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Tropical Cyclone Threatens South Florida, Takes Aim At Gulf Coast

“Tropical Storm Gordon formed over the Florida Keys Monday morning and is poised to bring very heavy rainfall to south Florida on this Labor Day. As Gordon pushes into the Gulf of Mexico this week, it will interact with anomalously warm waters as it churns toward the Gulf Coast.

All things considered, the track of Gordon is fairly high confidence, tracking toward the central Gulf Coast this week. Folks from eastern TX to FL should have a plan in place, regardless of intensity (Source/ @EdValleeWx)

While Gordon will have limited time to rapidly strengthen and will have less than ideal conditions to do so, it still warrants attention for its impacts. Heavy rains, minor storm surge, and gusty winds are all but certain as this system approaches the central Gulf Coast Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night, regardless of classification.

European EPS illustrating the flooding risk with Gordon and the stalled frontal boundary nearby. 80-90 percent chance of 5″+ rain next 10 days (Source/ @EdValleeWx)

Because of these risks, tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches have been issued for portions of the central Gulf Coast as of midday Monday. Upon landfall, this system may track northeastward into the ag belt, prompting more heavy rains in portions of the Midwest and Ohio Valley late this week into next weekend,” said meteorologist Ed Vallee of Vallee Weather Consulting.

Currently, Tropical Storm Gordon is advancing into the Gulf of Mexico as it continues to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to South Florida. The tropical cyclone is moving west-northwest at 16 miles per hour with sustained winds around 45 miles per hour. The Weather Channel reports that Gordon will head for the northern Gulf Coast landfall on Tuesday as a possible Category 1 hurricane.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Supercharged by Pollution, Florida’s Toxic Algae Crisis Continues Unabated

Supercharged by Pollution, Florida’s Toxic Algae Crisis Continues Unabated

Fish kill on South Lido Beach, Florida.

I think it is better if kids see what we are doing to the planet,” Womble told me. “Maybe seeing the dead turtle will make them pay attention to the environment.” Her 9-year-old sister Ellie agreed, adding that “covering the turtle won’t stop other turtles from dying.”

Earlier that day the sisters had been on a charter fishing boat 10 miles off Sanibel Island’s coast, where they saw lots of dead fish, large and small, and another dead sea turtle floating on the Gulf of Mexico’s surface. Though they caught some fish, their father, an avid fisherman, had his daughters throw them back. He explained to them that it may be years before marine life can recover from the impacts of the ongoing explosion of toxic algae that already has killed hundreds of tons of fish and other sea life washing up on Florida’s southwest coast.

Dead tarpon fish on Sanibel Island's beach in Florida
Dead tarpon on Sanibel Island’s beach.

Womble sisters standing over a dead loggerhead sea turtle on Sanibel Island
Womble sisters and a dead loggerhead sea turtle on Sanibel Island.

The mass mortality of aquatic life — which some have called “unprecedented” — along 150 miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast, stretching from Naples in the south to Sarasota in the north, is the result of harmful algal blooms, which have been supercharged by pollution.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How US Sugar Subsidies Bring a Red Tide of Algae to Florida’s Shores

How US Sugar Subsidies Bring a Red Tide of Algae to Florida’s Shores

fertilizer.PNG

ABC News reports that “Toxic red tide blooms are creeping up Florida’s west coast, killing marine life and irritating humans.” The red (or maroonish) tide is truly a nasty problem that I have experienced first-hand in the form of a ruined vacation.

It is a potentially toxic algae to wildlife when it occurs in high concentrations. The Karenia brevis algae can be a threat to fish, birds, and even manatee. At least 92 manatees have been killed so far and at least one whale shark! This creates conditions at the beach of discolored water, dead fish, and a horrible smell. Tourists are adversely affected as well as local businesses.

The algae are a natural phenomenon that has been known of for almost two centuries. However, the harmful “blooms” have occurred much more often and in more places in recent decades. More recently, it has been plaguing southwest Florida beaches since November 2017 and is now particularly bad over a larger area.

I was recently attacked on Facebook for explaining all the benefits we would receive if we reduced the number of regulators and their budgets, i.e., fewer unnecessary regulatory restrictions on businesses and resource owners, less spending and taxes, more resources in the productive economy, and more entrepreneurship to name the primary ones.

My “friend” wrote that if we reduced the number of regulators, who would protect him from all the various perceived evils, including the red tide at the Florida coast.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways

Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways

Sunset over a canal in Cape Coral, Florida, filled with blue green algae.

