Friday, September 21, 2018

Boy Scout Part IV: Restoring Blooming Bioswales For A Better Youghiogheny River In Ohiopyle

By Peter Livengood, 12th Grade Student From Ohiopyle, Fayette County

Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of four articles by Peter Livengood, a 12th grade, homeschooled student from near Ohiopyle in Fayette County. In the articles he describes four projects he completed this year to qualify for the William T. Hornaday Silver Award-- think of it as an Olympic Medal for conservation work by a Boy Scout. Peter will know if he qualified for the award on October 23.

Everyone’s heard of a bioswale before, right? Well, maybe not. Up to about 4 months ago, I could not have told you (or anyone) what a bioswale was and how it worked.
So, let’s get down to the definition: A bioswale is a man-made landscape design element that is designed to capture and filter street run-off water to remove road pollutants such as salt and gasoline.
Bioswales provide a natural method of storm water conveyance that is superior to the standard storm drains and storm sewers. A bioswale works like this: envision a flower garden contained within a concrete curb along a city street.
When it rains, run-off water from impermeable surfaces (parking lots, streets, etc.) flows along the side of the roadway. There are sloped inlets cut into curbs that channel the water into a bioswale.
Once the water has entered the bioswale, it percolates down through the mulch, plants, and soil of the bioswale, effectively filtering and cleaning the water. The water then flows into a perforated pipe at the bottom of the bioswales, and the water is conveyed away.
So, how did I get so well versed in the science of bioswales?  
I took on the renovation of 4,000 square feet of bioswale area in the Borough of Ohiopyle as my Eagle Scout/William T. Hornaday Silver Medal Award Project.
The bioswales in Ohiopyle were constructed in 2010. There was no regular maintenance performed on the bioswales for a period of 7 years, which resulted in the bioswales becoming overrun by invasive plants and weeds, and the inlets in the street curbs became clogged with leaves and debris, preventing water from entering the bioswales (which makes them useless).
My project restored the bioswales to full functionality, making them both beautiful (with flowers and mulch) and useful in keeping the Youghiogheny River clean.
To ensure the ongoing maintenance and success of the Bioswales, I created a maintenance fund. The Ohiopyle Borough hired an official Bioswale maintenance person with the money that I raised for the maintenance fund.
As part of my efforts, I created a GoFundMe page, "Ohiopyle Bioswale Maintenance Fund," to provide a long-term source of funding to keep the Bioswales beautiful and Youghiogheny River clean for years to come.
Through my project, “Blooming Bioswales for a Better River,” over 1,700 hours of community service were recorded.  The work included myself and 35 volunteers-- other Boy Scouts, family members, a Penn State Master Gardener and many others.
Five community members, myself included,  received the President's Volunteer Service Award for our volunteer hours during the project.
Now you might see this 1,700 hours of service number and think that I am surely a madman. Why would anyone do that much work?
Well actually, community service really doesn’t seem like work. It has a different, happier feel about it.
Now, whenever I go into the town of Ohiopyle, I can see the results of my project and how much of a difference it makes for the tourists, the residents, and the Youghiogheny River.
I understand that some folks may not have the time, resources, or desire to take on so large a community service project as I did. Don’t worry. You don’t have to.
Anything and everything you do to give back to your community will be rewarding in a special way. Don’t believe me? Try it and find out!
I promise you that it will be worth your effort. And if you ever come to Ohiopyle, be sure to take notice of… “the blooming bioswales.”
(Photos: Newly restored bioswale during a rainstorm (top); Renovated blooming bioswale near the Ohiopyle playground - Peter Livengood.)

Peter Livengood has been a Boy Scout since 2013 in Troop #687 in Farmington and lives on a small family farm.  He has been a certified Conservation Ambassador by the PA Wildlife Leadership Academy since 2015, attended the Penn State Conservation Leadership School in 2016 and 2017, is a member of the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society and was appointed to the Governor's Youth Advisory Council on Hunting, Fishing and Conservation.  He can be contacted by sending email to:
Other Articles In This Series:

Senate Environmental Committee Holds Sept. 25 Hearing On Foreign Influence On Natural Gas Development In PA

