Thursday, September 29, 2016

DCNR Issues 2nd Fall Foliage Report Showing Peak Weeks For Color

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Thursday posted its second Fall foliage report showing expected dates when the best forest colors can be found.
Fall foliage visitors can also get suggestions about the best spots to view foliage on DCNR’s Penn’s Woods Fall Foliage Story Map.
The regional experts are able to discuss the chemistry of fall foliage color, as well as the projected outlook for fall foliage in their region of Pennsylvania with the media. The experts are:
-- Northeast: Tim Latz, forester: Pinchot Forest District, Dalton, Lackawanna County, 570-945-7133;
-- Northwest: Cecile Stelter, district forester: Cornplanter State Forest, Warren, Warren County, 814-723-0262;
-- Southeast: Rick Hartlieb, assistant district forester: William Penn State Forest, Elverson, Chester County, 610-582-9660:
-- Southcentral: Dave Schmit, forest program specialist: Harrisburg, Dauphin County, 717-787-2703;
-- Southwest: Rachael Mahony, environmental education specialist: Forbes State Forest, Laughlintown, Westmoreland County, 724-238-1200; and
-- Northcentral: Chris Firestone, wild plant program manager: Tioga State Forest, Wellsboro, Tioga County, 570-724-2868.
For more information, visit DCNR’s Penn’s Woods Fall Foliage webpage.
Editorial: Remember To Revel In Brilliant Fall Foliage

September 29 DEP News Now Available

The September 29 edition of DEP News is now available from the Department of Environmental Protection featuring stories on--
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy.
-- DEP Staff Get Up-Close Look At Offshore Wind Farm In Rhode Island
Staff from DEP's Policy and Energy offices attended a tour of the nation's first offshore wind farm on Sept. 14 as part of the annual meeting for the National Association of State Energy Officials in Providence, Rhode Island.
(Photo: Hayley Book, Deputy Director of DEP's Office of Policy, toured the Block Island Wind farm test project.)
Deepwater Wind has developed the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the United States, off the coast of Rhode Island.  Construction is completed, and it is expected to begin operation by the end of the year.
The Block Island Wind Farm has five 6-megawatt wind turbines that will supply most of Block Island’s power.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this small test project will generate enough electricity to power 17,000 homes in New England.
There are over 2,000 wind turbines off the coast of Europe, but these are the first so far in the United States.
For more information, visit DEP’s website, Like DEP on Facebook, Follow DEP on Twitter and visit DEP’s YouTube Channel.

DEP’s Eric Cavazza Receives National Abandoned Mine Land Award

Eric Cavazza, DEP's Director of the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation this week received the Stan Barnard Memorial Award, the highest honor of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP).
The award is presented in memory of Stan Barnard and is bestowed upon individuals who exhibit Barnard’s qualities of outstanding dedication, commitment and hard work toward the enhancement of the association.
Cavazza received the award at the 2016 NAAMLP Annual Conference held this week in Bozeman, Mont.
(Photo: Sue and Spencer Barnard, wife and son of Stan, present Cavazza with the award along with NAAMLP President Chuck Williams.)

25 Groups In 21 Counties Receive Community Improvement Grants From Keep PA Beautiful

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful awarded 25 grants of up to $1,000 for community improvement projects in three focus areas of Prevent It, Clean It, or Keep It to tax-exempt groups across Pennsylvania.
Grants were awarded in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, McKean, Northampton, Philadelphia, Potter and York counties.
Click Here for a complete list of awardees and project descriptions.
The projects funded were diverse and included planting trees and pollinator gardens, restoring habitats, restoring parks and abandoned lots, establishing community curbside collections, tire recycling, graffiti removal and so much more.  
Projects are slated to be complete by April 30, 2017.  
“In its second year, our 25 in 25 Grant Program is our way of celebrating the volunteers and organizations that have contributed to our shared mission of building clean and beautiful communities,” explained Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “We are honored to support the efforts of such a diverse group of environmental and community stewards as they work to make their communities clean and beautiful.”
“We greatly appreciate Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s grant to support Moravian College’s efforts to manage stormwater runoff and to create a public outdoor learning laboratory by planting a native plant meadow on our South Campus. Many thanks for your generous support,” stated Robert E. Breckinridge, Director of Foundation Relations at Moravian College.
“Graffiti is affecting our state parks and forests,” said Marci Mowery, President of the PA Parks and Forests Foundation.  “When graffiti covers our public lands it often attracts other negative behavior, making the area unattractive and unsafe for visitors.  By cleaning up these lands we return them to more positive use for all outdoor enthusiasts. Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation thanks Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful for supporting this project.”
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s 25 in 25 Grant Program was funded in part by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from KPB, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, Discover them on Pinterest and visit their YouTube Channel.
Also visit the Illegal Dump Free PA website for more ideas on how to clean up communities and keep them clean and KPB’s new Electronics Waste website.

