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Why the economy may be better than you think

Why the economy may be better than you think | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Longer-term structural adjustments and rebalancing in our post-bubble economy are occuring for a robust and sustainable recovery.


For starters, as bad as things may seem here at home, they look even worse just about everywhere else. After years of watching the momentum and the investment capital flowing out of the country, it's now encouraging to see it begin to flow back our way.


Not only is that helping to hold down interest rates and lift stock prices, but there are signs of renewed interest on the part of foreign firms in expanding production and operations in the United States.


That translates into more jobs and higher incomes.


A decade ago, places such as China and India seemed to have all the mojo — so much so, in fact, that they wound up with bubble economies of their own. Now, in face of excess capacity and sharply higher operating costs, that excitement has waned, along with the flow of capital and technology.


Even the Chinese have decided to get serious about rebalancing, allowing their famously manipulated currency to rise to something closer to its real market value while redirecting some of its trade surplus with the United States from Treasury bonds to direct investments in American companies.


There is a growing realization among investors and global

executives that China and India still lack the political and institutional infrastructure necessary for an advanced economy. Another round of reforms will be required before those countries will see a return to the growth rates of the past decade.


The euro crisis — which is both a banking crisis and a sovereign debt crisis — has forced Europeans to begin addressing those issues. But the noisy process will take years to complete, if for no other reason than it requires Europeans to accept, at least in the short run, a lower standard of living. That Europe will dip back into recession is all but certain.


My optimism about the U.S. economy, however, is not based simply on the woes of others, but also on the restructuring momentum I see here at home.

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Mystery in Gulf of Mexico: Why is oil leaking from Deepwater disaster site?

Mystery in Gulf of Mexico: Why is oil leaking from Deepwater disaster site? | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Oil identified as coming from the Macondo well, site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 100 gallons per day. The Coast Guard is investigating.


Oil is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of about 100 gallons per day near the Macondo wellhead, the site of the oil spill over two years ago that became the worst environmental disaster in US history.


The US Coast Guard reports that the oil has been leaking since at least Sept. 16, when satellite images first revealed a sheen of surface oil located about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast and in the vicinity of where the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people.


Five million barrels of oil, or 205 million gallons, were released into the Gulf in the three months following the explosion.


BP, the British oil giant responsible for the 2010 drilling operation, reports that the Macondo wellhead remains sealed since it was permanently capped with cement in mid-September 2010. The Coast Guard’s underwater inspection Sunday double-checked the wellhead as well as residual wreckage from the explosion.


The issue of drilling on federal lands became a contentious issue in Tuesday’s debate between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Obama. In the debate, Mr. Romney accused the president of slashing permits for drilling in half during his administration. Mr. Obama denied the accusation.


The increased pace of permitting has pleased some oil and gas industry analysts, who say the administration is on the right path.


“We’re just now seeing the permitting return to pre-Macondo levels,” Andy Lipow, president of the Houston-based consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates LLC, told Bloomberg News Wednesday. “With oil prices hovering around $90 to $100 a barrel, it makes sense to look for oil in that area.”

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Sewage controversy in Bolivar Peninsula

Sewage controversy in Bolivar Peninsula | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Controversy is brewing over a proposal to build two water treatment plants on the Bolivar Peninsula.


Residents were both for and against the idea of building two sewage plants for different reason. These plants would be paid for with federal disaster relief money at an estimated cost of $15 million.


"We have septic tanks, and we have had them all our lives up here," said longtime Bolivar resident Jesse Benavidas. it was just after Hurricane Ike he spent $8,500 for a brand new septic system at his home and it's been working fine ever since and the proposed county sewage plants are a waste of money.


According to Galveston County grant coordinator Nick Foster, supporters of the sewage plants believe the plants would help boost the economy by bringing in more residents and businesses.


Some environmentalist are also on board because the plants would help to reduce ground water pollution. A centralized sewer is much more environmentally friendly than septic systems.


One of the proposed plants would be built in the heart of Crystal Beach. The other proposed plant in High Island, near the high school. Residents who are already on their own system would not be required to hook into the county system, but even if it's a new septic system, a central sewage system is going to be cleaner.


The existing sewage system they have here is cost prohibited. By the time you pay for the grinder, by the time you pay for the extra water, the time you pay your water bill, it's not worth it some say. The county run sewer plants would be worth it for new and existing homes and businesses.


