Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday NewsClips

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4 PA Counties Would Violate New Ozone Standard Proposed By EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday proposed to reduce the ozone pollution standard to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level as low as 60 ppb.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb.
In Pennsylvania, four counties would not meet the proposed 65-70 pp. standard: Allegheny, Beaver, Indiana and Philadelphia potentially requiring DEP to adopt additional control measures on volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide emissions to meet the standard.
Comments on the proposal are due 90 days after the proposal are published in the Federal Register.  EPA plans to hold three public hearings on the rule in January.
For more information, visit EPA’s Ozone Standards webpage.
NewsClip: EPA Proposes Stricter Limits On Ozone Pollution

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

General Assembly Ends Legislative Session With Few Positive Environmental Bills

The General Assembly formally adjourned the 2013-14 legislative session November 12 and ended a legislative year with few positive environmental bills signed into law.  All bills not reaching the Governor’s desk start over on January 6 when the new General Assembly convenes. The environmental bills signed into law in 2014 included--

Anti-Stream Buffers: House Bill 1565 (Hahn-R-Northampton) that environmental groups say weakens DEP requirements for stream buffers in Special Protection Watersheds.  A summary of the House Fiscal Note are available.  It was signed into law as Act 162.  Click Here for more background.

Veto Of Climate Plan: House Bill 2354 (Snyder-D-Fayette) which authorizes a one-House of the General Assembly to veto any greenhouse gas emission reduction plan required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A summary and House Fiscal Note are available. It was signed into law as Act 175.  Click Here for more background.

General Fund Budget Requiring More Drilling On DCNR Lands: House Bill 2328 (Adolph-R-Delaware), a $29 billion General Fund budget with no tax increases, but which is based on $246.5 million in transfers from special funds, $95 million in additional “non-impact” natural gas leasing in State Parks and Forests, $20 million in DCNR timber sales and $75 million from a Philadelphia casino license that may or may not happen.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available. A summary and Senate Fiscal Note are available. Click Here for a copy of the line item spreadsheet.  Click Here for the budget balance and transfers sheet. The bill was signed into law as Act 1A with line item veto.  Click Here for more background.

Fiscal Code: Regulating Conventional Oil and Gas Wells Differently Than Marcellus Wells: House Bill 278 (Baker-R-Tioga), the Fiscal Code bill that follows to implement provisions in the General Fund budget with provisions creating new programs, including requiring DEP to regulate conventional oil and gas wells differently than Marcellus Shale wells which never passed either the Senate or House, provides for transfers from special funds and other changes.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The bill was signed into law as Act 126.  Click Here for more background.

Stormwater Management: Senate Bill 1255 (Erickson-R-Delaware) providing additional stormwater management options for municipal authorities was removed from the Table, referred into and out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed by the House.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The bill was signed into law as Act 123.  Click Here for more background.

Lead Plumbing Ban Update: Senate Bill 1254 (Yudichak-D- Luzerne) amending the Plumbing System Lead Ban and Notification Act.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The bill was signed into law as Act 55.  Click Here for more background.

Low-RVP Gasoline In Pittsburgh: Senate Bill 1037 (Vogel-R-Beaver) eventually eliminating the low-RVP gasoline requirement in Pittsburgh Region.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The bill was signed into law as Act 50.  Click Here for more background.

Nuclear Reactor Fees: Senate Bill 1355 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) increasing nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel transportation fees.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  It was signed into law as Act 190.  Click Here for more background.

Lyme Disease Task Force: Senate Bill 177 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) creating the Lyme Disease Task Force.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The bill was signed into law as Act 83.  Click Here for more background.

Public Disaster Grants: Senate Bill 720 (Baker-R-Luzerne) establishing the Public Disaster Assistance Grant Program.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  It was signed into law as Act 187.  Click Here for more information.

Energy Efficiency Technology: House Bill 1672 (Miller-R-York) providing for testing of energy efficiency technologies.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  It was signed into law as Act 165.  Click Here for more background.

Oil & Gas Royalties: House Bill 402 (Pickett-R-Bradford) further providing for the recording of oil and gas leases.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  It was signed into law as Act 152.  Click Here for more background.

Oil & Gas Well Production Reporting: House Bill 2278 (Pickett-R-Bradford) requiring  monthly reporting of oil and gas production from unconventional oil and gas wells. A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  It was signed into law as Act 173.  Click Here for more background.

Geospatial Board: Senate Bill 771 (Gordner-R-Columbia) establishing the State Geospatial Coordinating Board.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  It was signed into law as Act 178.  Click Here for more background.

New DEP Aggregate Advisory Board: Senate Bill 1155 (Scarnati-R- Jefferson) creating a Aggregate Advisory Board within DEP.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The Governor signed the bill into law as Act 137.  Click Here for more background.

Local Recreation Fees: House Bill 1052 (Freeman-D-Lehigh) further authorizes uses for local recreation fees.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The Governor signed the bill into law as Act 135.  Click Here for more background.

Appalachian Trail License Plate: House Bill 770 (Miller-R-York) authorizing an Appalachian Trail license plate and other changes to the Vehicle Code.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  The bill was signed into law as Act 23.  Click Here for more background.