DEP Reminds Pool Owners To Handle Waste Water Responsibly

In an effort to help protect stream health and aquatic life, the Department of Environmental Protection would like to remind private and public pool owners, as well as pool management companies, how to properly close their swimming pools for the season.
Discharged pool water and waters containing chlorine or other chemicals can be detrimental to aquatic life if not handled responsibly. It is extremely important that these waters are handled correctly.
Pool waters must not be discharged to any storm sewer or land in which a storm sewer is accessible. Runoff can cause fish kills and unsafe aquatic conditions.
“Pool owners and professional pool cleaners need to dispose of old water appropriately and conscientiously,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Most of all, we need to make sure the wastewater is going into the sanitary sewer, where it may be allowed – and not into our storm sewers where it could harm aquatic life.”
When draining a swimming pool this year, make sure to protect Pennsylvania by following these tips:
-- Pool water may be disposed of through the sanitary sewer system ONLY with municipal permission;
-- Never dispose of pool water through a storm sewer, which will discharge to a stream;
-- If lowering the water level of the pool, let it drain to a lawn to prevent it from running off into a storm sewer; and
-- If a sanitary sewer system is not available, water may be used for irrigation if it does not run off the property or into a storm sewer.
The discharge of swimming pool water to any waters of the Commonwealth without a permit is a violation of the Clean Streams Law. Property owners and pool companies that violate this law may be prosecuted and penalized for damages.

Alliance For The Chesapeake Bay Applauds Growing Greener III Legislation

Donna Morelli, PA State Director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, issued this statement after Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware) and the PA Growing Greener Coalition introduced Growing Greener III bipartisan legislation Wednesday to provide $315 million in annual investments to protect Pennsylvania’s water, land and other natural resources--
“We need to invest in our local lands, streams and creeks-- now. At a time when Pennsylvania is struggling to meet Chesapeake Bay milestones, our focus needs to be on our local water quality. Our state’s environmental efforts, governmental and nonprofit, have been severely depleted of funds in the past 20 years. If we take care of the Susquehanna, we will have met our Chesapeake Bay goals. Growing Greener III is movement in the right direction.
“The Alliance is focused restoring the rivers and streams of the Chesapeake watershed in Pennsylvania.  We partner with cash-strapped local governments and small nonprofits that are undertaking restoration projects for clean water. This Growing Green III is an investment that will help communities improve local water quality through the funding of projects that will by reduce storm water flooding and polluted agricultural runoff, restore and protect forests and streamside buffers, and conserve natural resources for future generations.”
More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events on the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Alliance, Like the Alliance on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, add them to your Circle on Google+ and visit the Alliance’s YouTube Channel.
Related Stories:
CBF-PA Urges Legislators To Identify Funding For Growing Greener III To Make It Meaningful

Additional State Forest Roads Opening For Hunting Seasons, Other Outdoor Activities

Hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts heading into Pennsylvania’s state-owned woodlands this autumn will find additional roads open in 18 of the 20 state forest districts, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced today.
“We know improved accessibility and DCNR’s promotion of deer hunting where needed benefits forest regeneration and the overall ecosystem,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “As a result, the Bureau of Forestry is opening more than 540 miles of state forest roads normally open only for administrative use. They again will be available to hunters, hikers, foliage viewers and others visiting state forestlands this fall.”
More than 3,000 miles of state forest roadways will be open during the statewide archery deer season, which opens October 1, and closes November 12. They will continue to stay open through other hunting seasons continuing into January, 2017.
“Regardless of whether they seek deer, bear, turkey or small game, hunters in our state forests will find more than 90 percent of that land now is within one-half mile of an open road,” said Dunn.
With the hunter in mind, DCNR continues to update a new interactive map of state forestlands across Pennsylvania that offers details on newly opened roads, timber harvesting activity, forestry office contact numbers and more.
Meanwhile, top-quality hunting is offered at many state parks -- especially those in the 12.5-county Pennsylvania Wilds region -- where state forestland often surrounds them. Inexpensive camping can be found at many of those parks.
Primitive camping on state forestlands is also an option, giving hunters a backcountry camping or hunting experience. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, are required when camping on state forestlands on designated sites.
Many of these campsites are close to state parks and forestlands enrolled in the Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program, permitting hunters to take one antlerless deer or more when properly licensed.
Hunters are advised to check with state forests district headquarters or state park offices about availability.
Hunters traveling to some northcentral areas of the state are reminded some hunting areas and travel routes may be impacted by Marcellus Shale-related activities. Some state forest roads may be temporarily closed during drilling operations or other peak periods of heavy use to reduce potential safety hazards.
Some state forest roads only will be opened for the second week of the traditional rifle season because they cannot withstand the expected heavy traffic of the first week of that season. Two- or three-month long openings will be in effect only where there is minimal threat of damage or deterioration to road surfaces or forest surroundings.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s 20 state forest districts and 120 state parks, visit  DCNR’s State Parks and State Forests webpage.  A new interactive state forest map is also available online.
Marcellus Shale information can be found on the Natural Gas Development and State Forests webpage.

DEP: Next Phase Of Lock Haven Court Hazardous Site Remediation In Clinton County

The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday announced the next phase of the Lock Haven Court remediation being done with funding from the state’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) fund will begin in October.
“This important remediation of legacy contamination from the defunct Karnish Instruments plant has been ongoing since 2008,” DEP Northcentral Regional Director Marcus Kohl said. “The department is committed to ensuring that all current and future residents of Lock Haven Court will have a safe, environmentally secure place to live.”
The next remediation phase will involve the construction of a new apartment building, which will be followed by demolition of the existing apartment building so that an isolated area of radium- contaminated soil can be removed.
The Lock Haven Court apartment building is adjacent to the former Karnish property where that company had manufactured and refurbished aircraft dials painted with radium-containing paint from the 1950s to the late 1970s.
DEP began the initial remediation in 2008, and later conducted an investigation of four adjacent properties that had also been impacted.
In 2011-12, all impacted soil outside the footprint of the apartment building and from the four other properties was excavated and disposed at a low-level radioactive waste facility in Idaho at a cost of about $5.5 million.
The department is working with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and property owner Northern Cambria Community Development Corporation to insure tenants will be relocated in the most efficient manner possible.
A legal agreement between NCCDC and DEP will reimburse NCCDC for the purchase of property currently belonging to the Clinton County Housing Authority and allow for the construction of a new apartment building to house the tenants.
A second agreement will reimburse NCCDC for construction costs of the new building. The tenants will then be relocated and DEP will proceed with the final remediation phase.
Both demolition and construction will be funded by HSCA at a cost of about $2.4 million.
To learn more, call the Northcentral Regional Office at 570-327-3636.

Analysis: House, Senate Set Stage To Roll Back Decades-Old Environmental Protection Measures

