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Capital Report

2018:  MARCH

February 2017 Issue

Obama Signs WIIN Water
Infrastructure Act into Law

President Barack Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law as one of his last acts before leaving office. It authorizes vital water projects across the country to restore watersheds, improve waterways and flood control, and improve drinking water infrastructure. The law also authorizes $170 million for communities facing drinking water emergencies.

The law has provisions to address the continuing drought in California, including investments to promote water storage and supply, flood control, desalination and water recycling. There are also provisions governing operations of federal and state water projects under the Endangered Species Act for up to five years, regardless of drought condition.

Obama Takes Steps
To Protect Arctic

The U.S., in partnership with Canada, is taking steps to build a strong Arctic economy, preserve a healthy Arctic ecosystem and protect fragile Arctic waters, including designating the bulk of U.S. Arctic water and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing, outgoing President Barack Obama declared.

“We need to continue to move decisively away from fossil fuels,” Obama said.

In 2015, just 0.1 percent of U.S. federal offshore crude production came from the Arctic, and Department of Interior analysis shows that, at current oil prices, significant production in the Arctic will not occur. Instead of focusing on fossil fuels, investments must be made to enhance Arctic infrastructure and security, such as the acquisition of additional icebreaking capacity, and to lay the groundwork for economic growth in the industries of the future, Obama said.

California Governor Vows to
Continue Climate Change Fight

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to fight climate change, The New York Times reported. This means U.S. work on climate change issues will continue despite President Donald Trump’s opposition.

California already has a legislatively mandated target to cut carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030

“California can make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington,” Brown said.

The Trump Administration and Congress could counter California’s policies with federal policies that could reduce research funds, including those for climate and energy, and nullify state regulations on emissions.

California has one of the world’s largest economies and has been a pioneer of climate and energy policy for more than 50 years.

FERC EIS on Proposed
Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the projects proposed by Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, Dominion Transmission Inc. (DTI) and Atlantic and Piedmont Natural Gas. Co. Inc.

Atlantic seeks a certificate from FERC to construct, operate and maintain the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to deliver up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to customers in Virginia and North Carolina.

DTI seeks a certificate from FERC for its proposed Supply Header Project (SHP). DTI is also requesting authorization to abandon in place two existing gathering compressor units. The SHP will provide customers access to the Dominion South Point hub in Pennsylvania along with other interconnecting natural gas suppliers.

Atlantic and Piedmont seek a certificate to lease capacity on Piedmont’s existing pipeline distribution system as part of their proposal to provide service to North Carolina markets using additional transportation capacity on the Piedmont system.

The FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of ACP and SHP would result in temporary and permanent impacts on the environment, with some adverse effects.

However, with appropriate impact avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures, the majority of project effects would be reduced to less-than-significant levels, FERC concluded.

NPS Releases Climate Change
Strategy to Protect Cultural Resources

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) released its Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategy (CRCC Strategy), a landmark statement for the NPS.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge the National Park Service has ever faced,” said National Park Service Acting Director Michael Reynolds.

Rising sea levels, storm surge, changing precipitation patterns and Arctic snow and ice melt are among the climate change challenges affecting U.S. cultural resources. “Once lost, they are lost forever,” said Reynolds.

The CRCC Strategy’s goals are: to connect impacts and information (assess climate change effects and communicate the stories); understand the scope of climate change; integrate data into practice; and learn and share to preserve human heritage.

BOEM Denies Six G&G Permits
For Atlantic Seismic Surveys

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) denied six geophysical and geological (G&G) permit applications to conduct airgun seismic surveys in the Mid- and South Atlantic Planning Areas of the Atlantic Ocean, citing a diminished need for additional seismic survey information because the Atlantic Program Area has been removed from the 2017 to 2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

The value of the surveys does not outweigh the potential risks of the acoustic pulse impacts on marine life, BOEM concluded.

2018:  MARCH

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