Environment

Obama disses Keystone XL on the Colbert Report

Grist.org - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 17:45

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President Obama appeared on The Colbert Report last night to talk health care, jaded young voters, and the recent job report. And — good news for those young voters — while Obama didn’t say whether he’d block Keystone XL, he spoke of the tar-sands pipeline in dismissive terms.

Here’s what he had to say after Colbert asked about Keystone:

[I]f we look at this objectively, we’ve got to make sure that it’s not adding to the problem of carbon and climate change, because these young people are going to have to live in a world where we already know temps are going up. And Keystone is a potential contributor of that — we have to examine that, and we have to weigh that against the amount of jobs that it’s actually going to create, which aren’t a lot.

Essentially there’s Canadian oil passing through the United States to be sold on the world market. It’s not going to push down gas prices here in the United States.

It’s good for Canada. It could create a couple of thousand jobs in the initial construction of the pipeline. But we’ve got to measure that against whether or not it is going to contribute to an overall warming of the planet that could be disastrous.


Filed under: Article, Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment

OriginOil, Inc. Report to Shareholders: New California Research Center

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 16:35

Prospective licensees and customers will now be able to view the company's field-proven process in California

(PRWeb December 09, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12381789.htm

Categories: Environment

First Building and Fire Safety Excellence Award Winners Announced...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 16:35

Awards sponsored by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) given to factories, individuals who have made exceptional safety improvements

(PRWeb December 09, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12382989.htm

Categories: Environment

Larson Electronics releases a 50’ Pneumatic Mast on 21’ Trailer with...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 16:35

With over 40 years as a leader in the industrial and commercial lighting industry, Larson Electronics continues its commitment to providing high grade lighting equipment to specialty markets with the...

(PRWeb December 09, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/larsonelectronics/pneumaticlightmast/prweb12381242.htm

Categories: Environment

Conwed Elastomeric Netting Highlighted in the Nonwovens Industry...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 16:35

Conwed elastomeric netting featured in hygiene editorial piece for Nonwovens Industry Magazine

(PRWeb December 09, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12380621.htm

Categories: Environment

Plumbing in Canada Industry Market Research Report Now Available from...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 16:35

Although the industry benefited from steady demand for long-term facilities' maintenance and repairs that could not be put off (e.g. burst pipes or clogged drains) demand for services has been...

(PRWeb December 09, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12381350.htm

Categories: Environment

Hurst Boiler Selected for Sullivan County, NH Biomass District Energy...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35

Sullivan County, NH sees immediate economic and environmental benefits after selecting Hurst Boiler biomass boiler system for biomass district energy project.

(PRWeb December 09, 2014)

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Categories: Environment

CRN Names nCrypted Cloud Product of the Year in Cloud Category

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35

The extended enterprise collaboration platform for Dropbox for Business and other cloud storage services has been named Product of the Year in the Cloud Category by CRN's Test Center.

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12379490.htm

Categories: Environment

Metcam Completes and Implements Nine Kaizen Projects;Reaps Substantial...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35

Metcam, a fabricator of sheet metal components and assemblies for OEMs, today announced it has successfully implemented nine process improvements since it began its Kaizen initiative in early 2014....

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12379532.htm

Categories: Environment

BTI Communications Group Receives Outstanding Customer Loyalty Award

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35

Customers Again Ranked BTI "World-Class" in Net Promoter Score Evaluation

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12380489.htm

Categories: Environment

Scrap Recycling Industry in US 2014-2018 A New Research Report at...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35

Scrap Recycling Industry in US 2014-2018 is a new industry research report that profiles key players like Republic Services Inc., Schnitzer Steel industries Inc., Sims Recycling Ltd. and Waste...

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Categories: Environment

Flood Services Canada, the GTA’s Leading 24-Hour Response Team,...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35

Flood Services Canada, the Greater Toronto Area’s leading 24-hour emergency flood, fire, and smoke damage restoration response service team, is announcing the hiring of a new repair team dedicated to...

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12381954.htm

Categories: Environment

Vans Warped Tour Presale Tickets: QueenBeeTickets.com Delights Fans...

PR Web - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35

QueenBeeTickets.com is now offering Vans Warped Tour presale tickets at lower prices for punk rock fans to obtain affordably. The music festival travels the U.S. each year and is the largest event of...

