The Association of American Railroads (AAR) awarded the 2017 Professional Environmental Excellence Award, which is the highest honor for environmental professionals in the railroad industry, to CSX Railroad’s Manager of Environmental and Industry Safety, Matt Williamson.
The award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding performance in environmental awareness and responsibility during the year, was presented at the annual Railroad Environmental Conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“The industry’s excellent track record on environmental stewardship continues to improve and meet the challenge of protecting and preserving our environment for years to come,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Railroading is greener, cleaner, and more efficient than ever thanks to innovative, dedicated work by employees like Matt.”
In his role at CSX, Williamson advanced sustainability and established best practices that protect both workers and the environment.
Williams began his career as an intern while pursuing his Bachelors of Science degree in safety technology from Marshall University in Huntington, WV, where he later earned his master’s degree in environmental science as well. During his seven years with CSX, he has led the charge on projects that have reduced his railroad's carbon footprint, such as installing LED lighting across facilities, and improved efficiencies, such as in wastewater treatment processes. In his role overseeing environmental compliance at the railroad’s largest locomotive shop in Huntington, WV, Williams took a proactive approach to locomotive storage issues and developed a solutions-oriented plan that addressed both maintenance issues and protected the environment through capturing and recycling oil. Those plans are now being applied throughout the CSX rail network.
Williams was one of five railroad industry professionals nominated for the 2017 Professional Environmental Excellence Award. The four other nominees are as follows (alphabetically):
Jim Cunningham, BNSF
Jim Cunningham is a fourth-generation railroader who serves as the Manager of Environmental Leases for BNSF Railway. His responsibilities include identifying and mitigating the environmental risks posed by leases to several thousand shippers and non-shippers. Cunningham developed a methodical approach to Facility Response Plan analysis utilizing physical surveys, a computer model, and field testing of the model through on the ground analysis. His efforts have substantively contributed to helping BNSF have the highest efficiency in the industry over the last several years with respect to remediation reserves.
Ed McNutt, Union Pacific
Ed McNutt is a Program Manager of Environmental Field Operations for Union Pacific with 27 years of railroading experience. McNutt has worked to engage various teams at Union Pacific to advance environmental compliance and strengthen engagement between the environmental and operations teams. He developed an approach to manage compliance inspections and benchmarks that allowed his railroad to get a macro view of progress across the region.
Luanne Patterson, Canadian National
Luanne Patterson serves as a Senior Manager with Canadian National and focused on streamlining permitting for the railroad. Her collaboration with government agencies to accelerate permitting processes has ensured that projects meet regulatory standards and protect natural resources and species. Patterson was instrumental in accelerating the permitting review and approval of tower locations needed for the implementation of positive train control (PTC) along her railroad’s right of ways.
Scott Pittenger, Norfolk Southern
Scott Pittenger is Regional Manager Environmental Remediation for Norfolk Southern Railroad who has spent his career in environmental consulting and management covering a mix of the environmental sciences. In his current role, he manages a $4 million budget and has direct oversite for more than 60 remediation sites spanning much of Norfolk Southern’s footprint. Pittenger has developed a sustainable remediation program that has become an operating principle for all remediation construction projects in his road’s portfolio.