Parts of South Florida are being inundated by harmful algal blooms, which affect both public health and marine life, including red tide (caused by the alga Karenia brevis) and blue-green algae (more precisely known as cyanobacteria, or Microcystis, which are technically bacteria but commonly referred to as algae).

While both types of toxin-producing algae are normal parts of their environments, the crisis is not. Water pollution and climate change are fueling this supersized toxic algae mess.

Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in a canal near Cape Coral Yacht Club in Florida.
Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in a canal near the Cape Coral Yacht Club in Florida.

Fish kill on a beach in Boca Grande, Florida
Fish kill on a beach in Boca Grande, Florida.

The state’s water quality standards, friendly toward agriculture and real estate development, result in the release of an abundance of nutrients including phosphorus and nitrogen into the water. This influx of growth-inducing nutrients causes marine and freshwater algae populations to explode in what’s called a “bloom.” These blooms can use up much of the oxygen in the water, causing aquatic life to die, in addition to the potentially fatal toxins these algae release.

Storm run-off from agricultural and urban landscapes, laden with fertilizers and animal manure, and badly maintained septic systems contribute to the current crisis. On top of this, massive releases of polluted freshwater, laden with cyanobacteria, from Lake Okeechobee are ending up on both of the state’s coasts. And when the freshwater cyanobacteria hit the saltwater, they die, creating even more nutrients that feed the red tide.

Photographer's sneakers on a concrete seawall on the side of a toxic algae-filled canal in Cape Coral, Florida.
Photographer’s sneakers on a concrete seawall on the side of a toxic algae-filled canal in Cape Coral, Florida.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Coastal States Protest Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plan

Coastal States Protest Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plan

Offshore

Less than a week after the Trump Administration proposed to open almost the entire U.S. coast to oil and gas drilling, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke backtracked and took Florida off the table for offshore oil and gas exploration. Now many are wondering why just Florida was given a pass.

Opposition by coastal states, both East and West, had already been strong, even before Secretary Zinke said on Tuesday that he supports Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott’s position that “Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

“As a result of discussion with Governor Scott’s and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms,” Secretary Zinke said in a statement posted on Twitter.

But taking Florida off the table sparked even more backlash from nearly all other coastal states along the Pacific and the Atlantic, with governors and representatives demanding the states they represent be exempt, too.

Analysts see the administration’s move as opening a wider legal crack in the offshore drilling plan, with states and environmentalists waiting in the wings to start suing.

Potential lawsuits could further derail the timeline of the process that would turn this initial draft plan into a proposed final program. Mounting uncertainties over the timeline and legislation could deter oil companies from planning to spend big on exploration, while drilling along the coastal areas could be challenged by states and could increase risks for oil firms’ budget planning and possible legal expenses. Then there is the price of oil in a few years’ time to consider, as well as the fact that companies in the U.S. are increasingly earmarking investments into onshore shale at the expense of conventional offshore.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Minority Communities Suffer from Storms as GOP and Trump Admin Promote Oil and Gas

Minority Communities Suffer from Storms as GOP and Trump Admin Promote Oil and Gas

Pat Harris in her storm-damaged housing complex in Port Arthur, Texas

On October 18, two senators who reject the science of climate change, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), teamed up to introduce a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for exporting small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG). And on October 24, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed the largest ever sale of oil and gas leases in the United States. The plan would offer nearly 77 million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico for auction to the fossil fuel industry.

Port Arthur's Prince Hall Village Apartments across from a Valero refinery
Prince Hall Village Apartments across from Valero’s Port Arthur refinery on October 13, 2017.

FEMA interviewing residents of a housing complex in Port Arthur, Texas
FEMA interviewing residents at Prince Hall Village Apartments on September 20, 2017.

Rubio and Cassidy now both acknowledge that the climate has changed, but don’t think mankind plays a major role in the stronger and more frequent storms, droughts, heat waves, and floods documented by researchers. Both have touted the expansion of the natural gas industry as good for the climate, citing the fact that gas burns cleaner than coal. But they ignore scientific evidence showing that when accounting for the production of natural gas, from extraction to delivery, the fuel could be worse for the climate than burning coal.

