Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stroud Launches Watershed Restoration Group To Ensure Water Quality

Stroud Water Research Center has launched the Watershed Restoration Group to utilize the Center's groundbreaking freshwater science to develop, research, implement, and monitor restoration projects throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.
Matthew Ehrhart, former Pennsylvania executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, joined the Center in January to head the Group. David Wise, also formerly of CBF, accompanied him to serve as the watershed restoration manager.
Ehrhart and Wise have spent their careers advancing stewardship of streams in the region, particularly by helping farms implement conservation measures.
Ehrhart holds a Master of Engineering degree from Penn State's Engineering Science Program. After working as an environmental scientist for LandStudies, Inc., he worked as a watershed restoration consultant before joining CBF.  As executive director he was responsible for overseeing a multi-million dollar agricultural restoration initiative in Pennsylvania.
Wise received his Master of Science degree in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Environmental Studies. After serving as an environmental science instructor at Lancaster Mennonite High School, he joined CBF-- first as a biologist and then as the Pennsylvania watershed restoration program manager.
Together, they bring the Center's mission full circle by sharing knowledge of best management practices (BMPs) and helping landowners, stakeholders, and the general public to implement them.
Center Director Bernard Sweeney said, "Our research, which spans over four decades, has taught us a lot about restoring streams and rivers. We share what we learn with the public through our education programs. Now we're doubling that effort, using our research to create infrastructure to shape a brighter future for our water."
The Watershed Restoration Group has already secured three grants.
One is provided through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Altria Group.
It will allow the Group to develop a project to help farmers implement BMPs to address common water quality issues by providing technical assistance and advancing nutrient trading.
Partners include more than a dozen public agencies and private groups, and an estimated 27 farms in Lancaster and surrounding counties will participate.
A companion grant, provided by the Department of Environmental Protection's Growing Greener Program, will expand these efforts to additional farms to address water quality impairments.
Another project supported by a grant from NFWF, with funding from the EPA and the U.S. Forest Service, will demonstrate low-cost alternatives to existing buffer reforestation methods, which can be expensive and have shown mixed results. Methods to be demonstrated include natural regeneration, direct seeding, and live staking.
Stroud Water Research Center seeks to advance knowledge and stewardship of fresh water through research, education, and global outreach and to help businesses, landowners, policymakers, and individuals make informed decisions that affect water quality and availability around the world.
For more information, please visit the Stroud Watershed Restoration Group webpage or the Stroud Water Research Center.

Thursday NewsClips

Marcellus Driller Profits Rise
Marcellus Production Drives Range
Drilling Company Says Judge Has Conflict In Hearing Case
Fracking Lowers Teen Pregnancy Rates In North Dakota
PPL Lowers Electric Prices
Residents Air Concerns Over Philly Conservation Center
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DEP Takes Home Energy Exhibit To Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show March 1-10

The Department of Environmental Protection will display its new interactive “DEP at Home” exhibit during the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown from March 1 to March 10.
DEP at Home is an interactive, educational exhibit fashioned into a home structure that features practices and products promoting energy efficiency and sustainable building materials as well as environmentally friendly and Pennsylvania-produced products for the home.
The three-room exhibit has a bathroom/laundry area, kitchen and living room that showcase d├ęcor, appliances and building materials that help improve energy efficiency, water conservation, radon awareness, air quality and other staples of environmental awareness. There is also an outdoor space that includes a dog house with green roofing and a bicycle children can ride to demonstrate that less effort is required to power energy-efficient light bulbs.
The Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show is the largest event of its kind in Pennsylvania, with more than 1,600 vendors spanning more than nine acres. In addition to the DEP at Home exhibit, the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show will feature a kitchen idea center, garden resource center, “Home Ice” synthetic ice rink and a $50,000 home makeover give-away.
The Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, and March 8 and 9. On Sunday, March 3 and March 10, it is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Monday, March 4, to Thursday, March 7, it will be open from 4 to 10 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under. The Convention Center is at 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA.
Next Webinar
The DEP at Home exhibit goes hand-in-hand with a series of quarterly webinars, also called DEP at Home, produced by the agency to educate families about energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices they can implement in their homes.
The next webinar, Watch your Waste, will be on April 3, from 7 to 8 p.m.
DEP created the exhibit through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program.
The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is the only convention center in the world with LEED green building certification: Gold in new construction and Platinum in existing building.
For more information and tickets, visit the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show website.

