Tag Archive for 'NOAA'

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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Whether Or Not You Care About The Weather

By Greg Sitek

… it will have an impact on you and if you’re in construction it will have an even greater impact on you and your bottom-line.

Activities, employees and equipment, well everything, are affected by temperatures and precipitation. Common sense and OSHA rules dictate what is required for the winter handling of employees. Common sense and results govern job site activities. Common sense and preseason maintenance practices control equipment performance in freezing and subfreezing temperatures.

There is more than an abundance of information on getting ready for winter with an eye on managing survival through these challenging months but there is little information available on what challenges you can expect.

I came across a 2018/2019-winter forecast from a source that looks at the season from a totally different vantage point. They love snow. They love the cold. They love winter. Based on this I figured that their forecast would probably be more accurate than most.

Take a look.

From: Snowboarding.TransWorld.net

https://snowboarding.transworld.net/features/farmers-almanac-2018-2019-winter-weather-forecast-predictions/

“It’s time for one last winter weather forecast before we buckle down and see what Mother Nature throws our way first hand. But, don’t fret as we have saved the best for last; where the NOAA and Old Farmer’s Almanac forecasted a bleak winter of warmer temperatures and less precipitation, the Farmer’s Almanac has a different outlook, “teeth-chattering cold ahead.”

“Unlike the Old Farmer’s Almanac that makes weather predictions through a combination of animal signals, chicken bones, pig spleens and other weather lore, (onion and potato skins were my mother’s favorite), the Farmer’s Almanac bases their outlook on a “mathematical and astronomical formula” that dates back to the 1800’s and takes sunspot activity and other astronomical anomalies into account. In fact, the formula is so confidential that only Mr. Caleb Weatherbee, the Farmer’s Almanac’s weather prognosticator, knows it in entirety.”

So what will winter look like?

“According to Mr. Weatherbee, winter 2018-2019 will be colder than average from the Continental Divide east through the Appalachians, while the only near-normal winter weather is predicted to be in areas west of the Rockies, the mid-Atlantic States, and the Southeast.

“Those in the Great Lakes, and the Midwest through New England can rejoice, as colder than average temperatures combined with above average precipitation make for an exceptionally snowy winter, particularly throughout January and February. However, Mr. Weatherbee is also calling for an exceptionally snowy winter for those across the Pacific Northwest and the mid-Atlantic States, where temperatures aren’t expected to get as blistering cold, but will still drop low enough to ensure increased levels of snowfall.”

Mr. Weatherbee’s “Red-flagged” predictions

“In addition to the broader prediction of colder weather across the board, Mr. Weatherbee has also red-flagged a handful of particular winter storm incidents that are expected to be key points in the coming season. To begin, the mid-Atlantic through New England can expect a deep holiday season, with December 1st-3rd, 16th-19th, and 28th-31st bringing big storm systems followed by gusty winds. Other red-flagged periods include a mid-February arctic cold front expected to come down from Canada and stretch across the entire eastern seaboard, and a mid-March weather system expected to deliver increased snowfall from coast to coast, in particular, throughout New England from March 20th-23rd.

“In addition to an exceptionally cold winter with increased snowfall, Mr. Weatherbee is also calling for a longer than average winter season. The red-flagged nation-wide storm system in March will be followed up by another cold front coming down from the Arctic that will delay spring from settling in until mid-April.”

Winter weather forecast summary

“All in all, where the NOAA and Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted a warmer winter with less than average snowfall, the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for the exact opposite. We are certainly hoping for the latter.”

While we’re not, “hoping for the latter” this does or should give us guidelines on what we need to do to be ready for winter – ALL THAT WE CAN! The only thing you can count on about winter weather forecasting is that it’s never right and it’s never wrong.

 

 

 

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the start-up of a new special experiment project – acronym SEP-16 – that will evaluate delegating certain program-wide responsibilities to States.  FHWA is looking for letters of interest from interested states.  Generally, the Secretary can authorize States to assume project responsibilities for design, plans, specifications, estimates, contract awards, and inspections.  Excluded, though, are decisions relating to eligibility, obligation, reimbursement, authorization, and compliance.  States are instructed to develop and submit a “Concept Paper” detailing the State’s ability to carry out program responsibilities.  FHWA will review, and then decide about the merits of proceeding.
 
*  NOAA’s Marine Debris Program announced its FY 2019 Marine Debris Removal federal funding opportunity. Awarded projects will prioritize the removal of derelict fishing gear and other medium- and large-scale debris to improve habitat and foster public awareness of marine debris impacts. Proposals are due October 29.  Projects are to create long-term, quantifiable ecological habitat improvements for NOAA trust resources through on-the-ground marine debris removal activities, with priority for those targeting derelict fishing gear and other medium- and large-scale debris. Projects should also foster awareness of the effects of marine debris to further the conservation of living marine resource habitats, and contribute to the understanding of marine debris composition, distribution, and impacts. Up to $2,000,000 is expected to be available in Fiscal Year 2019. Typical awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000.

*  With transit, IndyGo, in Indianapolis, is the coolest system in the country right now.  It’s building out its Bus Rapid Transit system (yes, actually giving buses access priorities within the surface street grid so that service is fast and predictable) and last week it announced its second week of a pilot project selling fresh and affordable produce at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center.  “Food in Transit” aims to expand access to food for Indianapolis residents by bringing affordable produce to the Transit Center during peak ridership hours. Food in Transit features fresh food for sale Fridays from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM during September and October; it’s anticipated to reopen in spring 2019.  Hmmm… buying groceries but not using a car… Is that even allowed..?
Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The US House Subcommittee on Environment, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), took up issues related to PFAS exposure at a hearing last week on September 6th.  Shimkus said the hearing was to start “the dialogue on PFAS,” taking stock of what the government knows, what efforts might best work to contain contamination and “what is preventing people from being helped with cleanup, or avoid contamination of their air, soil, and water.”  Shimkus said, “it’s time to figure out what can be done right now and what needs to be done to respond appropriately to legitimate risks created by PFAS contamination.”  The Subcommittee’s announcement includes an extremely thorough, 22-page summary of PFAS concerns and issues and current, ongoing work.  It lists four broad areas of PFAS research: Human Health/Toxicity; Analytical Methods; Site Characterization/Exposure and Treatment/Remediation, particularly to identify and evaluate methods to reduce PFAS exposures and to treat and remediate drinking water and contaminated sites.
*  EPA’s Office of Inspector General announced last week that it will start a review of whether active municipal solid waste landfills are operating under the appropriate air-quality permit.  OIG’s research will focus on the following: Federal laws and regulations governing municipal solid waste landfill air emissions; the number of active municipal solid waste landfills subject to federal air-permitting requirements; just how many active municipal solid waste landfills actually follow permit requirements; and the procedures or systems in place to identify landfills potentially subject to federal air permitting and emission requirements but without proper permits.  A timetable isn’t included but outreach to EPA departments will likely start soon.  I wonder how methane emissions will be addressed? 
*  NOAA recently highlighted ongoing work of the Pacific Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (PacMAPPS). This is a partnership effort with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to collect data on the distribution and abundance of marine mammals and seabirds across the Hawaiian Archipelago and along the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts. Survey activities in Hawaii took place from July 6 through December 1, 2017, and included 179 days at sea, split between two NOAA research vessels. Surveys along the Pacific coast began June 26, 2018, and will continue through December 4, 2018.  In a recent announcement NOAA included a link to a blog written by agency personnel working on PacMAPPS.  It’s called “Notes from the Field.” Nice… but just read it and look at it on your lunch hour…

Tom Ewing
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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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513-379-5526 voice/text