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first_imgUS Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has formally informed US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials of his concerns about the size and scope of the new port of entry planned for Morses Line, Vermont. In a letter to CBP s acting commissioner, Leahy asked the agency to improve consultation with local landowners, to review the size and scope of the project, and to protect the historic resources near the border. The text of Leahy s letter, which was submitted during the official comment period on the proposed project, is below.Leahy also announced that an official from the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency handling portions of the planning process for CBP, will meet with the Rainvilles later this week to review the latest land acquisition and design plans. I understand the need to replace the Morses Line port of entry that is now more than 70 years old, said Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved funding for the project. However, any new facility needs to be right-sized for its purpose and location. I appreciate that after my inquiry the Army Corps will be meeting with the Rainville family later this week. I expect that they will be kept apprised of the planning, design, and construction process for the new port from now on.Information on the project can be found online at: http://www.northernbordernepa.com/(link is external). Public comments may be submitted on or before October 14 by mail or online at:Northern BorderP.O. Box 6760Chesterfield, MO [email protected](link sends e-mail)[The text of the letter Leahy has submitted during the project Comment Period is below or you can view a PDF of the letter online at http://leahy.senate.gov/DOX/093009MorsesLineLetter.pdf.](link is external)September 30, 2009Mr. Jayson P. AhernActing CommissionerU.S. Customs and Border Protection1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20229Dear Acting Commissioner Ahern:I write to comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Modernization and Operation of the Morses Line Land Port of Entry in Franklin County, Vermont.I understand the need to replace this port of entry that now is more than 70 years old. However, any new facility needs to be right-sized for its purpose and location. After reviewing the draft document and having staff members visit the site, I do not believe that the size and scope of this proposal fits the operational conditions at Morses Line, where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted just 16,140 inspections in 2007, and the port is staffed by only two officers from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily.First, I am concerned about the lack of outreach by CBP and the Army Corps of Engineers to affected landowners and neighbors. I understand that prior to a recent inquiry by my office, CBP and the Army Corps had not contacted the adjacent landowners about the design and construction process since May, and that these landowners found out about the draft environmental assessment from an ad in a local newspaper. I appreciate that the Army Corps subsequently has set up a meeting with these landowners, and I ask and expect that they will be kept apprised of the planning, design, and construction process.Second, I am concerned about the large amount of land envisioned for the new port of entry. I do not believe that the federal government needs to purchase 10 acres of prime farmland for this port, as there are several steps that could be taken to reduce the footprint of the project, including moving the new port closer to the existing road, streamlining the roadway s circulation pattern, and reducing the number of parking spaces. In addition, I suggest that CBP allow the adjacent landowners to continue farming any unused land surrounding the security fence at the new port.Third, I am concerned about protecting the historic resources in the area around the Morses Line port of entry. While the draft document refers to a draft Memorandum of Agreement between CBP and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, I suggest that CBP make that document available to the public and expressly declare that all resources eligible or listed on the National Register of Historic Places will be preserved.Thank you in advance for your consideration of these comments. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.Sincerely,PATRICK LEAHYUnited States Senator Source: Leahy’s office. (WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2009)last_img read more

first_imgNational Life Group,AM Best Co has affirmed its A (Excellent) financial strength ratings for National Life Insurance Company and Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, the two insurance companies of National Life Group. In addition, the rating firm upgraded the issuer credit ratings for the two companies from ‘a’ to ‘a+.’ The two ratings evaluate different aspects of a financial services company. The traditional financial strength rating is designed to provide an opinion of a company’s ability to meet its policyholder obligations. The insurer credit rating is an opinion of the company’s ability to meet its senior obligations. ‘Taken together these two ratings send a clear message of our financial strength,’ said Mehran Assadi, president and CEO of National Life Group. ‘I am especially pleased by A.M. Best’s upgrade of our insurer credit ratings.’ In a press release announcing its decision, A.M. Best said, ‘The rating actions reflect National Life’s favorable financial performance over the last several years despite a difficult economic environment.’ ‘National Life’s ratings recognize its consistent operating performance, continued conservative risk profile and diverse distribution channels,’ said the Best press release. ‘The company also benefits from its competitive positions in the indexed universal life (UL) insurance and 403(b) indexed annuity markets, as well as its good expense management.’ Assadi said, ‘The fact that we remain strong after 163 years is no accident. Our strength as a company comes from our ability to react to today and plan for tomorrow.’last_img read more