Tuesday NewsClips

DCNR Expects $60 Million In Gas Drilling Revenue
DCNR To Tap State Forest Drilling Royalties For Revenue
Giant Marcellus Well Parade In Susquehanna County
Dreams Of Natural Gas Riches Fading In NY
Ridge: Climate Change Is National Security Threat
Editorial: Tie Together Mass Transit
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Monday, February 25, 2013

Covanta Energy Launches Energy-From-Waste App

Ever wonder what it might be like to turn waste into energy, rather than sending it to an overflowing landfill? Well, users of iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices will now have the chance to find out through a fun and educational simulated game experience.
Covanta Energy, a world leader in sustainable waste management and renewable energy, has launched The Crane Game, a new app that familiarizes users with the Energy-from-Waste (EfW) process by allowing them to turn average household waste into energy.
Covanta Energy operates Energy-from-Waste facilities in Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and York counties.
Throughout the game, players must operate a crane to transport waste from a holding pit into a chute leading to a combustion chamber. As each level is completed, waste deliveries come faster and faster and users must avoid obstacles like recyclables, electronics and other items that shouldn’t be combusted.
Points are awarded for the total amount of energy generated, greenhouse gases mitigated and metals reclaimed for recycling. The game also shares interesting facts and figures about EfW and sustainable waste management to help raise awareness of vital landfill alternatives.
While most people are familiar with unsightly landfills, they are often unaware of the preferred alternative solution: Energy-from-Waste. After efforts to recycle as much as possible, EfW facilities offer a safe and technologically advanced means of waste disposal that generates clean, renewable energy, reduces greenhouse gases and supports recycling through the recovery of metals.
“At Covanta, we are always looking for new ways to tell our story and educate people on the alternatives to landfilling waste. After communities have reduced, reused and recycled to their fullest extent, the next, most responsible step is recover renewable energy from the remaining solid waste at EfW facilities,” said Paul Gilman, Covanta’s chief sustainability officer. “The Crane Game is a fun, interactive tool that demonstrates how our facilities safely recover energy from waste, minimize greenhouse gas emissions and recycle metal.”
The app is free to download and available exclusively for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices. Click Here to learn more or to download the app.

Senate Budget Hearing: DCNR Has $1 Billion Maintenance Backlog

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan told the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday a recently updated inventory identified a $1 billion backlog in maintenance projects for State Parks and State Forests.
He said the agency is prioritizing the projects, in particular those involving health and safety issues, and devoting some additional resources from the Oil and Gas Fund for those projects.
“The upkeep of our parks and forests is a constant challenge. In addition to managing visitors and 2.4 million acres of land, we also maintain 121 dams; 3,720 miles of roads; 842 bridges; 68 wastewater treatment facilities; 172 public water supplies; 4,700 buildings; four ski areas; 180 boat launches; and much more,” explained Secretary Allan. “Keystone (Fund) and other funding will help address some of this growing need.

“My goal for the next two years is to work on a long-term solution to address the estimated $1 billion in infrastructure and major maintenance needs, a critical goal toward strengthening the very foundation of our state park and forest system.
“DCNR is a net revenue generator through forest products and minerals extraction on state forests, public-private partnerships and entrepreneurial management on state parks,” said Secretary Allan. “We have been able over the past several years to offset General Fund reductions by using the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to support our conservation and recreation efforts. During this time, DCNR's budget has remained intact at a time of significant reductions in other areas of state government.
“In the proposed budget, we are authorized to draw additional funds from our department- generated revenue sources to offset increased costs associated with personnel benefits, wage hours needed and other critical operations. We also would receive a slight increase in vitally needed infrastructure funds as well as for community grants.”
Most of the one hour and 20 minutes spent before the Committee was answering questions from members.  Here’s a quick summary of some of the issues raised--

