Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* It’s a big country I: A new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for transport is available from the US Forest Service: “Pack and Saddle Stock Outfitter-Guide Special Use Permit Issuance.” Topic: protection of wilderness from commercial tour and guide services in the Pasayten and Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness areas in Washington state. USFS writes that “pack and saddle stock use is an appropriate mode of transportation in wilderness, since it does not include any mechanized or motorized equipment.” Tourists and others (e.g., research groups) are not skilled in stock handling, do not own stock and equipment, do not have the knowledge of stock handling techniques that minimize resource damage, and would be endangering their lives and the lives of others because of the hazards associated with stock. The comment period ends January 9, 2017.

* It’s a big country II: A Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) (SCMAGLEV) Project is being developed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Maryland DOT to run between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD, with an intermediate stop at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) Airport. FRA announced an EIS on this project last week. FRA writes that the “Proposed Action consists of the construction and operation of a high-speed SCMAGLEV train system.” Written comments on the scope of the EIS are due by December 27. FRA plans two public scoping meetings: December, 2016 and January, 2017. I’ll try to update.

* Office of Management and Budget is preparing to rule in December that companies selling to the federal government must disclose whether or not they publicly report greenhouse gas emissions and reduction targets. The reporting doesn’t have to be to the government, the numbers just have to be publicly available somewhere. This would be mandatory for vendors who received $7.5 million or more in Federal contract awards in the preceding Federal fiscal year; it’s voluntary for all other vendors. OMB writes that “an annual representation will promote transparency and demonstrate the Federal Government’s commitment to reducing supply chain emissions.” Furthermore, the government will “have accurate, up-to-date information on its suppliers.” This idea was first proposed last May. OMB didn’t receive any public comments. But apparently a comment period remains open because if you want to make comments they are due on or before December 22, 2016.

Tom Ewing