chennai: ‘14,000-cr Surat-Chennai economic corridor hits environmental hurdle

Months ahead of assembly elections in Gujarat, a key segment of the ambitious Surat-Chennai economic corridor has hit a serious green hurdle.

The near Rs 14,000 crore project has run into trouble with the Union Environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Infrastructure projects, over its proposed 290 km long greenfield Surat-Nashik-Ahmednagar section which falls in pristine and untouched areas of the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.

The EAC has, in a July 21-22 meeting, said that the stakeholder ministry / department should upgrade on the existing National Highway alignment instead of running into ‘virgin and ecologically sensitive new parts of Western Ghat areas’.

Given the significance of the corridor, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) are preparing to ‘appeal’ with the Environment ministry to reconsider its view and allow leeway for the national connectivity project which will ultimately link up Delhi to Chennai through an access-controlled corridor, ET has learned.

The project has also been a major political and economic talking point for the infrastructure boost it will bring to the region.

“We will appeal with the EAC. Packages for so many segments linking up to this corridor have already been awarded. This was to be an access-controlled expressway- a key link off the Golden Quadrilateral for national connectivity. We are very mindful of environmental However, there is no other alternative alignment possible and upgrading the existing one defeats the very purpose of the corridor “, a senior official told ET.

The EAC has also noted in its July 21 meeting that the total travel length of the existing road (NH-848) – Surat-Mumbai- is 136 Kms while the proposed greenfield is 107 Kms. The likely travel time after improvement on existing road is 3 hours but a greenfield corridor would bring it down to 1 hr 10 min.

However, the EAC has opined that this ‘marginal reduction’ of travel length and time in the new proposed alignment, is expected to ‘overweigh the cost of environmental damages to the Western Ghat in the existing alignment’.

It has further observed that developmental activities in virgin and ecologically sensitive new parts of Western Ghat areas around the proposed alignment will overweigh the damages caused by the option of retrofitting / improving / upgrading the existing road / alignment.

It has, accordingly, advised that the NHAI instead work on and finalize the existing alignment in all respect instead of pursuing the greenfield alignment through the Western Ghats.

The issue has been coming back and forth to the EAC since November 2021.

The EAC had then noted that the 70 meter Right of Way planned for the corridor would have a ‘high impact’ to the environment as it would pass through 428 hectares of forest land and directly affect over 265 ha area, cross rivers like Ambika, Kaveri , Kharera, Sasu, Man, Par, Godavari, Mula and Dev Nandi and impact over 14,000 trees. Tunnels planned would impact the water drain age in the region and any new alignment in the Western Ghats would have a ‘negative impact’ on the environment.

It had constituted a sub committee as well for a site visit which was conducted on April 20-21.

The NHAI had then submitted that the affected forest area and water bodies as well as structures would be far lesser on the new alignment vis a vis upgradation of the existing NH 848 in the Western Ghats region.

The subcommittee, however, felt that there were ‘few marginal advantages’ on the proposed greenfield alignment across all aspects.

It had also said that while affected forest area is more on the existing alignment, developmental activity has been ongoing there and upgrading it will at least ‘spare the pristine area of ​​the proposed alignment’.

Officials from MORTH and NHAI, on the other hand, point out that upgrading the exiting NH 848 will defeat the very purpose as the greenfield Surat-Ahmednagar economic corridor is part of the larger access controlled connectivity plan between Delhi and Chennai and is crucial to ease the heavy traffic off the Surat-Maharashtra border on the existing highway.

They also point out that environmental impact and damage will be more in upgrading the NH 848 in the western ghat terrain vis a vis the tunnel and viaduct approach planned for the new alignment.

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The ESG Narrative Is A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – Bitcoin Magazine

This is an opinion editorial by Macro Jack, a Bitcoiner with a background in traditional financial services spanning investment research, investor relations and business development.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is an approach to evaluate companies or countries based on their alignment with these three factors. Growing in popularity in recent years, ESG has become a globally adopted framework and a focal point of capital allocation. The concept sounds harmless on paper since most people are good and want to advance environmental or social issues. Even better if we can do it through investments. However, introducing a monetary reward for ESG’s disciples introduces a whole new set of incentives that have likely not been thoroughly examined by the investment community.

