Monthly Archive for April, 2009

Daily Dirt

Cement Industry Honors Leaders In Environmental Improvement

Six cement plants received special recognition for their commitment to improving the environment and their communities at the Eighth Annual Cement Industry Environment and Energy Awards, presented by Portland Cement Association (PCA) and Cement Americas magazine at PCA’s Spring Meeting in Chicago, April 28, 2009.

The awards program, created in 2000 by PCA as part of its renewed environment and energy strategic plan for the U.S. cement industry, honors individual cement facilities that exemplify the spirit of continuous environmental improvement and support this spirit with action. These plants went beyond government regulations and local laws to ensure that their processes and policies contributed to making their communities better places to live and work. The awards honor activities conducted during the previous calendar year, and the program is open to any cement manufacturing plant in North America.

“Minimizing the environment impact of its plants and making their local communities better places are top priorities for cement manufacturers,” said Brian McCarthy, PCA president and CEO. “The actions taken by these plants and many others are at the fore-front of manufacturing technology and illustrate the cement industry’s commitment to produce a superior product while continuously challenging policies and procedures”

Twenty-five cement plants in the United States and Canada were nominated for the awards. Six categories recognized plants throughout the United States:

  • Overall Environmental Excellence: A facility that demonstrates excellence in several or each of the below categories is recognized with this award.

    Titan America LLC/Roanoke Cement Company Troutville, VA
    Honored as a runner-up in the Energy Efficiency category and a finalist in the Environmental Performance category, the Roanoke Cement Company plant is keenly aware that increasing efficiencies in operations reduces its environmental impact. The company has initiated several programs to meet its goal to reduce, reclaim and reuse wastes. For example, it reuses 100 percent of its cement kiln dust (CKD) and is emptying its CKD landfill for use by local farmers. For the past two years Roanoke Cement has been a receipt of the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR and in 2008 became an ENERGY STAR partner. As an ENEGY STAR partner, all Titan plants will submit to independent energy efficiency monitoring that includes base lining, tracking, and benchmarking the company’s energy performance. Surrounded by the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, the plant and its employees participate in several environmental community events including an creek-clean up.

  • Outreach: Facilities that strive to enhance community, employee, and government relations through communication, partnerships, voluntary efforts, contributions, environmental education, and other measures are honored in this award.

    Holcim (US) Inc. – Theodore, AL
    The Holcim Theodore facility staff participates in a number of community and environmental outreach activities each year. For the past several years, the plant has participated in the Annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup Day, a world-wide event to clean trash and debris from beaches, lakes and streams. During the 2008 Clean-up, Holcim-led volunteers collected more than 3,000 pounds of debris from the Theodore Industrial Canal. In addition to participation in community events such as Mobile Bay Derelict Crab Trap Removal Day and the Keep Mobile Beautiful electronic recycling days, the plant has a Community Advisory Committee made up of neighborhood residents. This group helps Holcim maintain an open line of communications with the local community and engages stakeholders.

  • Environmental Performance Award: This category honors those facilities that take steps beyond those contained in environmental laws, regulations, permits, and requirements to minimize their impact on the environment. Recognition for this award is given for pollution prevention, waste minimization, distinctive environmental controls, environmental management systems, and facility recognition.

    Holcim (US) Inc. – Holly Hill, SC
    In 2008, the Holcim Holly Hill facility completed several notable projects that improved their environmental performance in emissions and energy consumption. For example, the plant was able to reduce the amount of CKD by 44 percent compared to 2007 through better raw material analysis. The Holly Hill plant utilizes a significant amount of waste material that it generates as an alternative fuel source, saving landfill space and fossil fuels. In 2008, alternative fuels supplied 32 percent of the fuel requirements for the plant, the equivalent of nearly 62,000 tons of traditional fossil fuels.

  • Land Stewardship: Efforts to protect and enhance the surrounding land through landscaping, species protection, and remediation and rehabilitation of quarries, wetlands, and other features are recognized in this category.