In two weeks from now, county commissioners will possibly vote whether to proceed forward with the plans to build those two sewage plants.

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Texas landowners prepare for battle in oil pipeline dispute

Texas landowners prepare for battle in oil pipeline dispute | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

cross the vast oil fields of Texas, a battle is brewing over an oil pipeline designed to bring Canadian oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast.


Landowners like Julia Trigg Crawford want to prevent TransCanada from taking their land for the pipeline and are threatening to slow down the project.


"We've fought wars over it. We stood our ground at the Alamo for it," said Crawford, who owns and manages the Red'Arc Farm in Sumner, Texas. "There's a lot of reasons that Texans are very proud of their land and proud when you own that land that you are master of that land and you control that land."


Crawford's family has been farming their 650-acre plot since 1948. In the past, they have denied other pipelines, but TransCanada is taking some of their land and the land of more than 100 other Texas landowners through eminent domain.


Find out more about the Keystone Pipeline plan and eminent domain: http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/tag/eminent-domain/

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50 Modern Beach Home Spaces You will Love

50 Modern Beach Home Spaces You will Love | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Step inside these stylish beach homes to see stunning contemporary spaces by the sea.


You'll find inspiration to create relaxed-but-hip looks for your space. These are all beautiful, I want go to the beach and escape spaces that are warm, inviting, charming and fun. Nothing like the office.


Also see 7 Essentials for the modern coastal garden,smart tips for designing contemporary green spaces at:

http://www.coastalliving.com/homes/decorating/modern-garden-essentials-00414000067236

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Coastal leaders say windstorm plan taking shape

Coastal leaders say windstorm plan taking shape | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Coastal leaders are getting closer to finalizing draft legislation aimed at overhauling the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.


The plan, based on the premise that the association must spread risk farther inland and lure private insurers to begin writing more wind and hailstorm policies in 14 coastal counties.


The plan will roll out after the November election, but in time for stakeholders to provide feedback before the Legislature convenes in January, state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi.


Reforming the $80 billion Texas windstorm insurance pools boils down to educating inland lawmakers on the issues, Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Foster Edwards.


The challenge, he said, is explaining to inland lawmakers that coastal counties disproportionately bear the burden of windstorm costs, given their contribution to the state economy.


Edwards said he is working with chamber officials in other communities to plan a windstorm rally day in Austin next March to hold lawmakers' feet to the fire.


Insurance should be considered on par with other statewide programs, such as transportation or health and human services, where the burden is shared.

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USACE Galveston district uses GIS technology to improve efficiency

USACE Galveston district uses GIS technology to improve efficiency | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Combining visual communication with access to information and analysis is helping transform the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston district is managing its assets, serving the public and communicating with partner agencies – thanks to Geographic Information Systems technology, better known as GIS.


GIS capabilities are saving the district time and money by enabling staff to share critical information with other government and partner agencies, automate and improve internal data workflows, provide the most accurate data to assist leadership in making better-informed decisions and maintain precise geographic records.


Initially used as a tool to produce maps, GIS now helps the district improve the efficiency of operations and processes.


“GIS is much more than just a mapping or storage tool, it’s an analysis tool,” said Laskowski. “It allows us to produce products very quickly. GIS basically integrates a spreadsheet with a location to produce a map that is both visually appealing and conveys significant amounts of data.”


The district and the Texas General Land Office are working on a project that relies heavily on our GIS capabilities,” said Sterling. “The GLO collects geotechnical data from our soils collection and maps them into a web-available, geo-database.


For more information about GIS visit http://www.tec.army.mil/gis/.


Visit the Texas General Land Office’s website at http://www.glo.texas.gov/what-we-do/caring-for-the-coast/coastal-erosion/index.htm for more information about the TxSed project.


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The Galveston Ike Dike: Preventing Coastal Storm Damage

The Galveston Ike Dike: Preventing Coastal Storm Damage | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Hurricane Ike’s death and destruction vividly pointed out the need for protection from hurricane storm surge in the Houston-Galveston region.


“And, as bad as Ike was, we who live and work around Galveston Bay dodged a bullet,” said Dr. William “Bill” Merrell, the George P. Mitchell Chair of Marine Sciences at Texas A&M at Galveston.


