Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

UXO = “unexploded ordinance”; might be some off the NJ coast…don’t worry, as you can see, they got an app for this…
(Right whales: don’t look…!)

* The End of Whales: And so it begins. On March 3 the Federal Register contained an application from a SUNY Stony Brook researcher to “collect photo-identification, morphometric, distribution, behavioral, and passive acoustic data on cetaceans in the New York Bight using vessels, unmanned aircraft systems, and acoustic recording” devices for five years. Possibly, just academic work. On March 7 NOAA published a notice regarding the “take” of marine mammals for the Ocean Wind 1 project off New Jersey. Not academic. This isn’t a request for permission, that’s a given. This is to approve the take plan (an earlier one was rejected). Then, March 11, NOAA renewed Orsted’s “incidental harassment” authorization for site characterization surveys from New York to Massachusetts. Also on March 11 New York released its latest wind solicitation, part of its 5-project set. The whales – there are 368 Right Whales left – will be happy to know that the climate action council and the climate justice working group are integral to this and that there will result a lot of good paying union jobs. When you think about it, NOAA could really just close up shop on the east coast. What more needs to be done? Offshore wind is the pathway to paradise.

* Nettie – We Hardly Knew Ye! Here’s a group we haven’t heard from for a while: The Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council, based in DOT’s Office of the Secretary. NETT was prominent for about 20 minutes within the Tr**p Administration but faded. Now, Secretary B is asking about NETT’s future efforts. The recent Infrastructure and Jobs Act provides new energy for NETT to take a close look at emerging transportation technologies and how to make them work. Oh, and in case you forgot, DOT is focused on climate, equity and good paying union jobs. In its notice DOT presents 10 questions for which it seeks comments; the questions focus on the Council’s process, inclusion and prioritizing new technologies. Comments are due by April 8

* NETT Net Some Ideas: You’ll recall Federal Railroad’s (FRA) February request for comments on a possible passenger rail “Corridor Identification and Development Program.” The comment period closed March 9 and FRA received 383 sets of comments from individuals, state DOTs, business groups and even the Department of Defense weighed in, writing that an expanded and strengthened Amtrak system clearly provides benefits for national security. (But DOD’s comments will have to be returned. They didn’t once mention climate, equity or good paying union jobs. Well, actually they mention “union” once – Union Pacific RR!! Emoji) Comments range from one fella in New Orleans looking for better service to Lima, OH (that’ll probably happen) to the Maglev 2000 and Readiness Resource Group seeking a grant of $500 million for a test program to transition from Amtrak to 2nd generation superconducting maglev technology and guideway systems (that’ll probably happen). Git-r-done! Train routes have had wistful names over the years: The City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, 20th Century Limited. It takes a while to build things now, of course. NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) can be slooooow. The first new train in one of the new corridors will be called The NEPA Creepah… Emoji

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