Sunday, July 23, 2017

Pittsburgh Hosts National Forum On Low/Zero Energy Buildings April 17-19

Rocky Mountain Institute and New Buildings Institute are once again joining forces to bring you the premier global event dedicated to defining the future of low energy and zero energy buildings, the Getting To Zero National Forum in Pittsburgh April 17-19, 2018.
Attendees will share perspectives on the growth of ZE, discuss the policies driving new projects, engage in best practices for successful outcomes and collaborate on opportunities for ZNE to transform the built environment.
Join leading designers, owners, operators, commercial real estate professionals, policy makers, manufacturers and others in Pittsburgh for the 2018 Getting to Zero National Forum.
And make sure your zero net energy or ultra low energy commercial building project is counted and become part of the Getting To Zero Database.
For more information, visit the Getting To Zero National Forum website.
(Photo: David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, the only Gold and Platinum LEED certified convention center in the world.)

Sunday PA Environmental NewsClips - House Went Home

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

House Republicans: It’s Up To The Senate, Wolf To Lead On Budget, Then Went Home

House Republicans failed to get an agreement on a revenue package to fill the $2.2 billion deficit and support the $31.996 billion budget passed June 30, according to House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), and then decided to go home.
Turzai said it is now time for the Senate and Gov. Wolf to lead on the budget and to pass their tax and revenue proposals and send them to the House.
He said House Republicans already passed a responsible budget in April and that is the preferred position of his Caucus.  
Turzai said the House has already passed revenue proposals in the form of expanded gaming with video gaming terminals and five different liquor privatization bills that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars, but the Senate hasn’t dealt with them.
Turzai called on Gov. Wolf to put his ideas on the table to raise revenue.  He said several times Wolf has been absent from the budget discussions, “I haven’t even seen the Governor in the halls.”  “Where is the Governor, do you know where he is?”
Turzai said there was resistance in his Republican Caucus to the Senate’s idea of borrowing $1.5 billion to fill the budget gap and added it is the Senate that wants to pass a tax increase.  He challenged the Senate to do it and send it over to the House.
Turzai said his Caucus does not believe casinos should have a monopoly on gaming and that they do not have 102 Republican votes for expanded gaming, but that video gaming terminals increase those numbers a little.
He also said Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), Majority Appropriations Committee Chair, is planning to introduce a casino impact fee or tax bill in the near future.
He blamed the Senate for putting special fund transfers on the negotiating table, but there would have to be a lot more work to get agreement on which funds would be diverted to the General Fund.
(Summary from remarks broadcast via PLS Reporter and the Periscope app.)
The House is now on a 6-hour call to return to Harrisburg.  Sunday session is canceled. The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meeting scheduled for Sunday is canceled.
Senate Reaction
PLS Reporter quoted Drew Crompton, Senate Republican Chief Of Staff, as saying, “I think we are going back to some of the points and views and policies that we’ve been talking about for several weeks now. We do not think it is responsible to leave things the way they are now, so we’ll address them next week and hopefully whoever will like to participate with us, they will.” quoted Drew Crompton as saying, “I watched the House Republicans this week – I’m not sure they’re looking for consensus… we will work with whoever wants to work with us. We think it’s a mutual obligation to fund the 2017-18 appropriations bill, and we’ll share in that obligation. We would rather not do it alone, but we can only play with people who want to play with us.”
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House Agriculture Committee To Get Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Briefing Aug. 16

The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee has scheduled a meeting on August 16 to hear an update on the Chesapeake Bay Phase III Watershed Implementation Planning process.
The meeting is being held as part of Penn State’s Ag Progress Days in Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, 2710 West Pine Grove Road starting at 9:30.
For more information on the Bay-related initiatives in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans webpage.
Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron) serves as Majority Chair of the House Agriculture Committee and can be contacted by sending email to: Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to:

Growing Greener Coalition Urges Senate, House Members To Protect Local Environmental Restoration Project Funding

