The Stream, February 15: Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Jeopardy After Senate Rejects Changes

The Global Rundown

The future of the Murray-Darling Basin plan is uncertain after the Australian Senate votes against a reduction of the plan’s water recovery targets. An unprecedented amount of rain lifts the Washington D.C. area out of severe drought. Satellite data links melting Antarctic ice sheets with accelerating rises in sea level. Fiji escapes heavy damage by Cyclone Gita, while recovery efforts begin in Tonga, Samoa, and American Samoa. Environmental groups sue the Trump administration over fracking waste in the Gulf of Mexico.

“That’s just unacceptable. The EPA is supposed to protect water quality, not give oil companies free rein to use our oceans as their garbage disposal.” –Kristen Monsell, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), in reference to oil companies dumping leftover fracking waste into the Gulf of Mexico. Three environmental groups are suing the Trump administration over claims that officials failed to review potential damages to water quality and marine life before allowing the dumping. The Hill

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By The Numbers

3.87 inches Amount of rain that has fallen in Washington D.C. since the beginning of February. Rainfall of up to 6 inches was also reported in nearby towns. The downpour helped erase a rainfall deficit in the city just weeks after a severe drought was declared. The Washington Post

275 kilometers per hour Top wind speeds of Cyclone Gita, which glanced over Fiji’s southern islands early Wednesday. Heavy rains and damages to a handful of homes were reported, but Fiji escaped largely unscathed. Gita caused widespread flooding and destruction in Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga over the weekend. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

A new analysis of satellite imagery details the connection between melting Antarctic ice and rising sea levels. Researchers found that melting ice sheets are speeding up the pace of sea level rise a little bit each year, with overall sea level rise expected to top 2 feet by the year 2100. Yale Environment 360

On The Radar

The Australian Senate blocked a proposed change to the Murray-Darling Basin plan, which would have decreased the plan’s water recovery target by 18 percent, or 70 billion litres. The states of New South Wales and Victoria threatened to withdraw from the basin plan if the Senate blocked the changes, leaving the future of the plan uncertain. The Guardian