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Categories: Environment

A green utopia deep in Mississippi? This guy has a game plan

Grist.org - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 12:01

Jackson, Miss.: Not exactly the eco-capital of the world. The city’s wastewater disposal has the attention of the EPA, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is a big fracking supporter, there’s no glass recycling within city limits … and so on. But longtime organizer Kali Akuno has a vision: He and 100-plus volunteers want to turn the hardscrabble city of roughly 170,000 into a marvel of sustainability and social justice.

Akuno is a co-founder of Cooperation Jackson, a community network that aims to solve the city’s most intractable issues — poverty and unemployment, racial and economic injustice, food access and industrial pollution — through developing a series of cooperatives that radically re-imagine how people live and work. Cooperation Jackson, less than a year old, is one of the pilot communities of the Our Power Campaign, an effort launched by the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA). And its end goal, like CJA’s, is to transition out of fossil fuel dependence by supporting localized economies, low-income communities of color, and the planet all at once.

Akuno has an impressive background in community justice work — he works with such coalitions as the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the People’s Assembly, he started a school serving low-income African American and Latino youth in Oakland, Calif., and he’s the former co-director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, among other things. (The city of Jackson may soon pass a Human Rights Charter that Akuno was a part of initiating, too).

But he’s especially jazzed about Cooperation Jackson’s mainstay, the Sustainable Communities Initiative. The plan is to buy up abandoned land and dilapidated properties and organize them into a Community Land Trust. On it, there’ll be an “eco-village,” or group of green homes where people can share tools and facilities, making it both planet-friendly and affordable. There’ll be urban gardens (including hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics), a waste management and recycling system, a child care center, and an arts center, all run by community-owned cooperatives that will provide paying jobs to local residents. One of Akuno’s long-term goals is to turn Jackson into a zero-waste city.

I spoke with Akuno recently about social and environmental justice, politics, history, and building a green utopia. Here’s an edited and condensed version of what he had to say:

Q. What gave rise to Cooperation Jackson?  

A. It’s something that’s been on my radar for well over a decade, actually. It was part of some thinking and planning that the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement had been doing. And cooperatives wound up becoming a real central focus for me. How do we deal with some of the real hardships and material limitations that so many working people face? That’s been a long term focus and it’s just kind of taken a while to put all the social forces and pieces in place.

The real genesis of it, though, was us planning the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference. Through that process, [Cooperation Jackson] went from a planning committee at a conference, to an organization, which was intentional.

Q. How about the zero waste idea?

A. [As part of] the environmental justice fight, we started thinking, OK, what are the things we really can do, what really can a social movement accomplish? Changes in the policy framework — that would be the most lasting thing that would survive into the future. So how do we change the practices of municipalities, how do we have an impact there? That’s where the zero waste came from. How [do we make sure] the city goes about doing all its procurement and operations in a manner that doesn’t further support the extractive economy?

Q. So you’ve been working on environmental justice issues for a while now? 

A. Oh yeah, environmental justice is something that’s been on our radar screen and agenda for a long, long time. There was a major campaign around fighting toxic dumping in Mississippi. And around all of the toxins and carcinogens and antibiotics that were used in both the chicken farms and catfish farms here in the 1990s.

[Today], in Jackson, there are some key environmental justice issues. No. 1 is water quality. The city is under consent decree already from the EPA about how bad the quality is. Jackson’s pipes are extremely old and antiquated. They’ve burst, there’s a lot of seepage, a lot of contaminants that are in there that spill off into communities. That’s one problem. Another major problem is that Jackson has a lot of lead paint and asbestos buildings still that people are living in. So remediation around that stuff — that’s one of the ways the eco-village comes in and why that’s so critical. Beyond that, there are some air quality issues particularly in parts of south Jackson. Because of some factories there, we’ve got high rates of asthma concentrated in those communities. That’s a big one we’ve been involved with and continue to be involved with.

Q. What does it mean to be an Our Power Campaign pilot site?

A. First and foremost, it puts us into a broader network of allies who are thinking the same, acting the same, planning the same. We have folks to look to: How do they build cooperatives in Black Mesa and in Detroit? And it’s more muscle. We’re really in the fight! We’re not alone! Going up against the city council, going up against the state government — as we’re waging campaigns, there are resources and allies that we can fall on to lend technical expertise, mobilization, and support that without this kind of capacity would be hard for us to do.

