FAA Issues Houston License To Convert Ellington to Spaceport

Houston Mayor Annise Parker (D) announced June 30 that the Federal Aviation Administration had approved Ellington Airport as a launch site for reusable launch vehicles. Parker hopes to make the Houston Spaceport a hub for manufacturing spacecraft and training astronauts.

DOE Finalizes Last of Loan Guarantees for Vogtle Project

The U.S. Dept. of Energy has finalized the last remaining portion of $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees previously allotted for the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga. Last month, the agency issued $1.8 billion in guarantees to three subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, a Vogtle co-owner. In 2014, DOE finalized $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to Georgia Power—a 46% owner—and Oglethorpe Power Corp., another project stakeholder.

Vogtle's capital cost, beset by construction delays, is currently pegged at $11 billion. In a media announcement, DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz stated: "The Vogtle project has put the U.S. at the forefront of a new generation of advanced nuclear reactors."

Boston Submits Proposal To Host 2024 Summer Olympics

The advocacy group Boston 2024 released its revised bid for the 2024 Olympics on June 29, a $4.6-billion plan that would be partially funded by nearly $4 billion in private investment. Proposed construction includes a 60,000-seat stadium at Boston's Widett Circle and an athlete village on the campus of UMass Boston. Both facilities would be repurposed and partially dismantled following the games. Permanent construction would include an estimated 8,000 new apartment units, as well as a new commuter-rail station and road-infrastructure improvements. The U.S. Olympic Committee first announced Boston as its choice for the 2024 Olympics in January and is required to submit its official bid to the International Olympic Committee by September.

New York State Implements Ban On High-Volume Fracking

New York state has officially banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing, state officials announced on June 29. The decision, which is based on a final supplemental environmental impact statement for high-volume hydraulic fracturing completed this month, is not permanent and could be rescinded.

A draft version of the report was reviewed by the state's Dept. of Health last fall. In December, after receiving input from the Health Dept., DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said that lack of certainty about potential adverse health effects necessitates a ban on high-volume fracking until science can conclusively show that the technology is safe.

EPA released the findings from its own study earlier this month. EPA found that fracking, when done correctly, is safe, but made no policy recommendations.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Wyoming put a temporary hold on implementing the Bureau of Land Management's new regulations of fracking on public lands just before they were to go into effect on June 24. The judge blocked the rules from going into effect to allow all parties in the legal challenge to the rules to make their case.