Posts in the category "Environment":

Worms at LaGuardia Airport

There will be worms. And sunflowers.

Changi -Sunflower garden

Earth Day is coming up – and to spread the word about their green initiatives, the Food & Shops at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B, JetBlue Airways and The Port Authority of NY & NJ are hosting a “Choose Green” event on Thursday afternoon with a hands-on composting worm exhibit, courtesy of the Queens Botanical Garden.

Not into worms? There will be coloring and face painting for kids and, for adults who say they’ll “Choose Green,” a chance to enter into a drawing to win two JetBlue tickets and get a free sunflower growing kit.

Not traveling through New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday between noon and 4 pm? You can enter the contest on Twitter. More details here:

Drilling for oil & natural gas at airports

DEN AIRPORT Drilling rig

Courtesy Denver International Airport

Like other airports, Pittsburgh International supplements its revenue from airlines with fees from parking, concessions, advertising and other sources.

But now that the FAA has given its approval,  PIT can add funds from oil and gas drilling to its income ledger .

The airport has a deal with Consol Energy that came with a $50 million signing bonus and the promise of payments and royalties of an estimated $25 million annually for at least the next 20 years.

“Other airports have other advantages. They may have better flight patterns or be close to major markets,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “But we have this natural gas that others may not have.”

Federal Aviation Administration rules restrict how airports can spend drilling dollars and other non-aeronautical revenue.

“So we can’t take this new money and put it into the jail or the court system or the park system,” said Fitzgerald. The county is using the cash to reduce landing, terminal and ramp fees paid by airlines. “That makes us more desirable and will help us attract more airlines and more flights to our airport,” he said.

Pittsburgh International isn’t the first airport to dig deep in the ground for extra revenue. Drilling contracts generate cash for Dallas/Fort Worth, said DFW spokesman David Magaña.

DFW received a $186 million bonus from Chesapeake Energy for a natural gas exploration lease signed in 2006.

“We had plans for as many as 300 wells on airport grounds,” Magaña said, “but we stopped at 112 in 2010 because of the drop of natural gas prices in the market.”

In 2008, when drilling began, DFW earned $33.9 million in royalty revenue. In 2013 royalties were $5.3 million.

“We certainly earn more money from other things,” said Magaña. “For example, we probably earn about $120 million a year on parking. But the gas revenues are a bonus that allows us to do things we wouldn’t have done.”

Early on, DFW used drilling income to make terminal improvements that customers would “notice and appreciate,” said Magaña. That included replacing all seating and flight monitors and updating all the fixtures in the restrooms.

Denver International Airport has 76 wells on its property and in 2012 oil and gas production generated over $6.2 million.

“That revenue is not a large chunk of our budget,” spokesman Heath Montgomery said. “For comparison, last year we saw record concession revenue of about $295 million. But oil and gas production is a way of generating non-airline revenue to help offset the airlines’ cost of operating so the airport can remain globally competitive.”

In Denver, Suncor buys the oil and Anadarko buys the natural gas while the airport owns the wells and manages the overall system.

With three Reserve Oil & Gas gas wells that began producing in November 2013, 790-acre Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va., isn’t in the same league, drilling-wise, as Dallas and Denver.

“We expect a steady $40,000 a year in royalties over a 40-year period, said Yeager Airport director Rick Atkinson, “but for a budget of our size that’s nothing to sneeze at.”

Atkinson said the funds can’t be used “to remodel the director’s suite to look like I’m an oil baron,” but the additional revenue stream will enable the airport to do small additional projects each year.

To get permission, the FAA must determine that under the National Environmental Protection Act, the wells would have no significant impact on the environment, Atkinson said. The other divisions of the FAA approve the wells from an air-space and air-traffic-control aspect and for impacts on future aviation developments at the airport, he said.

Oklahoma City Airport oil drilling

courtesy World Rogers World Airport

In Oklahoma City, three airports—Will Rogers World Airport and two general aviation/corporate airports—together have 87 active wells, generating more than $2.5 million in revenue in 2013, about 2.5 percent of the revenue for the city’s Department of Airports.

Several oil rigs—some of them pumping—can be seen by passengers from the airfield.

“They’re not just there for decoration,” said airport spokeswoman Karen Carney.

Tulsa International Airport doesn’t have any wells but it does have a 13-foot-tall, 56-foot-wide mural by Delbert Jackson titled “Panorama of Petroleum.”

The city of Tulsa doesn’t allow drilling within city limits, so instead, “we celebrate the region’s position as a leader in the energy sector by displaying the mural—which was once displayed in the Smithsonian Institution—in our terminal,” airport spokeswoman Alexis Higgins said.

(My story about drilling for oil and natural gas at airports first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior)

 

O’Hare’s herd of weed eaters gets the winter off

Llama at ORD 2

Remember the herd of goats, sheep, llamas and burros that the Chicago Department of Aviation hired to eat weeds on about 120 acres of land at O’Hare Airport?

From August through mid-November, 37 animals from a no-kill shelter specializing in the rescue of farm and exotic animals munched their way through scrub vegetation on four sites that included hilly areas along creeks or streams and roadway right-of ways that were hard to get to with traditional landscaping equipment.

Now that winter is here, the animals are off-duty. But they’ll back in the spring to dine on a new crop of pesky weeds.

SHEEP AT ORD

Goats, sheep, llama and burros at O’Hare Airport

Ohare llama

As part of its efforts to operate the greenest airport anywhere, this week the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) showed off a herd of 25 goats, sheep, llamas and burros that have been grazing on O’Hare Airport property the past few weeks as part of the airport’s Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative.

“Project HERD” is tasked with munching unwanted vegetation on up to 120 acres of airport property that is difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment.

The herd will be on duty as long as weather permits and then come back to work in the fall of 2104.

And a hard working herd it is: just a few hours before the airport had their event to show off the project to media, a baby sheep was born.  He’s been named O’Hare.

ohare baby sheep

O’Hare isn’t the only airport to have animals as part of its landscaping crew. San Francisco International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have programs like this currently underway. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tried it a few years back, but decided not to continue with the project.

(Photos courtesy Chicago Department of Aviation)

500,000 bees land at Sea-Tac Airport

Bee outfit

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has them. And at Vancouver International Airport, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport has them. Now Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has bee-hives as well. The project is a partnership between the Port of Seattle and the non-profit Common Acre group and the long term goal is to promote hardy bee populations in the region.

The project — named Flight Path — includes 500,000 honeybees and six hives on three vacant, undeveloped sites near the airfield. Passengers won’t see the bees, but an exhibit with some bee art and educational information about bees will open in January 2014 on Concourse B.

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