Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Clean Power Coalition Disappointed By House Vote On Bill To Slow Regulatory Process

The Clean Power PA Coalition, representing Pennsylvania's environmental, clean energy business and conservation community, today criticized the House State Government Committee for passing Senate Bill 562 (Gordner-R-Columbia), a bill that would give legislators excessive power to intervene in Pennsylvania's regulatory process.
The Coalition, including: PennEnvironment, PennFuture, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club, issued the following statement regarding Senate Bill 562:
"Senate Bill 562 is an egregious power grab by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to overrule the division of our three independent branches of government, a separation of powers which is crucial to an effective and fair democracy. Pennsylvania's legislature already has the ability to comment, intervene, and engage in the Commonwealth's regulatory process, which has worked effectively for years.
"Senate Bill 562 allows legislators to block critical environmental standards that have broad public support, such as the development of a state plan to tackle climate change or implementing much-needed protections for our families and children from fracking. If approved, Senate Bill 562 would allow any powerful polluter or special interest to wield their immense influence in politics to convince a legislator to put the brakes on a policy that they don't like. Putting this much power into the hands of a few—after the public has had their voice heard and the regulatory process has been properly followed—is undemocratic.
"Senator Bill 562 would also make it more difficult for citizens to learn about and comment on new regulations by no longer requiring the publication of 'Statements of Purpose.' These statements explain in layperson's terms what a proposed regulation will do, and give the public the necessary information and tools to participate in the process around newly proposed regulations.
"We urge the full House to reject Senate Bill 562 because the legislation undermines broad support for critical environmental protections and would allow important information to be hidden from the public."
The Clean Power PA Coalition is a group of clean energy, business, faith, and community leaders committed to protecting Pennsylvania's environment and powering its economy through clean energy.
The coalition includes the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), PennFuture, Clean Air Council, Moms Clean Air Force, PennEnvironment, NextGen Climate America, Conservation Voters of PA, Clean Water Action, Voces Verdes, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Audubon Pennsylvania, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Philadelphia and Climate Parents.
For more information, visit the Clean Power PA Coalition website.

Tom Ridge Environmental Center Marks 10th Anniversary In Erie

It began with a ribbon-cutting on a soggy day in 2006, but the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie opened its doors to the public on May 26 that year with sunny aspirations to be the peninsula’s prime place for nature learning and interpretation.
Listening to the impressions from staff and visitors in 2016, it hasn’t disappointed.
“Since it was opened, the TREC has grown into a hub of environmental education and research,” Assistant Park Manager Holly Best said. “The partners within the building not only lease space, but join together to create work groups and a synergy to address challenging environmental issues.”
The 65,000-square-foot center was built as a premier “green building” within Pennsylvania’s state park system. It was designed to achieve a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
LEED—Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design—is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification.
“As the government agency with a conservation mission, DCNR is leading by example,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “As part of a strategic initiative on green infrastructure and sustainability, we are aiming to increase by 50-percent the number of high-performing buildings like TREC in our system, share our expertise, and align our grant programs to help support projects that further sustainable practices.”
Currently, DCNR has 13 LEED certified buildings, 4 more are currently going through the certification process while 4 are in the planning stage.
A story map is available to highlight some of these types of buildings within DCNR.
Incorporated into the Center’s design and function are environmental features such
as: Natural ventilation; An inverted roof to collect rainwater; Materials made from recycled content; Native landscaping; Renewable energy usage; A porous asphalt parking area; and Panels throughout the center explain the green features.
TREC offers visitors information along a self-guided tour which points out the various features of the environmentally-friendly building, such as:
-- Using local products and renewable building materials;
-- Collecting and reusing rainwater and surface runoff;
-- Utilizing a noteworthy sunshade system in the summer; and
-- Providing accommodations for employees who want to be as “green” as possible (like a bike rack and a shower for those who choose to bike into work).
The Center was named in December 2002 as a tribute to former Gov. Tom Ridge, who grew up in Erie, worked at the park as a young man and provided funding for the center and numerous Presque Isle projects during his administration.
The center includes a prominent, 75-foot tower, and is situated right at the entrance to the state park, providing visitors with an easy way to learn more about sustainability and how green structures save energy and reduce resources.
More than 1.1 million visitors have visited TREC since it opened. And those visitors have taken away a story DCNR is more than happy to share.
“Besides being a public facility, the staff of the TREC reaches beyond the walls of the building to expand the message of environmental education throughout the community,” Best said.
The center is also popular for its unique displays and features, including:
-- “Whirligig” towers, which highlight nature, history and recreation spots from around Presque Isle
-- Origami mobiles, which feature specially-crafted birds blending art, science and nature
-- Floating floors, which actually sit two feet off the floor to provide easy access to utilities, reducing the amount of waste when repairs need to take place and improving air circulation
-- Renewable flooring, like cork and marmoleum (plant-based), rather than petroleum-based flooring
To celebrate its 10th birthday, The Tom Ridge Center at Presque Isle State Park will host an open house on June 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The day will include a native plant sale, tours of the aqua lab, green building and natural history museum not typically open to the public, “Go Green” story time and a craft for kids, and a coyote and fox talk.
For more information on the center or the open house, visit the Tom Ridge Environmental Center website for updates or call 814-833-7424.
(Reprinted from the May 25 edition of DCNR’s Resource newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy (bottom of the page.)