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OPG reports on Environmental, Social, and Governance performance

Highlights progress on climate change, ED&I, and Reconciliation

TORONTO, Aug. 18, 2022 / CNW / – Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has released its inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report, outlining the company’s 2021 ESG performance and practices, including its industry-leading climate change initiatives, progress toward becoming a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse employer, as well as the actions underway as part of its Reconciliation Action Plan.

Recently approved by OPG’s Board of Directors, the report also highlights the wide range of direct and indirect contributions to the province’s economy, community wellbeing and social fabric. Other key elements covered under the ESG pillars include:

  • How OPG is leading the clean energy transition through power generation, new technology development, electrification initiatives, and operational excellence, while ensuring strong environmental protection and enhancement, and biodiversity stewardship;
  • How OPG works to be a safety leader and a trusted partner, neighbor, advocate, employer, and steward of resources;
  • How the company conducts itself with honesty and integrity, carries out business with transparency, protects critical infrastructure, and ensures diligent oversight of systems and processes.

Quick facts

The report is based on a snapshot in time, covering the 2021 calendar year, but includes links to www.opg.com where current data, performance, and real-life stories can be accessed and are regularly updated.

Many of OPG’s priorities in ESG areas are laid out in plans released over the past two years, including:

  • OPG’s Climate Change Plan, released in 2020, an ambitious blueprint which sets out two goals: to become a net-zero company by 2040 and help the economies in which OPG operates achieve net-zero by 2050;
  • OPG’s Reconciliation Action Plan, which guides OPG’s work with Indigenous communities, businesses and organizations to advance Reconciliation in a meaningful way, including a commitment to grow our economic impact for Indigenous communities and businesses to $ 1 billion over the next 10 years; and,
  • OPG’s ED&I Strategy, which outlines OPG’s goal to become one of Canada’s best diversity employers by 2023 and a global leader in ED&I best practices by 2030. While much work remains, OPG has made progress across the organization, including at the leadership tables: currently more than 60 per cent of the company’s Board of Directors and 50 per cent of its executive team are made up of leaders representing designated groups, including women and racialized people.

Quotes

“Ensuring strong ESG performance is not just a priority for OPG – it’s a core value,” said OPG Board Chair Wendy Kei. “That’s why we’ve integrated ESG principles into our corporate strategy, business model, risk management framework, policy requirements and performance targets. This is how OPG will help address the challenge of our lifetime – climate change – while ensuring OPG remains a sustainable, socially responsible, and beneficial company for communities and Indigenous partners. “

“OPG takes great pride in producing reliable, clean and low-cost electricity in a safe and sustainable manner,” said President and CEO Ken Hartwick. “This report details how we do that while continuing our journey to becoming a more equitable, inclusive, diverse and socially responsible company. This is not just good business – it’s the foundation to building a brighter tomorrow.”

“While OPG has significant, ongoing initiatives that incorporate ESG into our business and corporate strategy, we’ve also incorporated ESG practices into our everyday decision-making,” said Carlton Mathias, OPG’s incoming Chief Legal, ESG and Governance Officer. “The company has made good strides but there is much work still to be done and we are committed to being transparent on our progress.”

About OPG

As a climate change leader and the largest electricity generator in the province, OPG and its family of companies are helping lead the charge to a post-carbon economy.

SOURCE Ontario Power Generation Inc.

For further information: Ontario Power Generation, 416-592-4008 or 1-877-592-4008, Follow us @opg

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Environmental consulting group will help water board secure grants for projects

The Nye County Water District has been in operation for more than a decade and while the body has managed to accomplish certain items in that time, much of its duties have gone unmet. This was one of the reasons behind the decision to recall all of the water board’s members in late 2021 and essentially reestablish a new board. That board is now is working to remedy previous issues and one path it is pursuing is additional funding sources that can help expand the water district’s ability to meet its mission statement.

Eileen Christensen, president and principal of BEC Environmental, went before the water board last month to offer her company’s services to assist with the board’s desire to identify potential grants.

“We are an environmental consulting group that has a multi-discipline team. We were established in 2002 and our first client was actually Nye County, developing a brownfields grant, ”Christensen explained, noting that since its inception, her company has secured about $ 17.1 million to support various programs in Nye County and elsewhere in the state.

