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U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has been honored with the 2015 John H. Chafee Congressional Environmental Award, and Suneil Kuthiala, CSX Transportation's director of advanced engineering, has been awarded the 2015 John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced yesterday.The environmental stewardship awards are named for the late Rhode Island senator, who advocated for conservation and environmental causes and appreciated the environmental advantages of rail transportation, AAR officials said in a press release.Each year, the association recognizes a member of Congress and a railroad employee who have demonstrated the highest level of environmental stewardship in the previous year.Ayotte was recognized for introducing legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which 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. In 2014, she was an original co-sponsor of the Sportsmen's Act, a bipartisan bill to conserve wildlife and public lands. She also has lent support to the National Endowment for the Oceans and opposed removing environmental review requirements for ocean drilling.At CSX, Kuthiala has been dedicated to improvements that have spurred fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and saved money. He oversees the implementation and development of Trip Optimizer, a computer program that uses look-ahead and braking technology to identify fuel efficiency opportunities. Kuthiala's leadership of the program resulted in a culture change for CSX's field operations and changed how the Class I approaches new technology, AAR officials said. Since Trip Optimizer was introduced, the railroad has saved about 12 million gallons of fuel and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 132,000 tons."The railroad industry takes pride in its continued efforts to maintain a high level of environmental efficiency," said AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger. "Sen. Ayotte and Kuthiala are unwavering in their commitment to ensuring that a legacy of environmental stewardship continues into the future."Seven other railroaders were nominated for the 2015 John Chafee Award: Paul Carver of Amtrak, Austin Hurst of BNSF Railway Co., Bryan Murray of Kansas City Southern, Tim Smith of Union Pacific Railroad, Howard Swanson of Norfolk Southern, David Wilson of CN and Doug Younger of Canadian Pacific.Their in-depth profiles are available on AAR's website.
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