Tag Archive for 'Highway Bill'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  EPA seeks comments on the “Recommended Best Practices for Environmental Reviews and Authorizations for Infrastructure Projects.”  These recommendations were published last January in a report by the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.  Now EPA wants to know whether any of the ideas are generally applicable on a delegation or authorization-wide basis to permitting under FAST-41.  A covered project is any activity “in the United States that requires authorization or environmental review by a Federal agency,” mostly big-ticket projects ranging from transportation to waterways to pipelines.  Comments are due November 20.
*  Federal agency reports are being released almost daily in response to various Presidential Executive Orders addressing energy independence and economic growth.  The reports identify possible regulatory changes that could unburden energy and economic development while still meeting all legal environmental, safety and natural resource demands.  FERC’s is one of the reports that came out last week.  It focuses actions in four jurisdictional areas: (1) hydropower licensing; (2) LNG facility, and natural gas pipeline and storage facility siting; (3) eastern states’ centralized electric capacity market policies and (4) electric generator interconnection policies.
*  The U.S. Global Change Research Program announced updates on three reports.  First, the final release of Volume I of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, with a focus on the United States.  It presents a direct conclusion: Based on extensive evidence, it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”  Second, the public draft of Volume II, “Climate Change Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” is available for public review and comment; deadline is January 31, 2018.  Third, the draft of the “2nd State of the Carbon Cycle Report” is also available for review and comment; deadline is January 8, 2018.  The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990. 

Tom Ewing
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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
reply” or 
513-379-5526 voice/text

AEM Poll: Rural-Urban Agreement on Need for Infrastructure Investment

An overwhelming majority of Americans in urban, suburban and rural communities believe that investing in infrastructure will improve the U.S. economy according to a new poll released Tuesday by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers(AEM).

While infrastructure needs differ in different parts of the country, the new survey shows that adults strongly support modernizing U.S. infrastructure and believe that investments will create jobs and improve their quality of life.

“The findings underscore the fact that infrastructure connects rural and urban America – both literally and physically,” said AEM president Dennis Slater. “America’s infrastructure was once the envy of the world, but after years of underinvestment, our infrastructure and connectivity between rural and urban America have deteriorated considerably. This is one of the areas rural and urban Americans agree on today – that we must modernize and rebuild our infrastructure to reclaim the infrastructure advantage we once had.”

The national poll identified a number of key findings, including

  • An overwhelming majority (89 percent) of all adults believe that investments in infrastructure will strengthen the U.S. economy, including eighty-six (86) percent of urban and eighty-nine (89) percent of rural Americans.
  • More than eight out of every ten adults (82 percent) agree that investments in infrastructure will increase the number of jobs in their communities, with eighty-four (84) percent of suburban, eighty-two (82) percent of urban and eighty (80) percent of rural Americans sharing this belief.
  • Americans across the country agree that investments in infrastructure will improve their quality of life (81 percent). This sentiment is equally strong in suburbs or towns (82 percent), cities (80 percent) and rural America (79 percent).

Read the full polling memo here.

“It is time for Congress and the administration to listen to the American people and rebuild our infrastructure, spur economic growth and accelerate job creation as a result,” said Kip Eideberg, AEM vice president of public affairs and advocacy.

Respondents also identified transportation, construction and manufacturing as the top industries poised to benefit most from increased infrastructure investment. Thirty (30) percent of all Americans pointed to manufacturing as one of the three primary beneficiaries of increased spending on infrastructure, a figure that rises among Midwesterners (34 percent) and rural Americans (34 percent).

The poll also found that a third of Americans (33 percent) believe that investing in broadband and wireless connectivity would most likely benefit their ability to access educational and workforce training resources.

The findings support recommendations made in a recently released report by AEM called The U.S. Infrastructure Advantage (TM). The report emphasizes the importance of the United States reclaiming its infrastructure advantage in order to maintain its global economic dominance. The report also highlights several areas in which infrastructure, such as surface transportation and broadband, provide critical links between urban and rural communities and economies.

About the Survey

AEM conducted the poll in partnership with YouGov through its online omnibus survey. The survey was fielded to 3,481 U.S. adults, including 667 adults who self-identify as living in a rural area. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all American adults (18+). Fieldwork was conducted between July 26 and July 28, 2017.

National Center for Pavement Preservation Welcomes New Director

NAPA Honors Asphalt Industry Leaders for Operational Excellenc

Awards Program Celebrates Safety Innovations, Ecological Operations, Community Involvement, and Marketing Practices

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) honored the winners and finalists of its 2016 Operational Excellence Awards at a special ceremony today (July 17) during the association’s Midyear Meeting in Chicago.

“NAPA members strive for excellence beyond constructing high-quality asphalt pavements. The five categories of the Operational Excellence Awards — Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation, Community Involvement, Ecological, Outstanding Brochure, and Outstanding Website — recognize a company’s commitment to operations that make them good contractors, good industry ambassadors, and good neighbors,” stated NAPA Chairman Dan Gallagher.

The 2016 winners and finalists honored during the ceremony include:

Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award Winner:
• Lakeside Industries Inc. of Issaquah, Wash., for The Super Bowl of Safety employee

safety program
Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award Finalist:

• Payne & Dolan Inc. of Waukesha, Wis., for its mobile app

Community Involvement Award Winners:

  • The Mid-Central Division of Rogers Group Inc. of Gallatin, Tenn.
  • The Community Team at Silver Star Construction Co. Inc. of Moore, Okla.

    Community Involvement Award Finalists:

    • The Road to a Better Community at Barrett Paving Materials Inc. of Watertown, N.Y.
    • Simon Contractors Cares at Simon Contractors of Cheyenne, Wyo.

      Ecological Award (Existing Plant) Winner:

• The Lane Construction Corp. of West Columbia, S.C., for West Columbia Facility Ecological Award (New Plant) Winner:

• Pike Industries Inc., an Oldcastle Materials Co. of Belmont, N.H., for HMA P-

Ecological Award (Existing Plant) Finalist:
• Barrett Paving Materials Inc. of Watertown, N.Y., for the Watertown Drum Plant

Outstanding Brochure Award Winner:
• Gallagher Asphalt Corp. of Thornton, Ill. For “Diamond Commendation Brochure”

Outstanding Website Award Winner (State Asphalt Pavement Association):
• Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa of Ames, Iowa, for www.apai.net.

The Operational Excellence Awards honor leaders in the asphalt pavement industry for innovation and excellence in marketing, communications, and community outreach with the Community Involvement, Outstanding Brochure, and Outstanding Website Awards. Companies also are lauded for their responsible practices with the Asphalt Operations Safety Innovations and Ecological Awards.

The Operational Excellence Awards are a counterpart to NAPA’s annual Quality in Construction Awards, which recognize asphalt paving jobs completed in line with best practices and standards known to yield high-quality asphalt pavements.

The NAPA Awards Program recognizes and encourages continuous improvement in all aspects of paving and asphalt operations. The 2017 NAPA Awards program is accepting nominations. Quality in Construction Award nominations are due by Oct. 5; Operational Excellence Award nominations are due by Nov. 30.

For more information about the NAPA Awards program,

or to nominate a project or company for an award, visit www.AsphaltPavement.org/Awards.