Nov 16 2012

News This Week: Preventing Flooding in Sandy’s Aftermath and BP Reaches a Settlement

Photo by Kelci Block

EDITOR’S NOTE: Normally, this post would be served by posting a digest from the Twitter feed at @WMELSBlog. However, presumably due to the API changes Twitter made, the add-on that creates that digest is not working. So, keep an eye on the twitter feed for all the stories we’re posting and in the meantime, I’ll be making these shorter collections of big news stories from the week.


BP, the oil company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf, will plead guilty to the 14 criminal charges leveled against it  and pay over $4 billion in penalties. This settlement does not cover any federal civil charges that may be pending, including those for damage to natural resources. It also does not include fines under the Clean Water Act, which could amount to over $21 billion. [New York Times]

It goes almost without saying that sound levees are important, especially during hurricanes. Surprisingly, however, in New Jersey there is no state agency in charge of overseeing the levees and the levees would have to get to an incredible state of disrepair before the federal government would step in to fix them. [NPR]

New York City is considering building a movable steel barrier to keep future flooding, like what happened during Hurricane Sandy, out of low-lying areas. The project could cost up to $29 billion dollars including having to shore up the areas around the barrier. [New York Times]

Evidence suggests that the world needs to reduce its carbon emissions more and faster to avoid the catastrophic warming of the globe. One estimate found that even if we doubled the current rate of reduction, we will experience a 6 degree warming before the end of the century. [Scientific American]

In other NYC flooding news, the Gowanus Canal flooding has caused concerns about health and safety problems in the neighborhood. Gowanus Canal is one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the country and a Superfund site. [New York Times]

Norfolk is testing out some of its plans to mitigate the effects of sea level rise on the town. Mitigation will include improved drainage, raised roads, and “managed retreat.” [NPR]

Climate change could cause coffee, a staple in law school, to become much more expensive. Warming temperatures threatened the continued existence of the arabica coffee bean by making the 99% of its growing areas unsuitable. [Telegraph] [Scientific American]

The gas company Shell is trying to remove all of its drilling equipment from the Arctic before winter causes the ice to block their route. This latest struggle is only one in a line of setbacks the company has been facing in its attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic. [Think Progress]

Green job training organizations present more opportunities for employment in energy efficiency and other “green” fields, which especially benefit areas suffering from unemployment and environmental injustice. [New York Times]

The much talked-about fiscal cliff threatens environmental protections and enforcement. The extreme, across the board budget cuts that would be required if a deal is not reached would seriously undermine efforts to maintain public systems such as sewage systems in compliance with environmental laws and make it more difficult to monitor and prosecute violations. [Energy Collective]

California held its first carbon emission auction under its cap and trade program this week. This is the first cap and trade program in the country and will serve as an experiment on the viability of such a system for the rest of the country. However, the CA Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit challenging the auction as an impermissible tax the day before the auction began, potentially creating uncertainty in the emission market. [Legal Planet] [Think Progress] [New York Times] [Mother Jones]

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