$1 Billion Infrastructure Needs:  Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) noted Secretary Allan’s testimony indicates there is a $1 billion backlog in maintenance projects in State Park and State Forests and asked how DCNR would prioritize needed improvements. Secretary Allan said the priority would be for health and safety improvements first and with additional monies coming from the Oil and Gas Fund helping to finance some of those improvements, along with Capital Budget authorizations.
Secretary Allan said DCNR is also planning to upgrade its cabins and other facilities with electric and other improvements.  He also said, on the higher end, The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle is going well with about a 54 percent occupancy, although the agency is not making any money.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, asked where the $1 billion is going to come from.  Secretary Allan said his agency is not looking for the money in the next 2 years (laugh).  The point of his earlier comment was they have updated their maintenance inventory and are prioritizing their projects.
Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee,  asked if the additional funding through Act 13 drilling fees could be used to finance maintenance needs and to provide additional funding for youth recreation programs.  Secretary Allan said some monies will be available through several agencies including the Commonwealth Financing Authority was well as directly to communities through Act 13.

In response to a question, Secretary Allan said there are no plans for building major attractions in State Parks like West Virginia.

Drilling Moratorium:  Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) followed up on the discussion on the potential of lifting the moratorium on more drilling on State Forest land by asking about public input into lifting the moratorium or drilling and access on or through DCNR land.  Secretary Allan said there is no discussion on lifting the moratorium.  Where private companies, not DCNR, owns the mineral rights, the companies are required to submit a management plan to the agency, including restoration, involving DCNR-owned land.

Loyalsock State Forest Drilling: Sen. Yaw asked about the status of Marcellus Shale drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest saying he has received many questions about drilling in the area.  Secretary Allan said two private companies own the mineral rights in the area and not DCNR.  One of the companies asked DCNR some time ago about issues related to drilling in the area, but DCNR asked them to hold off on plans for drilling until issues could be examined in more detail.  In particular, one of those issues is access across DCNR-owned land in some areas since there is a patchwork of private and DCNR landownership in the area.
In response to a question from Sen. Yudichak, Secretary Allan said the moratorium on drilling in state forest land where DCNR owns the mineral rights remains in effect.

Royalties From Drilling On DCNR Land:  Sen. Yaw asked for a status report on royalties DCNR collected so far from drilling on State Forest land.   By June 30, Secretary Allan said, DCNR will have collected $60 million in royalties for this fiscal year which are used, with Budget Office approval, for agency operational costs.  (Click Here for more on drilling in State Forest land.)
Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) asked about tracking royalty payments from drilling on State Forest land.  Secretary Allan said DCNR has staff devoted to tracking royalty payments to make sure everything due the agency is paid where drilling occurs on State Forest land.

Securitizing Drilling Fees: Sen. Yudichak asked DCNR, like he did with DEP last week, if the agency was looking at the potential for securitizing some of the revenue from drilling to provide for maintenance project funding.  Secretary Allan said he was not aware of any discussion of securitization.

Drill Site Restoration:  Sen. Tim Solobay (D-Washington) said the Game Commission has indicated restoration of drilling sites results in the creation of new habitat for wildlife and asked if there was a similar experience with DCNR.  Secretary Allan said DCNR works closely with drilling companies on restoration plans with each drill site and access roads and they have seen a similar experience in opening areas for habitat.
Sen. Yaw commented Marcellus Shale drilling creates greater public access to certain areas for recreation or hunting and fishing activities as a result of access road and pad construction, in particular for handicapped individuals.  Secretary Allan said more and more of their areas are open to the public and DCNR is working with groups, like Wounded Warriors, to provide additional access.

State Forest Sustainability Certification: Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) asked if State Forest would have been certified as sustainable if DCNR was mismanaging Marcellus Shale drilling.  Secretary Allan said there are many factors going into managing State Forests in a sustainable way.  He noted the certification was recently renewed.

Emergency Response At Well Sites: Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) asked for a status report on compliance with Act 9 providing for emergency response on drilling sites.  Secretary Allan said DCNR is complying with and working with the relevant agencies on the signage and other steps required under Act 9.

Shallow Oil & Gas Wells: Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria) asked how many shallow oil and gas wells, not Marcellus wells, are on State Forest land and if there have been any problems with them.  Secretary Allan said there are about 100 shallow oil and gas wells on State Forest land and would provide more information to the Committee.

Natural Gas Vehicles: Sen. Baker asked if DCNR is looking into using natural gas-fueled vehicles.  Secretary Allan said the agency was looking into that issue for several types of fuels as well as looking at the potential of sharing fueling stations with other agencies.