She turned it over to Amberlee Mahaffey, who said she was aware of a variety of different grants that are available on a yearly basis that could be a good fit for the district, as well as many others that have recently become available due to federal acts . There are even revolving loan funds that could also be secured, Mahafeey said.

“Many of these things are open to you. It’s just a matter of understanding what exactly you are looking for, ”Christensen remarked. “I know that you are still a new board and you are still forming but it sounds like you are moving in a positive direction and as you have the need, we would love to be able to service what those needs are.”

Water board member Michael Lach noted that he invited Christensen to make the presentation. He said he was familiar with her and had watched her secure monies for a wide array of projects. This was a skill he felt could be very beneficial to the water district.

“At this point in time, the federal government has been throwing money to the states and to a lot of projects,” Lach stated. “And I think we would be remiss, when looking at our budget of approximately $ 300,000 a year, not to go after additional funding for a number of things we could direct them to go look for. Because with $ 300,000 a year, we’re not going to be able to do anything major with the monies we have. “

Christensen was back before the water board on Aug. 9 with a Master Services Agreement up for consideration, along with what would be the first work order under that contract. She emphasized that while there are obviously grants the water district may wish to seek on their own behalf, there are others that have already been or will be awarded to entities that the water district could then work with in utilizing those funds. She and her team di lei would be striving to bring all those options to the water board’s attention.

Water board member Bruce Holden said he believed it would be best to hold off on approval of the contract until the board is able to create a list of potential project ideas, adding that this would give BEC some definitive direction.

Lach, however, asserted that this was BEC’s area of ​​expertise, stressing that their team is much more equipped to find pertinent grants than the board members would be. Water district general manager Dann Weeks said that BEC would be compiling such a list and would bring it to the board for its prioritization, which would then give the board a better idea of ​​just what it can do in terms of programs and projects.

When Holden continued to press his point, Lach interjected that grants are time-sensitive so he wanted to move forward immediately. He made the motion to approve the Master Services Agreement, as well as work order No. 1 with a not-to-exceed amount of $ 8,900. That motion passed with all in favor.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com.

Mahone Bay ‘living shoreline’ pilot project aims to reduce coastal erosion

Volunteers and an environmental organization have come together to help protect the scenic South Shore town of Mahone Bay from rising sea levels and storm surges caused by climate change.

A pilot project ‘living shoreline’ was installed along a 60-meter stretch of Edgewater Street in front of the town’s iconic three churches. it was led by Mahone Bay-based environmental organization Coastal Action.

Samantha Battaglia, the climate change team lead at Coastal Action, told CBC Radio’s Mainstreet NS that living shorelines can take many forms and incorporate a “suite of techniques” to minimize coastal erosion.

The Mahone Bay project includes rock sills, a tidal wetland and a vegetated bank, Battaglia said.

“The rock sills are hard engineering structures, and they run parallel to the shoreline and … will help you to reduce wave energy and storm surge impacts,” she said.

“In between the rock sills and the shoreline bank, we’ve installed a tidal wetland, and the tidal wetland is planted out with various perennials and native grasses.”

Before the installation of the living shoreline the stretch was protected by rocks. (Coastal Action)

According to Battaglia, the wetland will provide a valuable habitat for fish and bird species.

The third part of the project, the vegetated bank, is planted with various native shrubs and perennials and will help stabilize the soil, she said.

Storm surge impacts

Danika van Proosdij, a professor at Saint Mary’s University and director of the TransCoastal Adaptation Center for Nature-based Solutions, told Mainstreet NS host Jeff Douglas that section of Mahone Bay is at risk of storm surge impacts.

“It has experienced some as well heavy rainfall coming off of it and going over the parking lot surfaces also brings in a lot of runoff from that area,” van Proosdij said.

“One of the other things that the living shoreline will do will help to reduce the silt coming into the harbor itself, to improve the water quality.”

According to van Proosdij, the project also has the additional benefit of creating a more natural area which is aesthetically pleasing.

The ability of marshes to slow down wave energy has been known for some time, Van Proosdij said, and she is confident the project will prove effective.

