Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The Future: This will happen, one way or another: Quantum information science (QIS) seeks to advance research in the control of atoms and molecules and development of ultra-fast lasers capable of manipulating states of matter.  To advance that research the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold a workshop in October, a follow up to a current request for comments by the Department of Commerce regarding “the broader needs of the industrial community.”  The workshop will support the QIS Interagency Working Group, established in 2014, which includes participants from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Energy, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Science Foundation.  NIST seeks comments on R&D opportunities, support for emerging market areas, identifying barriers to near-term and future applications, and understanding workforce needs.
*  The Future: This could happen: The Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) released the Tier II Draft EIS for the Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High-Speed Rail (DC2RVA) Project.  It’s worth a close look, for many reasons.  One, it’s an important transportation proposal within a very congested highway corridor.  This is a high-speed rail by US standards, not Europe or Japan, which is good because it becomes much more doable where reality (think money) is concerned.  These could be 90 mph trains, plenty of speed for a 123-mile trip. Second, this EIS Summary is a particularly well-done document: clear and straightforward, an excellent compilation of text, charts, and graphics.  Hats off to the team which prepared this summary.  A reader not only can stay awake while reading but she or he comes away with a strong understanding of the project and related benefits and costs.
*  The Future: This won’t happen: Federal Highway, in August, rescinded the Record of Decision (ROD) for a highway project in metropolitan Tacoma (Pierce County), Washington.  This would have been a new arterial highway between SR 7 and I-5, running east to west, south of McChord AFB.  The ROD was published in August 2004 – 13 years ago!  The project has been stalled since 2007 because of public policy, litigation, and transportation demand reasons. Shelf-life: too long.  Now, the ROD is “no longer a valid document without further environmental analysis and review.”  That DC to Richmond project should hold many lessons, for people in many places.
Tom Ewing
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