Leasing Other State Lands For Drilling: Sen. Baker asked about the status of leasing other state lands under Act 147 of last year.  Secretary Allan said DCNR is working with the Department of General Services on identifying Marcellus Shale areas and, if asked, would handle the actual leasing under an agreement with DGS.

Drilling Health Study: Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) noted the $1 million grant to the Geisinger Health Service last week to study the potential health impacts associated with Marcellus Shale drilling and asked if he knew the status the study efforts.  Secretary Allan said DCNR was not involved in that issue, but there are a number of recommendations made by the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Commission, including health-related issues, that have yet to be adopted, but he noted agencies are working through them.

Keystone Fund: Sen. Yudichak ask if there is any thought about taking funds away from the Keystone Recreation, Parks and Conservation Fund to use for other purposes in this budget cycle.  Secretary Allan said there is not in this budget cycle.

Conservation Partnership Grants: Sen. Judith Schwank (D-Berks) asked if DCNR is able to fulfill all the requests for recreation and park funding under the Community Conservation Partnership Grants.   Secretary Allan noted the most recent grant round awarded $26.5 million in grants, but there was almost three times as much applied for.

Heritage Park Funding: Sen. Yudichak asked if the Heritage Park Program funding is being eliminated in FY 2013-14.  Secretary Allan said the line item was proposed to be eliminated as it was in past budgets.  However, Heritage Areas are eligible to apply for grants under DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnership Grants Program.
Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) asked if DCNR would object if the Heritage Park line item would be restored and Secretary Allan said no.

State Park Fee Increases: Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia) asked about potential increases in State Park use fees.  Secretary Allan said DCNR reviews its fee structure each year, comparing the fees with other states and similar facilities.  Secretary Allan said DCNR has increased the number of private concessionaires to operate some facilities and activities to allow agency staff to focus on the management of the parks and forests and to better leverage its existing resources.
Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria) asked if there has been discussion about a per user entrance fee for State Parks.  Secretary Allan said by law DCNR is prohibited from charging a per user or parking fee for State Parks.  

Growing Greener II Debt Service: Sen. Blake asked if the debt service payment for the Growing Greener II bond issue taken from the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund will increase.  Secretary Allan said he believed it was a flat amount continuing until the bonds were paid off.

Dirt and Gravel Road Program: Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) asked about the adequacy of funding for the maintenance of DCNR’s 3,500 of State Forest and State Park roads.  Secretary Allan said the agency could always use more funding for road and other maintenance, but they are pulling some additional funding from the Oil and Gas Fund for these purposes.  Sen. Vogel then asked if Dirt and Gravel Road Funding should be included in the Governor’s Transportation Plan and Secretary Allan said they would be looking to increase the allocation for the program.
Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, supported the Dirt and Gravel Road Program and urged that it be part of the Governor’s Transportation Funding Plan.  Note: a portion of the Dirt and Gravel Road Program funding goes directly to DCNR and the remainder to county conservation districts to conduct road repairs and rebuilding.

Forest Pest Management: Sen. Yaw asked why some line items related to forest pest management seem to be zeroed out.   Secretary Allan said budget line items were consolidated so that about $12 million in funding is now in one place so it can be managed more efficiently.  He noted an office and laboratory dealing with forest pest management in Middletown was moved to the central office and laboratory space leased from the Department of Agriculture resulting in significant savings.

Ryerson State Park Dam Repairs: Sen. Tim Solobay (D-Washington) asked about the rebuilding of the lake at Ryerson State Park dam and lake which was damaged by underground longwall coal mining.  Secretary Allan said there is a meeting planned with stakeholders in the area this week to go over their plans and an expected settlement with Consol coal company is expected to pay for the rebuilding of the dam.

Conservation Landscapes Initiative: Sen. Schwank asked if DCNR coordinated with other agencies as part of the agency’s Conservation Landscapes Initiative.  Secretary Allan said DCNR works with a variety of local partners and other state agency partners in its initiatives.

Community Input: Sen. Ferlo commented there should be a close relationship between DCNR’s initiatives and local communities and businesses to ensure local input.  Secretary Allan said there is, for example, an open process for bidding projects as concessions in the local area.

ATV/Snowmobile Trails: Sen. Wozniak asked if there has been any conversation about destination trails for ATVs and snowmobiles running across the state.  Secretary Allan said DCNR is always looking for opportunities for connecting trails to State Forest and State Park trails.  He noted DCNR is working on a study in Armstrong County to better connect trails.  He said upgrading ATV trails requires more funding than snowmobile trails.

