Blips on the radar — April 24 ed

EPA sets deadline for Renewable Fuel Standard mandates
What Happened: Ethanol blending mandates for 2014 and 2015 will be set by Nov. 30, according to a lawsuit settlement involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and members of the oil industry.

The EPA was sued by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers (AFPM), with the oil industry organizations alleging refineries were not able to properly blend ethanol into its respective products because of the government agency’s delays in announced mandates in 2013.

Federal law requires the EPA to announce blending mandates for the upcoming year by Nov. 30. However, because of the federal lawsuit, the EPA did not announce ethanol blending mandates in 2013 and 2014 for the respective year ahead. In 2013, the EPA reportedly proposed reducing the ethanol mandate to about 15 billion gallons. However, EPA officials did not formally adopt the mandate. The lawsuit filed by API and APFM essentially argued refineries were left in limbo while awaiting a mandate to be formally adopted.

EPA officials are required to set annual ethanol and biodiesel mandates as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

What’s On Tap: The settlement still needs to survive a 30-day public comment period and earn federal court approval. According to news reports, the blending mandate for 2016 will be set this year. If the settlement is approved, EPA officials would have to decide upon mandated volume levels.

Launch of San Salvador delayed indefinitely

What Happened: San Salvador, a replica of a European ship that sailed into San Diego Bay more than 470 years ago, was set to be christened April 18, with a public ceremony scheduled at 9 a.m., April 19. Members of Spanish royalty were to join local and regional leaders in attending the April 19 public ceremony. Both the christening and the public ceremony were scheduled to take place at Broadway Pier.

However, the launch was delayed indefinitely. According to a statement released April 7 by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the launch was delayed because of technical difficulties.

“Unanticipated technical complications involving the movement and lifting of the ship have arisen within the last four weeks,” Maritime Museum of San Diego President and CEO Raymond Ashley said. “With no certainty that a comprehensive solution will emerge within the two weeks remaining, it is with sincere disappointment and regret that we announce the postponement of the public ceremony. In making this decision, we are resolved to prioritize the safety to the people involved in the launch and the protection of the ship.”

Port officials and the Maritime Museum of San Diego collaborated to launch a replica version of San Salvador in the harbor in an attempt to draw more tourists to the harbor. The original San Salvador was helmed by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo of Portugal. According to Port of San Diego staff, Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542.

Port staff hoped the launch of San Salvador would promote tourism to the San Diego region and meet its goals of establishing the harbor as a vibrant waterfront destination where residents and visitors converge and promoting the port as a sustainable economic engine.

According to Ashley, about 500 museum volunteers contributed to the construction of the San Salvador replica, which was built at Spanish Landing.

What’s On Tap:
Ashley added the museum still intends to publicly launch San Salvador at some point. However, neither the museum nor port officials announced a time-frame for when the public ceremony could possibly be rescheduled.

Cheyenne’s time in Newport Harbor coming down to the wire

What Happened: Chris Welsh did not attend the Newport Beach Harbor Commission’s April 8 meeting, opting to update commissioners of Cheyenne’s progress via email. In an email dated April 2, Welsh told commissioners workers made progress on a glass dome being built for an underwater craft. The dome would protect Welsh as he explores the depths of the ocean in a one-man vessel.

Welsh provided a photo, apparently taken March 30, in his email of the glass dome.

“This [photo] did not have a date estimate attached from the vendor but the really nice hemispherical shape and the absence of grooves shows progress,” Welsh wrote. “Verbally, [the vendor] commented that they were thousandths [of an inch] away and would be moving from rough polish to final polish.”

The April 2 email update also included an outline of Welsh’s planned Five Dives Expedition, including visits to trenches in the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, “secondary dives” at Tonga and Japan trenches, and a month-by-month route outline of each destination during his 15-month venture.

Commissioner William Kinney told his colleagues they should soon come to terms of how to objectively measure Welsh’s progress, especially since he has a July 31 deadline to demonstrate Cheyenne is operationally ready.

Similar sentiment was expressed by commissioners Paul Blank and David Girling.

Girling believed Welsh was behind schedule and would not be able to meet the commission’s July 31 deadline. He added Welsh’s monthly updates, which he has provided to the commission since January, provided a broad overview of work done on Cheyenne but lacked a specific timeline.

Blank was a little more blunt, stating his patience ran thin and he was prepared to let Welsh’s permit to keep Cheyenne in Newport Harbor expire.

What’s On Tap: Welsh must provide another update to commissioners May 13 and substantiate Cheyenne’s readiness.

National City, nonprofit discuss maritime vision

What Happened: Cindy Gompper-Graves, CEO of San Diego’s South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC), shared a Vision Plan Presentation with the National City City Council. The April 7 presentation was merely the introductory phase of a longer process for National City to develop a five-year economic development strategy. A portion of the strategy focuses on how the city’s maritime-related industries can have a greater economic impact on the San Diego region.

According to Gompper-Graves’ presentation, National City was home to 11 maritime-related establishments who employ 478 workers from South San Diego County. Her presentation pointed out National City has high potential for maritime industry and economic growth.

What’s On Tap: National City hopes to coordinate the maritime element of its five-year Vision Plan with the Port of San Diego’s development of its Master Plan. Port officials are in the second year of its own five-year tract to develop its long-range vision to revitalize San Diego Bay.

The SCEDC will continue to receive input to guide the recommendations it will ultimately make to the National City City Council for its Vision Plan.

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