SunSentinel Mention

January 15, 2021

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Last week was the 11th anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. It was an event that obviously changed the face of that country but also heavily impacted South Florida. When people don’t have jobs, much less homes, it is the responsibility of the successful neighbor to help in some way. I know that immigration is always a tricky subject, but this country was built on immigrants. Just days after Haitians celebrated their independence, they were put flat on their backs. The problems still exist today, but I’m hopeful for the future.

Looking ahead: Next week, you are going to “spend” $63 dollars that you didn’t budget for. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released the report “Failure to Act: Economic Impacts of Status Quo Investment Across Infrastructure Systems,” which quantifies how the persistent failure to invest in our aging infrastructure will cost the average American household $3,300 a year in disposable income over the next 20 years. Major sectors like manufacturing and health care are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of under investment, and these negative consequences will cascade over time. It’s high time to rebuild.

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January 9, 2021

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: With all the craziness going on in Washington D.C., it is impressive to think it has been nearly 30 years since term limits went into effect for state legislators. The 1992 vote actually imposed term limits on federal offices as well, but in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not impose limits on Congress. For over 20 years, Florida has seen the benefits of the rotation of ideas and leadership in creating policies that match the dynamic changes in Florida. Maybe it is time for the voters to speak again and consider applying limits in D.C.

Looking ahead: Next week is the first week of committee meetings as the Florida Legislature begins preparing for the start of session in March. Currently, the House and Senate have different rules about making visits to their offices and social distancing will be required (for anyone that has ever ridden an elevator in the Capitol, you wonder how that is even possible), so committee weeks and session will be difficult for both legislators and constituents alike. If you want to speak with your legislator, they’ll be home the following week and one more time before session starts.

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December 27, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: The story of 2020 may have actually just revealed itself this week when Congress passed the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, which removes the antitrust exemption that since 1945 has allowed health insurers to disregard the basic free-market rules of competition that operate throughout the rest of the economy. The antitrust exemption, giving insurers combined negotiating power, puts pressure on providers to cut corners on service to increase the profits the health insurers can extract. This can provide social benefits for un- and under-insured people, along with benefits to small business. Maybe 2020 was trying to redeem itself.

Looking ahead: I think the story of 2021 will be how we rebuild, figuratively and literally, from 2021. As an engineer, you may think that I talk about rebuilding in the literal sense because it is self-serving, but you’d be wrong. Some of the greatest economic times in U.S. history were during times of great infrastructure expansion. Estimates place the return on investment for infrastructure spending somewhere between four and 10, because stable infrastructure allows people and businesses to invest in the certainties that quality infrastructure provides. Hopefully, infrastructure will be the first thing that D.C. agrees on a long time.

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December 18, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Recently, Bloomberg reported water joined gold, oil and other commodities traded on Wall Street, highlighting worries that the life-sustaining natural resource may become scarce across more of the world. Farmers, hedge funds and municipalities alike are now able to hedge against (or bet on) future water availability in California, the biggest U.S. agriculture market and world’s fifth-largest economy. The futures are tied to the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index, which was started two years ago and measures the volume-weighted average price of water. The January 2021 contract that went live Dec. 7 had two trades. Is this in Florida’s future?

Looking ahead: When Congress passes a stimulus bill this weekend, next week or in the future, it really does need to include clarity related to the PPP Loan proceeds. As is, once the loan is forgiven, the expenses that were covered under the PPP are not allowed to be deducted from your taxes, essentially making the amount of your PPP taxable. Depending on the type of business, this could cost from 26.5% to 38% of the loan value. For engineering and related businesses, these expenses won’t go into our multiplier which will impact contracts for years. That isn’t business relief.

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December 11, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: “Water is the No. 1 issue that we will have to address going forward if we want to allow the state to thrive as it has” was a comment made by Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson last week to the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Cutting across all facets of our economy, the need for infrastructure helps tourism, housing, agriculture and every other industry that is key for Florida’s success. Even in this tough economy, maintaining, or even more so increasing, state and local funding for water issues is critical for short-term and long-term economic health in Florida.

Looking ahead: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. These chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. The State of Florida Division of Waste Management has developed a plan for a coordinated approach to these chemicals and every utility around the state is reviewing for compliance to ensure Floridians’ safety.

