Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* The President’s 03/28 Executive Order “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” deserves a close read. This is the EO that upends the Clean Power Plan and related issues such as calculating the “social cost of carbon,” sometimes referred to as the most important number most people have never heard of. Agency heads face specific deadlines, the first one in 45 days, to present a plan for reviewing “all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions (collectively, agency actions) that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.”

* The Massachusetts Cape Wind energy project is one of those projects that you hear about, forget about, hear about, forget about (at least if you’re not living near Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket). Now it’s back in the news: On March 30 the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) about whether the ocean floor can support structural frameworks: yes, it can. But does this mean anything for this tortuous, twisted, never ending timeline and process that started in 2001?! Remember that old movie – 2001: A Wind Odyssey

* OK, yes, it’s an overly blunt metric but the annual, total number of Federal Register pages does give some insight into big and bigger government. So what’s the total number of FR pages after the 1st quarter? Glad you asked. As of March 31, the FR was up to page 16099. One year ago, the total was 18737 pages. So this year, for what it’s worth: 2,638 fewer pages.

Tom Ewing

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* Musical science: Harmony. On March 22 EPA and DOT announced reconsideration of the mid-term evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2022-2025 light duty vehicles. EPA regulates GHG. But DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets fuel economy standards. EPA finished its work and, in January, unilaterally set new fuel standards since that’s really the only way (right now) to control GHG. However, NHTSA’s evaluation was not ready and it pushed back. EPA’s GHG review is supposed to evaluate impact on fuel economy and “a national harmonized program.” EPA, naturally, wanted the solo part. Now a new choral directed yanked ‘em off stage, so to speak. A review will restart. EPA’s new Final Determination is due no later than April 1, 2018, likely to be arranged as a duet or maybe even an ensemble. You can be sure those engines will be purring with complex harmonies…

* DOE’s Electricity Advisory Committee meets this week in Arlington, VA. The agenda covers a range of issues critical for the critical changes that electricity planners say are required to transition the US from old-school power systems to an integrated system able to move almost as fast as the electrons themselves, and provide enough power for the transportation sector. The Internet of Things is a central agenda item – there are a lot of things that use electricity. Other topics focus on smart grids, power delivery, storage and presentation of MIT’s Utility of the Future Study.

* Colonialism. Energy agencies in California released a final Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative report last month. It’s a difficult read (mostly because it’s written in the docu-speak language) but it is chock full of important information. Transmission is a critical concern, such as a California “intertie” to wind projects in Wyoming and New Mexico! (What if Chicago, about equidistant, wants Wyoming’s wind power?) Meanwhile, while donor states get spiked and laced with oh-so-scenic generation and transmission infrastructure the report also tells of local prohibitions on renewable energy in San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Solano Counties, the CA end-points sucking up the energy produced 1000 miles away! What?

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