Posts Tagged ‘NEPA’

TRB e-circular “Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment” published

Friday, April 18th, 2014

By Mary Ellen Eagan

TRB recently published Circular E-C184: “Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment.” The following summarizes the content of the e-circular.

“Critical Issues in Aviation and the Environment 2014” consists of twelve individually authored sections, representing the authoring experts’ opinions on issues that address the major environmental components affected by aviation activities, sustainable solutions that have evolved and continue to be developed to minimize environmental impacts, and the key processes that link aviation and the environment.

Readers of prior e-circulars in this series may notice that we no longer include a stand-alone section on “sustainability”.  This is because the Committee believes that sustainability is a cross-cutting issue that affects all topics in the environment – it is a way of operating, not an “issue”.  We have added several new topics to this volume:

  1. Natural resource management:  Airports are challenged to address natural resource management issues related to wildlife hazards, natural resource revenue generation (e.g., timber, minerals, energy), and water conservation.
  2. Renewable energy:  this section addresses major issues airports should consider when identifying and developing renewable energy alternatives.
  3. Public Health:  an emerging issue that several airports are facing is the need to develop health impact assessments and health risk assessments to respond to community concerns regarding the impact of airports on communities.

The individually authored sections of this e-circular represent the viewpoints of the attributed authors.  Members and friends of the TRB Environmental Impacts of Aviation Committee have also reviewed and contributed comments to these sections.

Many thanks go to the authors (listed below, by paper):

Environmental Impacts of Aviation on Human and Natural Resources  

  • Noise: Natalia Sizov (Federal Aviation Administration), Brad Rolf (Mead & Hunt), Mary Ellen Eagan (Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc.)
  • Air Quality: John Pehrson (CDM), Warren Gillette (Federal Aviation Administration), Brian Kim (Wyle), Prem Lobo (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
  • Climate Change: Judith Patterson (Science College, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada ), Mohan Gupta (Federal Aviation Administration), Rangasayi Halthore (Federal Aviation Administration), Anuja Mahashabde (The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA)
  • Water Quality: Dean Mericas (Mead & Hunt), John Lengel (Gresham Smith & Partners), Richard Davis (Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.)

Sustainable Solutions to Address Environmental Challenges

  • Climate Change Adaptation Planning and Preparedness: John Lengel (Gresham, Smith and Partners), Kristin Lemaster (CDM Smith), Judith Patterson (Concordia University), Andrea Schwartz Freeburg (Federal Aviation Administration)
  • Natural Resource Management: Dean Mericas (Mead & Hunt), Sarah Brammell (Environmental Resource Solutions)
  • Renewable Energy: Steve Barrett (Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc.), Bruno Miller (Metron Aviation), Phil Ralston (Port of Portland)
  • Aviation Alternative Fuels Development And Deployment:  Bruno Miller (Metron Aviation), Steve Csonka (CAAFI), Kristin Lewis (Volpe Center/RITA, Jim Hileman (FAA), Mark Rumizen (FAA), Nancy Young (Airlines for America), and John Heimlich (Airlines for America)

Processes and Tools for Implementing Sustainable Solutions

  • Environmental Review under NEPA:  Mary Vigilante (Synergy Consultants), Brad Rolf (Mead & Hunt), John Putnam (Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell), Donald Scata (FAA), Betsy Delaney (First Environment), Barbara Thomson (First Environment)
  • Environmental Management Systems And Sustainability Measurement: Mary Vigilante (Synergy Consultants), Brad Rolf (Mead & Hunt), John Putnam (Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell), Donald Scata (FAA), Betsy Delaney (First Environment), Barbara Thomson (First Environment)
  • Aviation Environmental Modeling Tool Suite:  James Hileman (Federal Aviation Administration), Christopher Roof (USDOT RITA)
  • Research Needs in Public Health In Aviation:  Burr Stewart (Burrst), Andrew Dannenberg (CDC), Brian Kim (Wyle), Daniel Jacob (Federal Aviation Administration)


LTC Kurt Hellauer

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I thought I’d take a moment to recognize the deployment of Kurt Hellauer, LTC US Army.  Kurt joined us a little over a year ago, and has been an invaluable contributor to our recent (and ongoing) PBN NEPA projects, including the Midway Airspace Redesign Environmental Assessment, the Houston OAPM Environmental Assessment, and the North Texas OAPM Environmental Assessment.  He will be on active duty in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom beginning next week.

It is particularly poignant for Kurt and his family as they have finally moved to Boston just this week!  So it was with much happiness, some sorrow, and a great deal of pride that we simultaneously welcomed Kurt to the neighborhood and said goodbye for a time.  Please join me in wishing Kurt well on his journey and supporting Amie, Mary, and Erin as they also begin a new chapter of their lives in Massachusetts!

A toast to Erin, Kurt, and Amie Hellauer!

A toast to Erin, Kurt, and Amie Hellauer!

I was going to write something about the sacrifices that military families make.  And then I found this, which I think sums it up nicely:

“In our military families, we see the best our country has to offer. They demonstrate the virtues that have made America great for more than two centuries and the values that will preserve our greatness for centuries to come. With loved ones serving far from home, military spouses take on the work of two. Their children show courage and resilience as they move from base to base, school to school, home to home. And even through the strain of deployment, military families strengthen the fabric of each community they touch and enrich our national life as shining examples of patriotism.”   –  Barak Obama, 2012

Thank you for your service, Hellauer Family!