Q. What are some of the obstacles to getting this thing off the ground?

A. For a beginning organization, in a very poor state, in a very poor neighborhood, we are still having to raise capital, which is not very familiar to folks here — not the type of money we’re talking about. So, we’re in a major fundraising drive to raise every stone and rock and contact that we have to try to get some support for it. What we have, we think, is really a modest goal — we think with a minimum of $500,000 we can make a serious transformation in this community, and an impact that will last for generations.

But I think the biggest challenge for us, now and in the long term, is we’re not going to be able to move and develop cooperatives as fast as the demand dictates. That’s critical, just because of what real unemployment is here in Jackson. It’s very, very high. Compared to other parts of Mississippi, Jackson is well off. But if you look at national averages, and people’s concrete lives — it is a very poor community, very impoverished.

Q. Your hopes for the future?

A. We have an integrated plan of how to develop a new, transformative economy. It’ll build our strength, and more importantly, in the long term, beat back gentrification and displacement. We want folks to come into the neighborhood and see it, and from that, expand out from there to other parts of Jackson. And then hopefully other folks will say, hey, we can do that in Seattle, in Portland, in Boise!

The typical pattern in 20th and 21st centuries has been that [black communities] are moved — through redlining and other practices — from one area to another. When black people move in, the value of the neighborhood depreciates, there are less services, less stores, less amenities. Over time, the neighborhood deteriorates. Will black communities ever find a way to beat that? Well, we’re gonna try and beat it.

And there’s enough capacity to actually go around. This is the first place I’ve ever lived in my life where I can say that. We actually have people who want to do the work, are trying to engage in the work, and are pressing it forward as best they can. We’re in a really good situation as far as that’s concerned. Things are picking up; we’re in a good place. We’re really looking forward to 2015.


Filed under: Article, Cities, Living
Categories: Environment

Lousiana has a crazy plan to save its sinking coastline

Grist.org - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:40

This story is second in a two-part series on Louisiana’s rapidly disappearing coastline. Read part 1.

As Brig. Gen Duke DeLuca wrapped up his 32-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in August, he contemplated the key to Louisiana’s massive, 50-year, $50 billion effort to prevent the southeastern portion of the state from being swallowed by the Gulf of Mexico.

DeLuca, an expert on the many threats facing the coast, said: “It will take a moon-shot type of investment in the science.”

Many in Louisiana’s coastal scientific community believe DeLuca’s description is right on the mark, capturing the undertaking’s daunting uncertainties.

The mission could not have been set on a more challenging landscape, at a more inopportune time.

Southeastern Louisiana might best be described as a layer cake made of Jell-O, floating in a swirling Jacuzzi of steadily warming, rising water. Scientists and engineers must prevent the Jell-O from melting — while having no access to the Jacuzzi controls.

The problem is human-made. Over the last 80 years, Louisiana’s coast has been starved of sediment by river levees and eviscerated by canals dredged for oil and gas extraction. Now, southeastern Louisiana is sinking at one of the fastest rates on the planet as the Gulf is rising.

Already, 2,000 square miles have sloughed into the Gulf. Without action, the state could lose another 1,750 squares miles over the next 50 years.

If that happens, in 70 years New Orleans could be left on a razor-thin sliver of land extending into the open Gulf, battered by storms rolling over the watery graves of unprotected communities.

The economic effects will reverberate across the nation as the seas swamp half of the nation’s refineries and pipelines that transport 30 percent of the country’s oil and gas. The country’s largest port, an economic door to 31 states, would be vulnerable to run-of-the-mill tropical storms, causing shutdowns that cost the nation’s economy an estimated $300 million a day.

Louisiana has responded with the Master Plan for the Coast, an unprecedented effort to build and preserve up to 800 square miles of wetlands and barrier islands and to construct miles of levees over the next half-century.

At first glance, the plan doesn’t seem complicated: Use the mud and sand in the river to rebuild the delta.

The state has settled on two techniques to do this.

One, pumping sand into sinking wetlands, can build land quickly and is simple to engineer. But it’s a temporary fix.

