Stephen Flynn is one of America’s foremost experts on cities, disasters, and security. Here, Bloomberg News interviewed Flynn outside and near the Boston Marathon bombing. His answers about how the city will cope is incredibly surprising as he launches into an easy to understand overview of resilience thinking in city planning. A must watch for my readers interested in resilience and cities.
Posts tagged Bloomberg.
Wants to include climate change risks in environmental permits. When you build something, such a house or store, you typically need a permit (or three) from the local or state government. Bigger projects require federal approval, such as an oil pipeline or a rail line. So, the larger the project, the more information the government requires as part of those permits.
In order to get a permit, you need to conduct some studies and write a few reports, typically these include an economic feasibility and an environmental impact statement. For federal permits, these studies are made public. This “public comment period” gives everyone, including other businesses, a chance to voice their opinions on the project.
Now, Obama wants to change the rules. He is proposing that the federal permit process should include risks and impacts from climate change. These climate risks will be part of the environmental impact statement.
Businesses do not like permits - but not for the reasons you’d expect. It’s very expensive to conduct the required economic and environmental studies. Businesses have to hire specialists just for these permits. Often, these studies delay projects, which makes the projects more expensive to build.
The biggest complaint is that rules are inconsistent - they’re difficult to comply with, unclear in their intent, guidelines are always changing, and (worst of all) they’re unevenly enforced. Sometimes a politician will intervene - essentially subverting the law. Political intervention creates an atmosphere of unfairness and favoritism (but, that is discussion for another post).
In the permitting world, lawsuits abound. And lawsuits compound the costs of building and it generally pisses off a lot of people.
So, when you hear complaints that “environmental permits hurts jobs” it’s not that the developer hates the environment, it’s that the rules are a convoluted, expensive mess. It’s also a clever way for politicians to dismantle environmental regulations because, after all, the rules “hurt jobs” - a line that resonates with the voting public.
Thus, from the perspective of business, Obama’s proposal to increase the rules for environmental permits has businesses - and the politicians that they’ve bought - shaking in their boots.
Queue a big political fight on this one.
President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they should consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.
The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn.
“It’s got us very freaked out,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based group that represents 11,000 companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Southern Co. (SO) The standards, which constitute guidance for agencies and not new regulations, are set to be issued in the coming weeks, according to lawyers briefed by administration officials.
In taking the step, Obama would be fulfilling a vow to act alone in the face of a Republican-run House of Representatives unwilling to pass measures limiting greenhouse gases. He’d expand the scope of a Nixon-era law that was first intended to force agencies to assess the effect of projects on air, water and soil pollution.
“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said last month during his State of the Union address. He pledged executive actions “to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Via the excellent Bloomberg.com
Two financial deals that kept the National Football League playing in the Superdome, allowing New Orleans to host a 10th Super Bowl, were expensive for taxpayers and enriched Saints owner Tom Benson, said former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.
Subsidies for Saints Owner Open New Orleans to Super Bowl - Bloomberg investigative report.
Taxpayers have spent at least $471 million on the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina, allowing a state reeling from the nation’s most-expensive natural disaster to keep its pro sports teams and rebuild a part of downtown destroyed by the 2005 storm. Benson, meanwhile, is worth $1.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after acquiring the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Hornets, a 26-story office tower that houses state agencies and a mall next to the stadium.
Let me be clear,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “We are not going to abandon the waterfront. We are not going to leave the Rockaways or Coney Island or Staten Island’s South Shore.” But he added that the city “cannot just rebuild what was there and hope for the best.” “We have to build smarter and stronger and more sustainable,” he added, while conceding that the city had yet “to determine exactly what that means.NYC Mayor Bloomberg vows to put more people in harm’s way.
Should NYC build a storm barrier to protect the city?
Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t too keen on a multibillion-dollar proposal to build tidal barriers to protect the city’s low-lying regions, a measure supporters say would mitigate the impact of future superstorms on New York City’s lower-lying neighborhoods.
“Even if you spent a fortune, it’s not clear to me that you would get much value from it,” the mayor told reporters at City Hall in the days right after the storm. He’s scheduled to deliver an infrastructure speech tomorrow.
