• 05/24/2021 11:36 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    Partisanship continues to slow down action on major policy items in Washington, even as the country begins to feel a sense of optimism that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

    Nowhere is the tension between the two parties more evident than in the repercussions from the Jan. 6th insurrection. Last week, the House approved a bill to create an independent commission to investigate the causes of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Although 35 Republicans joined all Democrats to vote for the bill, most Republicans opposed it - despite the fact that the deal was negotiated with Homeland Security Committee ranking Republican Rep. John Katko (R-NY). Its prospects in the Senate are dim following Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's announcement he will oppose it.

    Inter-party fighting is also affecting the debate over infrastructure. President Biden met with top Congressional leaders from both parties at the White House for the first time in his presidency two weeks ago to seek common ground on his infrastructure bill. While both sides said they are committed to work in a bipartisan fashion, Senate Republican leader McConnell reiterated his opposition to any rollbacks of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which Biden has proposed as a way to pay for the plan.

    Although the White House said last week they would be open to a bill that spent $1.7 trillion on infrastructure – below their initial $2.3 trillion proposal – that is still far from the $600-$800 billion amount Republicans have said they would support. And late last week, a spokesperson for Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), who is leading negotiations for Republicans, said the sides were even further apart than when President Biden met with Hill leaders.

    Democrats appeared to be leaning towards breaking the plan into two parts: "traditional" infrastructure, like roads and bridges, which could pass with GOP support, and the other provisions, like home care and climate funding, for which they would use the reconciliation process that requires just 50 votes in the Senate.

    Meanwhile, House Republican leaders are planning to introduce an infrastructure proposal of their own. The plan, led by House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Sam Graves (R-MO), would focus on “traditional” infrastructure like highways and bridges, and would spend around $400 billion over five years. Notably, this plan might include changes to the environmental review process, although details are not yet known.

    As it meets with members of the key committees on Capitol Hill, ACRA continues to urge Congress to balance new infrastructure with the need to consider its impacts on our country’s cultural and historic heritage.

    President Biden has previously said he hopes to strike a deal on an infrastructure bill by Memorial Day, but with only a week to go, that deadline seems optimistic. The same holds for other top White House priorities like voting reform and police reform.

    Meanwhile, debate continues over other issues that impact the cultural resources management industry:

    • The Biden administration is preparing regulatory improvements that will help speed up the environmental review process for large-scale renewable energy projects, particularly offshore wind, according to Daily Energy Insider. The details are not yet known, but ACRA is working to make sure that the plan does not curtail the National Historic Preservation Act.
    • President Biden will release his fiscal year 2022 budget this Friday, outlining his priorities for federal spending in the coming year. This will serve as the unofficial start of the annual appropriations process, where Congress determines the spending levels for various programs beginning in September. Of particular interest to the CRM industry is the Historic Preservation Fund, which helps support state and tribal historic preservation offices, as well as other preservation activities. Although the HPF, which can receive up to $150 million per year from oil and gas royalties, Congress has never provided that full amount. Due to the lobbying efforts of ACRA and others, Congress did provide $144 million last year, the highest level ever, but ACRA is pushing Congress to appropriate the full $150 million.
    • Speaking of oil and gas leasing, pressure is growing on the administration to end its pause on new leases. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) urged the Biden administration to resume offshore oil and gas leasing within months during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources two weeks ago. However, the Interior Department has not said whether sales will resume.
    • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the nomination of Tommy Beaudreau to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior on an 18-1 vote. It now goes to the full Senate. Beaudreau previously served as the first director of the newly formed Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management in the Obama administration following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, and then served as chief of staff to then-Secretary Sally Jewell. Beaudreau is President Biden's second pick for the deputy secretary slot, after he withdrew the nomination of Elizabeth Klein over objections from Manchin and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that she was too hostile to fossil fuels. Although Beaudreau is likely to be confirmed by the full Senate, his past ties to the fossil fuel industry have raised concerns among some environmental groups.
  • 05/20/2021 2:16 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Section 110(k) and Section 106: Responding to Anticipatory Demolition Concerns
    June 10, 2021
    2:00 - 3:30 PM (EDT)
    Register Now

    Members $89 | Students $19 | Non-Members $129

    The ACHP is back on June 10 for the next webinar in our 2021 series - Section 110(k) and Section 106: Responding to Anticipatory Demolition Concerns.

