Friday, December 9, 2016

Dec. 13 Webinar: You Can Help Develop The National Energy Efficiency Registry

The Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance and DEP will host a webinar on December 13 to introduce businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders to help develop the National Energy Efficiency Registry to track energy efficiency initiatives and their cost savings and climate benefits.
The webinar runs from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania joined with five other states and the National Association of State Energy Officials to develop the Registry.  The Registry would--
-- Provide a consistent, robust framework for energy efficiency to be included as “eligible resources” in federal and state plans;
-- Demonstrate the eligibility and verification of energy efficiency projects, particularly voluntary private sector efficiency actions, according to eligibility standards proposed by individual states, a group of states, or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and,
-- Facilitate the opportunity for inter- and intrastate trading.
Click Here to view an earlier stakeholder meeting.  Click Here to review the presentation slides from that webinar.
For more information on the webinar visit the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance website.  Questions should be directed to KEEA's Policy Counsel, Eric Miller by sending email to: emiller@keealliance.org.

More Bakken Crude Oil Expected To Move By Rail Because Of Dakota Pipeline Decision

As a result of last week’s decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a permit for the construction of a key section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Bakken crude earmarked for the pipeline will now have to be shipped by other means of transport, including by rail.
Reuters reported shippers who expected to see another 570,000 barrels of daily Bakken pipeline capacity in 2017 will have to find new ways to move supply.
Protestors of the pipeline complained about dangers to the environment and local communities, however, transport by rail carries a higher carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint than pipelines and has its own vulnerabilities.
Although rail makes up nearly 65 percent of total crude export capacity in the Bakken Shale, it is now being underutilized because it is less efficient and more costly.
Rick Smead, managing director of advisory services for RBN Energy, said, "Once the pipes are full, that means more trains. And without DAPL, the pipes get full sooner than they otherwise would have.”
With crude production expected to increase, so are the chances of a rail accident.
Reuters reported incidents involving crude-by-rail peaked in 2014, at nearly 190, versus just one accident in 2006, the data shows.
The rise in accidents followed a surge in volumes moving by rail each day, which hit a high of 29.2 million barrels per month in October 2014. As of September 2016, that had declined to about 10.5 million barrels monthly, according to data from the EIA, as new pipelines displaced rail and production has declined.
With lower volumes, train accidents involving crude are down significantly, with only nine reported this year, according to federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration data.
In August of 2015, Gov. Wolf released an Oil Train Safety Report with 27 recommendations to address crude oil train safety in the Commonwealth.
In February of this year, the Public Utility Commission asked for more funding to hire two additional rail safety inspectors to address a recommendation made in the Governor’s report.
(Photo: Philly.com.)
NewsClips:
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Gov. Wolf Releases Oil Train Safety Report With 27 Recommendations

Trump Expected To Name Cong. Cathy McMorris Rodgers To Interior

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday President-elect Trump is expected to name Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) to lead the federal Department of Interior.
The Department of the Interior oversees the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, both of which have a significant presence in Pennsylvania, including the Allegheny National Forest and more than two dozen national parks and recreation areas in Pennsylvania.
Importantly for Pennsylvania, Interior also houses the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement that oversees the regulation of active mines and the reclamation of old mines under the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund.
It also houses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which sets federal policy for endangered and threatened species and the U.S. Geological Survey which not only is concerned about rocks, but also conducts a variety of other research on water resource issues.
The Allegheny National Forest, the largest block of federal land in the state, is unique in some ways because the federal does not own the oil and gas and mineral rights there, private landowners do.
Click Here to view Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ Congressional website.
NewsClips:
Trump To Pick Rep. McMorris Rodgers For Interior Secretary

Interns Wanted: Stroud Water Research Center Entomology Lab Assistants

The Stroud Water Research Center in Chester County is seeking qualified students with science and environmental education majors to fill paid entomology laboratory assistants for this coming summer.  The deadline for applications is March 1 or until the positions are filled.  Click Here for all the details.