Their proposed legislation, if passed, would likely lead to an expansion of the fracking industry to meet the needs of the global market, as DeSmog’s Steve Horn has reported recently. In his article, Horn explained the misnomer of “small-scale LNG,” writing that “small-scale LNG does not refer necessarily to the actual amount of LNG which will be exported from the site, but rather the size of the tankers carrying the natural gas.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

State Of Emergency Declared Across Southeastern US As Hurricane Nate Looms

State Of Emergency Declared Across Southeastern US As Hurricane Nate Looms

Update (1 pm ET):  With Nate expected to strengthen into a category 2 storm by the time it makes landfall in southeastern Louisiana late Saturday, the NHC has expanded its storm warnings to include the part of the Florida panhandle east of the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Indian Pass Florida, which is now under a tropical storm warning. Meanwhile, mandatory evacuations are set to begin in Port Fourchon, Louisiana at 12pm local time Saturday for remaining staff at the port, according to storm update by the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. This follows mandatory evacuation ordered by Lafourche Parish, La., President Jimmy Cantrelle for areas below floodgates in Golden Meadow, La. In addition, the US Coast Guard has suspended marine traffic activity as of 8 am local time for sector Mobile, which includes the ports of Gulfport and Pascagoula in Mississippi, Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., in preparation for Hurricane Nate, according to an agency bulletin.

Staff at offshore oil rigs in the Gulf were ordered to evacuate, leaving nearly three-quarters of US Gulf of Mexico oil production was offline ahead of the storm. American Midstream Partners LP’s Destin gas pipeline and Enbridge Inc.’s Nautilus and Manta Ray lines are evacuating staff from Gulf platforms.

Thanks to Harvey, and now Nate, natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has plunged to the lowest level in three years. Gulf gas output may drop as much as 1.4 billion cubic feet a day, while 1.1 million barrels a day of offshore oil production and 3 million barrels of refining capacity are at risk, according to Shunondo Basu, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

FL Residents Warned They’ll Be Ticketed for Hurricane-Damaged Homes

(ANTIMEDIA) Miami-Dade County, FL — At a time when South Floridians rocked by Hurricane Irma were still surveying the damage to their properties, the county of Miami-Dade apparently thought it appropriate to begin handing out safety notices.

Celso Perez told local WSVN-TV that he, his family, and his neighbors were starting to clear fallen trees from the streets after the storm passed through at nine in the morning on Monday. Hours later, in the afternoon, Perez got a visit from the county.

“And we thought he was here to help us or offer some type of assistance with the trees, maybe he was going to bring us ice or something,” Perez told WSVN. Instead, the official slapped a safety notice on the only part of Perez’s fence still standing.

“I laughed,” he said. “I thought he was kidding. ‘You are kidding right? We just had a hurricane six hours ago.’ ‘No, I’m not kidding. I have to cite you for this.’ I just laughed. OK, whatever; knock yourself out!”

But Perez stopped laughing when the official told him he would be writing up a report and would be back to check on the property. Perez told WSVN that the man said he’d “have to write me a fine” if the fence wasn’t up to code by then.

“At the time this officer was out here, we didn’t have power, we didn’t have food, we didn’t have ice. He is crazy, ridiculous,” Perez said, adding that “it’s not like I can go to Home Depot” because all the stores were closed.

The South Floridian says he understands that there is a lot of work that needs to be done but that the county’s rush to issue warnings was inappropriate:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Government Regulation and Crony Capitalism is Keeping Thousands in Florida without Power

Government Regulation and Crony Capitalism is Keeping Thousands in Florida without Power

Yellow_Tape_by_Downed_Power_Lines_(7536146736).jpg

Almost two weeks have passed since Hurricane Irma made landfall in South Florida, yet tens of thousands remain without power. With temperatures regularly eclipsing over 90 degrees, these outages are not only a grave inconvenience for Floridians cleaning up after the storm, but have proved to be deadly. Given the power of Irma, it is not surprising that it has left behind incredible devastation. Unfortunately it is also not surprising that it is a government-protected utility that has done the most to impede recovery. The pain and suffering currently being felt is the direct result of government policy and the perverse incentives of crony capitalism.

One of the talked about examples of how bad policy is making things worse for Florida families are a variety of government policies that discourages the use of solar power in the Sunshine State. Government policy dictates that Floridians are required to be connected to the central power grid, even if they have enough solar panels installed to power their entire house. Because of this requirement, a family stuck in areas without power with solar panels installed cannot use them now because doing so could endanger workers trying to restore power for their neighbors. Once again government’s desire for centralized control has unintended consequences.