Before Ike hit, the forecast predicted a 25 foot storm surges up Galveston Bay — a possible $100 billion hurricane, which could have killed hundreds, left thousands homeless and jobless and devastated the nation’s largest petrochemical complex and crippled its busiest port.


Merrell says this terrible scenario can be prevented, and he has created the Ike Dike solution based on best practices for preventing storm surge damage developed by the Dutch.


Dialogues with Dutch experts helped in the development of the flood protection system in New Orleans that performed well during Hurricane Isaac. Merrell has developed a similar solution for the entire Galveston Bay area called the “Ike Dike.”


“Given the economic importance of the Galveston Bay region to Texas and the nation, coastal surge protection is the most important public policy issue for Texas,” Smith says. We are grateful to our Dutch friends for the opportunity to see the best practices.”


To learn more about the environmentally friendly, socially relevant efforts to use the proven technologies of the Ike Dike concept to prevent major storm surges, contact Merrell at (409) 740-4732.

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Housing options and amenities attract baby boomers

Housing options and amenities attract baby boomers | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Along with the federal budget, billions in tax increases, draconian spending cuts and efforts to avoid the “fiscal cliff” looming Dec. 31, the lame-duck session is expected to answer what’s estimated to be a multibillion-dollar question for housing:


Will Congress renew the mortgage debt forgiveness tax provisions for owners whose mortgage lenders agree to write off portions of their debt, either as part of loan modifications, foreclosures, short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure?


Without an extension, borrowers who receive reductions in principal next year would be hit with federal income taxes at their regular marginal rates on the amounts forgiven.


The lame-duck session also will have to deal with a slew of other real estate-related issues including write-offs for mortgage insurance premiums, tax benefits for homeowners who install energy-saving improvements, tax credits for builders of energy-efficient new houses and extension of current relief for middle-income taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax (AMT), among others.


Here’s a quick overview of some of what’s at stake in all this for homeowners:

  • Mortgage debt tax relief
  • Mortgage insurance premium deductions
  • Energy-efficiency improvements to homes

On issues like tax-system support for financially distressed households, energy conservation and others, the November elections are important in the long run, but the decisions made during the lame-duck session will be crucial and have immediate impact on thousands of homeowners.

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Saudi Arabia Boosts Supertanker Charters to U.S. Gulf of Mexico

Saudi Arabia Boosts Supertanker Charters to U.S. Gulf of Mexico | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest state-owned crude producer, increased the number of supertankers it hired to haul oil to the U.S.


Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, may be shipping more oil before a Texas refinery it owns with Royal Dutch Shell Plc resumes full output, Sverre Bjorn Svenning, an Oslo-based shipping analyst at Fearnley Consultants A/S, said by phone. The extra cargoes could also be because Saudi Arabia is compensating for reduced supplies from Iran, he said.


A one-way journey to the U.S. Gulf from Saudi Arabia takes about 40 days to complete.



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What is shale gas and why is it important?

What is shale gas and why is it important? | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Shale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within shale formations. Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas.


Over the past decade, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has allowed access to large volumes of shale gas that were previously uneconomical to produce. The production of natural gas from shale formations has rejuvenated the natural gas industry in the United States.


The availability of large quantities of shale gas should enable the United States to consume a predominantly domestic supply of gas for many years and produce more natural gas than it consumes.


In Texas we have the Eagle Ford Shale (EFS), which is quite possibly the largest single economic development in the history of the state of Texas. The play had more than a $25 billion dollar impact on the local South Texas economy in 2011.


The play is located in South Texas and produces from various depths between 4,000 and 14,000 feet. The EFS takes its name from the town of Eagle Ford Texas where the shale outcrops at the surface in clay form. The Eagle Ford is the most active shale play in the world with 250 rigs running. Operators are indicating the play will be developed for decades to come.


Read more at: http://eaglefordshale.com/

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Nueces County Reappraisal Plan for Tax Increases

Nueces County Reappraisal Plan for Tax Increases | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Property owners in Port Aransas could see some significant increases in their property taxes next year, as easy targets for the hungry tax monster.


The Nueces County Appraisal District is using the excuse that property in some areas like Port Aransas haven't been appraised as accurately as they should have been in recent yearrs to raise taxes from lower property tax revenues overall.


The district has a plan to "correct the problem" (get tax revenues back), but a lot of people probably won't like the results.We looked at property values through the Nueces County Appraisal District and noticed many property values have been falling in the last few years, about 30%.


