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Lessons From Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle Is America’s Tale

‘Don’t California My Texas’Jim Blackburn, a planner, environmental lawyer and something of a lightning rod around here, has been warning for years about climate change, the decrepit state of Houston’s reservoirs and the perils of developing the Katy Prairie. He remembers escaping years ago to the prairie to bird watch. One recent morning he drove me out there along the Grand Parkway and pulled into an unfinished subdivision.A saleswoman in a model home boasted about $1 billion worth of box stores and malls being built nearby. The development, she said, adheres to county standards requiring that houses be raised above the 100-year floodplain. The woman handed Mr. Blackburn a glossy brochure and a disclaimer, which he scanned before climbing back into the car, shaking his head.Continue reading the main storyThe disclaimer explained that roads outside the development, linking it to the parkway, occupy the 10-year floodplain, meaning they would have about a 10 percent chance of flooding every year.“These days that means they’ll flood anytime you look at them funny,” Mr […]

Asia and Australia Edition: Donald Trump, North Korea, South China Sea: Your Thursday Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview In the News Photo Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times • The massacre at a Texas church was captured on video. The images, according to an official briefed on the contents, show the gunman methodically shooting his victims in the head, including children, over seven minutes. [The New York Times] • The latest revelations from the “Paradise Papers,” a leaked trove of documents from an offshore firm: American universities are also using secretive overseas investments. [The New York Times] Continue reading the main story • In Catalonia, protests and a general strike shut down roads and services as leaders of the Spanish region’s secessionist movement sought to regain political momentum. [The New York Times] • An Australian television journalist is winning praise for standing up to a heckler who hurled profane abuse while she was preparing a live report. [News.com.au] • Italian officials approved, after years of debate, a plan to divert large cruise ships farther from Venice’s landmarks like St. Mark’s Square, the Grand Canal and the Ducal Palace. [The New York Times] • Zookeepers in Australia were amazed to find two jelly-bean-size “puggles,” or infant echidnas […]

Mueller Issuing Subpoenas Through Washington Grand Jury

PhotoRobert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who is leading the Russia investigation, in June.Credit Doug Mills/The New York TimesWASHINGTON — Robert S. […]

NYC will get its first zero-waste store this spring, thanks to Lauren Singer

Singer, the mastermind behind ‘Trash is for Tossers,’ wants to make waste-free living as easy and accessible as possible. […]

Fonko in the Sun – B. Hesse Pflingger

Fonko in the SunB. Hesse Pflingger Genre: Action & Adventure Publish Date: August 20, 2014 Publisher: Watchfire Press Seller: Draft2Digital, LLC Grand Cayman, 1983 When ex-Army Ranger Jake Fonko is hired for a routine job in the Caribbean, the first day of his mission doesn’t turn out as planned, as a bloody bank robbery, a barroom shootout, multiple aerial dogfights and a chopper crash in the Jamaican jungle welcome him to paradise.  After stumbling into possession of highly sensitive financial documents from the BCCI, Jake finds himself pursued relentlessly by crooks, cartels and corrupt politicians, the CIA and the KGB. If he wants to survive the idyllic islands, Jake must find a way out of a mess that’s anything but routine. But with no passport and no backup, are Jake’s training and ironic wit enough to survive the suffocating surveillance? For fans of fun, fast-moving adventures, the Jake Fonko series seamlessly blends well-researched 20th century history with equal parts white-knuckle thrills, satirical humor and explosive action. If you like Ian Fleming (Bond), John D. MacDonald (Travis McGee), George MacDonald Fraser (Flashman) or Clive Cussler (Dirk Pitt), you’ll enjoy the Jake Fonko series.   NOTE: This is a standalone novel that can be fully enjoyed without reading any other books in the Jake Fonko series. […]

The Only Witness – Pamela Beason

The Only Witness Pamela Beason Genre: Mysteries & Thrillers Publish Date: February 19, 2016 Publisher: WildWing Press Seller: Draft2Digital, LLC **Winner of the Chanticleer Book Reviews Grand Prize** A missing baby. A teenage mother suspected of murder. A jaded detective whose reputation is on the line. A signing gorilla destined for the auction block. A scientist who is about to lose everything. Will the revelation that a gorilla is the only witness to the crime save or doom everyone involved? […]

U.S. likely to become a major energy exporter in a decade

The amount of energy Americans use and the pollution they emit from using coal, oil, and natural gas are not likely to change radically over the next 30 years, even as the U.S. becomes a major energy exporter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook, published Thursday.

