Monthly Archives: January 2011

Trickle-down costs of Mississippi dredging shortfall

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal joins the growing chorus of river papers concerned about the economic effects of the “choke-off” of channel depth at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

“Port of Natchez director Anthony B. Hauer agreed. ‘If navigation availability is not perpetuated, there will be economic downturns,’ he said.

And Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce director of marketing Andy Prosser said the river’s access to export markets is critical for farmers who are, for the most part, not yet aware of the potential threat to their bottom lines.

‘Any disruption in river traffic or load traffic or cargo traffic is going to trickle down to our local economy and to farmers,’ Prosser said.”

Let’s hope the farmers’ organizations help get the word to the incoming Congress.

Waterways Spending Benefits Calculated

The folks at the Milken Institute (yes, founded by that Michael Milken) have created a report that claims to calculate the jobs and benefits for various types of infrastructure spending, the L.A. Times reports.

Here’s what caught our eye:

“Spend $100 billion on inland waterways, for example, and Milken researchers say you’ll create 2.6 million jobs and an economic output of $312 billion. Spend the same amount on onshore oil and gas exploration and development and offshore drilling, and you’ll generate just 1.9 million jobs, but the same economic output ($312 billion).”

Get the Milken report here.

Tribute to WWII Merchant Marine

The Maritime News has a tribute to the World War II merchant marine, recounting the hasty revival of old wooden-hulled barges and vessels, among other measures to counter the heavy loss of shipping in the war’s early days.

Read it to the end.

Although the merchant marine suffered a higher wartime casualty rate than any branch of service excerpt the Marines, merchant mariners never received official recognition until the 1990s, when Congress authorized some payments to those who served during the war (many of whom were dead by that time). But not the coastwise sailors, as this author documents.

Probably the best filmed tribute to the wartime merchant marine is the Lloyd Bacon-directed Action in the North Atlantic, with Humphrey Bogart as the first officer of a merchant ship and Raymond Massey as his captain.

Mine Permit Denial “Unprecedented”

A letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post points out that the EPA’s revocation of its permit to the Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia, is unprecedented. It’s worth quoting extensively:

“In examining the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority to revoke a permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Jan. 14 [Washington Post] news story “Obama administration cracks down on mountaintop mining” described the precedent of 12 such actions under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The article omitted one overridingly critical element: Those actions involved only pending approvals of permits. This is the first time the EPA has revoked a permit it had already approved during the interagency consultative process.

“Far beyond the decision’s impact on coal mining, the EPA’s ‘ends justify the means’ action sends notice to every business sector that federal permits involving environmental impacts can be overturned or revoked.”

Act Globally, Or Else?

The L.A. Times weighs in on the proposed coal export terminal in Longview, Wash., which would be the West Coast’s first.

The state of Washington’s Department of Ecology has joined permit appeals by environmental groups, partly on the grounds that Cowlitz County did not adequately consider the effects of burning the coal…in China.

“No state or federal laws require officials to review the greenhouse gas effects that U.S. projects may produce on the other side of the world,” the article says.

But that news hasn’t reached Washington’s state government. The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) of 1971 allows consideration of “presently unquantified environmental amenities and values…along with economic and technical considerations” in making environmental decisions.

And a “working paper” offering guidance to municipalities on the law’s application says, ““There is nothing unique about the SEPA process when considering greenhouses has emissions or when considering how the built environmental might be impacted by anticipated climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions.”

So it’s not (yet!) required to factor global warming into every little decision by every local government. But the vague, sweeping language leaves plenty of room for state bureaucrats to lengthen the permit process.

As the article concludes, environmental groups would like to insinuate that requirement into the permit process.