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Happy Friday, everyone!
In this Friday's edition we have several great articles covering dropping groundwater levels across the U.S., a review of the Supreme Court's ruling on Sackett v. EPA, U.S. Steel facing buyout offers, and more. Our data visualization showcases fish resilience to marine heat waves, and its implications on global warming.
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Have a great weekend!
Google to Begin Selling Maps Data to Companies Building Solar Products
Google is planning to sell access to new application programming interfaces (APIs) with solar and energy information. These APIs will allow users to enter in their address and get estimated solar costs and size of installations. Other APIs will offer information on air quality including pollutants and health-based recommendations for specific locations, as well as digital heat maps and hourly and historical air quality information. Read More.
U.S. Steel Reviewing Buyout Offers
U.S. Steel has reported to its shareholders that it is currently reviewing multiple offers to buy the company and has entered into confidentiality agreements for due diligence purposes with potential buyers. This comes after U.S. Steel rejected two other bids from Cleveland Cliffs and Esmark to buy the company. This continues the trend of consolidation within the steel industry over the past few years after prices skyrocketed during the pandemic. While prices have settled down, they are still among the highest seen in the past six years. ABC News.
First-Ever Wind Energy Lease Area for the Gulf of Mexico Region
The Department of the Interior held the first-ever wind energy auction for the Gulf of Mexico region this week. The auction resulted in one lease area that received a high bid of $5.6 million. The winning bid was made by RWE Offshore US Gulf, LLS. The lease has the potential to generate approximately 1.24 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity and could power 435,400 homes with renewable energy. The lease area covers 102,480 developable acres with minimum and maximum depths ranging from 10 to 25 meters. Read more here.
Supreme Court Narrows Clean Water Act's Scope in Sackett v. EPA Decision
On May 25, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, impacting the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) regarding "waters of the United States." This decision narrows the definition of protected waters, limiting CWA jurisdiction. The case involved the Sacketts' dispute over filling a wetland on their Idaho property, which was adjacent to but not connected to a protected creek. The court ruled in their favor, stating that protected wetlands must be connected to navigable waters. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers then issued a draft rule to conform to this decision, redefining the definition of waters of the United States. The ruling's economic benefits and concerns about water quality, flood protection, and state regulations are debated. The full impacts of the ruling remain uncertain. Read more here.
Dropping Groundwater in the U.S.
We’re often reviewing hydrologic change data and models for various projects, but it’s rare that groundwater changes make the news at major media outlets such as the New York Times. The Times compiled a groundwater levels database using data from over 80,000 wells assembled from more numerous federal, state, and local agencies. Nearly half of the wells showed statistically significant declines since 1980. Charles County, MD shows particularly drastic groundwater depletion, mostly driven by suburban growth. But it’s the agricultural use in the Midwest, in Arkansas, in California, and in other areas that have led to the most severe declines. See the data at NYTimes.com.
Data Visualization of the Week Fish Resilience to Pre-2019 Marine Heat Waves Offers Insights for Climate Mitigation
Research published in Nature reveals that fish displayed surprising resilience to marine heat waves before 2019. The study, using data from 1993 to 2019, indicates that marine heat waves caused little impact on fish numbers and types. While marine heat waves are linked to coral bleaching, algal blooms, and fish declines, the research suggests that oceans could retain some resilience if pre-2019 temperatures are maintained. Marine populations varied greatly following heat waves, making consistent effects unlikely. The study emphasizes the need to limit global warming to avoid increased fish declines due to intensifying marine heat waves, highlighting the unpredictable impact of such events. Read more.