Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DCNR Expands Clean Air Beach Program To 8 State Parks

After a successful two-year operation of a pilot smoke-free beach at a state park in Cumberland County, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Tuesday announced it is expanding the trial program to include eight new state parks across Pennsylvania.
Effective May 1, the pilot program prohibits smoking on the beaches and swimming areas of the newly designated state parks. For visitors who smoke and still want to use these beaches, designated areas adjacent to the beach are provided.
“When the Clean Air Beach Program began in May 2013, Pine Grove Furnace State Park was selected as the initial site because it gave visitors the choice of frequenting a swimming beach where smoking was prohibited at the park’s one lake and permitted nearby at another,” said DCNR Acting Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Newly selected parks participating in the program again give visitors choices -- smoke-free areas or nearby state parks where smoking is not restricted.”
Smoking in beach and swim areas now will be restricted at the following state parks: Black Moshannon, Centre County; Colonel Denning, Cumberland County; Keystone State Park, Westmoreland County; Locust Lake State Park, Schuylkill County; Moraine (South Shore), Butler County; Parker Dam State Park, Clearfield County; Presque Isle State Park (Barracks Beach and Beach No. 11), Erie County; and Promised Land State Park (Pickerel Point Beach), Pike County.
No longer a pilot program, smoking restrictions are now permanent at Pine Grove Furnace’s Fuller Lake beach area. The park’s nearby Laurel Lake beach remains open to smokers.
“In effect for two summers now, Fuller Lake beach restrictions have been hailed by visitors for significantly improving air quality and reducing cigarette-butt litter,” Dunn noted. “Success of initial goals, as well as feedback from park visitors from across the state, encouraged us to expand the Clean Air Beach Program this season.”
The restriction includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars and the increasingly popular e-cigarettes. Staff at affected parks have been preparing for the change by purchasing and installing butt disposal units; installing new signage; establishing designated smoking areas with seating; and informing park user and support groups.
For more information on State Parks, visit DCNR’s State Parks webpage.

April 27 Watershed Winds Newsletter Now Available From Penn State Extension

The April 27 issue of the Watershed Winds newsletter from Penn State Extension is now available featuring articles on--
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Tuesday PA Environmental NewsClips

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Monday, April 27, 2015

PA Joins In Declaring Air Quality Awareness Week April 27 To May 1

Pennsylvania will join states across the nation this week in recognizing April 27 through May 1 as Air Quality Awareness Week.
“As we continue to feel the adverse impacts of air pollution, improving our air quality is more important than ever before,” Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley said. “This administration is committed to seeking solutions for improving air quality.”
In honor of Air Quality Awareness Week, the Department of Environmental Protection asks Pennsylvanians to renew their commitment to protecting air quality and learning how air quality can impact public health and the environment.
Residents of Pennsylvania can take proactive steps, including the following, to improve air quality in the home and outside during the ozone season:
— Conserve electricity. During the summer, consider setting the thermostat a little higher so the air conditioner is not running continuously.
— Choose a cleaner commute by utilizing a carpool, public transportation, or riding a bike.
— Combine errands to reduce trips and “cold starts” of your car.
— Avoid idling motor vehicles.
— Ensure that tires are properly inflated to use less gasoline.
— Refuel vehicles in the evening and avoid topping off the gas tank when refueling vehicles.
— Limit lawn care and gardening activities that require the use of gasoline-powered equipment.
As a result of air quality initiatives and the measures aimed at reducing emissions, cumulative air contaminant emissions across Pennsylvania have declined significantly.
In particular, between 2008 through 2013, sulfur dioxide emissions from electric generating units (EGUs) have been reduced by approximately 70 percent. The emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter have also been reduced by approximately 35 percent and 50 percent, respectively, from the EGU sector.
These reductions represent between $14 billion and $37 billion of annual public health benefits, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency methodologies.
Air Quality Awareness Week begins the 2015 ozone forecasting season in Pennsylvania. DEP monitors ambient ozone concentrations year-round and makes air quality forecasts for ground-level ozone during the spring and summer months. Fine particulate matter forecasts are provided year-round.
The daily forecasts, developed in conjunction with local Air Quality Partnerships, use a color-based Air Quality Index for air quality conditions. Green signifies good air quality; yellow means moderate conditions; orange represents pollution levels that could trigger health effects for sensitive people, such as the very young, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments; and red warns of pollution levels that could trigger health effects for all members of the population.
To sign up to receive air quality forecasts via email, visit the Air Quality Notifications webpage.

