Tom Ewing: Environmental Update

Editors / Directors:

  • It started out as a sleeper but it’s moved close to the top of Regulation.gov’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.)

Need research/reporting/writing help?

Have a great Monday and a great week!

Tom Ewing

tfewing1@yahoo.com
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!

Vote!

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

AEM – www.aem.org

Site-K Construction Zone http://www.site-kconstructionzone.com/?p=12782

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)

Need research/reporting/writing help?

Have a great Monday and a great week!

For more information, contact Tom Ewing tfewing1@yahoo.com

Get Ready to Vote

Baby & GTraditionally August is hot, humid, the vacation month, the yellow-cone-traffic-jamb-detour season; long weekends; yard work; painting; planning; fixing. It’s a busy time for everyone especially the construction industry. Is it as busy as it should be; needs to be?

By this time we know who is running for the presidency and what they are saying they will do. It’s not only the presidential who are trying to convince us they are what we needs it’s also people running for congress the house and the senate.

I recently received a press release from the Associated Builder and Contractors, ABC, which I would normally have run as a new item but because November is approaching faster than the end of summer I thought I’d share it with you now.

Construction Labor Force Shrinks, Job Numbers Flat

Labor Market Dynamics Cause for Concern

Despite a broader U.S. labor market rebound in June, the construction industry failed to add jobs for a third consecutive month, according to an analysis of today’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The construction industry’s employment level remained essentially unchanged in June.  

While nonresidential specialty trade contractors collectively added 3,700 net new positions, nonresidential builders shed 1,300 positions, and heavy and civil engineering contractors reduced staffing levels by another 3,900. Residential builders trimmed their employment total by 2,400 in June, while residential specialty trade contractors added 4,700 positions. 

“The construction industry unemployment rate declined to 4.6 percent in June from 5.2 percent the previous month, but not for the right reasons,” said Anirban Basu, ABC’s chief economist. “The overall national unemployment rate rose in June as labor force participation edged higher. However, the size of the construction industry labor force shrank. This may be an indication that as other segments of the U.S. economy continue to add jobs, a growing number of construction workers and construction jobseekers are shifting to other industries.  There are many implications associated with this pattern, including relatively faster wage growth despite the recent flattening in nonresidential construction spending. 

“As has been the case for many months, the most significant sources of weakness in construction activity and hiring relate to public spending,” said Basu. “Despite the passage of a federal highway spending bill late last year, heavy and civil engineering contractors, many of whom are engaged in work on roads and bridges, have been trimming employment. Not only did this segment shed jobs in June, but employment in this sector is slightly less than it was a year ago.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the nation added 287,000 net new jobs in June, led by job growth in leisure, healthcare, professional/business services, retail and finance. The information sector also added jobs as striking Verizon workers returned to work. Given the recent rise in oil prices, construction industry stakeholders may be speculating that some workers may have left the industry for the energy production sector,” said Basu

Employment_7_8_16 Employment_Chart 2 7_8_16There are only days left until the election. The presidential election is important but so are all the elections. Take time to understand what the representatives you vote for stand for; believe in; support.

Our highways and infrastructure are crumbling; we need people in congress who understand the importance of updating, repairing, replacing and maintaining these resources.

In November VOTE, but vote intelligently.