Tag Archive for 'Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Now here’s something you don’t hear too much about anymore: Ozone, you know – O3, the weird molecule that includes 3 oxygen atoms and was the primary focus of air pollution policy for, oh, I don’t know, 45 years?  (Not to be confused with Ozone Park, in Queens, where “Ozone” was used in the neighborhood’s name to refer “to a park-like area with cool ocean breezes, an archaic definition” ((Ohhh…Ya think?)).  Ozone is the primary component in urban smog, summertime haze that plagued America’s urban areas for decades, and still does in LA and some other cities.  Ozone is a major regulatory focus for US and state EPAs.  The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) and the MidAtlantic Northeast Visibility Union (MANE–VU) will hold their spring meeting on June 11, in Wilmington, DE.  The purpose of the OTC is to address ground-level ozone formation, transport, and control within the Ozone Transport Region, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, parts of Virginia and the District of Columbia.  Ozone policy is linked to every commercial and industrial activity in the modern world – from fuels to combustion to coatings to forest fires to transportation to manufacturing.  But still, not in the news too much anymore.
*  NOAA’s Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES) meets June 4 in Washington.  ACCRES was established in 2002, to advise the Secretary of Commerce “on matters relating to the U.S. commercial remote sensing space industry and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s activities to carry out the responsibilities of the Department of Commerce set forth in the National and Commercial Space Programs Act of 2010.”  The agenda includes a report on regulatory affairs and a Nanoracks overview.  Nanoracks, of course, is the deployment system for launching CubeSats, miniaturized satellites used for space research which can be launched really by anyone who has the money – and the smarts, of course!
*  National Marine Fisheries announced the availability of the “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group Draft Restoration Plan 2 and Environmental Assessment: Fish, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities.”  The draft describes and proposes restoration project alternatives considered by the Open Ocean TIG (Trustee Implementation Group) to restore natural resources and ecological services injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred, of course, 9 years ago on April 20, 2010, discharging millions of barrels of oil for a period of 87 days.  The Deepwater Trustees include nine state and federal agencies.  NMFS wants public comments on the plan; comments are due by July 1.
Tom Ewing

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*   Recall The February 11, 2019, Executive Order on “Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence (AI).”  The EO directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a plan for Federal engagement in the development of technical standards and related tools in support of “reliable, robust, and trustworthy systems that use AI technologies.” Last week the Department of Commerce published a notice requesting information to help NIST understand the “current state, plans, challenges, and opportunities” regarding the development and availability of AI technical standards and related tools, as well as priority areas for federal involvement in AI standards-related activities. NIST will consult with Federal agencies, the private sector, academia, non-governmental entities, and other stakeholders with interest in and expertise relating to AI. Comments due by May 31.
*  The Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued instructions to Federal agencies for meeting energy and environmental performance requirements “in a manner that increases efficiency, optimizes performance, eliminates unnecessary use of resources, and protects the environment.”  This is required under Executive Order 13834, ‘‘Efficient Federal Operations,’’ signed by President Trump on May 17, 2018. The purpose of the EO is to direct agencies on the management of Federal facilities, vehicles, and operations to achieve statutory requirements while prioritizing actions to reduce waste, cut costs, and enhance the resilience of Federal infrastructure and operations for the effective accomplishment of agency missions.   The Implementing Instructions are available at https://www.sustainability.gov/ resources.html.  About 23 agencies are listed as “Principal and Contributing Agencies.”
*   Here’s an optimistic study: The Federal Aviation Administration will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the potential impacts of the “proposed LaGuardia Airport (LGA) Access Improvement Project and its enabling projects and connected actions (the proposed action).”  The project would provide for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority) to construct an elevated automated people mover (APM) to provide direct access between LGA and two existing transit stations at Mets-Willets Point.  Right now, LGA is accessible only by road – really one big road, Grand Central Parkway. FAA writes that “passengers and employees face increasing and unreliable travel times and traffic congestion on off-Airport roadways.” The people-mover would provide air passengers and employees with a “time-certain option” for LGA access and permit the Port Authority to provide adequate employee parking for the geographically constrained airport.  You likely know this but some may find it surprising: FAA says there may be Native American tribes with a historical interest in the area.  Imagine trying to reshape those boundaries and spaces reflective of, what, maybe 1673…?  Comments due by June 17.
Tom Ewing