May 25 DCNR Resource Newsletter Now Available

The May 25 edition of the Resource newsletter is now available from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources featuring articles on--
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy (bottom of the page).

Holiday Weekend Great Opportunity To Hike Pennsylvania Trails, Walkways

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Wednesday announced DCNR is partnering with the Keystone Trail Association to offer guided hikes across the state during the week starting May 28.
A calendar of hikes can be found at ExplorePAtrails.com.
Dunn urged Pennsylvanians to embrace healthy lifestyles while enjoying the outdoors during the annual Hiking Week, which steps off May 28 through June 5, and includes National Trails Day on June 4.
“The ‘welcome mat’ is out to novices and trail-hardened veterans alike, inviting them to hike in our state parks, forests and municipal greenways in this annual salute to healthy exercise and the our special outdoors places,” Dunn said. “Hiking is easy and inexpensive, all you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and some water. The holiday weekend provides a great opportunity to get a hike in.”
Dunn noted guided hikes offer a great opportunity for non-hikers to learn the skills necessary for a safe day outdoors.
"Pennsylvania’s trails offer something for everyone -- flat and easy footpaths to leisurely stroll, strenuous and challenging climbs to test your limits, and everything in between. Along the way the views vary from pastoral to breath-taking, thanks to the diversity of flora, fauna, and geography in the Keystone State," said Keystone Trails Association Executive Director Joseph Neville. "The trails through our parks and forests are primarily free from the sights and sounds of the mechanized world. We can enjoy our state's plentiful resources while we unplug, stretch our legs, and connect with nature. Join us out on the trails during Pennsylvania Hiking Week."
Special events planned by DCNR and the KTA will take place in parks, forests, cities and towns across the state. All of the scheduled hikes have leaders and include a variety of lengths and terrain.
Special hikes include wildflower walks; hikes to show appreciation for veterans; and pet and geology walks.
Secretary Dunn will participate in an event that includes a hike at the Standing Stone Trail in Huntingdon County beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Greenwood Furnace State Park on Tuesday, May 31.  
Standing Stone Trail is the 2016 Trail of the Year. Dunn also will speak at an official National Trails Day event on June 4 at the Columbia Riverfront Park (Photo) trailhead of the 14-mile long North West Lancaster County River Trail in Columbia, Lancaster County.
This event will celebrate the completion of a 2-mile section of trail between Columbia and Chickies Rock County Park.
Pennsylvania’s statewide outdoor recreation plan identifies walking for pleasure or fitness as the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Pennsylvania.
A goal of that plan, which was just named best in the nation for the second time, is to provide a trail within 15 minutes of every Pennsylvanian.
Organized in 1956, KTA is a 1,306-member umbrella organization made up of 44 hiking and outdoors organizations in and around Pennsylvania.
For details on hiking clubs across the state, visit the Keystone Trail Association website.

Another Air Quality Action Day Thursday For 13 PA Counties: DEP

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast an Air Quality Action Day for Thursday, May 26 in 13 counties, including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and York.  Visit Here for all the details.

