Tag Archive for 'environment'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Last October, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum titled “Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West.”  It set streamlining demands for major western water projects, including work underway within the Columbia River Basin – more specifically, an Environmental Impact Statement and Biological Opinion originally due in 2021.  The President said: too slow, git-‘r-done faster.  Last week the co-lead agencies – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration – announced that their plan to speed things up was approved by the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  Work will be finished next year – 2020.  “The agencies now are revising project details in order to reach the new completion date.”  It looks like the work pace quickens for tasks related to “Public Comment Review and Synthesis” and “Prepare Final EIS and Identify Preferred Alternative.”  The final EIS should be out in June 2020 rather than the previous, much more exact deadline of March 26, 2021.
*  Next week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release the findings of its Annual Energy Outlook 2019 (AEO), including long-term projections of U.S. energy supply, demand, and prices, including cases that address alternative assumptions regarding U.S. economic growth rates, domestic energy resources and technology, and world oil prices. Additionally, EIA will present its January 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).  This news release will really be an event, a presentation, and discussion by top EIA officials followed by an expert panel discussion on the issues within the new Outlooks.  Panelists are from the Bipartisan Policy Center, EPRI and FERC.
*  PFAS* monitoring continues in Michigan.  State and County officials retested 21 private residential wells in Otsego, MI.  Fortunately, there was no presence of fearsome dioxins in most of the wells that had previously tested positive.  Only one well showed trace amounts – the highest level was 0.13 parts per quadrillion (ppq), far below drinking water standards.  Wells were tested for PFAS around the former Menasha Corporation Landfill in Otsego.  Good news: All residential well samples came back negative for PFAS.  This investigation continues.  Next phase: testing soil samples for dioxins and PFAS.
*”PFAS,” or PFAs,” is an acronym for perfluoroalkyls, which are a group of man-made chemicals that are not found naturally in the environment, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These are industrial chemicals used in manufacturing.

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  There’s a tidal-hydrokinetic research project underway in Bourne, MA, at the end of the Cape Cod Canal.  The Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative of New England filed an application (not its first filing) with FERC for a draft pilot license application that would allow interconnection with the on-shore electrical grid.  This is pretty small stuff where power is concerned, about 100 kW.  A public comment period started in November and given MA’s environmental mandates pertaining to energy you might think that this Collaborative would have a whole lot of friends hoping they get this thing working, the faster the better.  Nope: not one supportive comment to FERC from any public officials or renewable energy or anti-pipeline groups.  In fact, MA’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife criticized the application, writing that it falls short and requires more work, that the pilot license should not be granted.  Ditto for NOAA.  FERC is likely to make a next-step decision soon.  
*  But, change takes time, of course.  On Dec. 17 USEPA proposed approving a MassDOT project establishing high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and specified transit facilities on certain roadways around Boston, e.g., I-93, I-90 and Route 3. The changes would improve air quality because of decreased vehicle miles traveled and less congestion.  Less fuel burned, of course, also means less CO2.  Again, considering MA is required to decrease greenhouse gas emissions you would think there would be a lot of support for MassDOT’s projects.  Hmmm… Well, there likely is but probably everyone is waiting for the last minute to send in his or her “attaboy.”  One proposal – a good one – within the recent report from the MA Commission on the Future of Transportation is for projects that increase corridor efficiencies, to move more people, not just vehicles.  These aren’t exactly new ideas – the Boston HOV lanes were first proposed in 1996 *:D big grin… It takes a while…!
*  Well, for what it’s worth as a measure of Big Gubmint, total Federal Register pages were way up at the end of 2018 compared to 2017.  Last year’s FR had 68082 pages.  2017 totaled 61949.  That’s a big delta of 6133 more pages!  2019 is off to a slow start because of the Federal government shutdown.  One day last week the entire document was two pages.
Have a great Monday and a great week!

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
*  Have a GREAT holiday season!
*  I’ll holler back atcha in January, 2019!
Have a great Monday and a great 3 weeks!

Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update


*  “Evidence from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans, collected by scientists and engineers from around the world, tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity—predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.”  You’ll recall that assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, established by Presidential Initiative in 1989, a program that coordinates climate work among 13 federal agencies.  Last week the GCRP said that Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), “Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States” remains on track for release in December as required by Congress.  Procedurally, this is a somewhat confusing program of reports, sometimes seeming like reports about reports.  A draft of Volume II was released last year. A complete Assessment is due every four years; the last report was released in 2014.  Should be an interesting release.
*  The Department of Commerce International Trade Administration has reestablished the Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee (ETTAC), first chartered in 1994. ETTAC advises on the development and administration of policies and programs to expand U.S. exports of environmental technologies, goods, and services.  DOC is also looking for people to serve on the Committee, from companies or trade associations.  There are eight focus areas: Air pollution control and monitoring; Analytic devices and services; Environmental engineering and consulting; Financial services; Process and pollution prevention technologies; Solid and hazardous waste management technologies; and Water and wastewater treatment technologies.  Nominations are due by Oct. 19.
*  Okay, end of 3rd quarter and time to update the admittedly very rough measure – the number of pages in the Federal Register – of how big Big Gubmint’s getting to be.  End of this quarter: 49,263 pages.  Last year – 45,677 pages.  Hmmmm… better clean off those cheaters and get in some good light – that’s another 3,586 pages or about an additional 15 pages per bidness day for your reading pleasure.  Simetomes aftr a wile thet #9 font kan mkae youur eyez seeee a lidtle phunny…*:D big grin

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) announced its next meeting dates: October 18 & 19; the 2nd day is a half-day session, in Rockville, MD.  The BERAC meets two to three times each year.  It met last in April.  The purpose of this Advisory Committee is to “provide advice on a continuing basis to the Director, Office of Science of the Department of Energy, on the many complex scientific and technical issues that arise in the development and implementation of the Biological and Environmental Research Program.”  A regular part of the Agenda is a report from the “Biological Systems Science and Climate and Environmental Sciences Division.”  BERAC’s work includes a focus on DOE’s “Grand Challenges” Report, last published in November 2017.  These grand challenges guide the fundamental research, from climate to biochemical systems, funded by DOE throughout its labs and within university programs.

*  The US Forest Service is seeking comments on preliminary work to revise the Mining Law of 1872.  The focus is on the need to clarify or otherwise enhance regulations covering environmental impacts, within the National Forest System, resulting from prospecting, exploration, development, mining, and processing operations linked to what is called “locatable” minerals, e.g., gold, silver, platinum, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, nickel, tungsten, bentonite, barite, fluorspar, uranium, and uncommon varieties of sand, gravel, and dimension stone.  This set of regs hasn’t been updated since 1974.  Comments are due on a range of substantive issues by October 15.

*  EPA announced the final version of the updated National Priorities List (NPL), adding five sites – commonly called “Superfund sites.”  The NPL is intended to guide EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation to assess the nature and extent of public health and environmental risks.  Eventually, of course, the hope is that these Superfund sites get cleaned up, that uncontrolled releases of toxic and hazardous materials are stopped and that these properties are returned to safe and productive use.  The five sites are Broadway Street Corridor Groundwater Contamination, Anderson, IN; Rockwell International Wheel & Trim, Grenada, MS; Donnelsville Contaminated Aquifer, Donnelsville, OH; Southside Chattanooga Lead, Chattanooga, TN; and Delfasco Forge, Grand Prairie, TX. Remember Valley of the Drums?  Hard to believe that was 40 years ago, in Kentucky, Bullitt County, near Louisville… 23 acres, 100,000 waste drums corroding, deteriorating… The rest is, well, modern environmental history – from RCRA to CERCLA to LUST to NPL to Superfund…

Tom Ewing
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