5 September 2018   Leave a comment

There is an interesting proposal in the US Congress to build “concrete seawalls, earthen barriers, floating gates and steel levees on the Texas Gulf Coast.”  The purpose of these projects is to build property coast from the devastating effects of storm surges and storm damage that may be getting worse because of climate change.  There is little question that property damage from storms like Harvey and Sandy was extensive and that the US must take steps to minimize the damage as much as possible.  But what makes the proposal so interesting and difficult to think about is that much of the property being protected are oil refineries which produce the very fuels that aggravate climate change through greenhouse gases.  Do we build these structures in order to protect the oil industry?  Do we build these structures to protect an energy that most Americans use on a daily basis?  Or do we build these structures in order to protect ordinary property owners who have nothing to do with the oil industry?  According to the AP:

“Construction in Texas could begin in several months on the three sections of storm barrier. While plans are still being finalized, some dirt levees will be raised to about 17 feet high, and 6 miles of 19-foot-tall floodwalls would be built or strengthened around Port Arthur, a Texas-Louisiana border locale of pungent chemical smells and towering knots of steel pipes.

“The town of 55,000 includes the Saudi-controlled Motiva oil refinery, the nation’s largest, as well as refineries owned by oil giants Valero Energy Corp. and Total S.A. There are also almost a dozen petrochemical facilities.”

One way to think about this plan is to pose the question of whether such structures would be built in the absence of the oil industry’s interests.  If the answer to that question is no, then perhaps the oil industry should be expected to pay a larger share of the projects’ costs.

Areas of Southeast US Susceptible to Storm Surge Damage


Three months ago, US President Trump believed that his meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, had made significant progress in deescalating the conflict with North Korea:

“There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” (Tweet, June 13)

And the big thing is, it will be a total denuclearization, which is already starting taking place. (Cabinet meeting, June 21)

“I have solved that problem. Now, we’re getting it memorialized and all, but that problem is largely solved, and part of the reason is we signed, number one, a very good document.” (Remarks to reporters, June 15)

Those predictions were premature.  The evidence suggests that there has been little progress in the negotiations.  Some analysts believe that it is the US that is dragging its feet, not North Korea.   According to Global Post:

“In short, it’s a trust issue: North Korea has been accused of continuing its nuclear program, and the White House is committed to choking the country with economic sanctions until it’s completely shuttered. But from North Korea’s perspective, the United States has done very little to show its good faith: Since his meeting with Trump, Kim Jong-un has returned the remains of US soldiersdismantled missile-testing facilities and reeled in some of the anti-American rhetoric. Meanwhile, the US hasn’t done much other than halt its joint military exercises with South Korea.

“’If you add up these confidence-building measures, North Korea has done a lot more than the US has reciprocated — and we don’t know if the US is not making good on something it said it would do,’ said Jenny Town, a research analyst at the Stimson Center and managing editor of the analysis site 38 North. ‘And none of [North Korea’s concessions] are reducing North Korea’s core nuclear capabilities, but they weren’t meant to. These are trust-building measures so that we can move forward. … I think people just have really bad, unrealistic expectations of what North Korea is supposed to be doing after the Singapore summit.’”

Global Post“Nuclear Decision Game” has a for those of you who wish to try out your decision-making abilities in a crisis.

Posted September 5, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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