Cell Service Tower Leasing: Sen. Vulakovich asked about the status of renting DCNR facilities as cell towers.  Secretary Allan said the agency is looking for opportunities to lease existing structures-- water and fire towers for example-- to expand cell service in State Parks and State Forest areas not only to provide additional revenue, but to provide for public safety.  He noted DCNR does not allow the construction of regular cell towers on their property.

Scouting Project Opportunities: Sen. Vulakovich asked if there are opportunities for scouts to do projects in State Forests and State Parks.  Secretary Allan said DCNR does work with scouts and local friends of parks and forests groups to make these connections.

Timber Sales: Sen. Blake noted revenue from timber sales from DCNR lands was up and asked if he knew how much of the timber was going for international sales.  Secretary Allan said they deal with local timber companies and do not generally know where the timber is sold.

Consolidation with Fish & Boat and Game Commissions: Sen. Corman asked if it was feasible, sometime in the future, to consolidate the functions of the Fish and Boat and Game Commissions with DCNR.  Secretary Allan said they do work with the Commission on the Natural Diversity Inventory and noted their missions are compatible.

A copy of Secretary Allan’s written testimony is available online.

Monday NewsClips

Biggest Bang For Using Marcellus Buck
Farmers Can Dispose Of Outdated Pesticides
Pittsburgh Nonprofits Begin To Focus On Green
Federal Sequester Means Loss Of $7M In Environmental Funds
Companies Market Time-Of-Use Power Plans
Op-Ed: Shopping For Electricity A Win For PA
Covanta Energy Launches Waste-To-Energy App
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feb. 25 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The Feb. 25 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Click Here to print entire Digest.

DEP Citizens Advisory Council To Invite Ideas On Improving Public Participation

Members of the DEP Citizens Advisory Council voted unanimously Tuesday to invite the public and members of other DEP advisory committees to submit ideas on how to improve the public participation process for developing regulations and technical guidance at the agency.
Noting that DEP was at a very early stage of developing changes to this policy, the Council members felt it would be helpful to the department to provide input into potential changes the agency should consider.
The Council was informed that DEP Secretary Michael Krancer was opposed to the Council soliciting ideas for improving public participation because he felt it would create confusion with the public as the agency went ahead with its more formal process for updating its public participation policies.
The Council will be putting out a formal announcement inviting comments in the next few weeks.
Also adopted by the Council was its 2013 Strategic Workplan setting out priority issues the Council will focus on in the coming year.  The Workplan was prompted in part by the significant cuts in the CAC’s budget over the last few years.  The priorities established in the Workplan include--
-- The Department’s performance in advancing transparency and public participation in policy development, program implementation, public service, enforcement actions and permitting decisions.
-- Ongoing review and analysis of Department activities as mandated by state statutes (for example, the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act and the Air Pollution Control Act).
-- Providing a forum for issues brought by the public to the CAC, as appropriate. Council will review pending issues quarterly.
-- Consult with, and bring issues to the attention of, the legislature.
-- The Department’s ability to fulfill its statutorily mandated responsibilities and mission in light of continued budget cuts at the state and federal level.
Council took action on two other issues--
-- Air Quality Regulations: Council voted to recommend approval of final Chapter 121 Air Quality regulations related to particulate matter controls and recommended DEP move ahead with proposed changes to Chapter 129 Air Quality regulations setting RACT requirements for major sources of NOx, although the Council said more study was needed on the substance of the proposal; and
-- Transparency: Council voted to draft a letter to DEP urging the agency to be more transparent in providing information to the public based on recommendations of the PA League of Women Voters.  Council members would have the opportunity to review the letter before it is sent.
Other issues discussed at the Council meeting included:

Permit Review Public Participation: Robert Altenburg, DEP Policy Office, presented the Council with a very draft policy setting out public participation options on individual permit reviews during the meeting and asked for Council comments by March 5.
Altenburg said the new policy represents a complete re-writing and updating of the previous policy focused on fixing the obvious things which were out of date, clarifying the types of public participation tools available-- hearings, meetings, informal conferences, and authorizing options involving new technology like web meetings.
New to the policy are guidelines on public conduct during hearings and meetings.
DEP expects to put the revised policy out for formal public review by the end of March, but the draft document DEP presented to the Council they said should not be shared with the public.
The Council voted to host a webinar with DEP on its current public participation policies on permit reviews and on DEP’s proposed changes, once those become available to help educate the public on the public participation tools DEP has available.