TRB Highlights – Rail

Monday, January 30th, 2012

by Jason Ross

One of the best highlights from the 91st Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. was the “Riding the NEPA Railroad Workshop” on Sunday.  I usually find the workshops interesting and engaging and this year was no different.  Leading NEPA experts from FRA, FTA and FHWA compared the NEPA processes across all three agencies – something HMMH has experienced firsthand.  HMMH is leading the noise and vibration studies for two of the three highlighted projects including the Desert Xpress high-speed rail line proposed from Victorville, CA to Las Vegas, NV and the California High-Speed Rail Project between Fresno to Merced.

NEPA experts helped to again fill the house for Session 737 on “Expediting Environmental Review: Underlying Causes for Runaway Process”.  This session focused on the growing need to streamline the NEPA process.  Did you know the average time to complete an EIS has been 67 months?!  One project for which HMMH is proud to have conducted the noise and vibration analysis is the Dallas Streetcar EA.  This project resulted in a 14-page EA that was completed in 14 months.  Horst Greczmiel, from the Council on Environmental Quality, presented on recent NEPA trends including the availability of a tool to streamline the public comment and response process.  More information can be found on these recent trends and CEQ recommendations here.

Report from UC Davis

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I attended the UC Davis ‘Eco-Aerovision’ Symposium in San Diego this week.  The symposium was created 25 years ago to provide a forum for California airport noise officers to share ideas, challenges, and war stories.  Over the years, the symposium has gone through significant transformation, and is now an annual international gathering of airport staff, community members, operators, land use planners, regulators, manufacturers, and academics to collaborate on a range of environmental topics that stymie airports, including noise, air quality, and climate.

Navigating Sustainability

Navigating Sustainability

I would say that there were two general themes that were reinforced throughout the conference:

  • First, we have been at this (noise challenge) for a long time, and it’s probably fair to say that there’s not much “low hanging fruit” left.  This suggests that the challenges that remain are difficult, and will continue to get even more so.  Several sessions supported this theme, including a discussion of Noise Beyond DNL 65, facilitated by Jessica Steinhilber of ACI-NA and Dan Frazee of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
  • Second, that addressing noise issues at airport is a very long term prospect.  Two good examples were provided by Flavio Leo of Massport and Mary McCarthy, who talked about the 32-year history of building a new runway at Boston-Logan International Airport, and 14 recent legal challenges to the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace Redesign.  Ultimately, it seems, runways will be built and airspace will be re-designed to suit more efficient air travel (the FAA’s 20-0 track record on significant NEPA challenges was touted by Ted Boling of CEQ during his keynote address).  Our challenge it seems, is to make the process be as transparent, honest, and fair to airport neighbors as possible.

To that end, the FAA’s Office of Aviation Policy, Planning & Environment conducted its final workshop supporting development of a Noise Research Roadmap.  Like the symposium, this day-long session was an honest and far-ranging discussion of research needs to advance our understanding of noise issues and to identify “actionable hypotheses” and research projects that could be conducted to accomplish those goals.

Finally, at the risk of narcissism, I was humbled (and COMPLETELY STUNNED) to receive the 2010 Walt Gillfillan Award for “exemplary work addressing the challenges of reducing the environmental impacts of aviation”.  Many thanks to those who found me deserving of the nomination.

EPA Issues New Short-term NO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standard

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

by Phil DeVita

On January 22, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthened the primary national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by adding a 1-hour NO2standard of 100 ppb.  The EPA administration is retaining the current annual standard of 53 ppb.

The EPA decided the existing annual standard does not provide sufficient protection of public health in the short-term period and believes the new standard will protect against adverse health effects associated with short-term exposure near roadways and urban areas. Current scientific evidence suggests short-term exposures to peak NO2 concentrations correlates with adverse respiratory effects to sensitive populations (i.e., children and the elderly) leading to increased visits to emergency rooms.

Currently, all areas of the U.S. comply with the existing annual NO2 standard.  EPA will designate attainment and non-attainment areas for the new standard by January 2012.  Over the last 30 years, annual NO2 concentrations have continued to decrease.  This decline is mainly attributed to more efficient automobile engines due to the implementation of emission standards for light-duty vehicles.  With the phasing in of emission standards for heavy duty engines in newer vehicles, we should continue to see decreases in NO2 emissions in the future.

Studies have shown that NO2 concentrations are typically higher near roadways when compared to existing monitor locations maintained by state agencies.  Concentrations in heavy traffic areas can be as much as two times greater than residential areas.  As part of this action, EPA is requiring changes to the monitoring network to protect the public health from high short-term concentrations near major roadways, urban areas (i.e., areas with a population greater than 1 million people), and in communities vulnerable to NO2related health effects. These new monitoring and reporting requirements will begin by January 1, 2013.  Once these new monitors are in place, EPA at their discretion could re-designate attainments areas in 2016 or 2017.

The new short-term standard will affect all types of emission sources including aviation, mobile sources, and fossil fuel combustion sources.  For new projects subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and located in a NO2 non-attainment region, general conformity determinations will need to demonstrate project emissions will not exceed the new standards prior to receiving federal funding.  This may subject some sources to additional mitigation measures and could require a source to obtain emissions offsets.   In addition to NEPA review, a project may also need to demonstrate compliance with the new standard in order to receive approval under a state environmental policy act or an air quality permit.   One way of addressing compliance with the standard is conducting air dispersion modeling.  Air dispersion modeling is typically used by new or existing facilities to demonstrate compliance with the NAAQS.   Moving forward, dispersion modeling could be an effective tool many sources will utilize in demonstrating compliance with the new standard.