    CEMEX – Knoxville, TN
    The CEMEX Knoxville plant has worked with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), local schools and other organizations to improve wildlife habitats on their property. It worked with University of Tennessee students to preserve and dedicate the nine-acre Cabbage Island in the Holston River as a wildlife habitat. The island is home to more than 30 avian species, including bald eagle, and 16 mammalian species. CEMEX also worked with the Wild Turkey Federation, the NRCS and Legacy Parks Foundation to locate 5.5 acres of wildlife food plots that improve nutrition of local wildlife such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and bobwhite quail.

  • Innovation: This category recognizes the development and application of innovation technologies and techniques relevant to environmental protection or energy efficiency.

    Buzzi Unicem USA – Greencastle, IN
    The
    Greencastle Buzzi Unicem USA facility has found an innovative means to address a portion of their energy needs. It is the only cement plant in the U.S. utilizing spent pot liner (SPL) as an alternative fuel source. SPL, a waste product generated by the aluminum industry, traditionally has been sent to landfills. The Greencastle plant developed a dedicated storage, handling, and injection system for off-site processed pot liner. In addition to recognizing a modest replacement of coal when using the byproduct, SPT’s raw material constituents also allow for modest replacement of raw materials such as sand and shale. Based on the success of the SPL project, Buzzi is exploring the possibility of incorporating additional hard-to-handle waste materials from other industries.

  • Energy Efficiency: This category focuses on energy planning, applications of efficient technologies and practices, and climate change mitigation efforts.

    CalPortland Cement Company – Mojave, CA
    The CalPortland Cement Company Mojave plant has an efficiency program that has resulted in major energy reductions, saved thousands of dollars, and prevented the emission of tens of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. In 2008, the plant completed a “behind-the-meter” wind project that represents the largest such renewable wind project servicing a manufacturing facility in the world to date. Eight 3-megawatt wind turbines (24 megawatts total) generate 60 million kilowatts per year of renewable energy and supply approximately 35 percent of the plant’s annual electricity needs. This is a reduction of over 42,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions which is the equivalent of powering 5,255 homes for a year.

New Jersey To Increase Road Construction Crews

Construction crews will be a familiar sight on roads, bridges and highways throughout the United States for the next several months thanks to federal and state efforts to improve the economy. New Jersey is no exception.

“Certainly this summer you’re going to see a lot of work,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Steve Dilts during Tuesday’s Assembly Budget Committee meeting in Trenton, NJ.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), New Jersey has received over $1 billion in stimulus funds for highway, bridge and transit projects. New Jersey is building, designing or acquiring right-of-way for 40 projects throughout the state which will create thousands of jobs.

Dilts outlined his agency’s plans for the next fiscal year as part of the committee’s ongoing review of the $29.8 billion budget that Governor Jon Corzine (D) put forward in March. The address included much about construction.

The department’s operating budget is being reduced by Corzine as part of a broader response to revenue decreases brought on by the bad economy. But, Dilts said, his department and other state transportation agencies will spend nearly $6 billion on infrastructure improvements this year and in 2010, thanks to capital projects the governor has made a priority in an effort to create jobs.

Despite staff reductions and other cutbacks, Dilts said, DOT is prepared to handle oversight of the massive infrastructure spending.

“We will continue the high level of transparency we have instituted so the public knows exactly where stimulus dollars are going,” he said. “We embrace the transparency and accountability of this process in an effort to give the public full confidence in its government.”

Among the planned infrastructure projects is the new mass transit tunnel linking New Jersey and Manhattan. Dilts called the tunnel “the most important project of this generation.”

The tunnel construction will create 6,000 jobs annually through 2017 and 44,000 permanent jobs, he said. It will also speed up express service and in-state transit.

“The tunnel is absolutely a cornerstone of our transportation system moving forward,” added Dilts.

