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A publication of the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association.
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October 2018 
WRDA 'Authorizes' water projects

     Senate Bill S-3021, introduced June 7, 2018, by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, has been sent to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.  The bill is something of an oddity in the current political climate, getting a 99-1 vote in the Senate and a unanimous House voice vote in August.
     Officially titled America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018/Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA 2018, the bill authorizes 15 water infrastructure projects related to flood control, navigation, hydropower, drinking water, and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

     WRDA 2018 also authorizes at least $9 billion for Army Corps of Engineers civil-works projects and Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water and sewer-overflow control programs.  The operative word here, of course, is “authorizes.”  Projects still need funding before contracts can be let.
     Sponsors of the bill say it will make sure that the U.S. maintains competitive coastal and inland ports and maintains the navigability inland waterways.  There is also a new framework which provides more local shareholder input and better process transparency.  S-3021 also deauthorizes billions of dollars in older projects to make the bill fiscally responsible.

     The Waterways Council Inc., says as important as the bill’s provisions is what WRDA does not contain, especially no language that would allow lockage fees or tolls on inland waterways.  Three current projects received modifications, including the Chickamauga Lock so the project can continue once it has reached its original authorized price tag.
     WRDA 2018 also directs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to evaluate the Corps of Engineers organizational structure in its Civil Works area.  NAS is asked to identify impediments to efficient project delivery, and provide recommendations to Congress.
 
UMWA elects 2019 slate
     At its 92nd annual meeting the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association fielded a strong field of leaders for 2019.  They include Taylor Luke, LS Marine, Chair of the Board of Directors; Doug Hosszu, Upper River Services, President; Tom Burrows, Aggregate Industries, Vice President; Scott Dohmen, CF Industries, Secretary; and Kathryn Sarnecki, St. Paul Port Authority, Treasurer.  
     Members of the Executive Committee include Mark Caspers, CCI; Al Christopherson, Producer; Ben Doane, CHS Inc.; Paul Freeman, Minnesota Soybean Growers; Gregory Genz, Kaposia Marine; Jack Holm, Lafarge Holcim; David Johnson, Tow, Inc.; Mike Noonan, Portable Barge Service; Ryan Pecinovsky, Pile Drivers Local 1847; Rick Voigt, Voigt Consultants; Mark Wegner, Twin Cities & Western Railroad; Mike Wilson, Wilson Oil.
 
From the Executive Director . . .
 
The Sun’s Heartbeat
      “With the world on the brink of failure to control global warming, nations must take unprecedented actions to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade” . . . to meet the ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris Accord, according to a recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific body studying climate change.
 
     The most striking part is that the report says the world’s CO2 emissions, which are now about to exceed 40 billion tons per year would have to plunge down steeply by the year 2030 to achieve 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit or to allow only a brief “overshoot” of the target and that “net zero must be the new global mantra.”
     However, to keep from racing upwards past the 2.7 number would “require a rapid and far reaching transformation of human civilization at a magnitude that has never happened before” and that “there is no documented historic precedent” that would enable energy, transportation and other systems to make that transformation.
     If not for similar statements by NOAA reaching back to the mid 1970s, this IPCC document reported by the Washington Post would seem to be just another the-sky-is-falling distraction; but consider the following.
 
     Five nations: China, United States, the European Union, India and Russia, account for the production of roughly two-thirds of the globe’s 36 billion tons of CO2 per year (2015).  While this shows a few signs of slowing, the prospects for meeting the most ambitious goals of the Paris Accord look exceedingly slim.
     At the same time, the article continued, the IPCC’s report is being received with hope in some quarters because it affirms that 2.7 degrees F is still possible.  If emissions stopped today, the planet would not reach a more dangerous temperature.
 
Increasing world population
     The Washington Post article continues by stating that the radical transformation to obtain a net zero temperature increase would have to recognize that in a world projected to have 2 billion more people by 2050, large sections of land used to produce food would instead have to be converted to growing trees that store carbon and crops designated for energy use.  Such large transitions create profound challenges for the demands on land for human settlements, food, livestock, feed, fiber, bioenergy carbon storage, and other ecosystem services required for human existence.
 
