NFIP Expiration (2 days)
Government Shutdown (2 days)
New Congress (29 days)
The National Flood Insurance Program was extended on November 30th for 7 days until December 7th under HR 7187. A Senate bill, S 3628, which grants an extension until May 31st, 2019, has been passed by the Senate and sent to the House. Both of the clocks on the NFIP and the unfunded agencies of the government are ticking towards an extension’s extension, likely to the 14th or 21st of December. While it is highly unlikely that the NFIP will lapse, it is even more unlikely that Congress will enact reforms to the program. The program will likely be extended until sometime in the new Congress.
Senator Whitehouse made a bold claim last week stating, “For anybody who complains that there is a subsidy in here for coastal homeowners, let me say, the $16 billion in forgiveness--this big, one-time forgiveness that we did [for the NFIP]--must be compared to $44 billion in crop subsidies from the years 2015 through 2017. If we are going to help inland Midwestern and other farmers with $44 billion in crop subsidies, there is no reason to deny coastal homeowners some protection as well. We can help a lot if we can change these rules in a sensible way.”
Earmarks – Will they come back? Read Howard’s blog on earmarks here.
Since Congress did away with them in 2011, certain water resources projects that have been seeking funds (some for over a decade) have been wiped off the Corps’ short-list at the very end of the road where projects USACE projects must pass: The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Another WaterLog blog on how the lack of earmark’s has tainted the Corps process and puts all the responsibility (with zero accountability) on one or two individuals will be out shortly. This is an extremely important topic in water resources, and you won’t want to miss it.
The Trump Administration approved a set of 5 requests by oil and gas companies that allow them to conduct seismic surveys to test for oil and gas reservoirs. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated how acoustic testing can harm and potentially kill aquatic life. Every single state executive on the East Coast south of Maine opposed the plan, and Member of Congress from both Chambers have decried the authorizations. Aside from aquatic concerns, the US Geological Survey released a report that showed that nearly ¼ of all CO2 produced by the US was directly from burning fossil fuels from federal land. If the US is to have any position in reducing our output of greenhouse gases, we should not be looking into finding new sources of fossil fuels or ‘clean coal’. There are a vast number of clean new technologies that will bring jobs and prosperity to local economies that will result in cleaner, healthier and better lives.
Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced a bill (HR 2158) in 2017 titled the Atlantic Seismic Airgun protection Act along with Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ). The bill has bipartisan support from nearly every Atlantic state. His press release states, “coastal states, communities, small businesses, political leaders from both parties, and the United States Navy all stand united in opposition to drilling, seismic blasting, and invasive petroleum exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. Given that the Trump Administration has formally announced its intention to ignore the concerns of residents and stakeholders directly impacted by these actions, it is time for Congress to step in and put a stop to this by passing the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act.” Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter with Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) to the US Department of Commerce opposing the permits for ‘Incidental Harassment Authorization.’ The bill is a companion bill to S 1263, sponsored by Cory Booker (D-NJ).
Got sediment but no place to dump it? You’re not alone. The Corps has permitted CDFs (Confined Disposal Facilities) or DMPFs (Dredged Material Placement Facilities) that are used to store unneeded or contaminated sediment that is dredged or excavated from Federal channels. Current policy prohibits non-Federal maintenance dredging from making use of Corps dedicated CDFs. With the ever growing quantity of sediment in our channels and back bays, state and local governments will need to dispose of their excess sediment in an appropriate location. If this is an issue affecting your town or community, please let us know. Some worry that the lack of disposal facilities will threaten small dredges and marinas because they can no longer rely on disposal facilities which are vital to their businesses.
Lake Mendocino is getting a field test of a new technology – A computer model, called FIRO, identifies ‘atmospheric rivers’ and correlates existing and future rainfalls, lake levels, and outflows from the reservoir to produce a model that will provide water managers a tool to better forecast water management. This will inform water managers of how to handle the reservoirs water before during and after rainfall. Years ago, water managers released a significant amount of water from the reservoir in anticipation of storms and rainfall that never came, which led to the severe drought in 2012 and 2013.
Montauk Point, NY – The sandbags are showing, the stairs step right into the water. Sea level rise is real, and since the end of the summer Montauk residents couldn’t help but notice their artificial dune washing away, exposing the sandbags and quarried yellow sand that was placed there by the Corps in 2015 as part of a short-term erosion control project. Some studies are recommending retreat, but for the time being Fire Island to Montauk Point, also know by the Corps as ‘FIMP’, will attempt to protect 83 miles of New York’s coastline. The length of coastline includes non-Federal and Federally funded projects. Unlike a Federal shore protection project, which can be (under the most dire circumstances a.k.a. a disaster declaration) procured in about 2-3 years, moving an entire community of hotels, restaurants, residents, etc. would take far longer, not including the cultural changes that will need to follow. When damage to property and culture is imminent, communities must begin to weigh the high costs of bolstering their shoreline with the cost of retreat.
The price tag on stopping Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes has ballooned from an initial $275 million to $778 million. The technology includes a bubble net, generated from a series of propellers, and a set of speakers to create deterrent noise for the fish. The carp could wreck the local economy by displacing native species, posing a significant threat to the combined $23 billion dollar boating and recreational fishing industries.