Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday PA Environmental NewsClips

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June 25 PA Environment Digest Is Now Available

The June 25 PA Environment Digest is now available.

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[ Litter - Illegal Dumping Cleanup ]

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Partnership For Delaware Estuary Accepting Schuylkill Shots Photo Contest Entries

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Friday announced it is now accepting entries for the Schuylkill Shots Photography Contest from July to August 31.
Photos should be taken in areas where the Schuylkill River or related streams flow — Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Schuylkill counties, and part of Philadelphia.
Photo submissions will be judged in the following categories:
-- Wild & Scenic: Highlight the scenic beauty and wildlife thriving in the Schuylkill;
-- Splash of Fun: People recreating within, or around, the Schuylkill;
-- Urban Waters Environment: Highlight creeks, streams, and rivers in cities and towns that border the Schuylkill; and
-- People’s Choice: People will vote and choose their favorite photos from each of the above categories.
There will be a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner for each of the three contest categories, and one “People’s Choice” winner from each category.
Anyone of any age, from anywhere can submit up to six photos.
Click Here to download the contest details.
More information will be posted on the Schuylkill Action Network’s Facebook page under Photo Contest.
For more information on the programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Partnership, Like the Partnership on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, Join them on Instagram or Subscribe to their YouTube Channel.  Click Here to support the Partnership’s work.

Bill To Limit Eminent Domain Use On Land Protected By Conservation Easements Goes To Governor

The Senate and House Friday passed and sent to the Governor House Bill 2468 limiting the use of eminent domain by government agencies on land with conservation easements for parks and open space purposes.
The bill was amended twice on the Senate Floor to exempt public utilities who condemn land (like pipelines) and exempt “emergency” condemnations from the provisions of the bill.
Two school districts in the state-- Cumberland Valley in Cumberland County and Lower Merion in Montgomery County-- have decided to use eminent domain to condemn privately-owned land permanently preserved by conservation easements held by local land trusts, over the objections of many residents of the communities. Other suitable non-preserved land in each vicinity is available, according to the bill sponsors.
The bill would require any government agency to obtain Orphans’ Court approval before using eminent domain to take permanently preserved land. The procedure is similar to that found in the Agricultural Area Security Law which requires additional scrutiny before condemnation of agricultural lands. The Orphans’ Court is given authority in the Donated and Dedicated Property Act over certain transactions related to publicly owned lands held for public uses.
The bill was introduced by Representatives Warren Kampf (R-Chester), Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery).
A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.

Alternative Utility Ratemaking Bill To Encourage Conservation, Infrastructure Investment Goes To Governor

The Senate Friday gave final approval and sent to the Governor House Bill 1782 (Delozier-R- Cumberland) authorizing alternative ratemaking by the Public Utility Commission for utilities it regulates, including electric, natural gas, water and wastewater services.
In the energy context, the bill is designed to allow utilities to encourage energy efficiency improvements, distributed and renewable energy projects.
The bill would allow the Public Utility Commission to approve the use of alternate ratemaking mechanisms by utilities, such as decoupling, performance-based rates, formula rates and multiyear rates.
It does not add to the amount a company is approved to earn or recover from ratepayers. This continues to be determined by the PUC. It also does not change the type of costs that may be recovered by a utility through rates.
The bill clarifies the PUC’s authority to approve the use of alternative rate mechanism. These mechanism could be used to recover capital costs and expenses to provide service as they do now, and the PUC retains the ability to approve such recovery.
The bill now goes to the Governor for his action.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.
Related Stories:
FERC Gives OK For Several Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Projects To Proceed Without Federal Power Licenses, Other Projects Move Forward

Senate Bill Updating Littering, Illegal Dumping Penalties Goes To Governor

The House and Senate passed and sent to the Governor Senate Bill 431 (Scavello-R-Monroe) which would authorize designation of local litter enforcement corridors where fines for littering or illegal dumping can be doubled and tripled.
The bill would automatically make all designated scenic highways local litter enforcement corridors.
In addition to monetary fines, the bill adds a provision to also require a person in violation of the littering law to pick up litter or illegally dumped trash for up to 100 hours depending on the type of violation.
The bill now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.

