, and finally led to weakening demand for new projects,” said Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist. “Firm backlogs are healthy and will hopefully provide healthy levels of design activity against fewer new projects entering the pipeline should this weakness persist.” Construction Dive.
Using Ancient Leaf Wax to Predict Future Rain Regimes
A recent study in AGU Advances presents the first direct evidence that the southwest U.S. was much wetter during the Pliocene period (around 3 million years ago). That period is of particular interest because it was a warm time period when CO2 levels were elevated (similar to now). The carbon and hydrogen content in the dust from leaf wax (now preserved in ocean sediment) was used to determine that there was especially heavy summer monsoons in the southwest U.S. during the Pliocene. The study also points to the atmospheric circulation mechanisms that increased rain intensity, which should help inform future estimates of rainfall and water resources in the region. Read more here.
Data Visualization of the Week
World Cup Stadiums Before and After
From desert sand to decadent stadiums... much has been written on the extreme spending in Qatar ahead of the World Cup. A collection of before-after satellite imagery illustrates the sudden transformations. See the images at Bloomberg.com.