The outlook, which does not factor in any policies from the incoming fossil fuel–friendly Trump administration, shows that the U.S. is unlikely to make significant gains in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, even though zero-carbon renewables are expected to grow faster than any other energy source over the next three decades.

Electricity generation is expected to remain the largest single use of energy in the U.S., but crude oil use for transportation is expected to be the largest source of energy-related carbon emissions. Carbon emissions from transportation surpassed those from electric power generation for the first time in U.S history in 2016.

The U.S. is likely to become a major exporter of energy because it is expected to produce about 20 percent more energy than it does today through 2040 while using only about 5 percent more energy, said EIA administrator Adam Sieminsky.

“We’re going to have fairly strong domestic production of energy and relatively flat demand,” he said. “You put those two together, it implies that the U.S. could become a net energy exporter.” And that could happen as soon as 2026.

That scenario, in addition to gains in energy efficiency across the country and declining coal consumption, will keep annual carbon emissions from energy use roughly level with today’s — about 5.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to EIA data. Energy-related carbon emissions in the U.S. have been falling since they peaked at about 6 billion metric tons in 2007.

The EIA offers a variety of different projections for how Americans will produce and use energy in the coming decades. The scenario in which the U.S. emits the most carbon dioxide through 2040 is the one in which the Obama administration’s signature climate change policy, the Clean Power Plan, is tossed out by the courts or the incoming Trump administration.

The Clean Power Plan, a major key to the success of the Paris Climate Agreement, was designed to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, encouraging utilities to generate more and more electricity using natural gas and renewables. But the plan’s fate is in doubt because 24 states have sued to kill it, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked it, and the incoming Trump administration has vowed to rescind it because it wants to revive the flagging coal industry.

The federal government is projecting that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from energy use will remain relatively steady in the coming decades.EIA

Regardless of the fate of the Clean Power Plan, energy-related carbon emissions are not expected to change much. If the plan is rescinded or overturned, the U.S. will emit about 5.4 billion metric tons annually through 2040 — slightly higher than today. If the plan remains in place, emissions are expected to drop to about 5 billion metric tons annually.

The biggest change the EIA expects to see over the next 30 years is one that’s already in progress today — Americans are expected to use more and more natural gas and renewables than they do now. Natural gas production is expected to grow 1.2 percent through 2050, with wind and solar power production growing 3.5 percent.

“If the Clean Power Plan is not implemented, if natural gas prices remain relatively low, and the tax credits in the renewables area play out a little, we will see more natural gas in the future,” Sieminsky said.

The fracking boom in the U.S. over the past decade has flooded the country with natural gas, bringing prices down. Cheap natural gas, more so than climate regulations under the Clean Power Plan, has encouraged electric power companies to switch away from coal-fired power plants, which have always formed the backbone of the energy grid. The trend is expected to continue over the next 30 years.

For example, just this week, the operator of one of the West’s largest coal-fired power plants, the Arizona’s Navajo Generating Station northeast of the Grand Canyon, announced the plant and the coal mine that supplies it may close this year because of low natural gas prices, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.

Despite growth in natural gas and renewables, the EIA expects coal production will continue a slow but gradual decline, falling only 0.7 percent through 2050.

Sieminsky said the decline in coal use in the U.S. will translate worldwide as well, and the fate of the Clean Power Plan isn’t much of a factor in the long-term outlook for coal because utilities have already begun committing to using natural gas to generate electricity.

“Capital costs of building coal plants are high,” he said. “A lot of countries are moving away from coal for air pollution reasons. It’s not a climate issue — it’s more of a health issue.”

China, for example, has begun shuttering coal-fired power plants to reduce its urban smog — the worst in the world.