May 5 Northeast PA Trail Symposium In Scranton

On May 5, The Lackawanna Heritage Valley National and State Heritage Area, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council/Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape, and the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association will hold a day-long trails symposium at the Lackawanna Heritage Valley offices at 213 S. 7th Ave., Scranton, Lackawanna County.
The Symposium, as in past years, will provide Northeastern Pennsylvania trail sponsors and supporters a networking venue where they can share opportunities, challenges, and solutions in an informal setting.
The event will have several regional speakers who will present information on the current state of trails in Pennsylvania. Attendees will be given ample opportunities for networking with colleagues.
Registration is required, but there is no charge for not-for-profit trail organization and government representatives. General admission is $20 per person. Registration will close at 5 p.m. on April 30.
Register with Stephanie Milewski by sending email to: smilewski@LHVA.org. Send name, organization, trail name, email, and phone number for each attendee.
Sign-in and breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. The program will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. Lunch will be provided and the day will end with a walk or bike ride on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail!  
Bring your walking shoes or bike/bike gear and dress appropriately for the weather.
For more information, visit the Northeast Trail Symposium webpage.

1,700 Students Expected At May 14 Great Lakes Children’s Water Festival In Erie

The Water Systems Council will hold its 2015 Great Lakes Children's Water Festival on May 14, 2015 on the campus of Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, drawing almost 1,700 5th grade students from Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.
The 2015 Great Lakes Children's Water Festival is one of the largest WSC has ever hosted.  During the festival, students will explore drinking water, groundwater, watersheds, surface water, well systems, and water quality and conservation through dynamic and interactive activities.
The festival gives the students a better understanding of their water supply and America's groundwater resources. A record number of 72 classes will be taught by water and natural resource experts from local, state and national organizations.
Local WJET-TV weatherman Tom Atkins will also make a presentation to educate students about the role of water in the weather and weather forecasting.
The Department of Environmental Protection is a major sponsor of the festival, which is helping the DEP as well as the Departments of Environmental Protection in Ohio and New York to fulfill their conservation and efficiency outreach requirements under the Great Lakes Compact Agreement.  
DEP Secretary John Quigley is scheduled to participate in the Edible Aquifers activity where students build an aquifer using ice cream, crushed ice, soda and sprinkles. The Edible Aquifers presentation is the most popular activity at the festival.
Additional festival sponsors include the Peter A. Yeager Memorial Foundation and the Water Systems Council, whose members donated more than $50,000 for the event.  Those members include A.O. Smith Water Systems; Baker Water Systems; Flexcon Industries; Flomatic Valves; Franklin Electric Co., Inc.; Grundfos Pumps Corp.; Merrill Manufacturing; Milby Co.; Pentair; Preferred Pump; and Xylem, Inc.
These donations underwrite the cost of the festival, which is free to students and participating school districts.  Penn State Behrend has donated the use of their campus for the festival. In addition, more than 235 community volunteers are involved in this year's festival.
For more information, visit the  Water Systems Council Great Lakes Children's Water Festival webpage.