But now that the Nueces County Appraisal District is going to dedicate more time and manpower to its property appraisals, these values might be going up, and that means higher property taxes.


And it's not just residential properties that could be seeing an increase in property taxes, local business could too.


Government simply cannot adjust to the realities of a market correction. People and businesses have too.

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TransCanada Keystone Wins Right to Take Pipeline Land

TransCanada Keystone Wins Right to Take Pipeline Land | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

TransCanada Corp. won court permission to build part of its Keystone XL pipeline across several contested tracts of southeast Texas farmland to carry Canadian tar-sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries.


State judge Tom Rugg Sr. granted the pipeline company’s requests to take possession of the tracts under state eminent- domain laws after a hearing today in Beaumont, Texas.


“The statutory requirements for the issuance of writs of possession are now met,” Rugg said in a two-page ruling, after TransCanada agreed to increase the size and type of surety bonds it posted in the proceeding.


The case is TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP v. Texas Rice Land Partners Ltd., 0118867, County Court at Law, Jefferson County, Texas (Beaumont).

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Shale Revolution Hurting Schlumberger As Fracking Leads To Oversupply

Shale Revolution Hurting Schlumberger As Fracking Leads To Oversupply | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The boom of hydraulic fracking in the U.S. is actually hurting some oil and gas field services companies.


Both Schlumberger and Baker Hughes delivered weaker than expected third quarter earnings, and management teams in both companies blamed oversupplied inland markets for their disappointing performance.


Interestingly, while shale plays are affecting their profitability, the ill-reputed deepwater market of the Gulf of Mexico is booming, partially offsetting the loss of pricing power.


The shale revolution, as many have called it, is changing the face of energy markets in the U.S. According to a recent report by Standard & Poor’s, “the production of hydrocarbons has increased dramatically in the past few years” as “exploration and production companies have been actively pursuing unconventional natural gas, natural gas liquids, and oil-shale plays.”


The company highlighted “downward pricing pressure” as a direct consequence of the shale oil and gas boom in the U.S. market. And Schlumberger was not alone. While major producers like Exxon Mobil, Chesapeake Energy, and Chevron are doubling down on shale, Baker Hughes is feeling the pain.


Going forward, bullishness appears to be the name of the game. Relatively tight oil markets, according to Schlumberger, should support elevated prices, despite increased volatility. Specifically, Kibsgaard mentioned production challenges in non-OPEC countries and spare capacity in OPEC countries falling to five-year lows. Baker Hughes’ Craighead said he expects continued growth in both “growing and emerging markets.”


The contradiction is fascinating indeed. Record amounts of hydrocarbons are being produced in the U.S. currently. Shale plays are leading the charge, but they are also helping depress prices for oilfield services companies. At the same time, deepwater production in the Gulf of Mexico, still infamous after the Macondo well accident that counted with BP and Transocean as protagonists, is coming back, providing some relief for Baker Hughes and Schlumberger.

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Hurricane Season Second Peak Is Here

Hurricane Season Second Peak Is Here | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

While the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is winding down, experts expect another hurricane or two before it's over.


The really busy part of the season — typically August and September — is over, but this week marks the second "peak" of the hurricane season; on average, cyclones are more likely to form this week than any time in the last three weeks of the season, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami. (The official end to hurricane season is Nov. 30.)


That's due to a shift in the areas where cyclones form; now they are most likely to originate in the Gulf of Mexico.

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How Eminent Domain Works in Texas

How Eminent Domain Works in Texas | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Texans take pride in the their private property. Over 95 percent of land in the Lone Star State is privately owned. And sometimes, pipeline companies want to use that land for their projects.


Typically a pipeline company will reach an individual agreement with a landowner on compensation, but in the event of a failure to reach an agreement, pipeline companies in Texas at times use eminent domain to “condem” the land needed for their pipeline.


The Keystone XL pipeline has brought the issues of eminent domain and landowner rights in Texas into the spotlight. Some landowners have refused to sign agreements with the company, and in response the company behind the pipeline has filed claims of eminent domain. Over a hundred in Texas.


Some landowners argue that they have no recourse when this happens. A county commissioners court can only assess the value of the land to be condemned, not whether or not the company has a right to seize land in the first place. In short, fighting a company’s claim of eminent domain in court can be costly and time-consuming.