Of course, even without such rules, it’s unlikely that all of Florida would decide to go off the grid. Given that, it’s important to understand how the legal monopoly granted to electric companies not only traps customers into being entirely reliant upon a single company, but actively incentivizes those companies to be reactive – rather than proactive – when it comes to natural disasters and other events that threaten service.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Florida, You Can’t Use Your Own Solar Panels in a Crisis

In Florida, You Can’t Use Your Own Solar Panels in a Crisis

When it comes to the U.S. economy, the “con” part offers the best description of the current relationship between business, government and the preyed upon consumer. The way things work in early 21st century America is large businesses bribe politicians in a variety of ways at both the local and federal level, and the end result is laws that are designed to increase corporate profits at the expense of the wellbeing and freedom of the American public. Politicians end up with financial war chests to run their next campaign, while bureaucrats see a lucrative opportunity to swing through the ever spinning revolving door should they play ball with lobbyists and their patrons. Yes, there’s always some degree of corruption within any society of humans, but there are peaks and valleys in such cycles. I’d argue we are somewhere in the peak corruption phase.

Today’s article focuses on one of the most highly regulated industries in the country, electric utilities. It’s one of the most boring businesses in America. I know this because it fell under the umbrella of my responsibilities during my last Wall Street job, and I could barely read a utilities research report without immediately falling asleep. Nevertheless, as you’ll see in today’s piece, the industry still finds a way to generate large profits while simultaneously harming the people its supposed to service.

When I think about solar panels, its not just the use of a renewable resource I find appealing, but also the potential to take energy generation into your own hands; something that can prove quite useful in a major global crisis, or even something more minor like Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida. The latter could’ve be a lifesaver for some Florida residents recently, but a local electric utility has done everything in its power to deny its customers such freedom.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Florida Farmers Say Irma’s Damage Is The Worst They’ve Ever Seen

Florida Farmers Say Irma’s Damage Is The Worst They’ve Ever Seen

citruscrops

Almost half of Florida’s citrus crops were destroyed during the hurricane and when Florida farmers survey the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, and most are saying it’s the worst destruction to their farms that they’ve ever seen.

When the worst of Irma’s fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect the citrus groves and vegetable fields in Florida. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida’s extension office in the town of LaBelle. LaBelle is located in the middle of one of the country’s biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

According to NPR, the storm made a direct hit to those fields. “The eyewall came right over our main production area,” McAvoy says. Irma had destroyed almost half of the citrus crops in the central Florida area, meaning prices are likely going to go up sharply.

Many of the destroyed groves of oranges and grapefruit were actually approaching harvest too.  But after Irma blew through, it left “50 or 60 percent of the fruit lying in water [or] on the ground,” says McAvoy. Many trees were standing in water, a mortal danger if their roots stay submerged for longer than three or four days. About a quarter of the country’s sugar production comes from fields of sugar cane near Lake Okeechobee, just east of LaBelle. Harvest season for the sugar cane crop is only a few weeks away, but Irma knocked much of the cane down, making it more difficult to harvest. “We won’t know the exact extent of the loss until it’s harvested,” McAvoy says.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

No Gas in Florida: Give Truth a Chance

No Gas in Florida: Give Truth a Chance

Photo by el-toro | CC BY 2.0

As I heard Florida’s governor demanding gas, I wondered why they don’t learn from Cuba, and send buses. Cuba was there in the CBC newscasts about Florida. It was the country under the satellite image, under the “lingering” eye of category five Irma. For hours, that awful image was in the background as the CBC anchor kept returning to Florida’s need for gas.

They won’t learn from Cuba. And it is not because Cuba is part of the world’s “left-overs”, who don’t count and whose ideas don’t count either. It’s not even because of Cold War mentality. The problem is deeper. It’s about culture and truth. In short, it’s about a culture that denies truth.

The popular cultural anthropologist, Wade Davis, says cultures teach us about humanness.[i] He claims to catalogue cultural wealth to know what it means to be human. He gives a platform to cultural representatives expressing “the better angels of our nature”.

He doesn’t catalogue the culture of imperialism. And he gives no platform to the cultures of resistance long opposing it. He writes, “Within this diversity of knowledge and practise [of cultures] … we will all rediscover the enchantment of being what we are, a conscious species”.

Well, not all.

Cuban scholar, Juan Marinello, writes that one of the great puzzles about Cuba, for its enemies, is how ideas have survived. Somehow, in the late nineteenth century, with the US in economic glory, Jose Martí, independence leader, knew Latin Americans could be modern and free without following the US.

And he grasped something not then expressed, which 60 years later would galvanize the poor on three continents: anti-imperialism.  Many who study Cuba fail to understand, or even to ask, how such ideas remained motivating through six dark decades of US cultural imposition after Martí’s death.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hurricane Irma’s Wrath Weighs On Natural Gas

Hurricane Irma’s Wrath Weighs On Natural Gas

Natural Gas Field

Hurricane Irma has left millions of people without power in Florida, a critical situation that could take a painfully long period of time to sort out.

