Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

This chain links everything: The Department of Commerce announced that its Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness will meet later in June. This Committee provides advice to the Secretary of Commerce on a comprehensive policy approach to supply chain competitiveness and on related regulatory policies and programs and investments priorities. The Agenda is not available yet but it will continue discussion on topics such as supply chain resilience and congestion; freight movement and policy; trade innovation; regulatory issues; finance and infrastructure; and workforce development. All of these are always critical, of course, but they take on added significance as efforts start to build what’s needed to then build an entirely new national energy system.

Death by a Thousand Cuts (Continues…): Fish & Wildlife had a notice for another Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for bats, this time at the California Ridge Wind Farm in Champaign and Vermillion Counties in Illinois. The notice is linked to a draft environmental assessment and proposed habitat conservation plan for the wind project. If approved, the ITP would be for 20 years and would authorize incidental take of four species: Indiana bat (federally listed as endangered), northern long-eared bat (listed as threatened), little brown bat (currently under discretionary review), and tricolored bat (petitioned for listing under ESA). Hmmm…sounds like there’s not too many of any of those little critters left. But whatever. This wind project covers 35,270 acres of private land. Project managers propose to restore and protect up to 563.2 acres of suitable habitat for the covered species and up to 13 artificial bat roost structures. Is that a good plan? Comments are due by July 6.

* Okay to Check the Box: On May 5 DOT posted a notice requesting public comments on whether DOT regs are consistent with President Biden’s recent Executive Orders pertaining to social equity and climate issues. A request like this is a tall order, hard to complete in three months let alone 30 days. The response was tepid: 21 replies – 4 anonymous, 3 from individuals and 14 from various organizations, including comments presenting surprising self-interest, such as from nurse practitioners arguing that they should be allowed to give employment physicals to railroad workers. Now that will get you to net-zero. A group called Our Children’s Trust sent in a packet of docs totaling 66 pages, most of which described how they can decarbonize everything in the universe. But not one reference to one federal regulation. Helpful. No comments from any state DOTs, MPOs, city officials, economic development groups; nothing from hundreds of thousands of people who actually work in this space. DOT probably likes it that way; makes next steps easier.

Tom Ewing “replyTopm Ewing” or 513-379-5526 voice/text