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AAR: Gardner, Hoey win Chafee Award for environmental achievements


The Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced yesterday that U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and CSX employee Michael Hoey have been honored with the annual John H. Chafee Environmental Stewardship Awards.

The awards recognize a member of Congress and a railroad employee who have demonstrated the highest level of environmental stewardship in the previous year. Gardner received the Chafee Congressional Environmental Award, and Hoey is the industry winner of the Chafee Environmental Excellence Award, according to an AAR press release.

The award is named after the late Rhode Island senator, who advocated for environmental causes and the eco-friendly benefits of rail transportation.

"There is simply no mode of ground transportation that is more environmentally friendly and more environmentally responsible than freight rail," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger. "Sen. Gardner and Michael Hoey are unwavering in their commitment to ensuring that a legacy of environmental stewardship continues into the future." 

Gardner has championed the importance of the eco-friendly rail network, and visited the Pueblo, Colo.-based Transportation Technology Center Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AAR. He was an early co-sponsor of the Sportsman's Act in 2015, a bipartisan bill to conserve wildlife and public land. He also has supported legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, AAR officials said.

CSX's Hoey, who serves as project manager on the National Gateway initiative, was recognized for contributing to environmental standards in rail construction and design. He has been at the forefront of CSX's effort to incorporate green considerations into construction projects, from the first control processes in the 1980s to today's permitting, compliance and remediation plans, AAR officials said.

Hoey's early career experience constructing wastewater treatment facilities at rail yards in New York and Massachusetts helped set the foundation for his ability to proactively identify environmental concerns in the future, they added.

As the National Gateway project manager, Hoey has been instrumental in diverting soil, rock and other debris from landfills through the creation of Excess Material Placement Areas (EMPA). The EMPA process has been incorporated into National Gateway projects and has eliminated the need to send more than 1.3 million cubic yards of excess soil and stone to landfills. The process also has avoided more than 112,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, AAR officials said.

Five other railroaders were finalists for the Chafee Award: Peter Arato of Canadian Pacific; Jeff Cutright of Norfolk Southern Railway; John Jeffrey of BNSF Railway Co.; Mark Lutz of Union Pacific Railroad; and Brian Tracy of CN.