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Potomac-Hudson Hired to Conduct NEPA Study for Wyoming Supercomputing Center

October 26, 2009

Potomac-Hudson Environmental, Inc. (PHEnv), in association with Potomac-Hudson Engineering (PHE), has been selected to prepare an environmental assessment, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), for the Wyoming supercomputing center in Cheyenne.

The PHEnv project team comprises nationally-recognized consulting firms whose clients include the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Federal Highway Administration.

This marks the third major milestone in eight months for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) facility, following the unveiling of design concepts in August and the selection in March of an architectural design team. The center, once completed, would be dedicated to advancing scientists' understanding of climate, weather and other Earth and atmospheric processes.

"We are pleased to have this contract in place, because this represents a crucial step toward considering this project for final approval," said Sarah Ruth, the primary liaison between the National Science Foundation and NCAR for the Wyoming supercomputing center.

Ruth said PHEnv's proposal was especially attractive to the NSF because it included partnering with two Wyoming companies, West, Inc., of Cheyenne, which will conduct environmental and ecological research, and LTA, Inc., of Laramie, which will do cultural resources inventory.

The PHEnv project team plans to begin on-site work in early to mid-November, said David Draper, a principal for PHEnv and project manager. He added that the firm's Wyoming-based partners would likely be able to begin their research sooner because of their easy access to the center's proposed site in the North Range Business Park adjacent to the intersection of Interstates 25 and 80.

"We are happy to be working with two Wyoming companies on this project," Draper said.

PHEnv had originally proposed a six-month study but is now developing a plan "to compress the time frame," said Draper. NEPA requires federal agencies, such as the NSF, to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.

PHEnv's environmental assessment will study a range of potential impacts at the site, including physical and socio-economic, and the possible effect on threatened or endangered animal species, transportation and historic or pre-historic archaeology.

The Wyoming supercomputing facility is being developed in partnership with the University of Wyoming, the state of Wyoming, Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power.

Construction on the facility could begin in spring 2010, pending the outcome of the NEPA study and final approval from the NSF. The facility would contain some of the world's most powerful supercomputers dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality and other vital atmospheric science and geoscience topics. It would also house a premier data storage and archival facility that holds irreplaceable historical climate records and other information.

Founded in 1994, PHEnv specializes in environmental impact assessments, mitigation, planning and design projects. To learn more about PHEnv project team, go to the official Web sites at

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