New Guide Helps Citizen Groups Address Harmful Bacteria In Waterways

The Center for Watershed Protection, Inc. has released a new guide for citizen science groups and watershed organizations across the nation to take a role in finding and eliminating sources of harmful bacteria in their communities.   
Bacteria is one of the most common pollutants in our nation’s waterways.  Researchers and regulatory agencies have determined that monitoring bacteria in waterways can help identify human health risks associated with drinking water, shellfish consumption, and recreational water contact.
“Harmful bacteria from sewer leaks, illegal dumping and failing septic systems pose a serious threat to human health,” said Hye Yeong Kwon, executive director of the Center. “Safe Waters, Healthy Waters will help citizen scientists and community organizations learn more about harmful bacteria in their waterways – and what they can do about it.”
The newly released, Safe Waters, Healthy Waters: A Guide for Citizen Groups on Bacteria Monitoring in Local Waterways, outlines how to identify areas with high bacteria, narrow down potential sources and share findings with the public.
The guide provides step-by-step instructions to create a customized bacteria monitoring program, methods to investigate potential pollutant sources, and resources for putting collected data to use.  
It focuses especially on human sewage sources and monitoring techniques that are simple, reliable and low-cost.  
The content of this document draws upon the Center’s work over the past decade investigating sewage leaks and other illicit discharges—such as storm drains that have measurable flow during dry weather containing pollutants or pathogens—that are far too common in the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes.
The guide includes step-by-step instructions on how to properly collect bacteria samples, and several case studies detailing successful monitoring programs and the actions that resulted from them.
In one case study, StreamWatch, a community-based water monitoring organization in central Virginia, noticed that a stretch of stream in a highly urban area tested very high for E. coli three months in a row.
Upon seeing these results, StreamWatch staff contacted the environmental officials from the City of Charlottesville. The city responded immediately and tested the area for leaking sewer lines, which quickly revealed a broken underground sewer pipe on private property. Within days, the landowner had the pipe fixed to stop the sewage leak.
“It is clear from these findings that many local governments need help to effectively address sewage discharges,” summarized Kwon. “Citizen monitoring programs can help to sample where other agencies aren’t testing or provide data to convince local agencies to establish monitoring programs. It is also an effective way to improve the public’s knowledge of the safety of their water and to act as a ‘watchdog’ to ensure that local agencies are addressing the problem.”
Click Here to download a free copy of this Guide.
Funding for the research and development of this guide was made possible by the Ittleson Foundation and the Cornell Douglas Foundation.
For more information about the Safe Waters, Healthy Waters guide, contact Laurel Williamson, Stormwater and Watershed Planner, Center for Watershed Protection, by sending email to: lw@cwp.org.

Interns Wanted: Joint House Senate Conservation Committee Fall Interns

The Joint Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee is  accepting applications for full and part-time (20-30 hours per week) internships for the fall semester of 2016.  The deadline for applications is June 30.
The intern will gain valuable experience in the legislative process by working on policy issues related to the conservation of Pennsylvania’s natural resources.
Internships are unpaid, but students are strongly encouraged to seek academic credit for their work.
Click Here for all the details.  
To be considered for this position, send a resume and a writing sample to cengvall@jcc.legis.state.pa.us.

