May 1, 2009
New science gauges potential to store CO2
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting research on a number of fronts related to carbon sequestration, or the storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), in order to lessen the impacts of climate change. Efforts include evaluation of potential biological sequestration in a variety of ecosystems, potential release of greenhouse gasses from Arctic soils and permafrost, mapping the distribution of ultramafic rocks for potential mineral sequestration efforts, and the possible role of gas hydrates in carbon sequestration.
According to a press release from the USGS, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar praised a USGS report touting one new method – the injection of liquid CO2 into rocks below the earth’s surface. The new methodology identifies a means to assess the volume of pore space in subsurface rocks that is able to store CO2 for tens of thousands of years.
As a senator, Salazar authored the provision of the Energy Independence and Security Act that directed USGS to develop the methodology. “Rather than emitting carbon into the air, our nation can and should move toward capturing carbon emissions and storing them underground,” Salazar said in an energy teleconference, according to the press release. “The report will help us find the best places in the country for this type of carbon sequestration. The development of this assessment methodology marks a critical first step in our understanding of how much carbon dioxide can be stored in the subsurface.”
The method allows for an assessment that can characterize the storage potential in two types of storage units – saline formations and oil and gas reservoirs – and is dependent on building geologic models of the areas to be assessed. The method focuses on the technically accessible resource, which is the geologic resource that may be available and sequestered using present-day geological and engineering knowledge and technology.
Stimulus-generated transportation projects surpass 2,000
On April 13, President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood commemorated the 2,000th transportation infrastructure project funded from the $48.1 billion allocated for infrastructure under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). More than 60 percent of the obligations required within 120 days of the signing of the ARRA on Feb. 17 had been made within the first two months.
According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) eDigest & Washington Watch, President Obama said, “I am proud to utter the two rarest phrases in the English language – projects are being approved ahead of schedule, and they are coming in under budget.”
The 2,000th project is a $68-million interchange widening project on Interstate 94 in Portage, Mich.
To track the allocation of stimulus dollars, go to www.recovery.gov.
EPA issues revised opacity rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a revised opacity rule last month, according to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) eDigest & Washington Watch. The New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) Subpart OOO is the visible emission, or opacity, standard for non-metallic mineral processing plants, which includes aggregates. The rule limits how much visible dust is allowed to be emitted into the air from crushers, screens, and conveyor transfer points.
In response to a lawsuit filed last year by the Sierra Club against the EPA, the NSSGA negotiated a final rule that would lessen the administrative burden on the aggregates industry. The NSSGA plans to issue a summary of the final rule and host several Webinars demonstrating the changes to the rule and how it affects individual operations.
To get more information about the revised opacity rule, go to www.nssga.org.
NSSGA/TCC spring fly-in
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) will hold its annual spring TCC Fly-In May 19-20 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The theme this year is “Transportation Builds Our Economy.” The NSSGA wants to remind everyone that less than eight months remain in which to draft and approve legislation to reauthorize SAFETEA-LU, and determine how it will be paid for in the short and long term.
AEM program receives national honor
The Construction Challenge workforce development program of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) was named to the Associations Advance America 2009 honor roll, a national awards competition presented by the American Society of Association Executives and the Center for Association Leadership, Washington, D.C. The awards program recognizes associations that contribute to the advancement of American society through innovative programs in areas including education, skills training, standards setting, business and social innovation, knowledge creation, citizenship, and community service.
AEM partners with Destination ImagiNation to produce the Construction Challenge, which is a creative problem-solving program designed to engage teens through a hands-on educational experience. The Challenge offers an opportunity for students, teachers, parents, and community leaders to learn more about construction industry careers, which face a severe workforce shortage in coming years. The program also emphasizes the role that off-road equipment plays in our quality of life.
EPA Energy Star partners
Titan America LLC has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy’s (EPA) Energy Star Program. As a condition of the partnership, Titan America agrees to submit to independent monitoring of its energy efficiency, which will include base lining, tracking, and benchmarking the company’s energy performance using tools offered through Energy Star.
Last year, both of Titan America’s cement plants, Roanoke Cement Company LLC in Troutville, Va., and Pennsuco Cement in Medley, Fla., were recipients of the prestigious Energy Star Award recognizing manufacturers’ energy efficient solutions that save money while protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The EPA also named Cemex USA a 2009 Energy Star Partner of the Year for outstanding energy management and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The award recognizes efforts to use energy efficiently in facility operations and to integrate superior energy management into overall organizational strategy. Cemex decreased its total energy use equal to reducing 115,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of providing electricity to at least 1,500 American homes for a decade or avoiding about 21,000 passenger vehicles’ CO2 emissions for a year. Cemex’s accomplishments were recognized in an awards ceremony held March 31 in Washington, D.C.
EPA publishes greenhouse gas inventory report
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the national greenhouse gas inventory, which finds that overall emissions during 2007 increased by 1.4 percent over the previous year and by 17.2 percent from 1990 to 2007. An EPA press release stated that the report, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2007, was submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.
Six main greenhouse gasses were tracked – CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The report stated that the increase in emissions in 2007 was due primarily to an increase in CO2 associated with fuel and electricity consumption.
Additional information on the greenhouse gas inventory report can be found at http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html.