The other, diverting sediment-laden fresh water from the river, mimics the natural process that built the delta over thousands of years. It could be a lasting solution. But it costs more up-front and will take years to work, if it does.

The plan doesn’t aim to rebuild everything that has been lost so far, or even fight for everything that remains now. Instead, the more modest goal is to restore enough wetlands to cushion communities from storm surge and provide a functioning fishery.

Even that is not a sure thing.

To make the project work, scientists and engineers will have to figure out on the fly how to create a human-made system that replicates the delta’s natural land-building process.

Their solutions must fit within constraints imposed by how much sediment the river can deliver and must anticipate future sea-level rise and land subsidence. Somehow, they must balance the need for restoration with the needs of the shipping, energy, and fishing industries.

Meanwhile, Louisiana must find a way to pay for it. Although this battle has consequences for the rest of the country, so far Congress has spurned most requests for funding. Louisiana, one of the nation’s poorest states, could run out money for coastal restoration in 10 years.

“I don’t think the public realizes just how big a reach this is,” said Harry Roberts, a researcher at Louisiana State University who has spent more than five decades studying the river and the delta.

State legislators acknowledged the challenges by requiring the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which steers the effort, to revise its restoration plan every five years.

“We will adapt as we go along,” said Kyle Graham, executive director of the agency.

If anything, DeLuca’s moon-shot analogy may be an understatement. NASA had to surmount historic scientific and engineering challenges to land a man on the moon. But the existence of towns and cities didn’t rest on the outcome.

“We’ll have to start that on a small scale, and there will be missteps along the way,” said coastal geologist Paul Kemp, a Louisiana State University researcher who has written extensively about the Mississippi River delta.

“But we have to succeed, because this, really, is our only hope.”

Pumping sand into the wetlands

With limits on time, money and what the river can offer, planners had to decide which areas could — and should — be saved.

Most of the rebuilding efforts are concentrated in the basins protecting New Orleans, not only because it’s an economic and cultural center, but because the river already carries land-building sediment through the area.

The first method to restore the coast uses slurry pipelines to dredge mud and sand from the riverbed and offshore, then pump it to sinking wetlands and eroding barrier islands. This approach has been used in beach restoration projects around the country. The state calls it “marsh creation.”

Pipeline projects jointly financed by the state and the federal government already have filled in areas near Bayou Dupont (900 acres, at a cost of $65 million) and Lake Hermitage (700 acres, $40 million), as well as portions of coastal beaches.

But those gains are just a speck of what’s needed in the long-term. With the coast disappearing at 16 square miles a year, it takes nature just two months to wash away as much land statewide as was created in Bayou Dupont and Lake Hermitage.

Another targets the Biloxi Marsh, an isolated section of wetlands on the state’s far eastern edge that protects greater New Orleans and provides a key fisheries habitat. This project would create and restore 33,000 acres of wetlands at a cost of $3 billion.

Slurry pipelines produce results quickly. They can fill 500 acres of open water with land two feet high in six months.

But they have two serious drawbacks. The new land will sink, too, so these areas will have to be rebuilt in 30 to 40 years. And the farther that the sand and mud must be pumped, the more it costs.

Imitating nature

The second method of rebuilding wetlands, controlled sediment diversions, doesn’t have those problems. But one has never been built.

The idea is to move some of the freshwater and sediment in the Mississippi River to where it’s needed most. When the river is high, specially designed gates would be opened in the river levee, allowing freshwater and sediment to wash over nearby areas.

These diversions would build land over decades, not months. Theoretically, they would work as long as the river flows.

“The one advantage this delta has over the many others that are in trouble is that we still have a river delivering the material to help get us out of trouble,” said Denise Reed, chief scientist at the Water Institute of the Gulf. “As long as that river is bringing the sediments to us, we have a chance.”

Sediment diversions cost hundreds of millions each compared to tens of millions for slurry pipelines, but some studies have shown they’re worth it in the long run.

Five sediment diversions are planned to rebuild vast expanses of wetlands in the roughly 60 miles between metro New Orleans and Buras, the last big bend in the river before it meets the Gulf.

The restoration plan calls for spending $4 billion on diversions to build and preserve 300 square miles of land and $20 billion on slurry pipelines that will result in 200 square miles.