    This webinar will use ACHP expertise and real-life examples to to show how Section 110(k), sometimes referred to as the "anticipatory demolition" section, intersects with the overall Section 106 process. Section 110(k) of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) prohibits a federal agency from granting a loan, loan guarantee, permit, license, or other assistance to an applicant who, with intent to avoid the requirements of Section 106, intentionally significantly adversely affected a historic property to which the grant would relate, or having legal power to prevent it, has allowed such significant adverse effect to occur, prior to a Section 106 review.

    As always, in addition to reduced pricing, ACRA member firms enjoy a firm-wide registration fee - once one person pays for a spot, all other firms employees can register for no additional cost.

    We expect spaces to fill up quick, so register NOW to reserve your spot!

    Register Now

  • 05/17/2021 4:49 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    If you missed last week's webinar on radiocarbon dating basics, it is now available on demand for you to watch on your own schedule!

    Even if you think you know every there is to know about radiocarbon dating, there is always new information as the science continues to advance. Radiocarbon Dating Basics will give an introduction to radiocarbon dating with a focus on what radiocarbon dating is and how it can be used.

    Maren Pauly, Scientific Associate with Beta Analytic, covers a number of topics, including variability in dating uncertainty due to wiggles within the radiocarbon curve, recommendations on how to best select and prepare samples for radiocarbon dating, and more. Maren is a paleoclimatologist with research experience reconstructing climate from modern corals and subfossil tree-rings, in addition to Late Glacial radiocarbon calibration.

    As with the live session, this webinar is available to ACRA members at a discounted price. Members can get the discount code to access the presentation here.

    Watch Radiocarbon Dating Basics Now

  • 05/14/2021 1:21 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Wade Catts of ACRA member firm South River Heritage Consulting has received the DAR History Award Medal from the Cooch’s Bridge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

    Photo courtesy of the Newark Post

    From the Newark Post:

    On May 1, the Cooch’s Bridge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored Catts with the DAR History Award Medal, a prestigious award that requires a lengthy approval process from the national organization.

    “Mr. Catts has contributed to the greater understanding of American history by sharing his almost 40 years of professional experience as an archeologist with his local community through historical research and cultural research management of historic sites,” Laura McCrillis Kessler, historian general for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, wrote. “Mr. Catts’ extensive research and knowledge of Mid-Atlantic regional history and historic preservation greatly reflects the meaning behind this award.”

    For more information on Wade's story and award, check out the full article in the Newark Post, and please join us in congratulating Wade in the comments below! 

  • 05/13/2021 2:43 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The voting period for the 2021 ACRA Board elections opens Monday! The candidates in this year's slate are vying for 8 open positions, including:

    • President
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Vice-President - Membership
    • Vice-President - Diversity
    • 3 At-Large Board Positions

    Each candidate has submitted a biography and statement to help you make your selection. The slate of candidates is strong, and thus we urge you to review the statements carefully and choose those candidates who you feel best understand the needs of our industry and are committed to providing leadership on the ACRA board.

    Read the Candidate Statements and Bios

    Per ACRA's bylaws, each member firm gets one vote. Only member firms are eligible - student and associate members do not vote in elections.

    Bundle administrators only will receive an invitation from SurveyMonkey on Monday, May 17. If you do not receive your invitation by 5:00 pm EDT that day, please first check your spam folder. If you still do not see it, contact us. Voting will be open until June 11, 2021 at 11:59 pm EDT.

    Your firm can help shape the future of ACRA - check out the candidates now and submit your vote before the deadline!

  • 05/10/2021 1:07 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    As President Biden reaches the end of his first 100 days in office, partisanship is clouding the outlook for his ambitious agenda – even as policies that impact cultural resources continue to move forward.

    On April 28, Biden headed to Capitol Hill for his first address to Congress. Speaking to a House chamber that was half-empty due to COVID precautions, Biden said the country "was on the move again" as he touted his administration's success in delivering vaccines. In the speech he called on Congress to pass his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan and his $1.8 trillion social plan, as well as legislation on gun violence, policing reform, immigration and other issues. In the Republican response, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) criticized Biden for the size and scope of his spending plans.

    The ”social infrastructure” plan Biden unveiled would spend $1.8 trillion on a range of education, health and safety-net programs intended to reduce economic inequality. It includes two years of tuition-free community college, universal pre-Kindergarten for 3- and 4-year olds, tuition subsidies for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled at historically Black institutions, tribal colleges and other minority-serving institutions for two years, up to 12 weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness leave, and a temporary extension of an enhanced child tax credit until 2025. The plan also would raise taxes on upper income earners.

    Not surprisingly, the plan received a less-than-enthusiastic response from Congressional Republicans due to its size and tax increases. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said last week that "100%" of his focus is "on stopping this new administration." Nonetheless, Biden said he hopes he can win bipartisan support for his program.

    The last two weeks made clear, however, that even as the two parties battle one another, they also are battling with themselves. Democrats have been growing increasingly frustrated with two of their own, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who have steadfastly opposed curtailing the filibuster (and, in the case of Manchin, opposes parts of Biden’s proposals). With the filibuster intact, Senate Democrats will be forced either to win over at least 10 Republicans for their agenda, or use the same procedure, known as reconciliation, they used for the COVID relief plan, which requires just 50 votes to pass but also limits what legislation can be approved.

    For their part, meanwhile, Republicans appear to still be re-litigating the 2020 election. The House GOP may vote this week to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as the GOP Conference Chair, the third-ranking slot in leadership. Cheney has angered a number of Republicans, including former President Trump, for stating that President Biden won the election fairly. Trump and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) have thrown their support behind Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who has defended the former President and his unsubstantiated election fraud claims, to replace Cheney.

    The partisan and intra-partisan squabbling may make it seem like nothing is happening in Washington. But below the surface, there are signs that on some issues, progress is possible. This includes policies that impact the CRM industry, directly or indirectly. Recent developments include:

    • Protecting Tribal Artifacts. ACRA joined with a number of its cultural resources partners in late April to support the introduction of the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021 (STOP Act). This bipartisan legislation would enable the U.S. to take strong steps toward halting the overseas auctions of illicitly-procured tribal objects, and in encouraging the voluntary return of such items to their rightful owners. As the letter signed by ACRA and other groups states, “Passage [of the STOP Act] is critical to ending illegal trafficking in tribes’ cultural heritage and bringing home objects that have been separated from their communities for far too long.
    • Improving Water infrastructure. The Senate approved a $35 billion bill to upgrade the nation's water infrastructure two weeks ago on an 89-2 vote. The bill would improve the nation's aging water and wastewater infrastructure, support programs to provide safe drinking water and set aside grant funding for poor, rural and tribal communities that have struggled with poor water quality. The bill leaves intact protections under the National Historic Preservation Act to ensure that any federally funded projects require a Sec. 106 assessment. The bill now goes to the House.
    • Financing New Infrastructure. The Biden administration announced new programs from the Department of Energy that will provide upwards of $8 billion to finance high-voltage transmission lines, martialing its loan program to pay for the investments and encouraging applications for loan guarantees of up to $5 billion. The White House also announced that DOT is releasing new guidance on how states should remove obstacles along highways and railroads to facilitate the construction of power lines.
    • Protecting the Permitting Process. A coalition of environmental groups has sued the Army Corps of Engineers in federal court in Montana, arguing that the Corps failed to properly analyze environmental impacts when issuing a broad pipeline permit. The permit at issue, Permit 12, is a nationwide permit that streamlines the pipeline permitting process. The Corps has estimated that its 2021 version will be used more than 40,000 times over the next five years.
    • Supporting Land and Water Conservation. The Biden administration unveiled broad principles to achieve the 30x30 goal of conserving 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2030. The "America the Beautiful" framework, released by the Commerce, Interior and Agriculture Departments. outlines in broad strokes steps the U.S. could take to safeguard key areas on land and in the sea to restore biodiversity, tackle climate change and make natural spaces more accessible to all Americans.