Environmental Justice Public Participation: Holly Cairns, Acting Director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Advocate, said DEP’s draft revisions its Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy, which kicks in during reviews of individual permits, is still undergoing internal review at the department.
Cairns did said the geographic areas, called Environmental Justice Areas, were just updated by DEP using the most recent population and economic data.  Due to an increased number of census tracts created in 2010 and other factors, the number of Environmental Justice Areas have increased significantly.
Several Council members expressed an interest in learning more details about why there has been an increase in the number of EJ Areas and Cairns offered to be part of a conference call with interested members.

Permit Backlog: Dana Aunkst, DEP Deputy Secretary for Field Operations, provided an update on the new Permit Decision Guarantee Process noting the release of the agency’s first quarterly report last week.  Aunkst cautioned the report includes very preliminary data on the first 10 weeks of the program and not even a full quarter.
Aunkst said DEP was taking steps to eliminate the agency’s backlog in permit applications which he said was as high as 11,000 applications.  When the new Decision Guarantee Program started in September the backlog was just over 9,900 applications.
Currently there are just over 6,000 applications in the backlog and the agency has a goal of eliminating those applications by July 1.  Aunkst said many of the applications knocked off the list so far have been inactive or unwanted applications submitted to the agency, in some cases, years ago.
Aunkst noted the department denied 1.31 percent before the Permit Decision Guarantee and after the Guarantee Program 1.36 percent.

Natural Gas Industry Radiation Study: Vince Brisini, DEP Deputy Secretary for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation, provided an overview of a study the agency is doing to comprehensively monitor and document naturally occurring radiation coming from the waste products of Marcellus Shale drilling.
Called TENORM (technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material), many of the waste materials associated with Marcellus Shale drilling are naturally radioactive to some extent, but until now there has not been a comprehensive study to document the extent and potential hazards associated with these wastes.
The study will include measuring and evaluating naturally occurring radiation from wastes such as drill cutting, wastewater sludges and radon gas in air emissions.  In addition, the natural gas itself produced by the wells will be analyzed for its radon gas content even though radon gas has a half-life of just six days.
Click Here for background on the study and future updates.

Water Testing Protocols: Barbara Hall with TestAmerica, Inc., a provide laboratory which provides water testing services in the Marcellus Shale regions of the state to private clients and DEP, gave Council a briefing on water testing protocols.
During its last two meetings Council has been presented with concerns and allegations about DEP “hiding” some water sampling results from homeowners.
As a result of the presentation, it became clear there has been a misunderstanding about how test results are generated at a modern lab like TestAmerica.
Hall clarified that while modern testing equipment frequently provides sample results on a broad spectrum of substances in a sample at the same time, the client or DEP requests the individual results it wants by substance or parameter.
For example, in the controversy presented to Council, DEP was doing investigative sampling trying to determine if a water supply was affected by Marcellus drilling.  Hall pointed out only a handful of parameters are necessary to make that determination and those are the results they report to their clients or DEP, even though their equipment might have automatically analyzed the sample for many more substances.
Hall said, unlike other states, Pennsylvania does not have a set list of parameters drilling companies should use to analyze water wells around their drilling sites, at a minimum within 2,500 feet.  The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, Hall said will soon be publishing it own site of water sampling parameters for member companies to use.

Agency Monthly Report: DEP provided the Council with a 23-page long monthly report of its activities in each of the major agency program areas.  The detailed report highlights major initiatives underway, regulatory and policy changes being considered, the status of certain key programs and much more.  Click Here to read the report.

FY 2013-14 Budget Proposal: Holly Cairns, Acting Director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Advocate said the agency will provide an update on the FY 2013-14 budget proposal to Council at its March 19 meeting.  In lieu of a report by DEP, Council members were provided copies of these articles on the budget--
-- Corbett Proposes $10 Million Increase In Farmland Preservation, More DEP Staff Cuts
-- $1.8 Billion Cut/Diverted From Environmental Programs Over Last 11 Years
-- