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Capital Report


January 2016 Issue

Historic Agreement
At COP21 Paris

A historic agreement to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future was agreed by 195 nations in Paris during the COP21 Climate Change Conference.

The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2° C and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover: mitigation, or reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal; a transparency system and global stock-take, or accounting for climate action; adaptation, or strengthening the ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage, or strengthening the ability to recover from climate impacts; and support, including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.

The Paris Agreement will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on April 22, 2016, Earth Day. The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55 percent of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Support for Fiscal 2016
Omnibus Bill

In reviewing the $1.15 trillion amount in the U.S. House-Senate conference agreement released for the fiscal 2016 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2029), the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) noted that there are significant funds to enhance U.S. port infrastructure. The largest increases are for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Navigation Program and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants program.

The agreement also includes level funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Port Security Grants Program.

There is $2.6 billion for Corps coastal navigation projects and studies, as well as $1.2 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, a 7.1 percent increase over the $1.12 billion approved last year by Congress and significantly more than the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request of $915 million.

DERA grants, which help U.S. ports reduce air emissions from their operations, will increase by two-thirds to $50 million (from $30 million), while TIGER discretionary grants and DHS port security grants will stay the same as last year, at $500 million and $100 million, respectively.

The omnibus bill also includes language that will lift the crude oil export ban.

Furthermore, the bill funds U.S. science-related agencies. “The bill positions critical agencies such as NASA, NOAA, NSF and USGS to recover from the debilitating impacts of years of underfunding,” according to American Geophysical Union (AGU) Executive Director/CEO Christine McEntee.

The bill also includes a new dedicated fund for ocean research and security, and leaves the door open to discretionary funding for the Green Climate Fund committed to in the Paris Agreement resulting from COP21.

NJ Legislation on
Boat, Vessel Taxes

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that will provide for boats and vessels a partial exemption from sales and use tax; a maximum amount of sales and use tax that may be imposed; and a 30-day grace period for use-tax imposition.

The New Jersey Office of Legislative Services estimated that for the first few years New Jersey will lose $8 million to $12.3 million per year in revenue from the 50 percent partial exemption. New Jersey will also lose revenue from the other provisions of the legislation, but it is unclear as to the total amount of loss.

Offshore Wind Proposal
For Long Island

Deepwater Wind is proposing an innovative new approach to meet the growing energy need on Long Island’s South Fork with a new offshore wind farm and two new battery energy storage systems, NOIA reported. Deepwater Wind is proposing to supply capacity and renewable energy from the 90-MW, 15-turbine Deepwater ONE – South Fork project.

Construction could begin as early as 2019, with commercial operations by 2022.

Deepwater Wind won the 30-year lease to develop the Deepwater ONE project in BOEM’s lease auction held July 2013.

Hearing on Weather
Satellite Programs

The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a joint Subcommittee on Environment and Subcommittee on Oversight hearing to get updates on NOAA weather satellite programs, the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and the Geostationary Orbiting Environmental Satellite (GOES) system. These systems include the nation’s satellites that identify and track weather affecting the Western Hemisphere, including severe weather such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

The launch date for the next-generation GOES satellites, GOES-R, will be delayed until October 2016, seven months later than previously scheduled. The launch delay leaves the active systems at risk of failure without proper emergency backup structures.

US House Act
Authorizes Coast Guard

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 4188), authorizing the Coast Guard and Federal Maritime Commission through fiscal year 2017 and including provisions to improve Coast Guard mission effectiveness, help modernize the service’s aging vessels and other assets, and reform U.S. maritime transportation laws. This bipartisan bill will help with the effort to strengthen and recapitalize a new fleet of polar icebreakers to make the U.S. ready for Arctic operations. It will also preserve remaining LORAN-C infrastructure that could serve as the basis for a land-based, low-frequency backup to the GPS satellite signal.


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