Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

Good Morning:

* Death by a thousand cuts. That’s the only way to describe the interminable, glacier-paced “progress” for Red Rock-Joule Biofuels, stuck in the kind of regulatory slow mo that likely requires RR’s health plan to have Ativan in the lunch room (don’t even mention shareholders). Last week, though, after about a year, RR’s new hometown of Lakeview, OR, approved a roughly 60-acre urban growth boundary revision, possibly making room for RR’s new biofuels refinery. That’s 60 acres in a county with 8,358 square miles (New Jersey: 7,419 sq. miles). The good-mood therapists likely have opened their own happy room at DOE HQs too because RR is one of the companies that’s supposed to be way out front in the manufacture of alternate jet fuels. You’ll recall DOE’s financing help for Red Rock, Emerald and Fulcrum announced back in 2014. So far – not one drop of fuel.

* Smoke too much? California is developing a comprehensive inspection and maintenance program for heavy-duty vehicles, gross weight over 14,000 pounds. Implementation starts “in the post-2020 timeframe.” Draft materials are out for review. The state offers a quick vehicle-assessment test: you look at a printed, grey-scale strip-chart indicating various exhaust opacity, from 20% to 70%. Then, a driver performs a “snap-acceleration engine test” and you check compliance by comparing the exhaust smoke to the chart on the page. Before starting the engine, though, you might want to read this manual, it’s a snap, really – just 43 pages.

* Time flies! October 1st is the due date for state governors to present to USEPA the status of county compliance with the new ozone standard. Ozone has been a non-issue in some areas this past summer. Elsewhere, it’ll be a nail-biter regarding the new standard of 70 ppb. This starts a new round of area designations: attainment or non-attainment, and, subsequently, new or different or more stringent controls on NOx and VOCs. But nobody will get to relax too much because the Govs will use summertime data from 2013, -14 and 15. The Administrator, however, making her/his judgement a year later, in Oct. 2017, will use different data – from 2014, -15 and 16. Got that?


Tom Ewing


Tom Ewing: Environmental Update

Editors / Directors:

  • It started out as a sleeper but it’s moved close to the top of’s “what’s trending” list: In June the Coast Guard proposed new anchorage grounds in the Hudson River from Yonkers, NY, upriver to Kingston, about 90 miles. The concerns: navigation safety and traffic flow. At this writing, over 1000 comments are in the docket, presenting a classic tangle about how a working river and freight corridor should be used – or not used, perhaps placed off-limits from activities considered, by some, as too risky and, well, too old-school. This is moving from NIMBY (not in my backyard) to DETAI (don’t even think about it).
  • Bird's-eye_view_of_Hudson_River_from_walkway_5
  • There’s no free lunch: EIA reports that CO2 from natural gas will soon surpass CO2 from coal, because of the big shift in fuel usage. (Proportionately, of course, there’s less CO2 because of the nature of the two fuels.) This raises questions – how long can natural gas bridge from coal and petroleum to _______ ? At last month’s National Petroleum Council meeting DOE Secretary Moniz placed a lot of faith in Big Innovation (his term: “mission innovation”, but it’s gonna have to be big..!) an international effort to double worldwide energy R&D from $15 to $30 billion in the next five years. It takes a lot of work to change the temperature of a planet…
  • Last week, DOE presented its “Federal Alternative Jet Fuels Research and Development Strategy,” an important document, hopefully not too late. It’s from the White House and it’s supposed to coordinate executive agency work. I first saw reference to it in a May, 2014, GAO report. To be honest the lengthy new doc recounts a lot of old work, work that so far hasn’t produced much fuel, just plenty of headlines. (More on this after a closer look.)

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Have a great Monday and a great week!

Tom Ewing
513-379-5526 voice/text

Voters Feel Nation’s Infrastructure Needs Attention

Baby & GBy:  Greg Sitek

Days are flying by at a record-breaking pace as the presidential candidates race to the finish line in what, in my opinion, is the most vicious campaign since I was first eligible to vote. No, it wasn’t Lincoln vs. Douglas.

There are almost as many issues as there are dollars in our national debt. Among them is our infrastructure. A failing infrastructure is not conducive to growing a strong economy. Both parties recognize this face and have addressed it in campaign rhetoric.

With 90 days left before Election Day, a national poll released recently by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) found that half of registered voters say the nation’s infrastructure has gotten worse over the last five years, and a majority of voters said roads and bridges are in “extreme” need of repair.

The findings were part of a new national poll commissioned by AEM to gauge voter perceptions and attitudes about the current and future state of U.S. infrastructure amid a high-profile election. The poll found that registered voters, regardless of political affiliation, recognize the declining state of the nation’s infrastructure as an issue that should be addressed and believe that the federal government should do more to improve infrastructure across the board.