The PA Growing Greener Coalition Saturday sent a letter to all members of the Senate and House encouraging members to oppose any budget revenue plan that involves diverting monies from the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Funds and the state’s agricultural land preservation program.
House Republican leadership included these diversions in their proposed revenue plan to support the state’s $31.996 billion General Fund budget they passed on June 30, but have not yet fully funded.
In a twist, House Republicans are talking about structuring the transfer language to give Gov. Wolf the authorization to make the transfers, if the budget needs the funding, but ultimately giving him no choice but to make the transfers.
Legislators are meeting Saturday and Sunday to continue discussions on a revenue package.
The text of the letter follows--
As discussions continue on the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year budget, we, the undersigned business and community leaders, elected officials, and organizations, strongly urge you to protect special funds for conservation, recreation, and preservation programs critical to the protection of our land, water, and heritage.
We recognize current budget challenges, but we also recognize that the Commonwealth cannot achieve prosperity by cutting crucial investments in Pennsylvania’s future – investments that bring lasting improvements to our communities and contribute so much to our economic and environmental health.
We request your leadership in opposing proposals that reduce or eliminate dedicated funding to programs that protect our land and water, strengthen our communities, and protect our families.
We want to emphasize and reiterate the importance of keeping intact the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Farmland Preservation program.
Now more than ever, Pennsylvania needs to increase and optimize its investment in local efforts to protect our open space, preserve our family farms, support parks and recreation, and preserve our historic and cultural sites.
The investments made by these successful and time-tested programs in conservation, recreation, and preservation are proven to bolster the economy. For example, a Trust for Public Land study on the Keystone Fund found that for every $1 invested in land and water conservation, the Commonwealth saw a $7 return on investment in goods and services.
Public polls show strong, consistent, and bipartisan public support for programs that improve our quality of life, boost the economy, and protect the environment throughout Pennsylvania.
A survey released by Penn State found that more than 90.7 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed support increasing state funds dedicated to protecting rivers and streams; conserving open space, forests, natural areas and wildlife habitats; providing parks and trails; and preserving farmland.
The survey also found that more than three-quarters of respondents, 82.6 percent, would support increasing state funds to address these threats to our environments, even if it would cost the average household $10 more annually.
The people of Pennsylvania feel that these conservation, recreation, and preservation programs offer substantial value and must not be diminished.
We recognize the challenges ahead and look forward to working with you to ensure that funding for programs that protect our open space, preserve our family farms, support our parks and trails, and safeguard our historic treasures remain intact.
Thank you.
Andrew Heath, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition
Click Here for a copy of the letter.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Growing Greener Coalition website.  The Coalition is the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth.  Click Here to sign up for regulation updates, Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter.  Click Here to support the Coalition’s work.
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House Environmental Committee Sets July 23 Meeting

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to meet on July 23, but no agenda has been announced.
The meeting will be held in Room 205 Ryan Building starting at 10:00.
Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by sending email to:  Rep. Mike Carroll serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to:  

Saturday PA Environmental NewsClips - House Convenes

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Friday, July 21, 2017

July 24 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The July 24  PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

The PA Environmental Council Friday sent a letter to all members of the Senate and House encouraging members to oppose any budget revenue plan that involves diverting monies from the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Funds and the state’s agricultural land preservation program.

Ed Wytovich received one of two 2017 Mayfly awards at the PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference in June to recognize his lifetime contributions to developing local and start partnerships for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands, treatment of mine drainage and watershed restoration.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell Tuesday commended more than 30 communities for working together to reduce pollution through the creation of the Regional Stormwater Management Program by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority at an event with state and local leaders in Luzerne County.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful welcomes all Pennsylvania boating facilities, boating groups, sailors, fishermen and water enthusiasts to protect our aquatic ecosystems by holding a Marina or boating facility cleanup during the International Coastal Cleanup September 1 to October 31.  

The PA Sustainable Community Certification offers a free, online platform for municipalities to gauge progress in sustainable community development. Seventy-one municipalities across Pennsylvania have earned Sustainable Certification and dozens more are in the process.

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday released details of oversight activities for the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline Project (ME2).  To date, DEP has issued 4 Notices of Violation to Sunoco for the project. Additionally, one Consent Order and Agreement has been executed, with a penalty of $87,600 for a violation that impacted a wetland area next to Interstate 81 in Cumberland County.

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for up to $1 million in funding for its Small Business Advantage Grant Program to help fund energy efficiency and pollution prevention projects. (formal notice)

The Northern Illinois Federal District Court Friday dismissed legal challenges to a Zero Emission Credit Program adopted in Illinois to help keep that state’s zero carbon emitting nuclear power plants operating.

By David Hess, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection at the Time of the Rescue
On the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Quecreek Mine Rescue, I thought it would be appropriate to write an account of the rescue operation from my perspective as Secretary of Department of Environmental Protection.

To read the Digest, visit:  Click Here to view or print the entire Digest.

PA Environment Digest is edited by David E. Hess, former Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and is published as a service of Crisci Associates.

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