All posts by Nicholas Zeman

Quebec, $186 billion in contracts and the question of self-regulation

Justice France Charbonneau presided over public hearings in Quebec that exposed one of the biggest construction scandals in the history of North America. Many of the companies that admitted to wrong doing, like SNC Lavalin, have working presences in the Tristate area.

Do engineers use the public’s lack of expertise in the technicalities of their profession to operate outside the law?

by Nicholas Zeman

More challenges to engineers’ “privilege” to police themselves surfaced across North America in 2016, with the most dramatic example coming when Quebec’s Department of Justice took administrative control of the Canadian province’s Order of Engineers'(OIQ) in July, the first time in the nation’s history a major professional association (61,000 members) has been placed under government “trusteeship.”

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Bankruptcy battle over Essar Steel Minnesota site leaves $74 million unpaid to contractors

Essar Steel India’s manufacturing plant in Algoma, Ontario. The company has suffered while trying to expand it’s North American production capacity.

It’s devastating. That’s what Associated General Contractors of Minnesota President Dave Semerad says of the $1.9 billion steel production project from India’s Essar Steel–meant to rehabilitate the state’s historic “Iron Range” region—and its descent into bankruptcy. Now a fight over the site’s mineral leases between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Essar has stranded $74 million in unpaid bills to local and national contractors.

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University of Illinois: USDA corn report causes market uncertainty

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By Darrell Good

farmdocdaily.lllinois.edu

The USDA released new projections for the 2015-16 corn marketing year in the July 10 WASDE report, Marketing-year ending stocks are expected to be 172 million bushels smaller and the average farm price is expected to be $0.25 higher than projected a month earlier. Uncertainty surrounding these projections is likely greater than is normally the case for this time of year.

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Cement M &A activity highlights record profits, local monopolies

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A series of aggressively expanding cement manufacturers are posting record profits and a run-up in stock prices, but their successes also show regional contractors are often dependent on only one or two suppliers for aggregate, cement, concrete and other construction materials—the Federal Trade Commission says the situation can lead to anti-competitive behavior and price volatility.

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Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority, hit with fed enjoinder, puts construction contracts at risk

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Minnesota and North Dakota are clashing over the construction of  a rural ring levee opponents say is part of the approximately $2 billion Fargo Moorhead Diversion Project meant to change the course of the treacherous north flowing Red River—it threatens the Fargo, ND -Moorhead, MN, cities with flooding almost every spring.

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Wanzek death highlights wind crane dangers

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Wind farm construction has hit an up-tick across the Midwest but with growth of capacity installation comes increased risk for crane operators working at remote sites that often combine rough terrain and high winds with limited and challenging access features, says Graham Brent, spokesman for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators.

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Like ND, Alaska struggles with infrastructure decisions, oil prices

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With a new governor, oil prices diving and a $3.5 billion budget deficit, Alaska is struggling with the fate of several public works “mega projects” major contractors have spent years developing. In December, Gov. Bill Walker issued an executive order that ended new work and spending commitments on six of the state’s energy and transportation developments meant to revolutionize Alaska’s economy and generate thousands upon thousands of construction jobs over the next 20 years. 

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