“Americans across the political spectrum understand the dire state of U.S. infrastructure and believe that the federal government should do more to improve our infrastructure,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM. “Voters recognized that increased federal funding for assets such as roads, bridges, and inland waterways will have a positive impact on the economy, and they are looking to the federal government to repair and modernize.”

The national poll identified a number of key findings, including:

• Nearly half (46 percent) of registered voters believe that the state of the nation’s infrastructure has gotten worse in the last five years.

• A significant majority (80 – 90 percent) of registered voters say that roads, bridges and energy grids are in some or extreme need of repairs.

• Half (49 percent) of the surveyed population feel that the federal government is primarily responsible for funding repairs to the nation’s infrastructure.

• Seven out of every 10 registered voters say increasing federal funding for infrastructure will have a positive impact on the economy.

• More than eight out of every ten Americans consider water infrastructure (86 percent), solar powered homes (83 percent) and smart infrastructure (82 percent) as the top three important innovations for the future of infrastructure.

• Voters across the political spectrum think that the federal government should do more to improve the nation’s overall infrastructure, with 68 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Independents and 76 percent of Democrats sharing this sentiment.

Registered voters also feel that government across the board should be doing more to improve the nation’s overall infrastructure, with 76 percent of individuals surveyed wanting more from state governments, 72 percent looking to the federal government to do more and 70 percent expecting more from local governments.

“Both presidential nominees have voiced their strong support for infrastructure investment,” says Ron DeFeo, CEO of Kennametal and chairman of AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative. “The specific ideas and proposals they offer over the next 90 days will be critically important, and voters should consider them carefully on Election Day.”

Currently, there are 4.12 million miles of road in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration, including Alaska and Hawaii. The core of the nation’s highway system is the 47,575 miles of Interstate Highways, which comprise just over 1 percent of highway mileage but carry one-quarter of all highway traffic. The Interstates plus another 179,650 miles of major roads comprise the National Highway System, which carries most of the highway freight and traffic in the U.S. Most of the roads in the U.S., 2.94 million miles, are located in rural areas, with the remaining 1.18 million miles located in urban areas. Local governments are responsible for maintaining and improving 3.18 million miles of road or 77.3 percent of the total. State highway agencies are responsible for over 780 thousand miles of road, or 19.0 percent. The federal government is responsible for only 150 thousand miles of road or 3.7 percent, largely roads in national parks, military bases and Indian reservations. Of the 4.07 million miles of road, about 2.68 million miles are paved, which includes most roads in urban areas. However, 1.39 million miles or more than one-third of all road miles in the U.S. are still unpaved gravel or dirt roads. These are largely local roads or minor collectors in rural areas of the country. (Source: Highway Statistics 2013 Table HM-20, HM-10, HM-12, HM-15, VM-202)

You don’t like the way things are going?

Do something about it!


Just because you vote don’t think your job is done. Keep track of your representatives in local, state and federal government.

Remember they work for you. You pay their salaries and benefits, and they are well paid. Make them accountable and communicate with them regularly. It is your country.

Additional information is available at: The Atlantic – Donald Trump’s Big-Spending Infrastructure Dream

FORTUNE – Both Republicans and Democrats Want More Infrastructure Spending Now

The Hill – Poll: Dems, GOP agree infrastructure worsening


Site-K Construction Zone

Washington Report By Sam Quigley

Washington Report

From Tom Ewing

Good Morning:

* IoT = Internet of Things – one of those possibly transformational developments impacting everything: from medicine to automobiles to supply chains to energy production to public utilities. On September 1 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, within the Department of Commerce, will host a workshop: “Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things.” The workshop builds on a “request for comments” filing in the Federal Register last April; DOC received 138 comments. Forthcoming: an “issue-spotting, agenda-setting green paper on IoT.” Advise if you want a report from this conference.

* Also on Sept. 1 the California Air Resources Board hosts a workshop to present and take comments on its Proposed 2016 State Strategy for the State Implementation Plans for ozone and particulates. This is important stuff. The focus is separated into two parts: mobile sources and a broader, more general portion. New controls won’t be easy nor cheap. But here’s the kicker – this is apparently for the old 75 ppb 2008 ozone standard, not the current one of 70 ppb! Very likely this program overlap is confusing to many people who think that CA’s current work is, well, current.

* EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) will hold a teleconference to discuss draft recommendations from the report prepared by the Mobile Sources Technical Review Subcommittee, a report prepared by its “Ports Initiative Workgroup.” The plan: to implement strategies to better control air quality and air emissions in and around maritime ports. EPA wants to move with this; the agency has fall-back plans waiting in the wings in case this particular Initiative doesn’t fly (or, uh, float, if you will…*:D big grin)

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Have a great Monday and a great week!

For more information, contact Tom Ewing