Exelon: Zero-Carbon Three Mile Island Did Not Clear PJM Capacity Auction

Exelon Corporation Wednesday announced its Quad Cities and Three Mile Island nuclear plants did not clear in the PJM capacity auction for the 2019-2020 planning year and will not receive capacity revenue for that period.
This is the second consecutive year that Three Mile Island Unit 1 failed to clear the PJM capacity auction. Although the plant is committed to operate through May 2018, the plant faces continued economic challenges and Exelon is exploring all options to return it to profitability.
While a portion of the Byron nuclear plant’s capacity did not clear in the auction, the plant is committed to operate through May 2020.
The company’s other nuclear plants in PJM cleared in the auction, except Oyster Creek, which is scheduled to retire in 2019 and did not participate in the auction. The auction results take effect June 2019.
“The capacity market alone can’t preserve zero-carbon emitting nuclear plants that are facing the lowest wholesale energy prices in 15 years,” said Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon. “Without passage of comprehensive energy legislation that recognizes nuclear energy for its economic, reliability and environmental benefits to Illinois, we will be forced to close Quad Cities and Clinton, resulting in the loss of jobs and economic activity, higher energy prices for consumers, and a dramatic increase in carbon emissions that will make it harder and more expensive for Illinois to meet its clean energy goals.”
Earlier this month, Exelon announced that it would retire its Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear facilities if adequate legislation is not passed during the spring Illinois legislative session scheduled to end May 31.
Quad Cities and Clinton have lost a combined $800 million in the past seven years, despite being two of Exelon’s highest-performing plants.
Clinton operates in the MISO market. Despite clearing in MISO’s recent one-year forward capacity auction, Clinton will not receive enough revenue to avoid continued losses.
The Next Generation Energy Plan legislation would preserve the two at-risk Illinois nuclear plants and their zero-emissions benefits, as well as strengthen the economy and promote development of clean energy in the state.
The NGEP includes implementation of a zero emission standard that would specifically target at-risk nuclear plants, making Illinois one of the first states to recognize the zero-carbon benefits of nuclear energy.
The legislation -- which has strong bipartisan, community and labor support – would nearly double energy efficiency programs and jump start solar development with rebates and $140 million per year in new funding.
The legislation would preserve more than $1.2 billion in economic activity and 4,200 direct and indirect jobs associated with Quad Cities and Clinton. Without it, consumers will pay more for electricity.
A study commissioned by the state found that shuttering the two plants would cause wholesale energy prices to rise by $439 million to $645 million annually for homes and businesses in the region.
Preserving Illinois’ nuclear facilities also is essential to maintaining the state’s role as a clean-energy leader.
The early retirement of Quad Cities and Clinton would increase carbon emissions by more than 20 million metric tons – the equivalent of putting more than 4 million cars on the road.
The societal costs of the increased emissions would reach nearly $10 billion between 2020 and 2029, the state report concluded.
Capacity auctions are held annually by grid operator PJM to ensure enough power generation resources are available to meet demand in its region covering all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia.
This is the fourth capacity auction held under “capacity performance” reforms ordered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to increase power plant reliability and strengthen the region’s energy supply.
The reforms were an important step in recognizing nuclear energy for its year-round reliability in all weather extremes, but Quad Cities and other at-risk nuclear facilities continue to face economic challenges due to low energy prices and other factors.
For more information, visit the Exelon Corporation Sustainability webpage.
Related Story:
PJM Capacity Auction: Nearly Half Of MW Were From New Natural Gas Power Plants

Sustainable Energy Fund Announces Speakers For Energypath 2016 July 28-29

Sustainable Energy Fund Wednesday announced the addition of Emerging Tech Talks to Energypath 2016 Conference to be held July 28-29 in State College.
This series of lectures, to be held the morning of July 29, will feature prominent thought leaders in the sustainable energy and technology industries. Emerging Tech Talks will provide insight into rapidly changing technologies, trends and business models.
“Technology is constantly evolving. Innovation and the ability to find creative solutions are paramount to overcoming challenges,” said John Costlow, president and CEO of Sustainable Energy Fund. “We’re proud to host top experts and business leaders in the energy and technology spaces to discuss their experiences and the accomplishments they have achieved in their fields. We hope that Emerging Tech Talks will serve as a point of inspiration for those dedicated to building a sustainable energy future.”
Featured thought leaders include:
-- Brent Alderfer, CEO and co-founder of Community Energy;
-- Paul Eisenhuth, President and CEO of CEWA Technologies;
-- Ken Okrepkie, Regional Manager – Pocono Northeast, Ben Franklin Technology Partners;
-- Jim Nigg, founder Constructis LLC;
-- Greg Donworth and Asher Breverman, Founders of Windigo Turbine; and
-- Davashree Ghosh, Sustainability Strategist, Greener By Design LLC.
Energypath 2016 will feature panel discussions, presentations, a science fair for middle and high school students, and pre-conference Energy Camps, which will cover a variety of sustainable energy technologies and practices.
The conference also features Energy Sprout, a competition for innovative products and business models. The competition will award a top grant of $100,000 to a business or individual.
For more information, visit the Energypath 2016 Conference website.

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