DEP Submits Comments On EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Regulation

On Wednesday the Department of Environmental Protection submitted its formal comments on EPA’s proposed Section 111(d) clean power greenhouse gas emission reduction regulations saying while it recognizes the authority for EPA to reduce carbon emissions, EPA’s proposed regulation does not do it it a lawful way and “inappropriately directs national energy policy.”
A copy of DEP’s comments is available online.  Other background information is available on DEP’s Clean Power Plan Comments webpage.

SRBC Meets Dec. 5 To Consider Drilling Water Withdrawal Rule Changes

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission is conducting its next business meeting December 5  at 9:00 a.m., Miller Senate Office Building, President’s Conference Room East, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401. The meeting is open to the public.
The commissioners will act on several agenda items, including 21 project applications (1 involving an into-basin diversion); a rulemaking action to clarify the water uses involved in hydrocarbon development that are subject to the consumptive use regulations, as implemented by the Approval By Rule program; a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to provide financial support to the National Streamflow Information Program; a resolution concerning delegation of authority; regulatory compliance matters with Lion Brewery, Inc., LHP Management, LLC, and Southwestern Energy Production Company; transfer of approval from Sunbury Generation LP to Hummel Station LLC; request for waiver from Future Power PA, LLC; and contracts and grants.
SRBC will also offer a presentation on recent water quality and biological characterizations the Commission has undertaken for the reservoirs on the lower Susquehanna River.
Opportunities for public comment on the rulemaking action and project applications were provided previously; however, SRBC may accept general public comments at the conclusion of the meeting.
SRBC’s rules of conduct for quarterly business meetings include:
-- All persons must sign-in and show photo identification.
-- Signage, posters, banners or other display media will be permitted only in designated areas.
-- The press will be permitted to set up and use video and recording devices in a designated area.
-- The public will be permitted to use small, hand-held devices that remain in their possession and are used in a non-disruptive manner.
To view the complete agenda with the list of project applications and the full set of rules of conduct as well as parking options, visit SRBC’s Public Participation webpage.

DEP Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Potomac River Partnership

On November 20, Acting DEP Secretary Dana Aunkst joined federal, state and local officials in Gettysburg, Adams County, at the annual meeting and 10th anniversary of the Potomac Partnership, a unique public-private partnership formed to safeguard drinking water sources for more than five million people in the Potomac River Basin.
During the meeting, Aunkst touted the recent 30th anniversary of Pennsylvania's Safe Drinking Water Act and reaffirmed the state's commitment to the Potomac Partnership. The meeting also highlighted the 40th anniversary of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and included discussion on key successes and emerging challenges in the watershed.
The Potomac Partnership is comprised of more than 20 government agencies and water suppliers. For more information, visit the Potomac Partnership webpage.
(Reprinted from the Nov. 26 DEP News, Click Here to sign up for your own copy, read back issues.)

Successful Stormwater Management Training Held In Harrisburg

Staff from DEP’s Southcentral Regional Office Waterways and Wetlands Program conducted a successful stormwater management training on November 13 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County as part of an on-going outreach initiative among the regulated community.
Participants learned about how to focus on post-construction stormwater management in the initial site planning of a development. The training also taught attendees how to identify the appropriate permits for construction and design activities and how DEP reviews applications for those permits.
About 120 people attended the day-long workshop which included representatives from consulting firms, but also included developers and contractors and from as far away as southern Virginia and Ohio.
The PA Association of Conservation Districts worked with DEP to provide this training. The department is considering the potential for future trainings due to the high attendance and positive feedback.
For more information on stormwater management planning, visit DEP’s Municipal Stormwater webpage.
(Reprinted from the Nov. 26 DEP News, Click Here to sign up for your own copy, read back issues.)

National Coastal Ocean Science Center Helps PA Prepare For Lake Erie Blooms

When Gov. Tom Corbett learned of the large toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom that disrupted the drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of Ohio’s citizens, he expressed confidence his state was proactively planning to mitigate any potential human health impacts from toxic cyanobacteria blooms.
This confidence grew from the Department of Environmental Protection leading a Pennsylvania Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force and Monitoring and Response Strategy piloted in the summer of 2014. Both stemmed from a 2013 National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science HAB Event Response project.
The strategy lists the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a possible partner contributing research on environmental conditions that promote HAB development for predictive purposes and support to address HAB science priorities.
(Reprinted from the Nov. 26 DEP News, Click Here to sign up for your own copy, read back issues.)

Williamsport Drinking Water Treatment Plant Earns President’s Award

The City of Williamsport recently received the “President’s Award” from the Partnership for Safe Water, an alliance to improve the quality of water delivered to consumers. The “President’s Award” recognizes achieving stringent individual filter performance goals for turbidity.
Williamsport is the fifth water plant in Pennsylvania to receive this award. There are four phases to the PSW. The “President’s Award” is an intermediate award between Phases III and IV and is intended to be a significant stepping stone toward accomplishing the highest possible level of performance that can be achieved in the program, which is Phase IV. Only two plants in Pennsylvania have achieved Phase IV.
The PSW includes DEP, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Section American Water Works Association and other drinking water organizations. Its goal is to implement preventative measures that are based on optimizing treatment plant performance.
For more information, visit DEP’s Surface Water Filtration webpage, or contact Kevin Anderson at 717-783-9764 or send email to: keanderson@pa.gov.
(Reprinted from the Nov. 26 DEP News, Click Here to sign up for your own copy, read back issues.)