    Although there is a long road ahead for the President’s agenda, developments over the last two weeks show that it is possible to move the ball forward on issues that affect millions of Americans.

  • 05/07/2021 1:41 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    NOTE: You must be registered for the NAEP conference to attend these happy hours.

    Women in STEM in Environmental Professions

    Networking sessions sponsored by Flatwoods Consulting Group and Sapphos Environmental

    Tuesday, May 18

     East Coast* | 6:45 - 8:15 PM ET

     West Coast* | 5:30 - 8:00 PM PT

    *You are welcome to attend either one or both! During each session, one of the sponsors, Flatwoods Consulting Group and Sapphos Environmental, Inc. will be donating a wine gift (valued around $250) via raffle to one attendee. Don’t miss it! *

    Women in STEM in Environmental Professions networking sessions sponsored by Flatwoods Consulting Group.

    The Women in STEM networking serves as a place for women to meet each other, discuss important and pressing topics, find mentors, and build relationships that will help them navigate their career paths.

    The Women in STEM initiative began with the TBAEP local chapter of FAEP as an annual workshop. At the 2020 NAEP Conference, a panel session summarized the accomplishments of the TBAEP group, provided a Q&A session, and hosted a pilot networking event.

    The NAEP Women in STEM committee proposes to continue the initiative started at the 2020 conference with two coast-crossing networking sessions. These networking sessions provide a platform for women to have an open discussion on various topics, such as different challenges women face in the workplace. The NAEP envisions the networking sessions at the 2021 conference will kick-off ongoing NAEP Women in STEM networking events to occur on a quarterly or bi-annual basis.

    The NAEP invites women from all environmental professions to join these informative, enlightening, and supportive sessions.

    Register for the NAEP Conference Here

  • 05/03/2021 1:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Cultural resources management professionals utilize archaeological sciences on a near daily basis. From compositional analysis to zooarchaeology, most projects involve at least one archaeological sciences specialty. But how many CRM firms are conducting this work in-house?

    ACRA has partnered with the Society for Archaeological Sciences to find this out. Our two organizations have put together a survey to measure the current status of archaeological science within the CRM, its potential future, and the need for trained specialists within the industry.

    Please take a few moments to complete this survey below. Note: this survey is meant to be completed by one person per organization - if you are not authorized to complete surveys on behalf of your firm, please send this to the person who is.

    Your answers will assist us in creating future opportunities and programs for a wider-range of CRM specialists. Thank you in advance for your participation!

  • 04/29/2021 11:06 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    We are thrilled to announce that ACRA has a new partner: the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA)! 

    The RPA joins our growing list of partners, which now includes the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), the Federation of Archaeological Managers & Employers (FAME), and the Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA). 

    The partnership with the RPA means that it will be easier for you to receive RPA credit for attending ACRA Continuing Education sessions. Additionally, members of both organizations will receive discounts on webinars and more.

    Be on the lookout for more exciting benefits to accompany this partnership!

  • 04/27/2021 1:23 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This webinar is being shared with ACRA audiences as a part of our partnership with the NAEP.

    Belonging: Leadership When Guiding Through Transition
    April 29, 2021 | 3:00-4:30 pm EDT
    FREE - Register Now

    Have you wanted to expand your professional network? Do you want to become a leader in the environmental professions? NOW is your opportunity. Listen to NAEP’s free informational webinar “Belonging: Leadership When Guiding Through Transition” to learn more about leadership opportunities, to hear three fascinating personal career stories, and to discuss the value of getting involved and staying involved with NAEP, its affiliated Chapters, and other environmental professional associations.

    You can view more information about the webinar, including presenters, on the registration webpage here.

Become an ACRA member to get exclusive benefits including vendor discounts, premium access to online learning opportunities, and much more.

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