Tag Archive for 'infrastructure'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Well, this is a bit awkward!  EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports that in 2015 and 2016 EPA paid over $1.5 million for subsidized and unoccupied parking spaces at DC headquarters and Region 4 Atlanta, the only two offices that subsidize parking.  These weren’t criticisms for employees who needed to park, either.  (Other EPA offices provide “free” parking but the OIG report doesn’t include that non-cash benefit.)  The OIG points out that a 2015 Executive Order established “a clear overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Federal operations” encouraging agencies to “promote sustainable commuting.”  OIG found sloppy program accounting, too, with good-role-model parents apparently using their kids to qualify for car-pool spaces, which were granted even though car-pool participants didn’t list an email address on application forms, as required.  Tsk tsk… Do as we say, not as we do!
*  Someone named V V makes some thoughtful points about regulatory costs in comments to a Federal Highway docket.  V V has an interesting angle, first noting that the US GDP is around $17.6 trillion.  Then, he/she cites recent estimates that regulations cost the US economy about $1.88 trillion.  Next, some comparative figures: $2 trillion (rounding up a bit) is equivalent to more than half the 2014 level of fiscal budget outlays ($3.5 trillion), and nearly four times the $482 billion deficit.  Regulatory costs rival the level of pre-tax corporate profits, which were $2.235 trillion in 2013.  US households “pay” $14,976 annually in hidden regulatory tax ($1.882 trillion in regulation 125.67 million “consumer units”), “equivalent” to 23% of average income before taxes.  If US regulatory costs of $1.88 trillion were a “country”, it would be the world’s tenth largest economy, between India and the Russian Federation.  Hey, V V – thanks!  Happy Monday, Dude *:)) laughing!

*  EPA has a public hearing scheduled to take comments on the “Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,” a.k.a., ending the Clean Power Plan.  Okay, public hearings aren’t anything new, but this meeting won’t be held in boring ol’ Washington DC or Arlington or Alexandria with the usual bunch of over-paid suits milling around checking their phones.  No sir, this meeting will be held in wild wonderful West Virginia, right in the heart of coal country.  Wow, passion and policy wonks in the same room at the same time.  Should be fun.


Tom Ewing
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ARTBA 2018 U.S. Transportation Construction Market Forecast Webinar Nov. 30

ARTBA 2018 U.S. Transportation Construction Market Forecast Webinar Nov. 30

Briefing is for Analysts & Investors, Public Officials and Construction Executives

(WASHINGTON) – American Road & Transportation Builder Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black will provide her 2018 national transportation construction market forecast during a 75-minute webinar on Nov. 30 at 12 p.m. Eastern.

The association’s top lobbyist, Senior Vice President of Government Relations Dave Bauer, will also discuss the timing and potential impacts of key transportation policy initiatives pending in Congress.

Among the major topics to be covered:

  • National market forecast and sta6te transportation funding trends;
  • Modal forecast: highway, bridge, airport runway, transit, freight, rail, and ports/waterway markets;
  • Ongoing implementation of the 2015 FAST Act surface transportation law;
  • Market impacts of nearly 200 Nov. 7 state and local transportation ballot initiatives;
  • State and local transportation funding trends; and
  • Legislative Update: status of a Highway Trust Fund fix, Trump Administration infrastructure plan and tax reform.

The webinar is aimed at analysts and investors, transportation design and construction professionals, and public agency officials. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Registration via the ARTBA store is $325, or $150 for public agency officials.

Members of the media wishing to participate in the webinar should contact ARTBA’s Eileen Houlihan at ehoulihan@artba.org or 202.683.1019.

All paid participants will receive a copy of the PowerPoint Presentation and Q&A session, as well as the 2018 National U.S. Transportation Construction Market Forecast, a $200 value.

Established in 1902, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.

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 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hosted a workshop this month linked to its recent document: Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety, a document prepared for “entities involved in the testing and deployment of Automated Driving Systems on public roads.”  The workshop was a chance for developers to present ideas and make their self-assessments publicly available.  The public comment period is open until 12/18.  So far, 10 comments are in the docket, five of which are posted (all anonymous) and all five have to do with electric vehicles, one of which states that “electric cars may be cancer-causing as they emit extremely low frequency electromagnetic radiation.”  Hmmmm….  
*  Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources seeks public comments on using more than $41 million to help reduce air pollution from freight and heavy vehicles, including Class 8 trucks, school buses, locomotives and even marine sources such as tugs, ferries and shore power for ocean going vessels.  The money is from the State’s share of the Volkswagen settlement.  Proposals must pertain to nitrogen oxides (NOx).  This work starts with a public meeting today, in Jefferson City.  The meeting will be livestreamed, if you’re interested.
*  All in a day’s work.  Are you tough enough…?  Monday hitting a bit hard this morning?  When you’re headed up for a Starbucks later think of this guy’s workday… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vj6GwVhQT0#action=share
Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text

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