Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* In testimony at last week’s US House Energy Subcommittee hearing one witness commented that “bringing on more baseload (electric) generation in today’s marketplace is akin to bringing sand to the beach.” Energy policy makers, particularly in areas making large and relatively fast moves towards renewables – obviously, California, but also neighboring states soon to become California’s energy colonies – are facing new and different challenges than supply. Transmission, inter-connectivity, time-of-day and related costs and lengthy implementation schedules are moving to the policy forefront. Oh, and who’s in charge of all of that…

* With electricity, in the very near future, actually, probably right now, system efficiency and control will be key to integrating renewable power in vast, expansive decentralized grids. Importantly, one now gets the sense of endless power – reachable, if it can be harnessed and controlled. Think of a team of Belgian draft horses but with harness and equipment for a pony – not much work despite plenty of power. However it’s not just power: think of a team of strong ponies with the harness and equipment for drafts – not much work, despite what very likely could be all of the power you need for the task at hand. New energy software is critical and FERC has scheduled another in its series of conferences focusing on software to increase market and planning efficiency, think load forecasting that reads the future with instantaneous decisions. All details aren’t set but conference is scheduled for June. Advise if you want updates as this draws closer.

* The Conference of Great Lakes Governors and Premiers is evaluating how to rejuvenate the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Maritime Transportation System (MTS). This effort will continue through the end of the year, with a likely draft study for review early in the summer. The Conference wants to show that targeted federal investments and policy changes will boost MTS competitiveness. Goals are to double maritime trade, shrink environmental impacts of the region’s transportation network (including roads, trains) and support the region’s industrial core. Some policy ideas are emerging now. Just as important, many Great Lakes states, e.g., Ohio, are evaluating how to best use their inland waterways. Navigable rivers and the Great Lakes: surely two complementary assets!

Tom Ewing

Peeking At CONEXPO

By Greg Sitek

It’s over and now the industry has it sights on 2020 March 7-11 for the next roll of the CONEXPO-CON/AGG experience. The massive construction show will once againtake over LasVegas as it did this year.

Some 2017 CONEXPO show facts:

  • S. buyer attendance jumped over 16 percent from the 2014 show, and total buyer attendance improved by almost 8 percent.
  • Overall contractor and producer attendance grew by 10 percent.
  • Total attendance neared 128,000 for the week.
  • Almost half of all attendees serve in executive positions at their company, and more than 3-in-5 attendees serve in a decision-making role.
  • Almost 26,000 international attendees from 150 countries braved global headwinds including a strong dollar and flagging export markets and composed nearly 20 percent of overall attendance.
  • Attendees purchased a record-breaking 52,000 tickets for education sessions at the show, a 26 percent increase from the 2014 show. Total ticket sales excluding IFPE jumped by over 27 percent compared to 2014.

Without doubt this was one of the most upbeat industry shows I’ve attended. The excitement over the proposed $1 trillion infrastructure bill permeated the show. It was a treat to feel the positive attitude that greeted you every time you sat down for a press conference or entered a booth.

A forward-looking vision for construction and infrastructure took center stage at CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2017, from the unveiling of the world’s first 3D-printed excavator and the new Tech Experience to the largest show floor in history and a stellar education lineup featuring leading innovators.

The exhibitions held March 7-11, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, highlighted the newest product innovations and best practices for the construction and construction materials and fluid power/power transmission/motion control industries.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2017 spanned a record 2.8 million-plus net square feet of exhibits with a record 2,800-plus exhibitors from the leading U.S. and global manufacturers, from multinational giants to small firms with specialized products.

The technological changes revolutionizing construction and manufacturing were a central feature throughout the show. The first-ever Tech Experience pavilion attracted solid traffic throughout the week, as attendees flocked to see the world’s first-ever 3D-printed excavator, hear from industry innovators during a collection of “Tech Talks,” and engage with the conclusion of the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge Finale, which awarded $100,000 in prize money to winners over a crowd sourced competition to develop forward-looking infrastructure solutions.

There was no shortage of new products and technologies introduced at the show. The following are less than glimpse of only a few but illustrate the kinds of information and products shown this year in Las Vegas. Watch for more. 

JCB previewed an all-new skid steer and compact track loader with a telescopic boom. The JCB Teleskid is a revolutionary new product that can reach 60% further forward than other skid steers and can dig below its chassis to an unparalleled depth of around a little more than 3 feet (one meter).

LiuGong showcased its revolutionary new product – the Vertical Lift Wheel Loader. The product was first unveiled at LiuGong’s global dealer conference in November 2016 and was shown for the first time outside of China at CONEXPO This truly is new technology. The key innovations of the product are the vertical lift loader arms on an articulating frame and the mechanical self-leveling Z-bar bucket linkage on a vertical lift loader.

Wacker Neuson is expanding its telehandler line with the addition of the TH627. The TH627 is the second model in the manufacturer’s line to offer a unique ground-engaging telehandler that is a versatile three-in-one machine concept. Designed with a hydraulic universal attachment plate (SSL), the TH627 can be used with ground-engaging attachments and work like a (1) wheel loader to dig and carry, (2) a skid steer with a compact foot print capable of using multiple attachments and (3) a telehandler with a lift height of 18-feet, 7-inches and 5,500 pounds lifting capacity.