Well established in 3 years

She said the installation will require some repairs and alterations for the first two years but by the third year the vegetation should have established itself and would be able to provide all its “protective and habitat and carbon sequestration functions.”

Battaglia said about 55 volunteers came out over two days to plant 1,200 salt-tolerant native perennials and grasses in the intertidal area.

The community has been very supportive and, Battaglia said, the project was educational and helped ignite stewardship.

Volunteers came out for two days to plant 1,200 grasses and perennials to recreate a living shoreline in Mahone Bay. (Coastal Action and Gabriel Harding)

The project is based on a 2016 plan submitted by environmental design firm CBCL Ltd., according to Battaglia, but it took six years to get funding.

Funding for the project was eventually obtained from the Intact Foundation in 2020 and the installation was completed at the end of July.

Battaglia said the project is scalable along the entire shoreline next to Edgewater Street.

“We’re hoping that this specific pilot project will help increase visibility of this project and understanding of nature-based solutions … and help kick-start a much larger adaptation initiative along this entire 700 meter stretch in Mahone Bay Harbor.”

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Is the US Finally Poised to Tackle Climate Change? (Corporate Environmental Lawyer) | Jenner & Block

In a compromise move many months in the making, on August 7, 2022, the Senate passed a spending bill dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which contains provisions aimed at lowering drug prices and health care premiums, reducing inflation, and most notably for our readers, investing approximately $ 369 billion in energy security and climate change programs over the next ten years. The Inflation Reduction Act, which is the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Reconciliation bill, passed on entirely partisan lines in the Senate, with all 50 Democratic senators voting in favor, all 50 Republicans voting against, and Vice President Harris breaking the tie in favor of the Democrats. The bill is currently pending before the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be hotly contested but ultimately pass.

According to Senate Democratsthe Inflation Reduction Act “would put the US on a path to roughly 40% emissions reduction [below 2005 levels] by 2030, and would represent the single biggest climate investment in US history, by far. ” There are a wide variety of programs in this bill aimed at achieving these lofty goals, including:

  • Clean Building and Vehicle Incentives
    • Consumer home energy rebate programs and tax credits, to electrify home appliances, for energy efficient retrofits, and make homes more energy efficient.
    • Tax credits for purchasing new and used “clean” vehicles.
    • Grants to make affordable housing more energy efficient.
  • Clean Energy Investment
    • Tax credits to accelerate manufacturing and build new manufacturing plants for clean energy like electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels.
    • Grants and loans to retool or build new vehicle manufacturing plants to manufacture clean vehicles.
    • Funding for EPA, DOE and NOAA to facilitate faster siting and permitting of new energy generation and transmission projects.
    • Investment in the National Labs to accelerate breakthrough energy research.
  • Reducing Carbon Emissions Throughout the Economy
    • Tax credits for states and electric utilities to accelerate the transition to clean electricity.
    • Grants and tax credits to reduce emissions from industrial manufacturing processes like chemical, steel and cement plants.
    • Funding for Federal procurement of American-made clean technologies to create a stable market for clean products — including purchasing zero-emission postal vehicles.
  • Environmental Justice
    • Investment in community led projects in disadvantaged communities, including projects aimed at affordable transportation access.
    • Grants to support the purchase of zero-emission equipment and technology at ports.
    • Grants for clean heavy-duty trucks, like busses and garbage trucks.
  • Farm and Rural Investment
    • Funding to support climate-smart agriculture practices and forest conservation.
    • Tax credits and grants to support the domestic production of biofuels.
    • Grants to conserve and restore coastal habitats.
    • Requires sale of 60 million acres to oil and gas industry for offshore wind lease issuance.

Drilling down on some of these many provisions, the clean vehicle consumer tax credit has already sparked controversy due to the requirement that certain manufacturing or components be sourced in North America. The Inflation Reduction Act would maintain the existing $ 7,500 consumer tax credit for the purchase of a qualified new clean vehicle. The Act would get rid of the previous limit that a single manufacturer could only offer up to 200,000 clean vehicle tax credits — a limit that many manufacturers were hitting. However, under the new bill, that tax credit is reduced or eliminated for electric vehicles if the vehicle is not assembled in North America or if the majority of battery components are sourced outside of North America and if a certain percentage of the critical minerals utilized in battery components are not extracted or processed in a Free Trade Agreement country or recycled in North America. Manufacturers have indicated these battery sourcing requirements are currently difficult to meet, and may result in many electric vehicles being ineligible for this tax credit in the near term.