What we give up

Regardless of the method, the state doesn’t believe there’s enough sediment in the river to save everything. Wetlands along the last 40 miles to the Gulf, including those near the mouth of the river referred to as the Bird’s Foot Delta, are not in the restoration plan.

These wetlands, already sinking 5 feet a century and far from any large community, will get even less sediment when diversions are opened upriver.

“It is a matter of physics and geology,” said David Muth, director of the Gulf Restoration Program for the National Wildlife Federation. The current plan, he said, “merely proposes not wasting large sums of precious restoration dollars in a place with no future.”

Even some people who are fighting to extend the life of the Bird’s Foot, like rancher Earl Armstrong, acknowledge that reality. Born and raised on the river at Pilottown, nine miles from the nearest road, he now uses airboats to keep an eye on his cattle on the shrinking spits of land.

Armstrong advised the Corps of Engineers a few years ago on the West Bay diversion, the first major effort to build land by cutting a hole in the riverbank south of Venice. His advice was so important, one of the emerging islands is now named after him. But he fears he is fighting a losing battle.

“We probably waited too long to get started,” he said. “I would love for my grandchildren to know what I knew on this river, but it won’t be here. It’s going too quick.”

Mastering a complex game

Although diversions have long been the centerpiece of discussions to restore the coast, the state hasn’t committed to build even one. A decision isn’t expected until fall 2015 because the science and engineering is more complicated than the slogans.

“My concern is that a lot of people think if we just turn the river loose, it will just fill in all those holes we’ve created in the delta,” said Roberts. “Well, certainly it’s not as simple as punching holes in the levees.”

Every diversion project is a move in an ongoing chess match with nature. Each one faces different sets of variables and constraints, and engineers are struggling to anticipate the consequences of each step they take.

“Everything you do at one point on the river — anything you take out or put in — will have an effect on the rest of the river,” said Alex McCorquodale, a University of New Orleans researcher working on a study to determine how much sediment is in the lower Mississippi.

These challenges came into focus as the state began planning the Mid-Barataria Diversion at Myrtle Grove, a $1.1 billion project about 30 miles south of New Orleans. With $275 million in initial funding already in place, it would be the first diversion to be built.

The diversion would be located at the northern end of the Barataria Basin, an estuary important to seafood production and to protecting the New Orleans area from storm surge.

If nothing is done, this area is predicted to lose 234 square miles of coastline over 50 years. Twenty-two square miles of that could be saved over 20 years — if the diversion is fed with enough of the right kind of sediment, flowing over the right wetlands infrastructure, according to computer models.

The state is still trying to answer the many questions that could make or break those plans.

The first one: Is there enough sediment in the river to get the job done?

Researchers know the river carries only half the sediment it once did. Much is trapped behind dams on Midwestern tributaries, while modern farming methods have reduced soil runoff. They are only now in the final stages of a study to determine if enough reaches the bottom section of the river and if it’s the right type of sediment to build land.

The diversion will be able to deliver 250,000 cubic feet per second, or as much as Niagara Falls at its peak. But computer models have shown that running the diversion at that capacity could increase the risk of flooding nearby communities such as Lafitte.

That, in turn, could force the state to raise the levees around Lafitte. If it costs too much to do that, the state will have to reduce how much water goes through the diversion. Less water will build less land.

High water flows also could hurt fishing.

Louisiana’s commercial and sports fishermen have led the Gulf in catches in a system that has gradually become more salty due to erosion. Now some are concerned that their target species — such as shrimp, oysters, and speckled trout — will be displaced when fresh water pours in.

The Save Louisiana Coalition, a fishing industry group, wants the state to scrub diversions from its restoration plan and focus only on slurry pipelines.

Research is underway to determine how much fishing would be disrupted by operating diversions at different volumes. Planners need to figure out if the amount of land created, and the benefits to storm protection, would offset the economic losses that some fishers say will result.

The vagaries of the river’s flow and geology means you can’t build a diversion just anywhere. It must be on a stretch where the right kind of sands and sediment can be captured, and the open water nearby isn’t too deep and wide to be filled in. There must be enough of the original delta framework to aid in building land. And the wetlands must be built in places where they protect communities from hurricane surges.

Rivers typically build deltas slowly in what looks like a random pattern of constantly shifting channels, islands, and sandbars. To the casual observer “it may look like chaos, to a geologist like me it’s poetry,” said Kemp of LSU.

