Thursday, September 3, 2015

Stroud Water Research Center Sponsors A Variety Of Interesting Fall Programs

The Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale, Chester County will sponsor a variety of educational, entertaining and thought-provoking programs this Fall.  Among them are--
-- September 25: Moonlit Stream Stroll-- Learn how our streams are different during an evening stroll along the White Clay Creek with Director Bern Sweeney;
-- October 9: Stroud Uncorked-- Live music + Libations + Nibbles For 21 and above;
-- October 18: Last Call At The Oasis-- From Academy Award-winning director Jessica Yu and Academy Award-nominated producer Elise Pearlstein, “Last Call at the Oasis” sheds light on the vital role water plays in our lives, exposes the defects in the current system, shows communities already struggling with its ill effects and introduces us to individuals who are championing revolutionary solution;
-- November 4: The Art of Stewardship with American artist and environmentalist Greg Mort who will provide a lively lecture highlighting the history and influence of imagery and the role artists play as “Stewards of the Earth;” and
-- November 19: The Water’s Edge-- Each year Stroud Water Research Center hosts The Water’s Edge gala in celebration of our most precious resource — water.  Join the Center at The Water’s Edge gala at Longwood Gardens to present the 2015 Stroud Award for Freshwater Excellence to Alexandra Cousteau.
Click Here for all the details and to make reservation or buy tickets.

Senate Bill Would Increase Penalties For Killing Bald, Golden Eagles

Sen. Lisa M. Boscola (D-Lehigh) has introduced Senate Bill 979 to increase the state fine as penalty for killing a bald or golden eagle.
"While past conservation and protection laws have helped bring eagles back from the brink of extinction, it is time to update the penalties to better reflect the continuing importance of these birds as America's revered national symbol," Sen. Boscola said.
Sen. Boscola said the eagle was the focus of one of the greatest conservation efforts of America's history. Congress passed a law to protect bald eagles in 1940 and golden eagles in 1962. Previously, their population was threatened into near extinction by poaching, hunting, pesticide use, habitat destruction and other dangers throughout the early 20th century.
Aided by the protection laws and the Game Commission's re-entry program, the nesting population of bald eagles in Pennsylvania has increased from three pairs in 1980 to 270 pairs in 2013.
The bald eagle was removed from the federal endangered species list in 2007. Its status in Pennsylvania was changed to "protected" in 2014.
"The change in designation from 'endangered' to 'protected' last year resulted in a reduction of fines and penalties for killing these birds," Sen. Boscola said. "My legislation will continue to safeguard the conservation progress already made and deter the killing of these emblematic creatures in Pennsylvania."
Sen. Boscola's bill would hike the state fine from $200 to $2,500 for each instance of someone killing an eagle. This fine per bird would be designated towards replacement costs. The Federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act would continue to apply.
She noted that both the Democratic and Republican chairs of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee have co-sponsored her legislation.
The Northampton County lawmaker said the eagle symbolizes strength, and still holds great significance within Native American cultures and traditions. It has also been displayed on the United States' seal since 1782.
A sponsor summary of the bill is available online.

IFO: Year-To-Date Revenues Down 1 Percent From Last Year

A report by the Independent Fiscal Office this week shows year-to-date General Fund revenue collections as of August were down just under one percent from August 2014.
According to the IFO, the Commonwealth collected $1.87 million in August, bringing FY 2015-2016 collections to about $4 billion, a decrease of $34 million from FY 2014-2015.
August General Fund collections, however, were up 4.3 percent when compared to the monthly collections for August 2014.
NewsClip: IFO: Year-To-Date Revenue Collections Down 1%

Thursday PA Environmental NewsClips

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DEP: Carbon Emissions Continue To Decline In PA

The Department of Environmental Protection posted a new fact sheet on carbon emissions in Pennsylvania highlighting the fact that Pennsylvania is achieving emissions reductions through regulatory requirements and holistic decision making efforts, and those efforts have resulted in considerable emissions reductions in recent years.
For example:
—  Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions emissions are expected to be lower in 2020 than in 2000 with reductions in the residential, commercial, transportation, agriculture and waste sectors, according to the 2013 Update to Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Action Plan.
— Carbon dioxide emissions from the fossil fuel-fired electric generating fleet in Pennsylvania have declined by 12 percent from 2008 through 2013 and are projected to decline by 29 percent from 2005-2020.
— Since 2008, cumulative air contaminant emissions across the state have continued to decline. In particular, sulfur dioxide emissions from electric generating units (EGU) have been reduced by approximately 70 percent. The emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter have also been reduced by approximately 23 percent and 46 percent, respectively, from this sector. These reductions represent between $14 billion and $37 billion of annual public health benefit, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency methodologies.
— Other notable reductions include:
-- Sulfur oxide emissions have gone down 70 percent since 2008.
-- Mercury, a hazardous air pollutant, emissions have gone down 37 percent since 2008. o Carbon monoxide emissions have gone down 16 percent since 2008.
DEP is committed to achieving emissions reductions while keeping the economy strong, and the holistic approach to managing environmental issues is the principal reason for the corresponding decline in GHG emissions and improved economic outlook.
A copy of the fact sheet is available online.
Related Article:
PA Has Already Cut Carbon Dioxide Emissions By Using Natural Gas