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing September 25 to discuss foreign influence on natural gas development in Pennsylvania.
In June, The Caucus/ published a lengthy article on allegations Russia, which depends on natural gas exports to Europe for cash, tried to preserve its dominance by sowing discord and opposition to the development of natural gas in the United States, Pennsylvania and to specific projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The article follows a report by the Republican staff on the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space And Technology released in March of this year that concluded, “Russian agents were exploiting American social media platforms in an effort to disrupt domestic energy markets, suppress research and development of fossil fuels, and stymie efforts to expand the use of natural gas.”
The Caucus/ article pointed to a series of stories published by the RT website, which is owned by RTTV America, Inc. a registered foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice, that highlighted protests to natural gas development in the state.
Caucus/ also cited the story by Amy Sisk, a reporter for StateImpact PA, as she recounted how a photo she took at the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrators site was used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to illustrate a story on the U.S. House Committee staff report on Russian influence in the energy sector.
Sisk’s found out about the use of the photo from a story in the Washington Post  on how Russian Internet trolls sought to inflame the debate over climate change, fracking and the Dakota Pipeline.
David Masur from PennEnvironment was quoted in the Lancaster article as saying, “Certainly the case against fracking is clearly supported by the facts and doesn’t need ‘fake news’ or any foreign interference to know that dirty drilling is bad for our air, water, health and environment.”
He added he hadn’t heard of Russian interference in the energy debate before a reporter emailed him.
Click Here to read the Caucus/ story.
The hearing will be held in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office  Building starting at 10:00. Click Here to check to see if the hearing will be webcast live.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to:   Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7105 or sending email to:
(Photo: Mariner East 2 Pipeline construction in Lancaster County,
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

CFA Awards $850,000 Grant To Valley Energy, Inc. To Extend Natural Gas Pipeline In Bradford County

The Commonwealth Financing Authority Tuesday awarded an $850,000 state grant to Valley Energy, Inc. for a pipeline project located in Bradford County, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
The grant from the Pipeline Investment Program will help to fund the $1.8 million dollar project to extend gas service to East Athens in Athens Township, Bradford County through the installation of approximately 18,000 feet of pipeline.  
The extension will service 66 new gas customers and seven commercial properties.  Company officials have indicated that they would begin engineering and permitting later this year with construction expected to start and be completed in 2019.
“There is widespread support in seeing locally produced natural gas used locally to benefit our area homeowners and businesses,” Sen. Yaw said.  “As one of many supporters, we look forward to the advancement of this important project to the community and its citizens. I’m glad that the CFA saw value in Valley Energy’s application.”
The PIPE program was crafted by Sen. Yaw and approved by the Legislature in 2016 as an amendment to the Fiscal Code bill providing grants to construct the last few miles of natural gas distribution lines to business parks, existing manufacturing and industrial enterprises, which will result in the creation of new economic base jobs in the Commonwealth while providing access to natural gas for residents.
There have been a total of 12 pipeline extension projects funded by this program totalling $9,956,374.  Click Here for a list of approved projects.
The Commonwealth Financing Authority has an open application period for this program.
For more information, visit the CFA Pipeline Investment Program webpage.
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Comments Invited On PUC Procedures For Acquisition Of Publicly-Owned Water, Sewage Systems

The Public Utility Commission Thursday adopted a Tentative Supplemental Implementation Order that puts forth proposals to further improve procedures for how the PUC examines the acquisition and valuation of municipal and authority-owned water and wastewater systems under Section 1329 of the Public Utility Code.
The Commission voted 5-0 to issue proposed revisions for public comment on potential changes to procedures and guidelines for applications seeking rate base valuation treatment under Section 1329 of Chapter 13 of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code (Code).  
Signed into law as Act 12 of 2016, Section 1329 addresses the sale of water and wastewater systems owned by municipal corporations or authorities by providing a process for the sale of public water and wastewater assets for at fair market rates.
With the benefit of approximately two years’ experience applying Section 1329 to applicable transfers of control under Chapters 11 and 13 of the Code and PUC regulations, the Commission now seeks to create more certainty in the process, improve the quality of valuations and further ensure that the adjudication process is both fair and efficient.
The Commission invites interested parties to provide formal comments-- and to offer recommendations for consideration-- on its proposals to improve the processes, evidence and guidelines for Section 1329 applications.
Comments are due within 30 days of publication of the Tentative Supplemental Implementation Order in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, with reply comments due 15 days thereafter.
Click Here for a copy of the proposed Order.

PUC Approves Resolution Of Mariner East 2 Pipeline Valve Dispute In Chester County

The Public Utility Commission Thursday approved a motion to resolve a complaint concerning construction or location of a pipeline valve station for Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline project filed by West Goshen Township, Chester County.
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve a motion by Commissioner David W. Sweet, adopting a Recommended Decision issued by Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes, following extensive review of this case.
The complaint related to proposed construction of a pipeline valve station outside a defined area in the township and alleged that Sunoco has violated an earlier agreement reached between Sunoco, West Goshen Township and Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township.         
Under the terms of the Recommended Decision approved today:
-- Sunoco is enjoined from constructing or locating a valve or related facilities in West Goshen Township, except for a designated use area, without first consulting with and obtaining the express written consent of West Goshen Township.
-- Sunoco shall provide engineering documents and plans to experts for West Goshen Township for safety reviews, including plans to eliminate a valve in the township and automate a valve approximately 2.5 miles from the township.
-- Sunoco shall file an affidavit attesting to the fact that it has installed remotely operated or automatic valves in proximity to West Goshen Township.
Click Here to read the decision.
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Pike County Conservation District Celebrates Natural Resources Nov. 1

