Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update:

Coast Guard
Port Access Route Study: Northern New York Bight
The Coast Guard announced it is conducting a Port Access Route Study (PARS) for port approaches to New York and New Jersey and international and domestic transit.  One big concern: “planned or potential offshore development.”  That sounds like offshore wind farms – a high priority for many east coast governors.  The study will evaluate existing vessel routing measures and whether additional routing measures are necessary.  Navigation challenges include current port capabilities and planned improvements, increased vessel traffic, existing and potential anchorage areas, changing vessel traffic patterns, effects of weather, or navigational difficulty. Vessel routing measures, which include traffic separation schemes, two-way routes, recommended tracks, deep-water routes, precautionary areas, and areas to be avoided, are implemented to reduce the risk of marine casualties. The recommendations of the study may subsequently be implemented through rulemakings or in accordance with international agreements.  Public comments must be received on or before August 28, 2020.

Federal Railroad Administration
Magnetic Levitation Deployment Projects
FRA has $2 million available to help advance capital project costs and preconstruction planning activities for the deployment of magnetic levitation transportation projects.  This is money earmarked for the “Maglev Project Selection Program,” part of the current federal transportation bill known as SAFETEA-LU.  Project applications are due July 31, 2020.  Eligible projects must: (1) Involve a segment or segments of a highspeed ground transportation corridor; (2) result in an operating transportation facility that provides a revenue producing service; (3) and be approved by the Secretary based on an application submitted to the Secretary of Transportation by a State or authority designated by one or more States.  These funds are to directly advance and result in the construction of a Maglev project.  Some preliminary corridor work has started in the DC to New York to Boston market and apparently in Pennsylvania, in the Pittsburgh region.  Stay tuned.

NOAA – illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) seeks information regarding nations whose vessels are engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing, bycatch of protected living marine resources (PLMR), and/or fishing activities in waters beyond any national jurisdiction that target or incidentally catch sharks. Such information will be reviewed for the purposes of the identification of nations pursuant to the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act (Moratorium Protection Act) and ongoing implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions. Information is due on or before December 31.  This information will advise NMFS’ seventh biennial report to Congress on IUU fishing.  The report will identify nations whose fishing vessels are engaged in IUU fishing and/or shark catch.  This is part of a larger environmental mission to safeguard sea turtles, marine mammals and wild flora and fauna.  If you see something, say something.

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