Normally, Senate and House members try to do good things before they go before the voters, but this year seems to be an exception with respect to setting environmental policy with some members.
The Senate and House do not return to voting session again until October 17, but they have both set the stage to vote on measures to roll back decades-old environmental protection laws and programs on endangered species protection, more recent Marcellus Shale drilling regulations and environmental laws more broadly.
House - Endangered Species
Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong) has filed amendments to Senate Bill 1166 (Stefano-R- Fayette) and Senate Bill 1168 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) now on the House Calendar to add unrelated language to reduce protection for endangered species during environmental permit reviews.
The language now in Senate Bill 1166 and Senate Bill 1168 would allow the Game and Fish and Boat Commission to set their own license fees.
The amendments: Senate Bill 1166-- A10257  and A10259 and to Senate Bill 1168--   A10260 and  A10258-- are similar to legislation Rep. Pyle introduced three years ago as House Bill 1576, but has not been reintroduced since.
Pennsylvania’s environmental programs have protected endangered species since 1974.
Click Here for background on the legislation.
House - Marcellus Drilling Regs
The House is expected to take up an amendment to be offered by Rep. Jaret Gibbons (D-Beaver) to House Bill 1391 (Everett-R-Lycoming) to rollback well site restoration, waste disposal reporting and freshwater construction standards now in DEP’s Chapter 78a Marcellus Shale drilling regulations.
Amendment A09804 is a gut-and-replace 7-page amendment that would gut House Bill 1391, which deals with the unrelated oil and gas well landowner royalty issue, and slip in regulatory language repealing Chapter 78a provisions (page 5 & 6 of the amendment).
The PA Environmental Council wrote every member of the House Thursday expressing concern about the language saying it would also limit DEP’s ability to protect public resources from impacts by both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells.
PEC pointed out DEP’s drilling regulations went through “the most extensive public review process in modern history” and are set to go into effect in the next few weeks.
PEC called the attempt to add regulatory language to a royalty bill “non-germaine and inappropriate.”
Rep. Gibbons is the Democratic Chair of the House Oil and Gas Caucus.
Senate - No More Stringent Than Federal Law
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Tuesday voted to approve and report out Senate Resolution 385 (Brooks-R-Crawford) directing the Joint State Government Commission to identify environmental laws and regulations more stringent than federal law.
The resolution was amended to extend the deadline for the study from 12 to 18 months.
Only a vote by the Senate is needed to direct the Joint Commission to undertake this study, not the House.  The Senate is expected to take up the measure when they come back on October 17.
While the intent is to develop a list at this point, it is clear some legislators want to use that list as a first step to rolling back environmental protection in Pennsylvania because they believe state regulations are more stringent than they need to be.
In fact, when the resolution was introduced, Sen. Brooks said, “While most certainly all of us understand the importance of our environment, this resolution is intended to find balance through practical application of the laws and regulations and at the same time permit economic growth and job creation.  Hopefully, this can be a first step in pinpointing current laws and regulations that impact hardworking citizens and businesses and make Pennsylvania more competitive in attracting new businesses.”
There is no provision in the resolution for the Joint State Government Commission to look at why a law or regulation was enacted to be more stringent in the first place or how effective the requirements have been in protecting the environment and public health.
Many of the environmental laws enacted by Pennsylvania over the decades were actually laws that were enacted first by the state for specific reasons, i.e. air pollution causing 20 deaths in Donora, massive fishkills on the Susquehanna caused by mine discharges, clear cutting all of Pennsylvania’s first growth forests, having gas wells turn garden hoses and faucets into flame throwers, open waste dumps, sewage polluting groundwater and streams, etc.
This is true of the state air pollution, surface mining laws, brownfields redevelopment laws, waste disposal, water quality, and many more.
Following the models developed by Pennsylvania and other states, the federal government later adopted similar laws, but often they were watered down by politics at the federal level.
Of course there are other situations where there are state laws, but no corresponding federal laws.  Does that mean the state law is out because there is no federal standard?  
This is true of programs like radon (a known cause of cancer), mine subsidence, dam safety and encroachments (our basic water quality program), Act 537 onlot sewage facilities law, storage tank and spill prevention, stormwater management act, laboratory accreditation, household hazardous waste, waste tire recycling, water and wastewater system operators’ certification requirements; and the list goes on.
The resolution also does not call for the involvement of the public in any way in the process, unlike in review efforts undertaken by DEP in the Regulatory Basics Initiative starting in 1996 as a result of Executive Order 1996-1.
In this common sense and transparent initiative, the Executive Order did not call for the automatic rollback of state environmental regulations to federal standards where they are more stringent as referred to in the resolution.
The Order says clearly where state law requires more stringent measures or there is an articulable Pennsylvania interest, more stringent regulations can certainly be adopted.
The goal of the Executive Order was to have more effective regulatory programs at a reduced cost of compliance for those affected by them.
The Department of Environmental Protection undertook a systematic review carried out over several years through the by working through a transparent process with DEP’s advisory committees on section by section reviews of regulations and technical guidance.  
The result of that effort was saving individuals, businesses and local governments $138 million in compliance costs, the elimination of nearly 5,000 pages of outdated regulations and more than 1,700 pages of unneeded technical guidance and 29 packages of regulatory changes.
In contrast, the language in Sen. Brooks’ co-sponsor memo says she wants to use this study to “pinpoint” current laws and regulations and rollback those protections with no analysis, no public involvement or even caring why they were enacted in the first place and no thought.
It is clear the words “find balance” and “make Pennsylvania more competitive” are code words for the continuing efforts by some members of the Senate and House to rollback Pennsylvania’s state laws protecting the environment and reducing state environmental programs to the lowest common denominator.
We need to approach these issues much more thoughtfully, with the real ultimate goal in mind-- protecting the environment and public health in the most efficient and effective ways.

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