Susquehanna River Basin Commission OKs Penalties On Natural Gas Power Plants

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission Thursday approved settlement agreements involving $97,000 in penalties related to three Panda Fund natural gas power plants-- the Hummel Plant, a coal to gas plant under construction in Snyder County, and the recently commissioned Patriot Plant in Lycoming County and the Liberty Plant in Bradford County.
The settlements accepted included: Panda Hummel Station LLC for $22,750 for consumptively using water in excess of SRBC’s regulatory threshold; Panda Liberty LLC for $30,000 for consumptively using water from unapproved sources; and Panda Patriot LLC (photo) for $44,250 for consumptively using water from unapproved sources.
Among other actions, the Commission also--
-- Adopted a resolution urging the President and U.S. Congress to provide full funding for the Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program, thereby supporting the Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System;
-- Extended the comment deadline for the Consumptive Use Mitigation Policy to Jan. 30, 2017, to coincide with the comment deadline for the proposed rulemaking;
-- Accepted a settlement offer from Montage Mountain Resorts, LP for $72,000, for failing to comply with docket conditions; and
-- Approved 27 applications, several of which included reduced withdrawal and/or consumptive use rates and two involving into-basin diversions (see lists below).
SRBC’s voting commissioners and alternates were:  Ben Grumbles, SRBC Chair and Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment; Col. Edward Chamberlayne, SRBC Vice Chair, Commander and District Engineer, Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Paul D’Amato, Director, Region 8, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; and Kelly Heffner, Special Deputy Secretary for Water Resources Planning, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
For more information, visit SRBC’s Public Participation Center webpage.

EPA Accepting Applications For P3 Student Sustainability Design Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now accepting nominations for the 14th Annual P3 National Student Design Competition Grant Program for sustainability focusing on people, prosperity and the planet.  Nominations are due February 3.
The P3 competition highlights the use of scientific principles in creating innovative projects focused on sustainability.
The P3 Award Program was developed to foster progress toward sustainability by achieving the mutual goals of improved quality of life, economic prosperity and protection of the planet—people, prosperity, and the planet—the three pillars of sustainability.
Approximately $900,000 is available for grants for all Phase I & II grant awards.  
Up to $15,000 is available for a Phase I grant including direct and indirect costs. Proposals for Phase I grants requesting an award of more than $15,000 will not be considered. Proposals for Phase I grants must be for one year. Proposals with a duration of more than one year will not be considered.
Upon the successful completion of Phase I, grant recipients will have the opportunity to apply for a P3 Phase II grant of up to $75,000 total for two years including direct and indirect costs. Proposals for Phase II grants requesting an award of more than $75,000 or with a duration of more than two years will not be considered.
Cost-sharing is not required for either Phase I or Phase II grants.
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (limited to degree-granting public institutions of higher education) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (limited to degree-granting private institutions of higher education) located in the U.S. (includes eligible institutions of higher education located in U.S. territories and possessions) are eligible to apply to be the recipient of a grant to support teams of undergraduate and/or graduate students.
Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program.
Click Here for all the details.

Draft Plan To Reduce Phosphorus In Lake Erie Focus Of Dec. 12 Forum In Erie

The Department of Environmental Protection and PA Sea Grant invite interested members of the public to attend the third meeting of the PA Lake Erie Environmental Forum on December 12 featuring a discussion of the draft Action Plan to meet Lake Erie phosphorus reduction targets.
The meeting will be held in Room 112 of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, 301 Peninsula Drive Road in Erie from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The special focus topic of this meeting will be: Supporting Agricultural Sustainability in Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie Basin in particular the grape growing industry and the Pennsylvania Vested in Environmental Sustainability (VinES).  
Presentations will be made on the VinES Grower Self-Assessment Workbook, Grant Funding, and the possibilities of using grape waste by-products for electrical generation.
Representatives from Penn State Cooperative Extension, the Erie County Conservation District, DEP and Wilson Engineering will be featured speakers.  Click Here for the full agenda.
To register for the PA-LEEF meeting, please contact Marti Martz by sending email to: mam60@psu.edu or call 814-217-9011 ext. 104.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the PA Lake Erie Forum webpage.

