Tag Archive for 'Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

 The Department of Interior issued a sobering notice last week addressed to the Governors of the seven Colorado River Basin States.  DOI calls the Colorado River “the most important water resource in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.”  DOI wants recommendations from the Governors on what actions are appropriate to reduce risks from drought.  These corrective actions have to be adopted prior to an August 2019 deadline for decisions about operations in Lake Powell and Lake Mead in 2020.  Time literally has run out.  Unbelievably, this process started in 2007!  The Governors agreed to have their proposals ready at the end of 2018.  Guess what?  Didn’t happen.  Now DOI may have to act unilaterally “to reduce the risk of continued declines in the critical water supplies of the Colorado River Basin.”  [Picture the not-so-informed headlines in a few months: “Trump Officials Forcing States on Water Issues.”]
*  The Army Corp of Engineers is taking comments, until March 1, regarding the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to implement the Chesapeake Bay Native Oyster Recovery Program in Virginia.  A recovery program will be implemented to achieve the goals set by the Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order, signed almost 10 years ago (May 12, 2009) by President Obama, a directive involving work by five federal agencies.  The oyster recovery program will utilize “existing information, current technologies, research and population dynamics” to identify “restoration strategies in each tributary.”
 
*   Heads up if you’re feeling drowsy while driving through South Dakota because SD DOT wants to “update and revise” its routes for LCVs – “Longer combination vehicles,” a tractor pulling “2 or more cargo-carrying units.”  In other words, a pretty darn big truck.  SD currently allows LCVs on 10 designated routes, Interstates and “qualifying Federal-aid Primary System highways.”  Those 10 routes total 989.2 miles.  The proposed change would add 18 more routes, covering another 731.1 miles.  LCVs are combinations longer than 81.5 feet.  Highway speed limits in the Mount Rushmore State are between 65 and 80 mph.  So don’t blink.  If one of those bad boys hits your Leaf on I-90 near Sioux Falls you’ll likely come down about 400 miles away in Spearfish.  Here’s something scary: That highway officials in Delaware or Rhode Island might give their counterparts in Pierre a call.
Tom Ewing

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Price points.  French gas prices during the Yellow Vest chaos were about $1.53/liter on the day I checked; a US equivalent of $5.78/gallon.  Gas in my area dropped to $1.98/gallon, about 52¢/liter.  Around the same time, Yahoo! News reported that an Exxon, Hess, and NCOOC off-shore exploration project confirmed the discovery of 5 billion barrels of recoverable oil, with exploration continuing.  Estimated recovery cost: $35/barrel (in the ocean!).  In other words, cheap oil, just about forever.  I like how Hamlet said it: “There are more hydrocarbons recoverable on Earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  Value is frequently judged by how much people will pay for something, and then they won’t.  Value is hard to assess with grand, singular cultural creations and monuments; you know, maybe like what’s the value of the Arc de Triomphe, damaged during the French protests?  Now it’s clear: The treasures of France are not worth $5.78/gallon.  If gas costs less, they stay.  If it costs more, the Arc and all that old stuff va être brûlé au sol!
*  On Friday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for “the Construction and Operation Plan (COP) submitted by Vineyard Wind LLC (Vineyard Wind).” The Draft analyzes potential environmental impacts of the proposed Vineyard Wind project and reasonable alternatives. The Notice starts the public review and comment period and it presents the dates and locations of public hearings.  The project would install up to 100 wind turbine generators, each with a capacity of between 8 and 10 MW in an area approximately 12 nautical miles from the southeast corner of Martha’s Vineyard and a similar distance from the southwest side of Nantucket.  The comment period ends January 22, 2019.
*  Update: I asked the MA’s Governor’s office about The Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth Report, noted last week to be late; it was due by December 1.  “No specific date can be conveyed today,” a staff person wrote back, “please feel free to check back with me next week.”  This really isn’t about one more state transportation report.  I mean, you could rebuild the Taj Mahal with state transportation reports printed and filed over the last decades.  There are two bigger issues: one, missed deadlines devalue the work.  “It’s just not that important” is the signal from the top, about issues supposedly undertaken in the public’s interest.  Second, although apparently not likely with this work, what about the people who need the report so they can make next-step decisions?  Isn’t their time worth anything?  A web page note would be thoughtful, e.g., “Sorry, the report’s delayed!  Late comments deserve a careful review!  Thanks for understanding!”  The message now? “Get over it, peons, you’re just so not worth it.”
Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* It’s a big country I: A new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for transport is available from the US Forest Service: “Pack and Saddle Stock Outfitter-Guide Special Use Permit Issuance.” Topic: protection of wilderness from commercial tour and guide services in the Pasayten and Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness areas in Washington state. USFS writes that “pack and saddle stock use is an appropriate mode of transportation in wilderness, since it does not include any mechanized or motorized equipment.” Tourists and others (e.g., research groups) are not skilled in stock handling, do not own stock and equipment, do not have the knowledge of stock handling techniques that minimize resource damage, and would be endangering their lives and the lives of others because of the hazards associated with stock. The comment period ends January 9, 2017.

* It’s a big country II: A Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) (SCMAGLEV) Project is being developed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Maryland DOT to run between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD, with an intermediate stop at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) Airport. FRA announced an EIS on this project last week. FRA writes that the “Proposed Action consists of the construction and operation of a high-speed SCMAGLEV train system.” Written comments on the scope of the EIS are due by December 27. FRA plans two public scoping meetings: December, 2016 and January, 2017. I’ll try to update.

* Office of Management and Budget is preparing to rule in December that companies selling to the federal government must disclose whether or not they publicly report greenhouse gas emissions and reduction targets. The reporting doesn’t have to be to the government, the numbers just have to be publicly available somewhere. This would be mandatory for vendors who received $7.5 million or more in Federal contract awards in the preceding Federal fiscal year; it’s voluntary for all other vendors. OMB writes that “an annual representation will promote transparency and demonstrate the Federal Government’s commitment to reducing supply chain emissions.” Furthermore, the government will “have accurate, up-to-date information on its suppliers.” This idea was first proposed last May. OMB didn’t receive any public comments. But apparently a comment period remains open because if you want to make comments they are due on or before December 22, 2016.

Tom Ewing