     In its summary for policymakers:  the world will need to develop large scale “negative emissions” programs to remove significant volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  However, while the basic technologies exist, they have not caught on widely and a number of scientists have strongly questioned whether we can scale up in the brief time period available, suggesting that even three decades is not enough time to reduce the risks of extreme heat and weather events as global temperatures rise. 
Instead, renewal energy would need to be increased by more than 100 percent, coal and gas plants still in operation would have to be equipped with carbon capture and storage technology to force clean carbon from their exhaust and funnel it to be buried underground. 
      At a time when more cars and other transportation forms need to be electrified by renewal energy well beyond their present 4 percent usage, the World Coal Association challenges the report by claiming reduction of carbon must focus on emissions rather than fuel, the report continued.
 
     In support, last week Andrew Wheller, EPA’s acting director, said the U.S. will “continue to remain engaged in the U.N.’s effort” despite the fact that President Trump said he intends to withdraw from the Paris Accord as soon as legally possible.  However Wheeler declined to say what it would take to keep the world from dangerous levels of climate change, and that the EPA’s regulatory approach is to allow the coal industry “to continue to innovate on clean coal technologies, and those technologies will be exported to other countries.”
 
     Pundits of all stripes are having a field day with the IPCC’s report, stating that even if technically possible, the goals are not politically probable, without aligning the technical, political and social interests.
 
If Federal Law does not act States must
     As if on cue, a Minneapolis area youth-in-action group is worried about the dire consequence the IPPC’s vision will have on their future and have asked leaders and policymakers to earnestly “envision such a future through our eyes.”  They have also asked Minnesota to join 10 other states and several Canadian provinces in creating enforceable greenhouse gas emission limits.  In addition they are calling on the next Minnesota Governor to take executive action directing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to create stronger rules to limit greenhouse gas pollution.
 
     As published in a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article, the youth group states that since federal leadership continue to make decisions to worsen climate change, we need our state and local governments to take bold action to ‘decarbonize’ our way of living – and that young people are already leading in many ways including the presentation of a “Youth Climate Inheritance Resolution” to the state legislature to aim for net zero greenhouse gas emissions within a decade.

     And, according to the Tribune article, the group is declaring solidarity with 21 young people who have initiated a lawsuit which continues on Oct. 29 in Oregon.  In Juliana vs. United States, they are suing the federal government on the basis that despite its ever-increasing body of knowledge about the causes and likely outcome of climate changes, federal leaders have not done enough to limit and reduce carbon emissions thereby failing to protect the constitutional right of today’s youth to life, liberty and happiness. 
     Given that the case was initiated in 2016, it may well have a greater impact on future U.S. climate change legislation than the more publicized 2015 Paris Accord.
 
NOAA
     Here’s how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sums up the issue as stated in The Sun’s Heartbeat,  a non-fiction novel published in 2011.
     *The influence of carbon dioxide does not come and go.  Rather, its levels before 1975 were small enough that its effects were usually dwarfed and masked by other factors.  That’s why temperatures during the first 79 years of the 20th century marched up and down with the Sun’s changing irradiance.  Only in mid-1990 did CO2 finally reach a level where it had a greater overall effect on climate than the Sun’s variability.
 
     *The solar and carbon lines crossed in 1994.  The nonsolar carbon effect will get stronger with time and will be predictable.  Unlike the other climate influences (El Nino, volcanic dust, etc) greenhouse gasses act on the colder half of our planet, and the effects manifest a rise in a region’s minimum temperatures.  Carbon sneaks in and does its work at night.
 
     *This is why nearly everyone in the media gets the story wrong.  Record heat in June and July 2010 caused many commentators to suggest that perhaps climate change was responsible [for the heat] after all.  But actual greenhouse gas global warming does not make summer days hotter.  Rather, it makes winter nights not as cold.  This being so, it tends to escape our awareness.
 