Greg Sitek

Daily Dirt

Deere’s Ruccolo Testifies Before House Select Committee on Green Transportation Policy, Infrastructure

With global warming, clean energy and job-creating infrastructure projects high on the agenda for Congress and the Obama Administration, and our nation’s primary transportation bill up for Congressional reauthorization, green transportation measures are gaining increasing attention. America’s transportation sector is responsible for approximately one-third of our country’s heat-trapping carbon emissions.

With these political and environmental factors as a backdrop, chairman Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and vice chair Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming recently held a hearing on how various transit modes and the methodology and materials to build our transportation system can reduce global warming and cut our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.

John Deere Construction & Forestry senior vice president of Sales & Marketing, Domenic Ruccolo, testified before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, advocating making infrastructure projects greener through the use of more productive and efficient construction equipment that gets the most work out of every gallon of fuel used.

Ruccolo’s testimony came during the Committee’s hearing on “Constructing a Green Transportation Policy: Transit Modes and Infrastructure.”

Among other action items, he urged the Federal government to take steps to support further efforts within the construction equipment industry to improve equipment productivity and efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.

“Collaboration and cooperation between the public and private sectors are needed to investigate and fund the research and development of new standards and technologies to further improve equipment productivity and efficiency,” Ruccolo said. “The Federal government has not consistently assisted the off-highway equipment industry in the past on such an effort, concentrating instead upon the over-the-road sector.

“However, by recognizing the essential role non-road equipment will play in transforming the transportation and other sectors of the economy to achieve ambitious and necessary greenhouse gas reductions, we can see that appropriate investment by the Federal government into non-road technologies would create substantial environment returns,” Ruccolo said.

Ruccolo went on to point out that any future strategic modal shifts from road transport to rail and public transportation systems to help offset growth in greenhouse gas emissions would require construction equipment to build and maintain the infrastructure foundation for the shifts.

“By supporting the non-road equipment industry to make machines more productive and efficient, the Nation will be able to achieve these shifts and realize the environmental benefits more quickly and with lest cost,” Ruccolo explained.

Ruccolo also addressed the vital relationship between infrastructure investment and job creation. “John Deere witnesses firsthand the dramatic impact of the current financial crisis on its workforce, dealers and customers,” Ruccolo said.

“There are over 2 million construction workers currently without jobs. Without a doubt, we are all ready, willing and able to get back to work for the Nation to help rebuild its economy and create the environmentally sound infrastructure it deserves. Predictable, adequate and effective use of program funding to achieve these ends should be a policy priority.”

Ruccolo then asked Congress to trust national experts regarding the financial requirements to accomplish healthy infrastructure funding for the next Highway and Transit bill, quoting the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission’s estimate that $225 billion is needed annually.

Oberstar Pushes Congress For Vehicle Mileage Tax

Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman said Tuesday that he wants Congress to enact a mileage-based tax on cars and trucks to pay for highway programs now rather than wait years to test the idea.

Oberstar said he believes the technology exists to implement a vehicle mileage tax (VMT) and sees no point in waiting years for the results of pilot programs since such a tax system is inevitable as federal gasoline tax revenues decline.

“Why do we need a pilot program? Why don’t we just phase it in?” said Oberstar, who is drafting a new six-year transportation bill to fund highway and transit programs that is expected to total around a half trillion dollars.

A congressionally mandated commission on transportation financing alternatives recommended switching to a VMT, but estimated it would take a decade to put a national system in place.

“I think it can be done in far less than that, maybe two years,” Oberstar said at a House hearing. He was responding to testimony by Representative Earl Blumenauer, (D-OR), who recommended that the transportation bill include pilot programs in every state to test the viability of a mileage-based tax.
Blumenauer said public acceptance, not technology, is the main obstacle to a VMT.

Pilot programs “would be able to increase public awareness and comfort and it would hasten the day we could make the transition,” Blumenauer said.