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Each year, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) develops a list of substances to be considered for Toxicological Profile development. The nomination process includes consideration of all substances on ATSDR’s Substance Priority List (SPL), as well as new substances nominated by the public. That public nomination window is open again, until May 20, both to suggest reviews for substances already on the list and to add new ones.  The Agency establishes and maintains an inventory of literature, research, and studies on the health effects of toxic substances, to respond to requests for consultation, and to support the site-specific response actions conducted by ATSDR, as otherwise necessary.  ATSDR has specific EPA guidelines for selecting which substances get placed on the SPL.
*  The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) is an interdisciplinary research and consulting organization at the University of Technology Sydney. About 10 days ago ISF released a report titled “Responsible Minerals Sourcing for Renewable Energy,” for Earthworks, an environmental group focusing mineral and energy development.  The ISF Report notes that renewable energy technologies are now the most cost-competitive technologies for new installations – and recent investment in new renewable energy infrastructure globally has been double that of new energy investment in fossil fuels and nuclear. Recycling of metals from end-of-life batteries was found to have the greatest opportunity to reduce primary demand for battery metals, including cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese.  As demands grow, however, recycling won’t cover all needs.  The Report develops a number of key findings deserving close review, especially regarding responsible sourcing.
 
*  DOT/Federal Highway announced the availability of the Environmental Assessment (Draft) for the Washington, DC to Baltimore Loop Project.  The Loop Project envisions construction of approximately 35.3 miles of parallel, twin underground tunnels (Main Artery Tunnels) between Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.  It’s a “private project,” completely funded by The Boring Company.  According to DOT “the purpose of the proposed action is to construct an alternative, high speed option for traveling between Washington, District of Columbia, and Baltimore, Maryland.”  The proposed project would extend beneath public right-of-way of Route 50 and Baltimore-Washington Parkway, with termini at 55 New York Avenue Northeast in Washington, DC and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 333 Camden Street, Baltimore, MD. Battery-powered, autonomous electric vehicles, traveling at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour, would transport passengers in the Main Artery Tunnels.  Comments on the Draft EA are due by June 10.
Tom Ewing

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  GSA – General Services Administration – will hold an in-person meeting and a teleconference/web meeting of the Green Building Advisory Committee which works with the Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings.  Date: May 28.  Register in advance.  This is important stuff: The Committee is made up of experts in buildings—including architects, material suppliers, construction contractors, environment, health, security, and transportation—who work to accelerate the transformation of the Federal building portfolio to sustainable technologies and practices.  These federal standards are frequently adopted by state and local energy boards and planners.  The web meeting will focus on findings from GSA’s recent evaluation of work required by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.  GSA will present its evaluation and a draft set of recommendations regarding systems that “will be most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach’’ to the certification of high-performance federal buildings.
*  The Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) meets June 4 and 5 in Maryland.  The Committee provides advice on Smart Grid standards, priorities, and gaps, on the overall direction, status, and health of the Smart Grid industry, and on the direction of Smart Grid research and standards activities.  The June agenda (tentative) covers discussion of the draft NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 4.0.  The meeting will update NIST’s Smart Grid activities and the intersections with Cyber-Physical Systems program activities.
*  Ya wanna know what people are interested in, and not interested in?  A few weeks ago I referenced that DOI-Fish and Wildlife are reviewing the endangered species status of the gray wolf (Canis lupus).  Wolves have fans.  “To remove wildlife from the endangered list is to sign their death warrant,” wrote in Patricia R.  Whoa!  So far: 29,382 wolf comments to the docket, which doesn’t close until May 14!  And I know there are quite a few robo-call letters sent by bots with their electronic carbon paper.  But compare that to the number of comments sent regarding the Department of Agriculture’s revisions to Dietary Guidelines for Americans (uh, that is, people…): 217.   “I have a friend who lost over 80 pounds in the past year by following a ketogenic diet. This transformed their health and their life for the better,” writes Kim M.  Yeah, whatever (get yer pronouns right …).  Wolves are tough, mysterious, edgy, in the shadows.  All us fat people… jus’ clickin’ around that ol’ Internet… waiting for the updated iteration of Big Gubmint’s doughnut consumption guidelines.  (I like sprinkles and jelly but not chocolate ((at least on donuts))!) *:)) laughing
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