Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* A settlement agreement with a California utility establishes revised costs and parameters for a vehicle charging system. Final cost: $160 million for 3-year program providing 7,500 L2 ports and 100 DCFC ports. L2 = Level 2 charging, providing a “top-off charge” in 2-3 hours, full charge in 4-6 hours. DCFC = Direct current fast charging, requiring 20-30 minutes, for a full charge. The utility originally wanted a larger 7-year program costing $654 million. A small annual ratepayer subsidy is required.

* DOT/FHWA left its “friends” at the nation’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) looking like Wile E. Coyote in the middle of the road after the steamroller went by. DOT finalized proposals, made last June, to shake-up the insular world of MPOs and their frequently entrapped local officials who snooze through meetings feigning interest in “travel demand models” and air quality conformity. DOT judged the MPO world as too inefficient, slow and not focused enough on America’s transportation needs. The agency recieved 660 comments, just 16 supported the Agency’s proposals! The final rule was announced Thursday. Look for it in the Federal Register soon.

* Fish & Wildlife (FWS) recently released two important notices for bald and golden eagles. Both pertain to inextricable eagle-wind energy conflicts. One notice was for the massive Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Phase I Wind Energy Project in Carbon County, WY, likely to include 500 wind turbines and require a huge construction footprint. The second notice was more general – the final revisions for Eagle “take permits,” a complicated policy allowing the “unavoidable take” (killing) of eagles but requiring, from the permit holder, mitigation and corrective activities as offsets. If only the eagles would read the Federal Register they would know humans want to get this right. FWS believes that bald eagle numbers can tolerate some level of “take.” Unfortunately, the situation is more dire for golden eagles.

 

Tom Ewing

p.s. The boss is giving me a short break! I’ll holler back atcha in January, 2017! Have a great holiday season. Thank you for letting me work with you this past year! I appreciate it! TE