Recreating that poetry is the key to building land.

“In some of these areas, we did so much damage with the canal dredging, there is really nothing left of that original land-building system — the old channels, and ridges — that the river used to follow,” Kemp said. “We’re starting with basically a blank slate.”

If scientists manage to navigate all of these potential pitfalls, they’ll still need to make sure the shipping channel to the nation’s largest port remains open.

That will limit how much water can be sent to resuscitate dying wetlands. Enough water must remain in the river to allow massive ships to pass.

A recent study concluded that opening just one of the planned diversions at a maximum flow of 250,000 cubic feet per second would dramatically reduce the amount of water left in the lower river. If all five diversions were open at the same time, would they take so much water that shipping would be jeopardized? No one knows.

“Shipping is just one of the constraints we have to consider when we do our modeling,” said Graham, the head of the state coastal agency.

Considering how much remains unknown, a few scientists ask why Louisiana has staked so much on diversions. They worry the state could waste its last chance for the coast on a technique they believe poses its own habitat threats and exists only on computer models.

Gene Turner, a distinguished LSU coastal researcher, points to studies that show high levels of nutrients from fertilizer upstream can cause wetlands loss by damaging plants in areas with high organic soils. He is concerned that the state doesn’t have a backup plan if its computer models are wrong.

“Every building code requires a fire exit, and right now this plan doesn’t have one,” he said. “Saying, ‘This is going to work’ isn’t a backup plan, not when you’re doing something that has never been done before, except on computers.”

Turner has the minority view in the coastal scientific community. Nonetheless, the state coastal agency has asked the Water Institute of the Gulf to gather a panel of outside coastal experts to look into those questions.

“We’ve got one chance to get this right,” Turner said, “so we shouldn’t be ignoring any of these warning signs.”

Sinking land, rising water

Even if Myrtle Grove and other land-building projects pass these tests, other challenges could derail them.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says southeastern Louisiana is subsiding at one of the fastest rates of any large coastal landscape in the world.

That sinking isn’t uniform across the area, or year to year, because it consists of several deltas built of different material over thousands of years. So subsidence estimates designed into projects are only best guesses.

“The land here never sleeps. It’s moving in two directions — vertically and horizontally — all the time,” said Stephen Estopinal, a civil engineer who heads the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, which oversees floodwalls and levees around New Orleans.

Geologists including Sherwood “Woody” Gagliano, who did groundbreaking research on coastal loss in the early 1970s, argue that state planners are not giving enough consideration to the expansive system of underground faults that contribute to sinking land.

Roberts worries the pace of sinking might “make the holes we’re trying to fill deeper than the material we have in the river.”

The biggest wild card is climate change.

The restoration plan accounts for what was thought to be the worst-case projections for sea-level rise. But climate scientists now warn that increases in greenhouse gas emissions and ice field melting couldcause oceans worldwide to rise even more.

That could lead to the river current being slowed as the rising Gulf pushes upstream, further reducing the amount of sediment that reaches diversions on the lower river.

Climate change also will bring volatility in weather worldwide, which could affect projections of how much land can be built by diversions.

To estimate how much water and sediment would be in the river, scientists must rely on records of annual snowfall and rain between the Appalachians and the Rockies. With climate scientists predicting more frequent, severe weather, those averages could become less dependable.

That uncertainty recently made headlines. In 2011, the Mississippi had one of its highest flows ever. Then in 2012, one of the lowest rivers ever reduced shipping traffic to a trickle north of Louisiana.

The sheer size of the challenge facing Louisiana is driven home by an image of Plaquemines Parish that Graham sometimes uses in presentations:

Most of the image is red, showing land lost through 2010. A few tiny spots of green show what his agency has rebuilt in the area.

They look as small and distant as the moon in a night sky.

This story was written by Bob Marshall of The Lens. Data reporting, maps and design by Al Shaw of ProPublica and Brian Jacobs of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews. Photography by Edmund D. Fountain for ProPublica/The Lens.

Additional research by Jennifer Stahl. Additional software development by Jeff Larson.

Additional funding for this project was provided by Knight-Mozilla OpenNews.


Filed under: Climate & Energy, Living
Categories: Environment

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