Another controversial point in the Act is the handling of oil and gas rights vis-à-vis wind farm projects. The Act would allow the sale of tens of millions of acres of public waters to the oil and gas industry as part of an overall plan to require offshore oil and gas projects to allow installation of wind turbines. A group of 350 climate groups, including Senator Bernie Sanders, criticized this and other provisions they saw as favorable to the oil and gas industry in the Act. Despite his criticism of certain aspects of the Inflation Reduction Act, Senator Sanders ultimately voted for the bill .

The House is expect to vote on the Inflation Reduction Act very soon and if it is passed by the House, President Biden will sign it into law. We will continue to track the Act’s progress and its impact on the regulated community.

Warning as heatwave could spark cliff falls on England’s south coast | Environment

Experts are urging the public to be hypervigilant on south coast beaches as this week’s heatwave could trigger cliff collapses.

One geologist said the area seemed the most vulnerable and beachgoers should take heed of official guidance.

A collapse of Sidmouth cliff in Devon on Monday was the second large landslide along the Jurassic coast in two weeks.

Dorset council has a warning in place appealing to beachgoers to take extra precautions, while Rural East Devon police advised the public not to walk on the beach east of Sidmouth because the unstable cliffs could fall suddenly.

Dr Vanessa Banks, an engineering geologist with the British Geological Survey, (BGS) said: “I walk along a beach as a geologist and I am genuinely shocked that people don’t appreciate the overhangs above them sometimes. That’s because I have the training, and other people are looking at the rocks for their beauty.

“But the councils have gone out of their way to try to communicate with the public and it would be good to see the public engaging with those notices, and reflecting on them.”

The BGS is to issue social media messages asking people to take care as the temperature continues to climb this week.

“The difficulty is, we can’t tell exactly where these incidents are going to occur, therefore it is important that people take care themselves,” Banks said. “They can’t tell themselves, because the cracks that are forming in the cliff top are not visible to the beach user.”

There had been “limited research” into thermal impact into landsliding but there was some evidence suggesting an association. The more clay-like components of sediments shrink through losing moisture during these hot, dry periods, while other rocks expand in the heat, Banks said.

The south coast seemed more vulnerable, “which could be partly because of weak rocks and the covering of superficial deposits is not so thick”.

“This week, at Sidmouth, we had a formation called the Sidmouth mudstone formation, a fairly fine-growing soil, or weak rock, which overlays sandstone, again quite weak,” she said.

The cliff fall was led by processes from the top of the cliff. “That suggests the material at the top, this Sidmouth mudstone formation, is weathered, and its erosion is enabled perhaps as a consequence of some slight movement, maybe because of a change in moisture content,” she added.

If the current heatwave was followed by intense, heavy rainfall, that could also weaken the cliffs, with potential for further rock falls, she said.

The BGS is researching the impact of hot, dry weather on landslides in the context of climate change, she said. Most research had focused on heavy rainfall and flooding, which had a greater impact in terms of life and infrastructure.

Dorset council said: “In extreme temperatures, the risk of rockfalls along Dorset’s World Heritage coastline is even greater than usual. Heat causes rocks to expand and, particularly during temperature fluctuations, any pre-existing cracks can widen and new cracks can also form. This makes cliffs potentially more unstable and rockfalls more likely to happen. “

The Dorset councilor Ray Bryan, the portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “Rockfalls are entirely unpredictable and can happen at any time – but we do know which conditions make them more likely, and prolonged hot and dry spells are one of them. “

Anyone visiting the Dorset coast during the heatwave should stay away from the base of cliffs, and if walking along the coast paths keep well away from the edges, he said. “Never ignore a warning sign – they are there for your safety.”

Dorset’s coastline has a number of areas with an increased potential for rockfalls, particularly on the cliffs around Seatown, Eype, Burton Bradstock, West Cliff, East Cliff, Mupe Bay, Lulworth and Swanage, the council has said.