Tag Archive for 'FHWA'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  On April 30 EPA posted a 7-page proposed rule titled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.”  A core provision is that new EPA regulations should ensure that the data underlying related scientific studies are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation. EPA wanted comments on its proposal.  Careful what you ask for: the Agency received 251,046 comments at the close of the comment period on August 16.  One concerned citizen writes: “I write to speak out AGAINST your regulations to impose transparency in EPA science.  Such action is unconscionable and completely unacceptable to the American public.”  Uh, maybe being sarcastic?  Nope, this lady concludes: “This unnecessary, impractical plan is ill-conceived, shortsighted, and illegal, and obfuscates your sworn responsibility to protect public health and the environment. You must abandon this reckless plan.”  Could be from Georgina Orwell’s blog… I’m jus’ sayin’…
*  NOAA’s Climate Program Office, partnering with NOAA Fisheries, announced a call for proposals for interdisciplinary research on the social and economic impacts of changing oceans on northeast US fishing communities.  The funding opportunity is part of NOAA’s joint Climate and Fisheries Research Program to “better understand climate impacts on the nation’s valuable marine fish stocks and fisheries.”  In FY 2019, approximately $11.25 million will be available for approximately 90 new awards pending budget appropriations.  Most awards will likely be at a funding level between $50,000 and $300,000 per year with exceptions for larger awards.  This research covers a range of topics, from “Earth System Science and Modeling” to “Climate and Societal Interactions” to “Communication, Education Engagement: Building U.S. Communities’ and Businesses’ Resilience to Extreme Events.”  Letters of intent are due September 10 and full proposals are due November 20.
*  FHWA has a “Talking Freight Seminar” coming up on August 29 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm ET.  These seminars are part of a broader Freight Professional Development Program aimed at providing technical assistance, training, tools, and information to help the freight and planning workforce meet the transportation challenges of tomorrow. Seminars are held via web conference on a monthly basis throughout the year and are open at no cost to all interested parties in both the public and private sectors.  The upcoming seminar topic is on “Critical Urban and Critical Rural Freight Corridors Designation Process Overview.”  It will review the state DOT and MPO requirements for designating critical urban and rural freight corridors.  Contact Chip Millard via e-mail at Chip.Millard@dot.gov.

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*   FHWA is conducting a series of public meetings during the next few months and in various cities across the country to seek comments on the “integration of automated vehicles on the Nation’s roadways.”  FHWA is seeking insights on key issues and implications for roadway infrastructure and to gather comments on highway automation to help inform FHWA research, policy, and programs. The public meetings will have presentations and breakout sessions during which participants can provide written and oral comments. Due to some confused up-front office work the first meeting was already held – in fact it was held the same day the initial announcement appeared in the Federal Register!  Upcoming dates are still being finalized; each meeting will focus on a specific topic, e.g., freight will be the focus of the meeting coming up in September.
 
*  The General Services Administration (GSA), which manages the federal government’s buildings, has long had a “Green Building Advisory Committee” (established in 2011).  As its title implies, the GBAC provides policy advice and recommendations to GSA to advance federal building innovations in planning, design, and operations regarding a number of factors, from reducing costs to minimizing environmental impacts.  Now the Agency has established a new Building and Grid Integration Task Group which is charged with developing recommendations on the integration of federal buildings with the electrical grid to enhance resilience, provide savings of both energy and cost, and facilitate distributed energy generation, including renewable sources.  The new Task Group has a fast start: an initial conference call this month with weekly conference calls after that, helping to prepare for an in-person meeting in late September.

*   We’re gettin’ the band back together, man… C.F. Martin & Co. (better known as Martin Guitar) was recently honored nationally by US DOE for the company’s energy productivity achievements.  Martin, based in Nazareth, PA, founded in 1833, remains a family owned operation.  Martin participates in DOE’s “Better Plants Challenge.”  Martin committed to improving its energy performance across its U.S. operations by 25% within 10 years and to share strategies and results.  In fact, Martin’s team reached this milestone in just two years!  Martin upgraded an aging distributed HVAC system with a state of the art Central Hot/Chilled Water Plant. The heart of the central plant is three water-cooled centrifugal chillers (each with a capacity of 500 tons) and three high-efficiency condensing boilers (each with a capacity of 1,000,000 btus).  The project exceeded expectations, cutting electricity use by 46% and natural gas consumption by 20%. These savings translate into a 27% improvement in energy intensity at the Nazareth plant and more than $500,000 in reduced annual energy costs. Nearly 200 manufacturers participate in DOE’s Better Plants program, saving, to date, $4.2 billion in cumulative energy costs, according to DOE.