Estimates vary, but some 9 million people lost power during Hurricane Irma, according to the CEO of Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility. As of Monday, an additional 1 million people lost power in Georgia and South Carolina as the remains of Irma moved north. Florida Power & Light has already begun restoring power, but as of Monday, there were more than 3.6 million customers still offline.

Utilities in other parts of the country are sending legions of workers to Florida in an aggressive effort to rebuild and restore service. The CEO of Southern Company, another crucial utility in the U.S. Southeast, said that the mess will likely require 50,000 to 60,000 additional utility workers from out of state to help in the recovery.

It could have been a lot worse, as the track of the hurricane ended up moving west of Miami but east of Tampa Bay, avoiding a direct hit on any major city. Plus, Florida’s electricity grid has been improved in recent years, which could help get things back to normal more quickly. Florida Power & Light, for example, has spent $3 billion since the nasty storms of 2004 and 2005 to fortify its system and minimize damage from storms.

“The effort is to see how fast we can get back online. That is the definition in the industry now of ‘resilience’. It is to figure how to get things back together as soon as possible,” Christine Tezak, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners, told CNBC. She also argued that Florida’s multi-billion-dollar investments to harden the electricity grid over the past decade—investments made in light of a previous round of destructive hurricanes in the mid-2000s—have paid off.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

25% Of Homes In Florida Keys Destroyed By Hurricane Irma

25% Of Homes In Florida Keys Destroyed By Hurricane Irma

After Hurricane Irma overwhelmed the Florida Keys with 15-foot storm surges and 130 mph winds, causing the worst flooding the chain of islands has experienced in nearly a century, federal officials’ first assessment of the damage suggests that nearly a quarter of the homes on the island were destroyed, according to the Associated Press. While not every home is beyond repair, officials said no structures escaped some form of damage.

“Basically every house in the Keys was impacted in some way or another,”Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said at a news conference. “This is why we ask people to leave.”

While residents and business owners in the Upper Keys as far south as Islamorada were allowed back into the area Tuesday morning, Monroe County officials urged people to stay away. “Fuel, water, power & medical super limited,” the county said on Twitter, according to WSJ. The county has about 53,000 housing units, census figures show. Nearly all are on the Keys, a 110-mile ribbon of low-lying islands linked by bridges. Monroe County is home to 79,000 people, the vast majority of whom live on the archipelago.

Elsewhere, federal authorities have maintained their mandatory evacuation order during the early stages of the cleanup. Throughout the state, some 155,000 people are still in shelters and more than 9 million Floridians lack power, exposing them to the unpleasant summer heat. That’s compared with roughly three-quarters-of-a-million customers were still without power in Georgia and the Carolinas by late Tuesday, according to local utilities.

Meanwhile, workers Tuesday rushed to find any victims who had remained on the islands during the storm, and deliver food and water.

“It’s going to be pretty hard for those coming home,” said Petrona Hernandez, whose concrete home on Plantation Key with 35-foot walls was unscathed, unlike others a few blocks away. “It’s going to be devastating to them.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In the Dark

The stock market is zooming this morning on the news that only 5.7 million people in Florida will have to do without air conditioning, hot showers, and Keurig mochachinos at dawn’s early light Monday, Sept 11, 2017. I’m mindful that the news cycle right after a hurricane goes kind of blank for a day or more as dazed and confused citizens venture out to assess the damage. For now, there is very little hard information on the Web waves. Does Key West still exist? Hard to tell. We’ll know more this evening.

The one-two punch of Harvey and Irma did afford the folks-in-charge of the nation’s affairs a sly opportunity to get rid of that annoying debt ceiling problem. This is the law that established a limit on how much debt the Federal Reserve could “buy” from the national government. Some of you may be thinking: buy debt? Why would anybody want to buy somebody’s debt? Well, you see, this is securitized debt, i.e. bonds issued by the US Treasury, which pay interest, and so there is the incentive to buy it. Anyway, there used to — back in the days when the real interest rate stayed positive after deducting the percent of running inflation. This is where the situation gets interesting.

The debt ceiling law supposedly set limits on how much bonded debt the government could issue (how much it could borrow) so it wouldn’t go hog wild spending money it didn’t have. Which is exactly what happened despite the debt limit because the “ceiling” got raised about a hundred times though the 20th century into the 21st so that the accumulated debt stands around $20 trillion.

Rational people recognize this $20 trillion for the supernatural scale of obligation it represents, and understand that it will never be paid back, so, what the hell?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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