The Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced that U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) has been honored with the 2016 John H. Chafee Congressional Environmental Award, while Michael Hoey, a CSX Transportation employee from Philadelphia, Pa., has been awarded the 2016 John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award. Named in honor of the late Rhode Island Senator, a strong advocate for green causes and the ecofriendly benefits of rail transportation, the annual awards recognize a Member of Congress and a railroad employee who have demonstrated the highest level of environmental stewardship in the previous year.
"Railroads are synonymous with environmental stewardship and our industry is extremely proud of across-the-board efforts to protect the world around us," said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. "There is simply no mode of ground transportation that is more environmentally friendly and more environmentally responsible than freight rail. Senator Gardner and Michael Hoey are unwavering in their commitment to ensuring that a legacy of environmental stewardship continues into the future." Hamberger said Senator Gardner, who represents a state known globally for its natural beauty and geographic diversity, is committed to protecting environmental resources for generations to come. A former Chairman of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Sen. Gardner was an early co-sponsor of the Sportsman's Act in 2015, a bipartisan bill to conserve wildlife and public lands. The Senator is also a strong supporter of legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that provides funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water resources that will become protected areas for wildlife and recreation. Senator Gardner has championed the importance of the ecofriendly rail network, visiting Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads and a world-class transportation research and testing organization based in Pueblo, Colorado. "Railroads hold a special place in their hearts for Colorado, not only for serving breathtaking views and hosting more than 2,500 miles of track, but for housing the finest railroad test lab in the world," added Hamberger. "We are thrilled the Chafee Congressional Environmental Award and Senator Gardner could come together today." Meanwhile Michael Hoey, the industry winner of the 2016 John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award, is honored today for his career contributions to environmental standards in rail construction and design processes. Hoey has been at the forefront of CSX Transportation's efforts to incorporate green considerations into construction projects from the first control processes in the 1980s to today's extensive permitting, rigorous compliance and thoughtful remediation plans. His early experiences constructing waste water treatment facilities at railyards in New York and Massachusetts set the foundation for his ability to proactively identify potential areas of environmental concern in the future. Hoey is the project manager on the National Gateway, a system of clearance projects that allow for the efficient travel of double-stacked intermodal freight. Within the project, he has been instrumental in diverting soil, rock and other debris from the landfill through the creation of Excess Material Placement Areas (EMPA). Today, the EMPA process is incorporated into his company's construction projects across the entire network. The EMPAs incorporated into the National Gateway projects have eliminated the need to landfill more than 1.3 million cubic yards of excess soil and stone and avoided more than 112,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In addition to Hoey, five other railroaders were nominated for the 2016 John H. Chafee Award. Below are brief descriptions of the other Chafee Award finalists, with more information about them and other railroad employees working in environmental related positions. Peter Arato- Canadian Pacific As the lead for Canadian Pacific's Positive Train Control (PTC) project, Arato realized the need for a streamlined environmental and tribal review process for PTC wayside infrastructure that would meet all regulatory needs in an extremely compressed timeline. He worked very closely with his company's Environmental Risk Department and was a key contributor at information-sharing sessions with stakeholders. Arato facilitated an expedited review process that reduced the turnaround time of environmental screening and tribal engagement from six months to under eight weeks. As a direct result of his leadership, Canadian Pacific has completed the review process for all wayside installations on its PTC subdivisions. As part of the Engineering leadership team, Arato ensured the development of a full-bodied internal compliance process which captures the requirements of both the Federal Communication Commission's Environmental Rules as well as its Licensing Rules. The use of the internal environmental review and compliance processes developed during the screening of PTC sites has been expanded to encompass all Signals and Communication assets and to include review for compliance with other environmental rules and regulations. Jeff Cutright- Norfolk Southern Jeff Cutright has devoted much of his career to improving locomotive performance and reliability. Along the way, he has become an industry expert on locomotive diesel emissions and environmental compliance. Cutright has overseen emissions compliance issues, ensuring that locomotives are maintained and overhauled to standards that meet or exceed requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He has advanced Norfolk Southern's locomotive rebuild program, lowered locomotive maintenance and overhaul costs, enabled the company to optimize fuel economy on older locomotives and helped lower emissions. The locomotive rebuild program alone reduces the number of new locomotives the company must buy, helps improve customer service and reduces environmental impacts from railroad operations. Cutright serves on an industry technical advisory group on natural gas, a potential "game changer" in terms of reducing fuel costs and emissions linked to climate change. Through his railroad's employee volunteer program, he has organized teams to participate in projects such as Saturday clean-ups of public parks and green space. John Jeffrey- BNSF John Jeffrey began his BNSF career working in the Mechanical Department. Because of his leadership abilities, he was assigned to oversee the locomotive upgrade program for the Positive Train Control (PTC) initiative while continuing his regular duties in the railyard. Jeffrey is responsible for facility maintenance and environmental compliance at the Hauser Fueling Facility in Hauser, Idaho, one of the most critical locomotive fueling locations along BNSF's northern lines. Jeffrey and his team developed a unique elastomer concrete system at their fueling facility to protect the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, which supplies water to more than 500,000 people daily. In 2015, Jeffrey worked diligently with various Idaho officials and his maintenance team to gain approval for installation and daily use of a dual purpose system consisting of a Used Oil Burner/Water Evaporation system. The system eliminates the amount of waste generated and reduces the amount of natural gas used for heating, saving the company more than $30,000 in fuel and more than $100,000 in waste disposal costs each year. Jeffrey is member of the Washington Air National Guard and actively promotes his service unit's industrial and municipal waste reduction and recycling program. Mark Lutz - Union Pacific As the leader of a team comprised of members charged with accountability for locomotive fuel and oil supply, system-wide fuel and oil infrastructure maintenance, environmental compliance assurance and financial control of locomotive fuel, Mark Lutz is on a mission to be a world class performer in energy acquisition, maintenance reliability and environmental stewardship. His Fuel Team developed and implemented a "Control of Work" maintenance process that establishes accountability, engineering oversight and control over all fuel-related work performed at Union Pacific. Implementation reduced average repair cycle times from 230 days to 46 days. Lutz works with his staff to strictly adhere to the petroleum spill and cleanup policy, install appropriate best management practices and assist the environmental staff in the development of structural best management practices in locomotive fuel facilities. He has been heavily involved in planning the pilot of dual-fuel locomotives powered by diesel and liquefied natural gas. This initiative has the potential to diversify fuel options and reduce emissions. Lutz's efforts with recycling are an opportunity to model his beliefs for the youth in his community. Brian Tracy - Canadian National Brian Tracy worked with the Environment Department to develop a program to service remote, captive locomotives on his territory that are not regularly serviced at the main shop. The use of a portable system allows for major cost savings and a much more responsive maintenance plan for remote locomotives. Tracy's efforts in developing a program for monitoring and managing pollution tanks on remote, captive locomotives is a solid endeavor that addresses a chronic issue and will greatly reduce the potential for adverse environmental impact across the rail system. Other projects he was involved in include: a waste compactor, a tool exchange program, a washable rag system and a spent oil filter compactor. These projects resulted in a combined savings of $23,000 per year. He stresses action and constant improvement or adherence to material and waste management, storm water protection, spill reporting and response and air quality issues. Tracy's father recently retired from Canadian National after 38 years. He was twice honored with the company's outstanding employee contribution honors.