Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* The Port of Long Beach (POLB) is aggressively working to start its massive rail expansion project that will add 93,000 feet of track, doubling rail capacity on Pier B, a project with national implications.  In July, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) released its draft EIS on the project’s environmental impacts.  Port officials expect a MARAD record-of-decision by the end of September.  Next, in October, impacted businesses will be notified about appraisals and buyouts.  At a recent public hearing, POLB officials referenced overall business support.  Still, there are challenges.  Approximately 400 oil pipelines traverse the site and will have to be moved.  Some lines belong to public utilities, some are privately owned.  One company wrote that “although the demolition, movement or reconstruction of each individual line might not trigger CEQA on its own, the en masse demolition, movement or reconstruction is likely to be cumulatively significant and requires more detailed analysis.”  Stay tuned.

Draft Environmental Study Released on R…

*  POLB and the Port of LA are two critical freight sites mentioned in an unusual complaint filed by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) with the Federal Maritime Commission).  ATA and subsidiary groups charge that the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA), a group of major maritime shippers, including Maersk, COSCO and Wan Hai) have rigged the national market regarding the interchange of chassis used for container transport to and from coastal and inland intermodal ports.  ATA’s filing charges that this complicated system has changed for the worse and that truckers are now overcharged, delayed and otherwise disadvantaged by OCEMA controls.  ATA estimates $1.8 billion in excess, unfair charges during the past three years.  This will take a while to sort out.  FMC set an initial decision date of August 24, 2021.  But logistically, real-world impacts have already started at ports from California to Chicago to Ohio.

*  Everything happens somewhere.  The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is soliciting public comments on the draft strategic plan for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).  Critical capabilities that depend on geospatial information include weather forecasting, land titling and administration, transportation networks, food production, supply chain management, economic growth areas and responding to disease outbreaks.  The FGDC is the interagency committee in the executive branch and leads the development, implementation, and review of policies, practices, and standards relating to geospatial data.  The plan describes a broad national vision for the NSDI and includes goals and objectives.  The hope is to have the Plan completed by March 2021.  Comments are due by September 17.Have a great Monday and a great week!

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