Environmental News Highlights – January 20, 2021


Energy & Sustainability: What to Expect from the 117th Congress and the Biden Administration – National Law Review

Pendulum swings in Clean Water Act regulation – Capital Press

How the Supreme Court could upend Biden’s green agenda – E&E news

NTSB Issues 14 Safety Recommendations Following Investigation of Natural Gas Explosion – NTSB (Press release)


Public Transit and Shared Mobility COVID-19 Recovery: Policy Recommendations and Research NeedsUC Berkeley


Virginia groups sue U.S. Forest Service over new environmental review standards – Virginia Mercury


U.S. Chamber urges infrastructure modernization plan to ensure nation’s long-term economic growth – Logistics Management

Will Utah become ‘epicenter’ of research to electrify transportation? – Deseret News


TTI Researchers Develop Curriculum for Transportation Emissions and Health – Texas A&M University

Electrifying Freight: Pathways to Accelerating the Transition – Electric Coalition (link to PDF)

Polis gives update on state’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap – KUSA-TV


Environmental Justice Report Highlights EPA Progress – Riverbank News

How can we implement education for climate action and climate justice? – Brookings Institution (Blog)


BNSF Plan Aims To Reduce Train-Related Grizzly Bear Deaths – Montana Public Radio

Pittsburgh Water And Sewer Authority Pleads Guilty To Violating Clean Water Act – KDKA-TV

More Blackouts Loom With Fire Threat Returning to California – Bloomberg Green


10,000-year-old jewelry among artifacts found while clearing land for I-540 project – WTVD-TV

A Green Transformation for the ‘World’s Most Beautiful Avenue’ – CityLab


Pedestrian traffic deaths in Colorado are up 89% since 2009, AAA analysis shows – Denver Post

Richmond’s bike share expansion braked for pandemic but rolling again – Richmond BizSense

Nearly 300 miles were just added to the U.S. Bicycle Route System – Time Out

City of Oklahoma City installs 50 new bike racks, 5 repair stations – KOKH-TV


COVID-19 Addendum to Critical Issues in Transportation – TRB

Measuring and Managing Freight System Resilience Workshop – early bird registration deadline February 8, 2021 – TRB

Lead Emissions from Small Aircraft Can Be Reduced, Benefiting Public Health – TRB

RFP: Alternative Methods to Manage Tree Growth Near Airports – TRB (ACRP)

Propose New Topics for the 2022 NCHRP Synthesis Program: Submissions due February 17 – TRB (NCHRP)

RFP: Design Guide and Standards for Infrastructure Resilience – TRB (NCHRP)

Propose New Topics for the 2021 TCRP Synthesis Program: Submissions due March 19 – TRB (TCRP)

Cities, Transit Agencies, and Shared Mobility Providers Should Collaborate to Fully Realize Transportation Potential Across Metropolitan Areas – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The Importance of Highways to U.S. Agriculture – USDA


Hazardous Materials: Editorial Corrections and Clarifications – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Correction)

Pipeline Safety: Frequently Asked Questions on the Gas Transmission Rule – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notification and request for comments)

Notice of Availability of the Records of Decision for a Highway Right-of-Way, Amended Habitat Conservation Plan and Issuance of an Incidental Take Permit for the Mojave Desert Tortoise, and Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments, Washington County, UT – Bureau of Land Management (Notice of availability)

Notice of Availability of the Las Vegas Metroplex Project Written Re- Evaluation/Record of Decision for Changes to the Final Environmental Assessment Designs – FAA (Notice of availability of the Written Re-evaluation/Record of Decision)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; Motor Vehicles – National Park Service (Final rule)

Gulf Islands National Seashore; Personal Watercraft – National Park Service (Proposed rule)

Pollutant-Specific Significant Contribution Finding for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, and Process for Determining Significance of Other New Source Performance Standards Source Categories – EPA (Final rule)

Inland Waterways Users Board Meeting Notice – Corps of Engineers (Notice of open Federal advisory committee virtual meeting)

Notice of Matching Fund Opportunity for Hydrographic Surveys and Request for Partnership Proposals – NOAA (Announcement of matching fund pilot program opportunity, request for proposals, and request for interest by February 26, 2021)

Oregon DOT: More Landslides May Occur due to Wildfires

The Oregon Department of Transportation noted in a recent blog post that landslides could increase in 2021 due to topographical damage caused by a series of devastating wildfires in 2020.

[Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation.]

In order to track how landslide activity is influenced by wildfires, earthquakes, and climate change, the agency is in the midst of several projects that record and analyze landslide activity via ground- and aerial drone-based sensors.

[The video below, captured by an Oregon DOT drone, illustrates the type of transportation system damage that can be caused by landslides.]

To that end, Curran Mohney – senior engineering geologist with the Oregon DOT’s statewide project delivery group – is involved in an effort to monitor landslides affecting the state’s coastal highways. That project – in year four of its seven-year life – is being conducted in collaboration with students and professors from Portland State and Oregon State universities.

“Primarily what I want to know is how much time we have left for our highways in certain areas,” Mohney explained. “What’s the life span of our highways on the coast and in our stressed areas? How fast are landslides accelerating, especially with climate change drivers? How long until we lose that battle?”

He added that this project is “increasing knowledge” that will benefit the state in many ways – especially in terms of protecting its surface transportation network.

[The video below highlights the equipment and techniques deployed by the Oregon DOT and its contractors to repair roads damaged by landslides.]

For example, Mohney said every landslide has elements that indicate its approximate age: its shape and radiocarbon dating of buried animal bones and plant matter. Depending on what the research team discovers from that material helps determine whether a landslide occurred because of seismic events or just from heavy rains.

“Learning about the age and the causes of slides can help us make better decisions about our seismic lifelines or things we need to do to adapt to climate change impacts,” Mohney said.

“It’s telling us things about how and why landslides happen in certain places,” he added. “Just imagining what our issues are going to be with climate change and Cascadia [the Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake] – it seems insurmountable. So if we can figure out anything about where, why, how, then we can be prepared. Maybe we can go out ahead of time and make smart decisions.”

WSDOT Seeks Feedback on Future Active Transportation Plans

The Washington State Department of Transportation is seeking public feedback the draft of the new State Active Transportation Plan through February 15 – a new plan that reflects the fact that more people than ever are walking and bicycling statewide, according to the agency’s multimodal transportation dashboard.

[Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation.]

The plan also focuses on the need for greater safety for pedestrians and bicyclists as a preliminary assessment of crash statistics found that 2020 fatal crashes involving such “vulnerable road users appear” to be occurring at higher rates than the averages for 2010 through 2019.

[Bicycling in particular is becoming a more frequently used transportation mode, WSDOT noted in a video.]