GOMACO Remote Diagnostics (GRD) is proven in the field by GOMACO contractors. GRD is more than telematics, giving owners the visibility of how, when, and where their equipment is being used. It’s a powerful extension to GOMACO’s existing service capabilities. It allows technicians a diagnostic review of a GOMACO machine from corporate headquarters in Ida Grove, Iowa, USA, at the owner’s shop, or on the job site. GRD will transmit G+® settings, configuration and fault history for an immediate and complete diagnosis. GRD also allows software updates, fleet management, service indicators. This remote capability also allows software updates to the G+ for specific applications or unique job-site logistics, such as new radius technology, support for new sensors, new code for 3D machine guidance technology, or additional updates for new product introductions. 

Topcon Positioning Group announces the next generation of automated concrete paving — the ZPS system — with the new Z-Robot and Z-Stack sensor. Using enhanced Topcon Millimeter GPS® technology, the ZPS system is designed to bring unmatched accuracy to concrete paving with a fraction of the hardware required for traditional LPS (local positioning system).

The new Z-Robot is an advanced robotic total station with integrated Z-beam laser technology. The Z-Robot is designed to provide a hybrid function of high-precision, optically-based vertical accuracy control and the convenience of Z-beam laser positioning to maintain that accuracy across the paver. It was shown at the show on a GOMACO paver.

CASE introduced the DL450 a fully integrated compact dozer loader AKA “Project Minotaur” – a first-of-its-kind fully integrated design that matches the best operating characteristics of a compact track loader (CTL) with a crawler dozer. A launch/production date for the machine has not been confirmed, but CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 represents a new and advanced phase in product development with extensive voice of customer work being conducted at the show and with top contractors.Project Minotaur” brings together the footprint and performance of a compact track loader with the true power and dozing characteristics of a bulldozer; the new product is currently in “concept” phase.

Remember, this is only a glimpse of what CONEXPO-CON/AGG was…




Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* DOE’s Electricity Advisory Committee meets this month. The EAC advises the Secretary on a host of critical electrical energy policies, including modernizing the nation’s electricity delivery infrastructure. The day-and-a-half session has a strong agenda. This meeting will surely draw even more interest because it will be the first such meeting that will include leadership from President Trump’s energy team. Advise if you would like a report from this meeting.

* The President’s Executive Order regarding the “Waters of the United States” rule was published last week. This is the policy extending federal authority to disconnected and temporary bodies of standing water, water that might never flow offsite or that did not clearly flow within the intermingling system of rivulets, streams, ditches, tributaries, rivers, estuaries and oceans, a co-mingling that surely presents interstate and federal issues. Despite its characterization in the daily press, the EO is hardly a unilateral order. Next steps are part of a familiar process: EPA will review the rule and then “publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule, as appropriate and consistent with law.” Obviously, more to come on this.

* ASTM – The American Society for Testing and Materials – sets safety and performance standards for product quality, health and safety, to strengthen market access and trade and to build consumer confidence. The group works via a committee system and last week ASTM announced plans to launch a a new committee focused on creating technical standards and guidance materials for cannabis and its products and processes. If you’d like to, uh, help test some of the cannabis, you can ask to be on the new committee – but don’t wait too long, no shortage of volunteers for this one…!

Tom Ewing

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* On again… off again…

* On again… off again… DOT/FHWA’s reporting requirements for the federal highway system, announced as final in the FR last January, were stayed last week by DOT “in accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2017, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, entitled ‘Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.’’’ The stay is effective until March 21. The new leadership team wants more time for review. One big issue here, of course, is new reporting for greenhouse gas emissions.

* Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality co-hosts an event this week in Detroit called “Nurturing Sustainable Communities from the Ground Up.” It’s a one day session including businesses, governing agencies, community groups and citizens looking to find and implement sustainable solutions for the region. The Agenda focuses on the intersection between the physicality of public space, commerce, and developing diverse and inclusive communities. What does it take to achieve sustainable, healthy communities “so that the environment, business and culture combine to support human flourishing?” The event is at the Roberts Riverwalk Hotel situated along the Detroit River and the restored RiverWalk greenway.

* The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment holds its next meeting Tuesday, March 7 and Wednesday, March 8, 2017 in Bethesda, MD. The meeting will include updates on:(1) The Fourth National Climate Assessment process; (2) data and tools developed to support sustained assessment; (3) approaches to sustained partnerships developed in regional science organizations and other groups; (4) state-level assessment activities; and (5) the Advisory Committee’s work plan. It’s an open meeting but you do need to register by Feb. 28.


Tom Ewing


Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* Last December the Army Corp of Engineers published a draft rule that would update and formalize how water supplies are controlled and managed at Army Corps reservoir systems, formalizing a somewhat uneven regulatory process for the last 60 years or so. On the front lines: cities, potable water, commerce, energy production, wildlife, navigation and recreation from the Dakotas to Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. Oh, and fracking just might be involved. Last week the Corp announced the comment period would be extended to May. This will likely impact related state and municipal water issues, e.g., in the Klamath River basin in Oregon and California.

* The Department of Agriculture proposed updates to regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered organisms, making it easier for “regulated entities whose organisms pose no plant pest or noxious weed risks.” Comments were due in May, but that has been extended for 30 days. The use of GMOs in energy crops was a big topic for DOE for many years, in association with Agriculture. It will be interesting to see how that research might shift in the next six to eight months.

* In its 2017 biennial report to the legislature Oregon’s Global Warming Commission has an important “key takeaway:” the majority of the increase (60%) in greenhouse gas emissions “came from the transportation sector, specifically the use of gasoline and diesel.” The GWC references “likely transportation legislation including a gas tax increase,” increased transit service levels, and “wider deployment of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) reliant on a clean electrical grid.” A related, possible 2017 legislative topic is establishing a carbon market, like California’s. So far, no moves on that front.

Tom Ewing