South Pole

South Pole

Marine Pollution Bulletin Water Projects to be Partially Funded by Port Fees and Fuel Taxes Legislation to authorize construction of 300 water projec...

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Marine Pollution Bulletin

Water Projects to be Partially Funded by Port Fees and Fuel Taxes Legislation to authorize construction of 300 water projects by the US Army Corps of Engineers was passed by Congress and signed by President Reagan. The bill authorized $11 billion from 1987 to 1991 in Federal funds for the projects, which must receive local contributions of $4 billion. This cost-sharing requirement, which varies between 10 and 50% for individual projects, is expected to increase scrutiny of construction plans, resulting in more locally-relevant and environmentally-sound projects. Environmental safeguards will be enhanced with the bill's requirements that 1. a NEPA environmental impact review be performed for all projects, 2. a mitigation plan to reduce any environmental damage be formulated before construction, and instituted and completed concurrently with construction, and 3. federal funds be contributed to a revolving fund for mitigatory projects. The water projects authorized for funding include projects for harbours, flood control, locks and dams, shoreline protection, and water resource conservation and development. The cost-sharing requirements will be imposed only on those projects not already under construction by 1 May 1986, and the bill has no effect on the Bureau of Reclamation's irrigation and hydroelectric projects. Channel deepening projects will require a 20-50% contribution from the local port authority, with deeper dredging requiring a larger local contribution. The port authorities will also be required to pay a percentage of the maintenance costs of the channel. Local communities will be required to pay 2550% of the construction costs for flood control projects, although the percentage can be reduced or waived for communities unable to provide the required funds. Some of the Federal authorization will be financed by new fees and increased taxes. The bill imposes a new 0.04% fee on all commercial cargo loaded and unloaded from commercial vessels in US harbours. This fee is expected to raise $140 million per year and is expected to pay 40% of maintenance dredging costs. The bill also increases the pre-existing tax on barge fuel of 10 cents per gallon to 20 cents per gallon by 1995.

Clean Water Act Reauthorization Vetoed President Reagan vetoed the bill reauthorizing the Clean Water Act in November. In 1985, the Administration had suggested an authorization of $6 billion for the programme, which was recommended for phaseout. In contrast, the bill presented for signature authorized $18 billion, a level unacceptable to the President. The President also objected to a non-point source programme in the bill. Many Congressional members, including the bill's sponsors, intend to reintroduce the bill immediately to the new Congress exactly as previously formulated. However, other interests, including the Administration, will be working for a revised bill.

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EPA officials believe the construction grants programme should not be greatly affected by the veto during the first part of the fiscal year since 1986 carryover funds and funds available from a previous appropriation bill are available for the programme's immediate activities. Environmental interests, however, fear budgetary uncertainties will adversely affect planning and work on construction projects, and they further regret the delay in implementation of pollution programmes addressing non-point sources and toxic hot spots.

Round-the-World News South Pole An Anglo-Norwegian expedition to the South Pole, retracing Raold Amundsen's epic journey in 1911, has been forced to turn back 250 miles from the pole. The private expedition led by Norwegian explorer Dr Monica Kristensen suffered this setback when the US refused to include her 24 husky dogs in rescue contingency plans. She was not willing to risk having to leave them behind in an emergency. US officials oppose the use of dog sledges and private expeditions in Antarctica.

Greece The Greek Government has promised new measures to protect the nesting grounds of the loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, on the Ionian island of Zakynthos. This follows threats by West German ecologists of a tourist boycott unless action was taken.

South Africa South African zoologists fear that the European shore crab Carcinus maenas, which has been successfully emigrating from Europe to other parts of the world since the 1850s may pose a threat to local fauna. Carcinus maenas was first recorded in South Africa in 1983 but, unlike two other crabs that have been introduced to South African waters by ship (the hairy crab Pih~rnnus hirsutus and the kelp crab Pilurnnoides perlatus), the European shore crab is an aggressive predator. It became a threat to the soft-shell clam industry in the 1950s on the New England coast of the USA where control measures had to be introduced.

Brazil The Brazilian Petrobas company have brought the world's deepest underwater oil well into production. The well lies in 412 m of water on the Marimba field in the Campos Basin, 53 miles off the Rio coast.