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November 27, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Seven years ago, a very hot social media trend was to find a bucket of ice water and pour it over your head, challenging someone else to do so. Hopefully you gave some money as well, but at least you were raising awareness for ALS, a devastating disease. Last week, Pat Quinn, the person who made the Ice Bucket Challenge famous, passed away. Pat was diagnosed in March of 2013, a month after his 30th birthday. Immediately after he was diagnosed, he decided he wanted to make a difference in the ALS community. RIP Pat.

Looking ahead: Statistics tell us there are currently more than a million job vacancies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) industries, while at the same time only 16% of college students graduate in STEM fields or subjects. Demand for STEM jobs increased three times from 2000 to 2010 and that rate continues to increase. This coming Friday night, I’ll be participating in a virtual open house for Blanche Ely High School’s Engineering Magnet Program. As a graduate of this program, I can tell you firsthand that it has been changing lives since 1977. Check it out Friday. Go Tigers!

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November 13, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Rain, rain, go away … Even an engineer like myself was saying that after Fort Lauderdale experienced over two-thirds of its annual rainfall in October. Yes, there were many systems that were greatly taxed, but by and large, the infrastructure worked as designed. These systems were designed for a service life of 40 or 50 years and in some communities, they are at the end of their service life. We need to continue to invest just to maintain (and possibly improve) our situation. Next time you can’t leave your home or get to work, please remember that need.

Looking ahead: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed where and how kids learn. But civil engineers have adjusted so that they can continue to inspire students around the world. ASCE’s new virtual engineering experience, Dream, Build, Create, a series of outreach events in November through public libraries across the country, introducing engineering to people of all ages, especially families and children. The program includes free screenings of the award-winning documentary “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” Nov. 10, 14, 17, and 24. ASCE is also organizing several virtual panel discussions where participants can join live conversations with a group of young, diverse engineers.

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October 30, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Last week included a relatively unheralded day called “Imagine a Day Without Water.” Started in 2014, the day is a national education campaign that brings together diverse stakeholders to highlight how water is essential, invaluable and in need of investment. Not all Americans have to imagine a day without water. More than 2,000,000 Americans live without basic access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Even in these divided times, 73% of Americans support investing in water infrastructure to increase resilience to climate change, even with a $1.27 trillion price tag. Let’s not turn “imagining” into “realizing” this loss.

Looking ahead: Next week, almost everyone will be talking politics, for good or bad. Next week, though, also includes a day that has no political bounds. In December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly designated Nov. 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day, calling on countries, international bodies and civil society to raise tsunami awareness and share innovative approaches to risk reduction. By the year 2030, an estimated 50% of the world’s population will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms and tsunamis. It may not sound important in South Florida, but there is a potential risk, so please pay attention!

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October 2, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: This past week the Senate passed a 1-year extension of the FAST Act to ensure that surface transportation programs did not expire as scheduled on Sept. 30. While we should applaud congressional action that ensured vital surface transportation programs did not lapse, we should be disappointed that the extension maintained flat funding and failed to address the needs of state departments of transportation and transit agencies as a result of the pandemic. We can only hope that Congress uses this coming year to develop a bipartisan transportation reauthorization that increases investment and addresses the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

Looking ahead: The next round of stimulus can’t come along soon enough, especially if you are an airline worker. With the recent layoffs, the need for another $20 Billion (on top of the previously authorized $25 Billion) is critical for the long term viability of our skies. For those that feel corporate bailouts are too much, they must never want to be able to take another flight to go on vacation or visit a relative. Airlines run a business that is based on a delicate balance, including passengers and cargo, to ensure a seamless system. Let’s make sure America keeps flying!

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October 23, 2020

Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP

President, Chen Moore and Associates

Last week: Eleven minutes. That’s how long I was able to stay with my wife during the admitting process before her gall bladder surgery. I wasn’t able to come back for almost six hours. That’s another harsh byproduct of the pandemic. Fortunately for us, it was relatively minor surgery that went relatively well, but what’s it like for children or those going into much more worrisome treatments? The additional strain on patients cannot help their recovery process, and it means even more workload on the kind medical professionals that have additional mundane duties – I couldn’t even fill up her water jug.

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