first_imgPhoto Courtesy of Bill Sublette/SELCEarly last month, Duke Power announced that it was reevaluating a plan to build a controversial transmission line in the Western Carolinas.Now, in the face mounting opposition from land owners, conservation groups, and local governments in both North and South Carolina, the power giant has decided to abandon the project altogether.The proposed power line would have run for 40-plus miles through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Asheville, North Carolina to Campabello, South Carolina, as part of a broader project Duke had dubbed the “Western Carolinas Modernization Project.”This strongly contested proposal also included the construction of a large natural gas unit near Asheville which Duke had hoped would replace a recently retired coal fired plant, and a power substation in Campabello.The company posted a statement on its website this morning saying that the both the 45-mile transmission line and the Campbell Substation have been abandoned, while the size of the proposed natural gas plant near Asheville has been reduced.“Under the revised plan, (we) will replace (our) coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than one large one,” the statement reads. “As a result, the proposed 45-mile Foothills Transmission Line and Campobello substation are no longer necessary.”When plans for the project were unveiled over the summer, opposition began to surface almost immediately. Thousands of citizens across the western Carolinas turned up at public meetings to decry Duke’s plans, while commenters flooded Duke’s website with negative reactions, and an online petition asking Duke to terminate the project garnered nearly 6,000 signatures.“Duke Energy’s decision to abandon its proposed power line and substation is a victory for the thousands of citizens across the western Carolinas who have stood up to protect the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Piedmont,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center.  “Through their efforts, our mountains and our quality of life have been protected against this power line and substation.   This Thanksgiving, we can be thankful that our communities and our mountains will be protected against these two threats.  We hope that in the future Duke Energy will look turn away from old fossil fuels and turn toward modern clean alternatives like solar, wind, and energy efficiency. ”last_img read more

first_img 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Dealing with regulatory changes is like wrestling with the ocean. Every time you manage to come up for air after one wave, another is coming over the horizon. For most of the past two years, the focus for credit union mortgage compliance executives has been on getting ready for the TILA/RESPA integrated disclosures or “TRID” that finally went live in early October.And yet just as the ocean’s waves keep pounding, not two weeks after the TILA-REPSA rules went into effect, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau introduced one more major regulatory change: the revised Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.A Data-Focused ReformUnlike the recent reforms for TRID, qualified mortgage and other new regulations, the HMDA revisions will have less impact on direct workflow and operations, and a heavier impact on data collection and reporting.Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, the collected HMDA data elements will double, with 40 new fields required to be collected during the application process and reported to the agencies each year. These new data elements include almost all primary fields that are important to most credit decisions including: continue reading »last_img read more

first_img One person to have seemingly escaped his wrath, though, is Rooney, who played alongside the Irishman for less than 15 months at Old Trafford. It may not have been the greatest period of Keane’s United career, but he made a lasting impression on the then-teenager. “I thought Roy was great,” Rooney, now skipper of England and United, said. “He was hard when he needed to be and, you know, he was a nice fella as well. “He would speak to you and he wouldn’t give anyone any special treatment. “Whether you were an older player or younger player, he would let you know what he wants from you, which I feel is the best way – to be honest with people and make sure they are aware what the demands are. For me, he was a great captain.” Rooney was not willing to speak about Keane’s autobiography itself and joked there was not so much fuss about his books as they were not quite as “controversial as Roy’s”. Still, the forward was happy enough to talk about Keane the player – one which few are like in the modern game. Wayne Rooney’s short time playing alongside Roy Keane has had a significant influence on the way he captains England and Manchester United. “It’s difficult to play the way he played, so fierce,” Rooney said. “The battles he had with (Patrick) Vieira. “Nowadays it is difficult to get those tackles, given they’re pulled up all the time. “The thing that surprised me with Roy was his passing into a forward’s feet. He was the best I’ve ever played with getting the ball into the forwards.” Plenty of column inches this week have been dedicated to extracts from the former Ireland midfielder’s explosive new autobiography. Much like during his playing days, Keane did not hold back and has taken aim at a wide variety of people in his book. Press Associationlast_img read more