A hike through the forest might feel very different if you imagine a network of communication happening below your boots. This year, the Pike County Conservation District Annual Dinner on November 1 will feature a live performance of TREES by NACL Streets.
The event is a celebration of the natural resources of Pike County, and the great conservation work completed by Conservation District partners, its Board of Directors, and staff.
TREES is about the connectivity, communication, and co-operative existence in forests.
“TREES is a metaphor for our own humanity as we search for and build communities,” says NACL Streets Director Tannis Kowalchuk, an actress and teacher dedicated to creative place-making and community engagement.
The original stilt walking performance, which includes drums and accordion, is based on the bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees by German forester Peter Wohlleben.
“Traditionally, the sustainability equation has included the three pillars of people, planet and profit,” says PCCD Executive Director Michele Long. “More recently, that equation has been broadened to include culture as a fourth pillar. It is through that perspective that we welcome NACL Streets to share their original work, which blends science and art, and was created by local people under professional direction.”
The evening begins with a social gathering at 6:00 p.m., which is cash bar, followed by dinner and welcoming remarks at 6:30. The performance of TREES takes place at 7:30.
The Annual Dinner, which is open to the public, will be held November 1, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., in The Waterfront Room at Silver Birches Resort on Lake Wallenpaupack. The cost is $35 per person for a buffet-style meal and the performance.
Click Here for more information on the Annual Dinner.  RSVPs are requested by Thursday, October 25 by sending email to: or call 570-226-8220.
For more information on programs, initiatives, technical and financial assistance, visit the Pike County Conservation District website.

Businesses Showcase Cutting-Edge Tech Solutions For Reducing Oil & Gas Methane Emissions In PA

The Center for Methane Emissions Solutions Thursday brought together members of the business and environmental communities, along with representatives of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, in Pittsburgh to discuss opportunities for reducing emissions from natural gas development in Pennsylvania.
The event was co-sponsored by the PA Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund and underscored the feasibility of reducing oil and gas methane emissions, even as the federal government takes steps to remove national clean air protections.
“The Wolf administration is proud of the progress it has made implementing its Methane Reduction Strategy to address climate change while supporting responsible energy development, safeguarding public health, and protecting our environment,” said Deputy Chief of Staff Sam Robinson. “As we continue to move forward with the Reduction Strategy, we are eager to utilize the most technologically advanced tools available to achieve the largest possible reductions at the lowest possible cost.”
Methane is the primary constituent of natural gas and is also a potent greenhouse gas responsible for 25 percent of the man-made warming being experienced.
In February of this year, an analysis by Environmental Defense Fund estimated methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas sites may be five times higher than what oil and gas companies report to the Department of Environmental Protection.
The methane forum featured demonstrations from FLIR Systems, which manufactures cameras that allow operators to find invisible gas leaks. Technologies such as these are among existing tools that can cut methane emissions in half for no net cost, according to the International Energy Agency.
“FLIR cameras are widely used today by the most forward-thinking companies in the oil and gas industry,” said Frank Pennisi, president of the Industrial Business Unit at FLIR. “We stand at the ready with our optical gas imaging technology to empower industry stakeholders to realize even greater emission and waste reduction benefits while concurrently saving money.”
Many other methane reduction strategies are being developed by Pennsylvania-based companies and academic institutions including Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
“As the second largest natural gas producing state in the nation, it is critical for the energy industry to tackle methane emissions to both protect air quality and ensure the viability of this industry as it faces growing competition in the energy sector,” said Isaac Brown, director of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions. “Fortunately, the region is at the vanguard of a robust industry of methane mitigation companies that are already working with the oil and gas industry to provide cost-effective solutions. Today’s speakers put on display how innovation is transforming the way industry operates for the betterment of Pennsylvania communities and in response to a citizenry that is calling for smart solutions now.”
The event also included a special virtual reality experience developed by EDF that transports users to a modern day gas facility, allowing them to find and fix virtual methane leaks while underscoring current opportunities to reduce this potent greenhouse gas, which often leaks with other harmful pollutants that deteriorate air quality and create risks to public health.
Pennsylvania is among the early states to set standards to control harmful emissions from oil and gas facilities, actions which will help the state cut future emissions while benefiting the economy.
“Forward-looking leaders such as Gov. Tom Wolf understand that methane is a problem and that sensible methane controls protect the health of Pennsylvania communities, spur job growth and reduce natural gas waste,” said Andrew Williams, director of regulatory and legislative affairs at EDF. “Expanding controls to apply to the thousands of existing natural gas facilities operating across the state will secure Pennsylvania’s role as a leader in establishing smart energy policies that reduce environmental risk, protect residents and grow the economy.”
For more information on methane reduction technology, visit the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions website.
(Photo: Isaac Brown of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions speaks to the environmental and economic benefits of a growing methane mitigation industry.)
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