To get eminent domain to route a pipeline across private land in Texas, all a company has to do is check a box on a two-page form to the Railroad Commission of Texas (which regulates drilling and pipelines in the state).


By checking that box, the pipeline company says it is a “common carrier,” i.e. a pipeline that will be available at market rates for other companies to use, and therefore in the public interest.


Railroad Commission of Texas:http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/

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Homebuilder confidence reaches 6-year high

Homebuilder confidence reaches 6-year high | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Confidence among the nation's homebuilders rose to its highest level since June 2006.


The National Association of Home Builders said its builder confidence index rose for the sixth consecutive month in October, gaining one point to 41.


Even so, any reading below 50 indicates more builders still view sales conditions as poor rather than good.


An Austin-based homebuilding organization is running a  multimillion-dollar national consumer campaign to convince homebuyers across the country to buy new rather than used.

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Arrests mark East Texas pipeline protests

Arrests mark East Texas pipeline protests | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

An ongoing protest that has brought together Hollywood personalities, ranch owners and environmental activists disparagingly called “eco-anarchists” resulted in another round of arrests Monday as opponents of a massive oil transportation project continued their efforts to shut down construction of a pipeline from Canada to Texas’ Gulf coast.


Protesters said eight demonstrators were taken into custody in Wood County, about 100 miles east of Dallas, on Monday after some secured themselves to heavy equipment operated by contractors hired by TransCanada Corp., which is building the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the Texas coast.


Pipeline proponents such as Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson have criticized protesters’ attempts to block a project that could benefit Texas.

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Gulf Coast Senators Urge President Obama to Enforce Restore Act

Gulf Coast Senators Urge President Obama to Enforce Restore Act | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison joined a bipartisan group of her Gulf Coast colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama that calls on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to respect the will of Congress and negotiate a settlement of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill case that holds BP and other responsible parties accountable under every applicable statute.


The senators' letter came in response to recent press reports regarding possible developments of the settlement terms, which suggest that the DOJ is leaning toward a global settlement agreement involving a low penalty figure under the Clean Water Act in exchange for a higher penalty figure under the Oil Pollution Act for Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR).


Such a settlement would circumvent the intent of the bipartisan RESTORE Act, which was included in the transportation legislation signed into law by the President in July.


The historic legislation - which was backed by more than 100 environmental, wildlife and business groups across the Gulf Coast and the nation - dedicates 80 percent of BP penalties paid under the Clean Water Act to Gulf States for economic and ecological restoration.


See the letter to the president: http://www.landrieu.senate.gov/files/documents/2012_10_05_SenatorsLetterPresident.pdf


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Feds Approve Texas Gulf Coast reef issue

Feds Approve Texas Gulf Coast reef issue | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The federal government has finally granted approval for two massive gulf reefing zones offshore of the Coastal Bend.


This allows Texas Parks & Wildlife to request permission to create artificial reefs within the two zones situated east of Padre Island and San Jose Island respectively. The areas encompass about 777 square nautical miles or 660,000 acres.


Texas Parks & Wildlife can now propose a variety of artificial reefing methods, including the more productive reefing in place of oil and gas platforms.


Within the new zones Texas now has the option of reefing-in-place, or at least requesting federal permission to do so.  Negotiations are under way with several oil companies that own platforms within the zones. About half of several dozen rigs within the southernmost zone are potential candidates for reefing.

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2012 Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Annual Conference

2012 Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Annual Conference | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

2012 Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Annual Conference, Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2012


Over the course of the conference, innovative industry leaders will share their best practices; attendees will then engage in “learning sessions” on how to apply those best practices to the disaster safety movement. Outcomes will serve as the foundation for the development of a new open-sourced, online community.


The conference will close with an unprecedented opportunity to hear from National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb alongside former directors Max Mayfield and Bill Read. CNN’s John Zarrella will moderate as the directors offer their unique take on the disaster safety movement and how we can work together to promote mitigation.


Visit www.flashannualconference.org  to register, and learn more about the exciting lineup of speakers and sponsorship opportunities.


The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc - FLASH is a non-profit dedicated to promoting disaster and life safety and property loss from natural and man-made disasters.

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Eagle Ford Shale generates export boom for Port of Corpus Christi

Eagle Ford Shale generates export boom for Port of Corpus Christi | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The Port of Corpus Christi is experiencing a significant jump in crude oil exports as the port continues to develop into a collection point for outbound Eagle Ford Shale crude shipments.


