WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 24, 2018 – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today awarded Kansas City Southern de México’s (KCSM) Miguel Antonio Flores Puente the 2018 Professional Environmental Excellence Award, the industry’s highest honor for environmental professionals. The award was presented to Puente at the 2018 Railroad Environmental Conference in Urbana, Illinois.

“Railroads remain the most sustainable way to move freight across land and this year’s nominees are extending the industry’s environmental track record,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Our winner, Miguel Antonio Flores Puente, has worked closely with partners in the Mexican government to turn the page for many legacy rail facilities and build a more environmentally responsible future across his railroad. Tomorrow’s railroad promises to be even cleaner and greener thanks to the work of Miguel and those we honor today.”

Miguel Antonio Flores Puente has been a manager of environmental impact for KCSM for over 9 years, bringing fresh ideas to help make the railroad more sustainable. By coordinating closely with the Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection, Puente’s efforts have mitigated historical contaminations at legacy rail yards now operated by KCSM, protecting not only his railroad’s employees but also surrounding communities.

Building on his collaborative relationships in government, Puente is leading the charge for KCSM to receive certification from the National Environmental Audit Program with the Mexican Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection. Certification both demonstrates KCSM’s commitment to sustainability and helps the railroad expedite the environmental permitting process.

In addition to Puente, six other railroad environmental professionals were nominated for the 2018 Environmental Excellence Award. The other nominees are as follows:

Joseph Winnicki – Amtrak

Over the past five years, Joseph Winnicki has served as the environmental coordinator and the building planner at Amtrak’s Rensselaer maintenance facility. By developing clear and concise signs and compliance calendars, Winnicki’s facility has achieved a 58 percent recycling rate – the highest of all Amtrak facilities – and achieved top-tier environmental audit scores in 2017. Winnicki recently converted 99 percent of lighting at his facility from fluorescent lights to LEDs, making the facility more energy efficient.

Russell Light – BNSF Railway

Before retiring in 2018, Russell Light worked on environmental permitting and regulatory compliance across the railroad’s vast 28-state network as senior general attorney. One of Light’s key accomplishments was helping the rail industry negotiate appropriate regulations around locomotive emissions, railyards and train idling in California. He also championed two state-of-the-art intermodal facilities that became some of the greenest intermodal facilities ever constructed in the United States. Light demonstrated leadership as a senior team member of BNSF’s environmental department and an integral member of AAR’s environmental working committee.

Kari Harris – Canadian National Railway

In her role as regional manager, impact assessment for Canadian National Railway (CN), Harris has demonstrated her commitment to minimizing the carbon footprint of her railroad’s southern region. Harris has led a mindset shift on how CN thinks about capacity expansion and has pushed for long-term forward planning on these projects to include early consideration of potential environmental impacts. Harris also has been key to obtaining necessary permits and ensuring that construction projects meet all environmental requirements. Recently, Harris helped to install turtle crossings and develop a relocation program for an endangered species and other wildlife across the railroad that won broad employee support in her region. 

Scott Croome – Canadian Pacific Railway

As a volunteer firefighter, Croome knows the importance of hands-on training to ensure first responders are prepared to handle emergencies that may arise and has brought that experience to his role as a dangerous goods officer at Canadian Pacific Railway. That is why he is leveraging cutting-edge technology – augmented reality – to train first responders in local communities on how to deal with a rail incident including hazardous materials. These scenarios use advanced mapping technology to allow responders to train in their local jurisdictions, making the experience more applicable to their work.

William Parry – CSX Transportation

As manager of environmental remediation for CSX Transportation, William Parry has had a significant impact on the railroad’s environmental performance. Parry has remediated multiple railroad sites, using advanced technology to remove harmful agents like petroleum and metals from the soil and groundwater. This allowed the railroad recently to sell an 81-acre plot of land to the surrounding community. Also serving a critical role in derailment responses for the railroad, Parry implemented a preferred provider program that streamlined the process for responding to derailments, greatly improving cleanup speed.

Kim Keeling – Union Pacific Railroad

Kim Keeling has demonstrated his commitment to the environment through his more than 20 years at Union Pacific Railroad managing hazardous materials at the world’s largest railroad classification yard, a facility used to separate and assemble trains. In his role, Keeling bolstered compliance awareness, overseeing not only the response to incidents involving hazardous materials but employing proactive initiatives to prevent such events. Using advanced technology and innovation, Keeling designed a special “Land Farm” program, which uses microorganisms to degrade and transform petroleum agents in contaminated soil into non-hazardous materials, providing a valuable alternative to hauling it away. Although Keeling passed unexpectedly in May 2018, his legacy of environmental stewardship lives on at the North Platte Classification Yard and Union Pacific.

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For more information contact: AAR Media Relations at [email protected]  or 202-639-2345.

About AAR: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Learn more at www.aar.org.

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