Tom Ewing
“reply” or
513-379-5526 voice/text
www.regulatoryclarity.com

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will hold a series of meetings to start the discussions on the State’s “Zero- and Near Zero‑Emission Freight Facilities Project.”  CARB’s proposed  FY 2017-18 Funding Plan for Clean Transportation Incentives allocates $150 million to the Zero/Near-Zero project to advance “bold, transformative emission reduction strategies that can be emulated throughout freight facilities statewide.” Funding sources include $100 million from this year’s Low Carbon Transportation allocation plus $50 million from the Trade Corridor Enhancement Account for the Zero‑ and Near Zero‑Emission Warehouse program.  Meeting participants can interact with CARB staff and other stakeholders interested in development and implementation.  The first meeting is October 30, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (PST).
*  For the last year or so, Oregon health and environmental officials have been working to “close gaps in the state’s existing air quality rules” to “protect neighbors and vulnerable people (such as children) from potentially harmful levels of exposure” to industrial air toxics.  OR officials say this regulatory gap can create health risks for families and communities.   Last week OR officials released 109 pages of draft rules to close this toxic gap.  Officials say the draft rules “provide businesses with predictable and flexible air quality rules. This is so Oregon industries can remain competitive in a global economy.”  Do you agree?  The public comment period is open until December 22.  OR will hold six hearings on the draft rules.
*  The federal transportation act (FAST-41) contains a pilot provision authorizing “up to three States to collect tolls on a facility on the Interstate System for the purpose of reconstructing or rehabilitating Interstate highway corridors that could not otherwise be adequately maintained or functionally improved without the collection of tolls.”  Last week FHWA published general program provisions including eligibility and selection criteria, and the application submission and evaluation process.  After its review, FHWA can award up to three provisional approvals to States which then have to satisfy program criteria within 3 years. If there are fewer than three provisional approvals, the Agency will re-solicit applications.  FHWA will conduct a webinar on this interesting program next month.

Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Report

* On September 28 US EPA announced that Cincinnati and Columbus met the Clean Air Act requirements to be declared in attainment with the 2008 ozone standard! Wow! That’s significant for two metro areas that have struggled with ozone for 40 years. Two days later, on September 30, OEPA Director Craig Butler sent a letter to USEPA telling the feds that Cincinnati and Columbus would be nonattainment for the new 2015 standard. Here’s the thing: nobody cares – just the way US EPA wants it because then the whole ozone empire, and all of the wealth that gets sucked into endless studies and legal foggery and lawsuits and health claims stays on autopilot. Very helpful for retirement planning, if you’re inside the fortress.

* You’ve heard, of course, of Ozone Park, the neighborhood in Queens, in New York City? What’s in a name, right? Well, consider this: Ozone Park was chosen, in the 1880s, to “lure buyers with the idea of refreshing breezes blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean to a park-like community, with ozone meaning not the alternate form of oxygen,” but “fresh healthy air, especially from the sea.” (Thank you Whikipedia!) All dat, right dere in Queens, whoodda thawt?

* At the end of September FHWA published a request for comments about how current laws pertaining to commercial activities at Interstate rest areas should be interpreted and applied in “consideration of advancements in technology and the interests of the States.” You likely know that trade organizations for the gas station and convenience store industries keep a VERY close eye on such ideas. Here’s one concern: the foot-in-the-door theory, i.e., using Interstate facilities to help assure fueling for the few vehicles, now, that use electricity or hydrogen or butane, a customer base of no value to the otherwise delightful commerce so predictable at every Interstate exit. Within its text FHWA posits a sample idea: maybe rest areas should allow sales of local produce. Yeah, right. Can’t you just see an Amish hitch trotting along the shoulder of I-80 with a load of pumpkins for the Thanksgiving crowd and all the friendly peeps backed up for a couple of miles or so as those big Belgians back into the right retail slot?

Have a great Monday and a great week!

Tom Ewing
tfewing1@yahoo.com

FHWA Bridges Communications Gap with EDC

FHWA Bridges