     *The Sun’s variable brightness, mitigated by ocean currents and volcanoes, dominated the global climate picture from the dawn of Earth until the mid-1990s.  Only then did the Sun get relegated to second place, a new, lower status it will endure for the rest of our lives, and those of our children and great-grandchildren.
 
     *Human-caused climate change has now become the biggest player in global heating.  If carbon emissions go unchecked, all indicators predict positive feedback loops:  melting polar ice creates dark-water oceans that absorb more heat, which melts more ice and more permafrost, which release more methane and on it goes until the world is 6 to 10 degrees warmer, mostly due to warmer winter lows at middle and high latitudes.
 
     *Climate change will then be irreversible, no matter what we do.  Those are conditions our planet has not seen for three million years.  The results will be spectacular.  Rising sea levels will be the lease of them.  More prominent will be weather extremes with violent and unaccustomed outbursts.  Most prominent will be biological blights and diseases, as previously cold-hating pathogens spread to tasty new organisms in the plant and animal kingdoms.      Hardest hit will be the western half of the United States, Canada and central Russia.
     The affect on the eastern U.S. will be minimal with ample rainfall and only a 4 degree F temperature boost.  That means winter nighttime lows [in the Eastern U.S] will go from the present 12 degree F to 20 degree F. while summer temperatures will scarcely budge from where they are today.
 
     *One thing is for sure:  by producing sunspot cycles with lower peaks and deeper valleys, the Sun has come to our rescue by partially counteracting human fossil fuel emissions.  Most solar experts think the Sun might be entering an extended state of recent cooldown that will continue; the one bright possibility on the issue of climate change.
 
Disclaimer: Thoughts and opinions expressed in this column are those of its author and not necessarily those of the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association or its members.
 
 
(Above)  High water has again temporarily closed the Upper Mississippi from L&D 16 south to L&D 24.  See 'Items of Interest' below for additional information. 
 
Other Items of Interest...

*
   During the latest siege of high water on the Upper Mississippi, the Christian Science Monitor noted that Davenport, Iowa, is the only major city between Bemidji, Minnesota and St. Louis, Mo., without levees or floodwalls.  The paper says Davenport designed its downtown area to be floodable.  And a recent series in the Quad City Times showed how this is working during the current high water.  The Corps of Engineers has closed locks, starting with L&D 16 near Davenport, south to 24 below Hannibal, Mo.

*   While the Corps of Engineers studies the future of the Minneapolis locks and dams, hydropower proponents say a return to a “wild” river would be costly.  Andy Davis of Brookfield Renewable, a Canadian energy company, recently told twincities.com he was shocked when he heard that removal was being considered.  The three hydroplants at Lock and Dam 1 and Upper and Lower St. Antony Falls, produce 42 megawatts of energy per hour, or about 368,000 megawatt hours a year, which Davis says is enough to power 30,000 homes.

  *   Although its on the other end of the system, the Soy Transportation Coalition supports dredging the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, La., to the Gulf of Mexico to a 50 foot depth.  Mike Steenhoek says that will make the whole system, including the Upper River work better.  That project moved closer to reality when the Army’s Senior Civil Engineer recently approved the recommendation. 

*   The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Minnesota Section gives Minnesota’s infrastructure an overall grade of “C.”   Among the findings, ASCE says the majority of Minnesota’s dams are over 50 years old and beyond their design life.

*   A recently approved Missouri River study will apparently trigger some lawsuits.  The North Dakota Industrial Commission adopted the findings of a Missouri River study by Wenck Associates, which was charged with looking into the accuracy of a 1950 Army Corps of Engineers survey.  The survey was taken before Garrison Dam created Lake Sakakawea and the current study found that North Dakota owns about 9,500 more acres than the federal survey of the river showed.  One attorney says that amounts to a "a blatant taking" of land.
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