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Happy Friday, everyone!
National Coral Reef Awareness Week is celebrated during the third week of July to raise awareness for the threats facing coral reefs, including pollution, rising water temperatures, and the impact of coral bleaching. Sea surface temperatures around Florida have reached over 90 degrees in the past week, the hottest on record for this time of year. Read more below about the benefits of protecting coral reefs.
In addition, this week’s edition includes a look at lithium production in several states off the Gulf of Mexico, forever chemicals in our drinking water, geothermal energy, and carbon reduction.
Some of our team participated in Environmental Permitting Summer School this week - keep an eye out for next week's edition to hear about what we presented there and what we learned.
Enjoy the read and feedback is always appreciated! 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! Have a great weekend!
Happy Coral Reef Awareness Week
It’s National Coral Reef Awareness Week! Coral reefs are much more than just beautiful underwater scenery. They provide habitat, shelter, food, and more to the environment and marine life. They also protect shorelines from extreme weather, such as hurricanes, and flooding, while also providing economic value with fishing and tourism. Florida’s coral reef system is the only coral reef system in the continental United States and the third largest in the entire world. The system stretches approximately 350 miles from the Dry Tortugas National Park, up the east side of Florida to the St. Lucie Inlet, and consists of a colony that is over 300 years old. The reef supports 71,000 jobs and generates $6.3 billion in tourism every year. However, reefs are easily damaged, and it is our responsibility to protect them. To learn how, see plans in place, and more: click here. Image Source: FDEP.
Lithium Boom Town in Arkansas
Magnolia, Arkansas has been through a boom/bust cycle with oil production in the area; the town's oil boom went bust in the 1980’s. Now, a source of lithium residing in a salty groundwater aquifer looks poised to bring another energy boom to the region. Exxon Mobil – preparing for a world with less oil and gas – spent over $100M to buy around 120,000 acres of mineral rights in the area. The company is planning to build a processing facility that could produce up to 100,000 metric tons/year of lithium. The lithium is locked in brackish groundwater, but technology has been developed to pump out the groundwater, extract the lithium, and pump the groundwater back into the aquifer. According to USGS, the lithium-containing formation extends across several southeast US states (orange swath on the map). Read more at WSJ.com.
Florida Population Estimates
The Office of Economic & Demographic Research (EDR) updated its population forecasts for the State of Florida. As of April 2023, EDR estimates that Florida’s population is 22.6 million, a 1.6% increase over a year ago. This occurred as net migration continued to be stronger than the negative natural increase (more deaths than births). The estimates expect Florida to reach 23 million by 2025, but population growth is expected to slow down every year after, with the growth rate reaching 1% by 2030. EDR.
Study Finds 45% of US Drinking Water Contaminated with 'Forever-Chemicals' PFAS
A new study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) reveals that at least 45% of US drinking water contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are synthetic chemicals found in everyday items. PFAS, known as "forever-chemicals" due to their persistence in the environment, can lead to serious health issues like obesity, cancer, and thyroid disease. The study tested tap water from 716 locations across the US and found higher PFAS concentrations near urban areas and potential sources of contamination. While the USGS report does not provide recommendations, individuals are encouraged to stay informed about their tap water quality and consider in-home water treatment options. The EPA is also collecting data on PFAS in drinking water and offering advice on treatment and testing. Read more about the study here; find the full study here.
Fervo Energy Hits Milestone in Using Oil Drilling Technology to Tap Geothermal Energy
A geothermal startup, Fervo Energy, announced a key technical milestone on Tuesday. Fervo Energy uses drilling technology developed in oil and gas industries for their geothermal drilling. With this technology, the company was able to complete a 30-day test, drilling down 7,700 feet and horizontally 3,250 feet. This test reached conditions that would generate 3.5 megawatts of electricity. By utilizing oil and gas drilling technology, it's possible to drill for geothermal energy in areas not solely restricted to borders of plate tectonics. With this breakthrough, Fervo is in process of constructing a 400-megawatt project that it expects to be online by 2028. Read more here.
Data Visualization of the Week
Inflation Reduction Act Accelerates Carbon Reduction
The United States is spending billions of dollars on green technologies through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in attempt to reduce energy prices and cut the deficit. However, the IRA is also considered to be most significant climate legislation in US history, offering funding, programs, and incentives to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. An analysis recently completed by the White House finds that the law could cut the social costs of climate change by up to $1.9 trillion by 2050. Additionally, projections from a recent report show that the US is poised to make much deeper cuts to the pollution that's fueling climate change than it was even a couple years ago. The full suite of current policies on the books as of June 2023 drives US emissions to 32-51% below 2005 levels in 2035 (a 29-42% reduction in current GHGs). While this is a meaningful change, it is still not enough for the US to meet its pledge under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by 50-52% by 2030. NPR; White House.