• Water securityOverhauling the Circulatory System of the American West

    It might be tempting to think of cowboys and cattle drives, but the real story of the American West can be summed up in one word: water. While the costs might be daunting, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has teamed up with the Oregon-based Farmers Conservation Alliance to radically reimagine the role of irrigation systems in the West.

  • PortlandU.S. Federal Agents to Begin Portland Withdrawal

    Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said federal officers would begin leaving the city of Portland on Thursday after an agreement between local and federal officials. Brown was among the leaders who criticized the presence of the federal agents, saying Wednesday they “acted as an occupying force and brought violence.” The federal government said the deployment to Portland was necessary to restore order and faulted local leaders for allowing ongoing protests that they said endangered federal property, including a courthouse.

  • Flint water crisisSimultaneous, Reinforcing Policy Failures Led to Flint Water Crisis

    Concurrent failures of federal drinking water standards and Michigan’s emergency manager law reinforced and magnified each other, leading to the Flint water crisis, according to a University of Michigan environmental policy expert. Flint’s experience offers lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated local financial challenges while highlighting the importance of access to clean, safe drinking water.

  • Border securityEroding Private Border Wall to Get an Engineering Inspection Just Months after Completion

    By Jeremy Schwartz and Perla Trevizo

    Months after the “Lamborghini” of border walls was built along the Rio Grande, the builder agreed to an engineering inspection of his controversial structure. Experts say the wall is showing signs of erosion that threatens its stability.

  • Youth movementFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis Pledges to Keep State Open, Downplays Rise in Coronavirus Cases

    Gov. Ron DeSantis, responding to criticism, is playing down the state’s increase in new cases in recent weeks, attributing it to more testing among low-risk individuals and saying he won’t roll back reopening efforts. Kennedy and Zac Anderson write in the Palm Beach Post that DeSantis noted that many of the new cases are younger people who are less at risk of becoming seriously ill. The governor noted that the median age of those infected has dropped significantly, and said identifying asymptomatic young people with the infection will help “stop the spread” because they will be isolated. The governor also noted that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care unit beds and on ventilators has gone down significantly over the last 60 days. He said there are 6,400 ventilators “sitting idle.”

  • Water securityThe Answer to Groundwater Resources Comes from High in the Sky

    Groundwater makes up 30 to 50 percent of California’s water supply, but until recently there were few restrictions placed on its retrieval. Then in 2014 California became the last Western state to require regulation of its groundwater, and water managers in the state’s premier agricultural region – the state’s Central Valley – are tasked with estimating available groundwater. It’s a daunting technological challenge – but scientists can help by pairing satellite data with high-resolution monitoring to estimate groundwater depletion.

  • FloodsRising Tide: Seeking Solutions to S.C.’s Mounting Nuisance Floods

    While a rising tide may lift all boats, it spells trouble for South Carolina coastal communities where flooding has already long been a fact of life. Low-lying areas such as the state’s more than 2,000 miles of coastline are increasingly prone to floods and storm surge as sea levels rise — driven by a more variable global climate system. Researchers are examining green solutions to help those communities fight back.

  • FloodsMichigan Governor Vows Legal Action After Devastating Floods

    Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the state will pursue “every line of legal recourse” against the owners of one of two dams that failed earlier this week, causing severe flooding in several communities. More than 10,000 residents in the central town of Midland were evacuated Wednesday as the Tittabawassee River overran its banks hours after the Edenville Dam, located 32 kilometers north, failed after several days of heavy seasonal rains.

  • Economic damageState Actions Played Lesser Role in COVID-19 Economic Damage

    Actions by state governments to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 played only a secondary role in the historic spike in U.S. unemployment in March, according to new research. Ohio State University says that while state actions to close schools were linked to an increase in unemployment, these effects were dwarfed by the larger national and international impact of the pandemic, according to researchers at the Ohio State University and Indiana University. Hispanics, young adults (aged 20-24), those without a college education and those with four or more children saw the steepest job losses. In two separate studies – here and here — the researchers took a broad look at the very early impact of the pandemic on jobs in the United States.

  • Public health & ideologyBitter Partisan Divide Shapes California Opinions on COVID-19

    California voters are deeply divided about the COVID-19 pandemic, with supporters of President Donald Trump more worried about the economy and less concerned they will infect others, according to a new poll. While they generally agree on the importance of washing hands, supporters and opponents of the president are polarized about core strategies to slow the spread of the virus, including shelter-in-place orders and the economic lockdown.

  • DisparitiesResearchers Reveal Substantial Disparities in COVID-19 Hospitalization and Death Rates among New York City Boroughs

    A new study suggests that substantial differences in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths have emerged along racial and socioeconomic lines in New York City. Jacqueline Mitchell writes for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that the research team found that COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates varied considerably across New York City boroughs. The Bronx—the borough with the highest proportion of racial and ethnic minorities, the most persons living in poverty and lowest levels of educational attainment—had higher rates of hospitalization and death related to COVID-19 than all other boroughs. In contrast, hospitalization and death rates were lowest in Manhattan, the most affluent borough, which is comprised of a predominately white population. The number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 persons was nearly two times greater in the Bronx than in Manhattan.

  • COVID-19: UpdateU.S. COVID-19 Total Tops 700,000; Cases Spike in Russia, Parts of Asia

    As COVID-19 cases in the United States passed 700,000 yesterday, researchers published early findings that suggest, as expected, the disease is more widespread than case numbers reflect. And in international developments, outbreak totals climbed in parts of Asia, including Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore, as well as in Russia. U.S. cases reached 726,645 cases, with nearly 39,000 deaths. The global total stands at 2,310,572 cases from 185 countries, with 158,691 deaths. Testing issues continue to hobble state’s plans to ease off stay-at-home orders, while the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in a statement yesterday said supply chain issues, such as personal protective equipment, swabs, and reagents are obstacles to scaled-up testing.

  • COVID-19: UpdateAmid Talk of Reopening, Fauci Warns U.S. Not There Yet with COVID-19

    In an interview yesterday with the Associated Press, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said opening up the nation on May 1 is “a bit overly optimistic.” His comments come a day after President Donald Trump announced a new reopening task force, meant to help guide the country back to economic health after the national COVID-19 30 April physical distancing campaign ends. In a heated back-and-forth with reporters, yesterday Trump said that only the president has the ability to call the shots on when and how to reopen the country. But Fauci said yesterday, “We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet.” Meanwhile, governors yesterday and yesterday continued to outline their plans for reopening.

  • PerspectiveAcross the U.S., States Are Bracing for More Climate-Related Disasters

    Officials in states across the United States are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts, and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change. Alex Brown writes that “Even states whose leaders don’t publicly acknowledge the existence of climate change, such as Texas and South Carolina, have applied for federal dollars citing ‘changing coastal conditions’ or ‘unpredictability’.”

  • Election securityUSC Kicks Off 50-State Election Cybersecurity Trainings

    Today, 28 January, the University of Southern California is kicking off its nonpartisan, independent, 50-state election cybersecurity training initiative in Maryland. Attendees will learn how to best protect their campaigns against misinformation and disinformation, hacking threats, and how to prepare and manage a potential crisis.