“I’m at a point of impatience with more studies,” Oberstar said. He suggested that Representative Peter DeFazio, (D-OR), chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, set up a meeting of transportation experts and members of Congress to figure out how it could be done.

The tax would entail equipping vehicles with GPS technology to determine how many miles a car has been driven and whether on interstate highways or secondary roads. The devi
ces would also calculate the amount of tax owed
.

“At this point there are a lot of things that are under consideration and there is also a strong need to find revenue,” Oberstar spokesman Jim Berard said. “A vehicle miles-traveled tax is a logical complement, and perhaps a future replacement, for fuel taxes.”

Gas tax revenues — the primary source of federal funding for highway programs — have dropped dramatically in the last two years, first because gas prices were high and later because of the economic downturn. They are forecast to continue going down as drivers switch to more fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has ruled out raising gas taxes to make up for the funding shortfall, and the White House rejected a mileage-based tax earlier this year when LaHood suggested a VMT as a viable way of funding our transportation infrastructure. Now, Congress is thinking perhaps a VMT needs to be considered as one of several approaches to funding our transportation infrastructure.

“The funding of the Highway Trust Fund is a complex issue that will require consultation with Congress and consideration of a number of creative ideas,” said Transportation Department spokeswoman Jill Zuckman. “The Secretary looks forward to working with Chairman Oberstar and others as they consider how to keep the Highway Trust Fund going.”

A VMT has been unpopular in some states where it has been proposed. Critics say it unfairly penalizes drivers who live in rural areas and intrudes on privacy.

“When we can solve the equity issues to a majority’s satisfaction in the Congress, when we can solve the privacy issues to the satisfaction of the American people, we can look at moving forward, but I just don’t think we have the data or the experience right now to say we can set a timeline or a deadline,” DeFazio said in a recent interview.

What would be unfair would be collecting funds from people who never use our highways or transportation systems. It’s difficult to understand how a VMT could be considered as unfair, especially if the system differentiates between Interstate and other types of highway travel. As noted above, funding the Highway Trust Fund is a complex problem. There is no simple solution but these problems don’t change a simple basic fact, if the people who use the roads don’t pay for them who should?

Speaking at a press conference organized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Public Transit Association (APTA) last week, Oberstar received the groups’ “bottom line” report of spending needs to maintain and improve transportation infrastructure.

Oberstar said he did not expect that the Highway Trust Fund will require another infusion of money from the government’s general fund before a new highway spending plan has been passed. He intends to stick to a timetable that will put a new surface transportation bill before the House by June 1, and get the bill passed by Congress by Sept. 30.

Oberstar said that the new bill will include provisions for freight transportation on highway, rail and water, and also push reforms in the Department of Transportation to give greater emphasis to intermodal transportation.

He did not give details, but in the past Oberstar has said he wants to have a high-level official to be responsible for DOT’s intermodal programs, a restructuring of the Federal Highway Administration and a way to reduce the amount of time it takes to get projects authorized and funded.

John Horsley, AASHTO executive director, said that the U.S. will need to invest $225 billion a year for the six-year span of the bill’s life to upgrade highways, reduce congestion, and give more passengers the option of riding public transportation instead of driving. The estimate is close to ones done by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission and another congressional commission that studied highway infrastructure policy and financing.

Greg Sitek

Ray LaHood’s First 100 Days

When Ray LaHood was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Transportation on January 23, 2009, he could not have foreseen that the signature accomplishment of his first 100 days in office would likely involve spending $48 billion provided for transportation infrastructure projects through the Stimulus Package, including up to $30 billion for highways and bridges, $12 billion for transit, $3.1 billion for passenger rail and $3 billion for airports. But the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), signed into law by President Barack Obama on Feb. 17—one heavy with both expenditures and expectations of economic recovery—may well determine his success as the 16th Secretary of Transportation.

