Bad weather in key markets has hampered building and renovating new homes and limited orders. Nashville, Tenn.’s hot housing market was doused by more than a foot of rainfall in February. Seattle suffered record snowfall, and it has been extremely soggy in two of the country’s top markets for fix-and-flip jobs, Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn.
On March 3, a tornado outbreak struck several southern states in the U.S., including Alabama, where a monster of a tornado reached estimated wind speeds of 170 mph. It left a path of destruction more than 20 miles long in Lee County, killing 23 people and injuring at least 100 others. In the days since, survivors have been picking through the pieces of their homes, recovering what they can, as they try to determine their next steps.
Alabama Forestry Commission officials estimate $20 million in timber in Houston County was lost to Hurricane Michael.
Surveys conducted by the AFC last found about 42,357 forested acres were destroyed by the storm. Around 13,396 acres of pine, 2,879 acres of hardwood and 26,082 acres of mixed pine and hardwood was lost.
Lagging behind neighboring states for decades, Alabama has gone through multiple droughts without a water management plan to help conserve water and protect the state’s rivers and streams during times of scarcity. The lack of a plan also puts Alabama at a disadvantage as the state navigates through competing water demands.
After years of advocating for a comprehensive plan and participating in the AWAWG focus panels, SELC and Alabama Rivers Alliance have been anxiously awaiting the release of the report to help inform leadership at the state level and provide guidelines for good water stewardship and protection. But discernable progress toward a plan has been slow, and appeared to be further hindered when the current governor announced plans to disband the AWAWG late last year. Governor Kay Ivey’s decision put the responsibility of developing a plan back on the Alabama Office of Water Resources and the Alabama Water Resources Commission.
Up close, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States isn’t as big as you’d expect it to be. From most angles, you can’t even see it until you’re right on top of it.
But hit the right gap in the rolling hills of north-central Alabama, and the James H. Miller Jr. Electric Generating Plant looms large even from miles away. Nestled on about 800 acres on the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River, the plant is one of Alabama Power’s coal-burning workhorses, putting out enough electricity to power about a million homes. It virtually never stops running – and never stops producing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Alabama has been trying on the nickname “New Detroit.” Its burgeoning auto parts industry employs 26,000 workers, who last year earned $1.3 billion in wages. Georgia and Mississippi have similar, though smaller, auto parts sectors. This factory growth, after the long, painful demise of the region’s textile industry, would seem to be just the kind of manufacturing renaissance President Donald Trump and his supporters are looking for.
Except that it also epitomizes the global economy’s race to the bottom. Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South.