EPA Recognizes 9 PA Universities As Top Green Power Users In Their Conferences

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized 9 Pennsylvania colleges and universities as 2014-2015 Individual Conference Champions of the College & University Green Power Challenge, using more green power than any other school in their athletic conferences.
The University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League (200.1M kWh), Carnegie Mellon University (119M kWh) in the University Athletic Association, Drexel University (96.6M kWh) in the Colonial Athletic Association, Dickinson College (18M kWh) in the Centennial Conference, Duquesne University (18M kWh) in the Atlantic 10, Allegheny College (15.4M kWh) in the North Coast Athletic Conference, Philadelphia University (14.5M kWh) in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, Lebanon Valley College (10.1M kWh) in the Middle Atlantic Conference and Mercyhurst College (13M kWh) in the PA State Athletic Conference.
Together these schools used just over half a billion kilowatt hours of green power-- 504.1 million.
Thirty-nine collegiate conferences and 90 schools competed in the 2014-2015 challenge, collectively using nearly 2.4 billion kWh of green power. Since April 2006, EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power use in the nation.
The Individual Conference Champion Award recognizes the single school that is the largest individual use of green power within a qualifying conference.
Green power is zero-emissions electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, eligible biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps users reduce their carbon footprints.
For more information, visit EPA’s College & University Green Power Challenge webpage.

PUC Enhances PAPowerSwitch.com With New Consumer-Friendly Features

The Public Utility Commission Monday announced a series of enhancements to www.PAPowerSwitch.com, the agency’s consumer-education website with information on shopping for electric suppliers, consumer alerts and reminders, educational videos and more.
“It is our responsibility to educate consumers as much as possible to help them save on their bills, and to allow them to make informed decisions on where – and how – their electricity is generated,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. “The Commission has continually upgraded our website to serve as a comprehensive consumer-education resource, offering information in plain sight about what it means to shop, how to save, the different types of rates and products and where to begin when shopping.”
New PAPowerSwitch upgrades include:
— Easier navigation on a streamlined homepage;
— A zip code search on the homepage, leading to a graphic snapshot about savings opportunities, rates and options in a specific area;
— Larger and brighter consumer alerts on the homepage, notifying viewers of upcoming default rate changes and other pertinent reminders;
— A prominent “Education” button, directing users to videos and information about switching power, understanding your bill, how to choose a supplier, fixed and variable rates and consumer rights and protections; and
— A “Ways to Save” button, guiding consumers to a factual page on opportunities to conserve energy and save money.
The upgrades also are reflected on the mobile version of PAPowerSwitch.
Since the website’s launch in 2010, the Commission has continued to implement new consumer-protection measures, rulemakings and education tools related to electric generation suppliers (EGSs).
In addition to PAPowerSwitch enhancements, the PUC has passed several rulemakings, including accelerating the timeframe in which consumers can switch suppliers to allow faster switches between billing cycles; requiring EGSs to list terms and conditions more prominently on disclosures and contracts; and requiring additional, clearer EGS information on utility bills.
Consumers are urged to confirm who their electric supplier is, double-check the terms and conditions of their contract and use www.PAPowerSwitch.com to assess their options and find potential savings.
Consumers are advised not to sign a contract without knowing the length of the contract, the price, whether it is fixed or variable and if there are any early termination fees. Customers on a variable rate are subject to fluctuations in the price of their electric consumption.
Information on fixed and variable electric rates is available online.

Annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event In Centre County May 1-2

The Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority will hold a household hazardous waste collection event on May 1 and 2.
Here's your once a year chance to rid your home of old or unwanted hazardous chemicals and be sure they are properly disposed of.
Bring your insecticides, weed killers, pool chemicals, cleaners, poisons, corrosives, flammables, oil-based paints, CFL bulbs, fluorescent tubes and many other household hazardous chemicals to the Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority, 235 Transfer Road, Bellfonte from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.), and on May 2, (8:00 am – 2:00 pm).
The Authority will not be accepting used motor oil, antifreeze, batteries, latex paint, radioactive or medical material, explosives or ammunition.  Please call the Authority office if you have a question about your material.
For additional information about the event, visit the Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority website or call 814-238-7005.

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