House Hearing On PUC Rules Limiting Benefits Of Manure Digester Electric Systems

The House Consumer Affairs Committee Wednesday held a hearing on House Bill 1349 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) the sponsor said would remove the limits imposed by the Public Utility Commission on the size and benefit of manure digesters generating electricity on farms (sponsor summary).
Rep. David Zimmerman provided an overview of the issue to the Committee saying the current PUC regulations under consideration would limit the benefits of digesters in generating electricity and contributing to the reduction of pollutants going to the Chesapeake Bay.
Ann Swanson, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, testified that the Commission has been working to support deployment of manure to energy systems throughout the watershed by promoting policies that will make them feasible both economically and environmentally.
She explained manure to energy systems can be an important tool for farmers as they face increasing challenges to their management of manure and encouraged the committee to move forward with efforts that will remove barriers to the installation of these systems and enable them to be economically sustainable.
Grant Gulibon, Director of Regulatory Affairs for the PA Farm Bureau, the regulations recently proposed by the PUC will determine who among home-grown generators of electricity will qualify for net metering treatment.
He argued the PUC’s strict use of the “capacity” standard does not make sense in situations where systems are developed and operated on working farms and may significantly hurt the future ability of Pennsylvania’s farm families to adapt their operations to keep their farms viable.
John Williamson, of TeamAg, Inc. on behalf of the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, said House Bill 1349 addresses concerns that the proposed PUC regulations will limit the net metering provisions that have benefited dairies and livestock operations with digesters.
“Pennsylvania was a leader in the development of manure anaerobic digesters during the first decade of 2000’s, with the Commonwealth’s promotion strategy through its Pennsylvania Energy Harvest Grants and net metering provisions of the AEPS…Since the PUC’s proposed rule change in 2014, there have been no more new digesters.”
Ron Celentano, Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association, testified that about 45 states have some form of net metering and 16 of them recently enacted or are considering changes to their existing net metering policies; some states are expanding net metering by increasing aggregate caps or allowing meter aggregation or virtual net metering, while others are examining successor tariffs to net metering, or requiring solar capacity limitations, such as in Pennsylvania.
He expressed concern with the PUC’s proposed rules regarding net metering, expressing opposition to the proposed changes that would give the Commission the authority to order utilities to charge customer generators additional fees, rejecting the imposition of a 200 percent of annual load limitation on solar PV system capacities, and opposing the change to the definition of “virtual meter aggregation” that adds a requirement that all service locations must have separate existing measurable loads.
Donna Clark, Vice President and General Counsel of the Energy Association of Pennsylvania, addressed industry support for and concerns with net-metering as it currently stands in Pennsylvania.
Gladys Brown, Chair of the Public Utility Commission discussed the evolution of net-metering in Pennsylvania and said Pennsylvania presently has more than 8,700 net-metered facilities. She noted the vast majority of these facilities are solar.
Based on the PUC’s experience in implementing the current net metering regulations, Brown said the PUC it is necessary update and revise these regulations to comply with Act 35 of 2007 and Act 129 of 2008.
She clarified that the proposed rulemaking, in part, only seeks to limit the size of systems that seek to take advantage of the public subsidy provided via net metering. The bill itself, she continued, makes no specific reference to net metering and could be interpreted as having no impact on the Commission’s proposed rulemaking.
She added the PUC’s proposed rulemaking seeks to limit new customer-generator systems that qualify for net metering subsidies to a nameplate capacity that produces no more than 200 percent of their historical load.
“This exceptional language was crafted with input from the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection in recognition of the comments received from the agricultural community during our initial public comment period,” Brown pointed out.
Other written testimony was provided to the Committee by: Michael Brubaker, Brubaker Farms, LLC, Mark Pedersen, PA Waste Industries Association, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
Rep. Bob Godshall (R-Montgomery) serves as Majority Chair and Rep. Peter Daley (D-Washington) serves as Minority Chair.

Sept. 21 Environmental Issues Forum: Growing Greener Coalition Funding Guide

The next Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee Environmental Issues Forum will be held on September 21 featuring a presentation on the Growing Greener Coalition’s Finding The Green! project funding guide.
Andrew Heath, executive director of the PA Growing Greener Coalition, will provide an overview of the major state funding sources, as well as specific grant opportunities provided through Pennsylvania’s state agencies for recreation, land preservation, watershed restoration and other local environmental projects.
The Forum will be held in Room 8E-A East Wing of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg starting at Noon.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Committee.

PA Floodplain Managers Association Annual Meeting Sept. 16-17 In Harrisburg

The PA Association of Floodplain Managers will hold its annual meeting in Harrisburg on September 16-17 which will feature DEP Secretary John Quigley as the keynote speaker.
Workshops will cover a variety of topics including updates on the federal flood insurance program, using GIS to inform PA’s response to flood insurance reform, statewide floodplain management training, nature-based and gray infrastructure case study, hazard mitigation-how it works and much more.
Click Here for more details and to register.

DEP: Thursday Air Quality Action Day For Philadelphia Area

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast a Code Orange Air Quality Action Day for ozone on Thursday, September 3, for Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.  Click Here for the details.

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