The Stream, May 8, 2020: Israeli Billionaire Believes He Has A Solution to Gaza Strip Water Shortage

The Global Rundown

A Georgian-Israeli billionaire believes he has a solution to the Gaza Strip’s water crisis. A government watchdog criticizes the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for its failure to thoroughly monitor communities facing a high flooding risk. Deadly flooding continues across East Africa. A U.S. federal judge halts nearly 300 oil and gas leases in Montana, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management failed to conduct a full analysis of potential groundwater impacts. The tumbling oil market devastates the U.S. frack-sand mining business.

“You can drive by plants and see which ones have already been walked away from. It will remove a substantial amount of supply and will leave the healthy companies in place.” –Peter Allen, a director at Black Mountain Sand, which operates mines in Texas and Oklahoma, in reference to the disruption of the frack sand mining business amid the ongoing U.S. shale bust. As oil prices tumble, the industry has become the “new coal,” with sand mining companies shuttering mines and minimizing operations. Many of the companies are expected to either close or consolidate. Reuters

In context: America’s Oil Boom Can Not Happen Without Groundwater.

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By The Numbers

97 percent Proportion of water in the Gaza Strip aquifer that is undrinkable due to saltwater intrusion. The resulting water shortages have imperiled the territory for years, but Georgian-Israeli billionaire Michael Mirilashvili believes he may have a solution to the problem. Mirilashvili’s company Watergen manufactures a generator that produces drinking water from the air and after sending one to a Gaza hospital last week, and it reportedly began producing clean water within a day. Mirilashvili says he hopes to provide Gaza with dozens more of the generators. Associated Press

260+ Most recent death toll from flooding and landslides in East Africa. Kenya is the hardest-hit of the countries, with nearly 200 deaths, but communities in Rwanda and Somalia have experienced fatalities as well. In Kenya, 8,000 acres of crops, as well as key infrastructure, have reportedly been inundated. BBC

Science, Studies, and Reports

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) watchdog group has criticized FEMA for its poor flood prevention oversight across the United States. FEMA is tasked with evaluating flood control efforts in high-risk communities every five years, but the GAO report found that FEMA fell far short of this benchmark, with some communities not visited at all for up to 11 years. In response to the report, FEMA said they are working to revise their current system. Scientific American 

On the Radar

U.S. federal judge Brian Morris froze nearly 300 oil and gas lease sales in Montana this week, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not adequately analyze the leases’ potential impacts on groundwater. Two environmental groups and two Montana landowners filed the lawsuit, which applies to lease sales in the cities of Billings, Butte, Miles City, and state’s Hi-Line, in 2018. Montana Public Radio 

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