Drilling began in 2008 to reach oil and gas deposits in Eagle Ford's tight rock formation thousands of feet underground.


The discovery area stretches for about 400 miles through South and Central Texas and begins about 65 miles north of Corpus Christi, which positions the port as a direct route for moving products to domestic markets as foreign crude imports have declined.


Eagle Ford continues to transform port operations. Related business with supplies for the oil boom also continues to increase.


But, moving crude requires different vessel sizes. An inland barge needs a 12-foot draft but can only carry about 30,000 barrels of crude in a shipment, port Deputy Director Frank Brogan said.


Oceangoing barges are much larger, with capacities of up to 300,000 barrels and require more dock space.


The port is working with the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots to maximize use of barge docking areas, port Executive Director John LaRue said.


The port has federal approval to deepen and widen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel to 52 feet and line the deeper channel with "barge shelves," or shallow areas where barges can be moved and stored without blocking other traffic, but that project is awaiting federal funding.

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Gulf Coast senators to Obama: Ensure BP spill deal is fair

Gulf Coast senators to Obama: Ensure BP spill deal is fair | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Senators from the U.S. Gulf Coast urged President Barack Obama on Friday to ensure that any legal settlement for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill does not undermine a recently passed law that would funnel billions of dollars worth of fines to their states.


The U.S. Justice Department and BP Plc have discussed a potential settlement for damages caused both to Gulf waters and the coastline, which could be worth billions of dollars to states still trying to recover from the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.


The RESTORE Act, signed by President Barack Obama on July 6, directs that 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties paid by BP be placed in a new trust fund for restoration efforts in the five coastal states damaged by the worst U.S. offshore oil spill: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas.


Fines arising from Clean Water Act violations could reach $21 billion, if BP is found to be grossly negligent of causing the April 20, 2010, explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 rig workers and unleashed 4.9 million barrels of oil that soiled the shorelines of four Gulf Coast states. BP has adamantly denied any accusations of gross negligence, and declined to comment on the senators' letter.


Without the bill, federal Clean Water Act fines would have gone straight to the U.S. Treasury. Anywhere from $4 billion to $16.8 billion could flow into states' coffers under the bill's terms.


The potential settlement could be attractive to BP, because fines under the Oil Pollution Act are treated more favorably by the U.S. tax code than are Clean Water Act fines, congressional sources said.

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Texas Economic Indicators - Dallas Fed

Texas Economic Indicators - Dallas Fed | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The Texas economy continues to expand, with employment growing at a 3.5 percent annual rate in August.


Texas existing-home sales rose 3.6 percent in August and are up 14 percent from year-ago levels. Sales in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are all up from July.


Texas single-family housing construction permits rose 2.7 percent from July to August, and Texas housing starts grew 8.7 percent. Home inventories declined to 5.4 months of available supply in August, pushing further below the six-month-supply marker.


Download the latest report at: http://dallasfed.org/assets/documents/research/indicators/2012/tei1210.pdf

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Galveston agrees on plan for public housing

Galveston agrees on plan for public housing | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Barely an hour before a state-imposed deadline, the Galveston City Councilon Friday approved a plan to rebuild public housing torn down after Hurricane Ike.


During the 2008 storm, 569 public housing units in Galveston were destroyed. Mayor Lewis Rosen and council members had campaigned earlier this year on a plan to replace public housing with a voucher system that would allow residents to live in private housing either on or off the island.


Federal officials have said agreements for about $580 million in funding that Galveston is receiving to rebuild and repair streets and other infrastructure on the island is tied to the city rebuilding the public housing.


City leaders had approved a similar plan last month but changed it after discussions with federal and state officials. The plan approved Friday was more in line with what federal and state officials had sought.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Texas General Land Office, which is administering the federal funds in the state, had given the city by Friday to approve the plan or face the loss of the federal disaster recovery money and the forced repayment of money already spent.


Two Austin groups, Texas Appleseed and the Low-Income Housing Information Service, participated in an agreement with HUD and the state that requires Galveston and other Texas cities to make sure low-income residents benefit from federal disaster recovery money as required by law. Galveston specifically was required to rebuild all 569 public housing units.


If Galveston had failed to live up to the agreement, it could have jeopardized disaster money statewide.


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