Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

…only a quarter of a century

The US Forest Service (FS), Pacific Northwest Region, is seeking comments on a new land management proposal for large diameter trees (> 21 inches) in eastern Oregon.  In forestry vernacular that territory is within the so-called “Eastern Screens” area, impacting forest management in the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Malheur, Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests.  This is a critical step.  The effort seeks a better, more productive balance between native old-growth types of trees and more aggressive trees that can dominate the landscape, e.g., the balance between the Grand fir versus Ponderosa pines.  Remember the old saw that nothing is more permanent than something that’s temporary?  This FS move would update a “temporary” policy established in 1995!  Comments are due by September 10.

Autonomous vessels: next steps

The Coast Guard published a request for information (RFI) regarding the “introduction and development of automated and autonomous commercial vessels and vessel technologies subject to U.S. jurisdiction, on U.S. flagged commercial vessels, and in U.S. port facilities.” The Coast Guard also seeks comments regarding barriers to the development of autonomous vessels.  Comments are due by October 13.  This work grows out of the President’s February 2019 Executive Order pertaining to establishing US leadership in artificial intelligence.  The CG writes that the term “autonomous vessel” could cover a wide range of maritime applications.  The agency seeks comments and insights that take a broad view of automated and autonomous vessels.  The CG’s inquiry is extensive, presenting 16 questions pertaining to regulations, vessel purposes, economic issues and safety and security implications.

Big picture, long view

The Department of Energy is developing an R&D program covering materials used “under harsh service conditions and extended service lifetimes.”  Harsh environments include high temperature and corrosive environments, conditions of high mechanical wear/stress/load, thermal cycling and exposure to hydrogen, irradiation, and other “embrittlement” mechanisms.  DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office and the Office of Advanced Energy Systems are taking the lead and seek information regarding the technical and commercial prospects of novel material development and new manufacturing capabilities, including, but not limited to, the advantages and technical challenges associated with new material breakthroughs, strategies for de-risking the cost and performance of novel materials, and considerations for scale-up of new materials manufacturing methods.  Comments are due by September 17.

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