DEP: West Nile Virus Found In 9 More Counties This Week Bringing Total To 12

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday reported on its West Nile Virus website mosquitoes testing positive for the virus have been found in 9 more counties this week-- Adams, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Dauphin, Franklin, Lehigh, Lycoming and Montour.
This brings to 12 the number of counties with positive surveillance results, including-- Lebanon, Montgomery and York.
Certain mosquito species carry the West Nile virus, which can cause humans to contract West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain. According to the Department of Health, all residents in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of contracting West Nile encephalitis.
Individuals can take a number of precautionary measures around their homes to help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas, including:
-- Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar containers that hold water;
-- Properly dispose of discarded tires that can collect water. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed;
-- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers;
-- Have clogged roof gutters cleaned every year as the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains;
-- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use;
-- Turn over wheelbarrows and don't let water stagnate in birdbaths;
-- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish; and
-- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use and remove any water that may collect on pool covers.
If a resident has stagnant pools of water on their property, they can buy Bti products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. This naturally occurring bacterium kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.
Additionally, these simple precautions can prevent mosquito bites, particularly for people who are most at risk:
-- Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.
-- Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, particularly when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.
-- When possible, reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during peak mosquito periods, usually April through October.
-- Use insect repellents according to the manufacturer's instructions. An effective repellent will contain DEET, picardin, or lemon eucalyptus oil. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician for questions about the use of repellent on children, as repellent is not recommended for children under the age of two months.
For more information on spraying operation and surveillance results, visit the West Nile Virus website.

Fiscal Code Bill Goes To Governor With New Private Dam Financial Assurance Program, ATV Trails Provisions

The Senate and House have passed and sent to the Governor the Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 1929-- that goes along with the General Fund budget bill.  It includes a new Private Dam Financial Assurance and Loan Program, direction to DCNR on developing ATV trails and more funding for small water and sewer projects.
Gov. Wolf signed the bill into law late Friday evening.
Here’s a quick summary of the environmental provisions--
-- Private Dam Financial Assurance Program/Revolving Loan Fund: Requires the Department of Community and Economic Development, in consultation with DEP, to establish the Private Dam Financial Assurance program to provide financial assurance assistance to owners of regulated private dams to meet proof of financial responsibility requirements under the law.  The provisions are borrowed from House Bill 1712 (R.Brown-R-Monroe) that was passed by the House in February 2016 and not given a final vote by the Senate. The session’s bill-- House Bill 431-- never saw any action.
DEP is also authorized to establish a revolving loan program to provide assistance for private dam owners if unused proceeds in the Financial Assurance Fund exceed $1.5 million.  Loans cannot exceed 50 percent of eligible costs and no loan can exceed $500,000.
-- CFA Small Water and Sewer Program: Again makes funding available-- $14.5 million to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for a Small Water and Sewer Program for projects from $30,000 to $500,000 in size.  The CFA is prohibited from accepting new applications for this funding.
-- $30.4 Million VW Settlement By Attorney General: Again requires the transfer of the $30.5 million VW settlement by the Attorney General to the General Fund as the General Assembly did in FY 2017-18.
-- ATV Trail In Clinton County: DCNR is required to develop and maintain an ATV trail connecting the Whiskey Springs ATV trail in Clinton County to the Blood Skillet ATV trail by April 1, 2020.
-- Northcentral ATV Initiative: DCNR is required to implement the full Northcentral PA ATV Initiative and create a network of trails connecting Clinton County to the New York State Border by April 1, 2024.
-- Farm Succession Funding: Authorized the Department of Agriculture to use Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase funding for farm succession planning grants like in FY 2017-18.
Click Here for the text of the bill. Senate Fiscal Note and summary.  Click Here for a summary by House Democrats.
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