Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  True, symbolism here may be more important than actual (eventual) impact but the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a final rule for a pilot program to competitively select an

New York Central 20th Century Limited

operator on “not more than three long-distance routes operated by Amtrak.” This is an important step in FRA’s proposals for competitive passenger rail service, a move required by the FAST Act – the national transportation bill.  It will take a while – operating petitions are due in six months – but eventually FRA will select a route operator, which could remain Amtrak if that’s the best (oronly) bid, for intercity passenger service, and the subsidy for that service.  BTW, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the final run of the NY Central’s legendary 20th Century Limited, overnight luxury service between Chicago and New York.

*   At the end of June, the Department of Agriculture hosted a “Listening Session” to develop strategies to monitor native bees, an effort that continues the work started by a 2014 Presidential memorandum responding to bee population declines.  Basic topics at the June meeting included why a national monitoring plan is important, the kind of information/data needed and how information would be used.  This Session will help develop a national monitoring plan, part of Ag’s 2015 Pollinator Research Action Plan. Presentations were from government staff, agricultural and university researchers and others who work directly within this critical environmental sphere.

*  Okay, so it’s just a rough indicator but since we mentioned it at the end of 1st quarter we’re compelled to follow up: the number of Federal Register pages at the end of 2nd quarter – June 30, 2017.  The grand total: 30,719 pages.  Same time in 2016: 42,982 pages.  That’s 12,263 fewer pages for the year, or about 1,022 fewer pages each month.  Whew – don’t your eyeballs feel better already *:)) laughing ?

Tom Ewing
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