This may be the first time in the history of our country that the Secretary of Transportation plays such a critical role in defining our economic future. Our transportation infrastructure is a key component in reestablishing the United State’s position as a global economic leader.

As Secretary, LaHood oversees the Department of Transportation and its key agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Surface Transportation Board (STB), among others. The agency has a $70 billion annual budget and nearly 60,000 employees.

His department is charged with shepherding through one of the largest federal transportation bills since the construction of the Interstate Highway System launched by the Eisenhower Administration, which revolutionized the way Americans traveled.

“My job is really to work with the president to develop good transportation policy. On a much larger scale, carrying out policy that’s developed between Congress and the administration,” LaHood said.

On April 13, I-94 in Kalamazoo, MI was awarded funding for the 2,000th transportation project under the Recovery Act. Now only two weeks later, the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved more than 2,500 projects for funding under ARRA. All states have received some stimulus funding.

“The most challenging part is making sure we spend this money correctly and really trying to do our part to help jump-start the economy,” LaHood said.

One of the more demanding aspects of his role will be working with Congress to develop a new Highway Trust Fund bill that provides a variety of revenue generating approaches to its funding. Gasoline taxes for nearly half a century have paid for the federal share of highway and bridge construction, but LaHood said they can no longer be counted on to raise enough money to keep the nation’s transportation system moving.

“Traditionally, we’ve used the Highway Trust Fund to take care of our roads and bridges, and we’re going to work with Congress on the next authorization bill, which Congress is already beginning to work on to find ways to supplement the Highway Trust Fund, which we know just is not capable of doing all the things we want to do in transportation, as well as keep up our roads and bridges, and so there are some alternatives that are being talked about,” LaHood said in a recent Washington Post interview.

“There will be no raising the gas tax under this administration, particularly because of the rough shape that our economy is in, and with so many people out of work, it’s very difficult to be talking to people about raising the gas tax.”

Earlier this year, President Obama’s Administration slapped down a suggestion by LaHood that the government tax motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn. Now, Congress is thinking perhaps a vehicle mileage tax (VMT) needs to be considered as one of several approaches to funding our transportation infrastructure.

“Well, look it, that’s something that I think Congress will talk about in the context of a lot of different alternatives, other than – you know, to build on the Highway Trust Fund and to supplement the Highway Trust Fund, and that debate will go on in Congress because Congress knows it needs to find ways to really supplement the Highway Trust Fund,” LaHood said.

When LaHood was asked what people’s assessment of his first 100 days would be, he responded, “That I was able to really help the President to the extent that we had $48 billion in the economic stimulus plan. Every State in the country now is starting to receive some of that money. Every State has had projects that have been certified by our Department, and my point is we’re getting money out the door.

“So, as soon as the weather breaks around the country, you’re going to see an enormous number of people working in good-paying jobs that will be our opportunity at DOT to help the President jump-start the economy.

“We’ve played a big role in that, whether it’s grants to airports for new runways, whether it’s new highways, whether it’s resurfacing highways, whether it’s transit districts, new buses, and I think we have played a big role in the hundred days of jump-starting the economy.”

LaHood is also working to develop “livable communities” that tie together transportation and housing. Goals are to provide more choices for affordable housing near employment opportunities, more transportation options with lower costs and shorter travel times and a better environment.

“I think everyone, urban and rural alike, needs safe and affordable access. Access to work, to medical services, to schools, to shopping, to recreation and to other essential activities,” LaHood wrote recently, on his blog, Fastlane.

“I think also the President wants to create opportunities for people to live in communities where they don’t always have to be in an automobile to get where they’re going, that perhaps there’s a bus, perhaps there’s light rail, perhaps there’s a bicycle path, perhaps there’s a walking path.”

Greg Sitek

Show Updates

ICUEE 2009 Offers The Latest Industry Education

Keeping up to date with the latest technology and techniques to boost productivity is more important than ever in today’s marketplace.