But one top member of his administration doesn’t think it’s so outlandish. Monday night at Joe’s Pub, in a panel discussion put on by The New Yorker, New York City deputy mayor for operations Cas Holloway said that barriers could be an important part of the city’s disaster-mitigation infrastructure.
New York City experienced $6 billion in lost economic activity as a result of Sandy, he said. The city, he said, is well aware of the need for a practicable safeguarding strategy to avoid such a catastrophe in the future. And though a barrier is not the only possible solution, nor necessarily the best one to guard against natural disasters, Holloway said it wasn’t out of the question.
“At the end of the day, if people decide this is what has to be done, it’s financeable,” he said.
The New Yorker editor was leading the panel discussion on climate change, “Gathering Storms,” as part of the magazine’s Big Story series.
“What is the absolute worst thing that could happen right now?” he asked the panelists at one point in the discussion.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Remnick’s question might seem a bit late in coming, but that was also the point. The panel was trying to get a handle on natural-disaster mitigation with the assumption that, despite everything, we haven’t seen the worst yet.
Good read by Grace Bello of Capital New York
Imagine for every dollar you earn, 60 cents is thrown away. Literally wasted for no reason. Now imagine for every pound of coal burned to make electricity, 60 percent of that electricity is unused, literally burned for no reason. That’s America’s energy system in nutshell, a crazed succubus that has captured our politicians. Most climate activists think we can free ourselves from the succubus. I’m not so sure…
U.S. Energy: Where It’s From, Where It Goes, and What’s Wasted
President Obama approves plans to build a natural gas pipeline through an environmentally sensitive National Park in coastal Brooklyn. To be clear, there are millions of miles of gas lines in the U.S. So, a new line normally doesn’t make news. However, this pipeline is special. It will slice through a piece of a National Park called the Gateway National Park. Only the president has the authority to change what happens in our National Parks.
Thus, he signed a bill called the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act. The bill was sponsored by a Republican congressman back in February. It would have died if it weren’t for Hurricane Sandy, which provides Obama with, in my opinion, enough cover to fend off environmentalists and lawsuits. After all, it helps provide much needed “clean energy” for New York City according to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the bill’s sponsors.
The New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act authorizes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to issue permits to build and maintain the pipeline, which is aimed at boosting access to natural gas in the region.
The three-mile pipeline would run from the Atlantic Ocean beneath Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways and under Jamaica Bay to Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field.
Some area residents and environmental activists have voiced safety and planning concerns about the project.
Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, applauded the approval of the measure.
Grimm said the pipeline could bring as much as $265 million in revenue and create about 300 construction jobs.
In a statement, Grimm called the project an important economic boost to the region in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
The current pipeline system serving Brooklyn and Queens was built 40 to 60 years ago and can no longer meet current demand, Grimm said.
The new measure will allow for a new pipeline to be built off the existing Williams pipeline that currently brings natural gas from New Jersey to Long Island.
According to Grimm, the planned route will avoid residential, commercial and environmentally sensitive areas.
The measure was sponsored by Grimm and introduced with Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) and Robert Turner (R-Brooklyn/Queens).
But even as city officials earn high marks for environmental awareness, critics say New York is moving too slowly to address the potential for flooding that could paralyze transportation, cripple the low-lying financial district and temporarily drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
The NY Times, eviscerates Bloomberg’s record on storm prep, climate adaptation, and urban resilience.
Only a year ago, they point out, the city shut down the subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. Ultimately, the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and spared the city, but it exposed how New York is years away from — and billions of dollars short of — armoring itself.
“They lack a sense of urgency about this,” said Douglas Hill, an engineer with the Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University, on Long Island.
Yet again, excellent climate-impact coverage from Bloomberg. I find that Bloomberg journalists skillfully weave economic impacts from climate change. They make their points come alive by highlighting both the economic and environmental impacts that a particular person or community is dealing with. This piece zooms in on corn farmers in Kansas adapting to a new climate reality, then zooms out to discuss the regional impacts of adapting new crops. Good stuff!
Shifts such as these reflect a view among food producers that this summer’s drought in the U.S. — the worst in half a century — isn’t a random disaster. It’s a glimpse of a future altered by climate change that will affect worldwide production.
“These changes are happening faster than plants can adapt, so we will see substantial impacts on global growing patterns,” said Axel Schmidt, a former senior scientist for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture now with Catholic Relief Services.
While there is still debate about how human activity is altering the climate, agriculture is already adapting to shifting weather patterns…
Climate change will probably push corn-growing regions north while making alternatives to the grain more important elsewhere, said John Soper, the vice president of crop genetics research and development for Pioneer, the seed division of DuPont Co. The company’s researchers anticipate more corn in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, traditional Canadian wheat-growing areas, while sorghum and sunflowers may experience a revival in Kansas as rainfall declines and irrigation becomes less practical, he said.
The company is developing new varieties of corn, both in traditional hybrid and genetically modified seeds, while boosting research in sorghum and other crops that don’t need irrigation in areas where they’re expected to make a comeback, he said.
Still, fighting drought with better seeds and new trade sources only mitigates the effects of climate change, said Roger Beachy, the first head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture and now a plant biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis. New crops — and new markets for those crops — will be needed to ease what will be a wrenching transition for some farmers and consumers, he said.
Read the rest at Bloomberg
Poaching and illegal trade of endangered animals worth $6 to 8$ billion, and expected to rise as China’s economy continues to advance. This report by Bloomberg eludes to ‘research tiger farms’ are actually cover for a trading infrastructure of illegal tiger parts.
Wow! Whoa! Wow! Whoa! Buuutttt, can it survive a hurricane? What about sea level rise? Storm surge? High winds? Lightning strikes? Those look like some flimsy trusses to me…
Wowowowowowowow GET EXCITED PEOPLE!!!The already magical Staten Island Ferry is gonna be approximately
101000 times more rad in early 2016.
The New York Wheel will be 625 feet tall (the London Eye is only 443 feet tall) and the Designer outlet shopping center will have 100 stores. THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT!!!
The NYTimes rebukes Bloomberg’s climate efforts as weak and slow. With countless people’s lives and livelihoods and billions of dollars in property at stake, adaptation projects need higher priority, the author argues.
Officials in New York caution that adapting a city of eight million people to climate change is infinitely more complicated and that the costs must be weighed against the relative risks of flooding. The last time a hurricane made landfall directly in New York City was more than a century ago.
Many decisions also require federal assistance, like updated flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that incorporate sea level rise, and agreement from dozens of public agencies and private partners that own transportation, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructure.
“It’s a million small changes that need to happen,” said Adam Freed, until August the deputy director of the city’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “Everything you do has to be a calculation of the risks and benefits and costs you face.”
And in any case, Mr. Freed said, “you can’t make a climate-proof city.”
So city officials are pursuing a so-called resilience strategy that calls for strengthening the city’s ability to weather the effects of serious flooding and recover from it.
Unlike New Orleans, New York City is above sea level. Yet the city is second only to New Orleans in the number of people living less than four feet above high tide — nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, according to the research group Climate Central.
Via NYTimes steady rebuke of Bloomberg’s climate plans New York Faces Rising Seas and Slow City Action
The waters on the city’s doorstep have been rising roughly an inch a decade over the last century as oceans have warmed and expanded. But according to scientists advising the city, that rate is accelerating, because of environmental factors, and levels could rise two feet higher than today’s by midcentury. More frequent flooding is expected to become an uncomfortable reality.
With higher seas, a common storm could prove as damaging as the rare big storm or hurricane is today, scientists say. Were sea levels to rise four feet by the 2080s, for example, 34 percent of the city’s streets could lie in the flood-risk zone, compared with just 11 percent now, a 2011 study commissioned by the state said.
Disaster Declared in 26 States as Drought Sears U.S.
“More than 1,000 counties in 26 states are being named natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as drought grips the Midwest”
“The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. Our organization’s global field staff works with city governments, supported by our technical experts across a range of program areas.
The C40 was created in 2005 by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, and forged a partnership in 2006 with the Cities program of President Clinton’s Climate Initiative (CCI) to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. Under the leadership of then Mayor of Toronto David Miller, who served after Mayor Livingstone as C40 Chair, the organization advanced programs and partnerships that drew international recognition for the role of cities as leaders in climate action. C40 was further strengthened in 2011 via a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the full integration of the CCI Cities Program.
The current chair of the C40 is New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who – with the support the C40 executive leadership team — guides the work of the C40, along with the members of the C40 Steering Committee: Berlin, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, London, New York City, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Tokyo.”
Read more at the C40 website.