Penn State Extension Webinar: TreeVitalize, Tree City USA Update Dec. 21

The Penn State Extension Urban and Community Forestry Program will host a webinar December 21 featuring an update from DCNR on the TreeVitalize and Tree City USA Programs from noon to 1:00 p.m.
Ellen Roane, Urban Forestry Program Specialist with DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry provides an update on the state’s TreeVitalize Program and an overview of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA Program.
Learn how becoming a “Tree City” can benefit a municipal shade tree program, and gain a better understanding of what is required to achieve the recognition.
Ellen Roane is a professional forester and ISA certified arborist, long experienced in community forestry initiatives at the municipal and statewide level.
No CEUs will be offered for this month’s webinar.
Click Here to join the webinar 15 minutes prior to the webinar start time.  Type your name in the name box and click the “Enter Room” button to enter the webinar.  Questions should be directed to Scott Sjolander at 814-350-7749 or send email to: sas305@psu.edu.
Click Here for a listing of other upcoming events from the Urban and Community Forestry Program.

State Court Reimposes Stay On DEP Enforcement Of Certain Sections Of Drilling Regs

Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson Friday granted a motion by the Marcellus Shale Coalition to reimpose the temporary stay he imposed November 8 on enforcement of certain sections of DEP’s Chapter 78a drilling regulations challenged by the MSC.
This Court action follows an appeal of a Commonwealth Court’s November 8 temporary stay by DEP on Tuesday that resulted in an automatic stay of the November 8 the Court’s action Friday reimposed.
The Court has not set a hearing date on the merits of the case.
Following all that?
On November 8, Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson put a temporary stay on sections of the new rules  until the court can consider the merits of an industry group’s challenge to the month-old regulations.
The judge sided with the Marcellus Shale Coalition and stopped implementation of narrow sections of the rules related to public resource protections, large fluid holding ponds, well site restoration standards and monitoring for underground hazards around fracking operations.
He found that some aspects of the rules might exceed regulators’ authority to impose them and that the costs of complying with those provisions now would cause the industry irreparable harm if the sections are later found to be invalid.
“Today DEP has filed an appeal of the Commonwealth Court decision to enjoin sections of the Chapter 78A unconventional drilling regulations to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.  “By the decision issued on November 8, the Commonwealth Court temporarily stayed limited provisions contained in the new regulations. These regulations establish basic protections for areas that could be impacted by unconventional drilling – places like schools, playgrounds, and other public resources. That ruling resulted in a narrow temporary stay, which DEP is now appealing.
“These commonsense regulations were the result of five years of public participation, including dozens of meetings with natural gas industry leaders and trade groups, as well as nearly 25,000 Pennsylvanians who made their voices heard by providing public comments,” said McDonnell.
DEP’s appeal alleges an error of law on the part of the Court in issuing the temporary stay because, among other things, the Marcellus Shale Coalition presented no evidence to the Court about specific harm it would suffer if the disputed regulations would be implemented.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition filed a lawsuit against DEP’s implementation of its Chapter 78a regulations that apply to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operations on October. 13.
Among the allegations by the MSC were--
-- Expanding the responsibility of drillers to avoid and protect threatened and endangered species, which the industry says goes beyond current state or federal law;
-- Requiring operators to identify and plug any nearby abandoned well, which drillers say would require them to obtain access to property they do not control, and would impose plugging liability for wells the operators do not own;
-- New rules governing centralized freshwater storage ponds, which the industry says are not authorized by Act 13; and
-- Other rules governing site restoration, spill-reporting, and waste-disposal permitting.
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