Attendees at the 2009 ICUEE – The Demo Expo will find more than 115 learning opportunities focused specifically on emerging trends in the construction and utility industry. That’s more than double the number at the last ICUEE, held in 2007.

“We know our attendees’ time away from the office and worksite is valuable. ICUEE education offers focused, in-depth knowledge-sharing opportunities with the industry’s leading experts. Participants can also share experiences and insights with peers from across the country and internationally,” noted Show Director Melissa Magestro.

ICUEE – the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition will be held October 6-8, 2009 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The show is known for extensive hands-on working equipment demonstrations and will cover more than one million net square feet of exhibits of the latest equipment, technologies, products and services. It is expected to attract 850 exhibitors.

ICUEE education features extensive learning opportunities with leading industry experts on the latest safety, regulatory, operational and technological issues affecting the utility and construction industry.

The 2009 ICUEE education includes new programs/sessions from Gas Technology Institute (GTI), Incident Prevention (iP), Industrial Utility Vehicle (IUV), National Rural Water Association (NRWA), Outside Plant (OSP) and Underground Construction Technology (UCT).

Industry professionals can access education geared to underground, above-ground and overhead applications, and sessions targeted to electric, sewer/water, phone/cable, gas, general construction, government and landscaping segments.

Sessions are grouped in tracks including equipment/fleet management, gas, renewable energy, safety, management/professional development, telecom, underground and water. Continuing Education Units (CEU) will be available for many of the education modules

Classroom programs and field trips will be offered pre-show and during the show. The latest details are on the show website, and attendees can sign up online. A variety of ticket packages are available so attendees can select just the sessions they need. Advance registration provides additional cost savings.

Pre-show, UCT will host an Advanced HDD workshop on Monday, October 5. This special day-long session will provide valuable tips and insights into the application and efficient operations of HDD projects. The presentation is structured to aid contractors, utilities and engineers in understanding the advantages, limitations and applications of a technology that increasingly is becoming the preferred installation method for underground construction. This special program is also applicable for seasoned drillers seeking a refresher course/update or inexperienced operators seeking to better understand the role of HDD in modern construction. After this workshop, attendees can then visit HDD equipment suppliers booths with an educated eye.

A field trip to the Outer Loop Landfill will be held Monday, October 5 from 1 pm to 3 pm. Another field trip is scheduled Thursday, October 8 from 2 pm to 4:30 pm to the Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment Center (MFWQTC), a High Purity Oxygen Waste Activated Sludge Secondary treatment plant. The largest wastewater treatment plant in Kentucky, MFWQTC is designed to treat 120 million gallons per day dry weather flow and up to 350 million gallons per day wet weather flow.

You can now follow the ICUEE 2009 trade show on Twitter at http://twitter.com/icuee and join the ICUEE – The Demo Expo Group at Linked in.

Greg Sitek

New Products

Mt. Clemens Crane Announces New Safety Saves Crane Operator Training Program

Mt. Clemens Crane, an industry leading crane engineering and service company with ISO 9001 certification, announces the launch of their new Safety Saves Crane Operator Training Program available for purchase on their website.

“This program was developed to provide our customers with a thorough, yet low cost, solution to train their crane operators in-house on how to safely operate an overhead crane or hoist,” said Jim Haase PE, structural engineer at Mt. Clemens Crane.

The 70 minute Safety Saves operator training program, one of the most all-inclusive programs of its kind ever offered to overhead crane users, was developed to train up to 20 students and covers the operating and the maintenance procedures required to meet industry and government regulations. The program comes complete with everything needed to properly train crane operators and includes video instruction, printed comprehension materials, exams, hand-outs, posters, and certificates of completion. Both a starter and refill package are available.

The addition of the Safety Saves training program to Mt Clemens Crane’s existing onsite training program offered throughout the Midwest ensures every crane operator receives training to operate a crane safely and effectively.

Greg Sitek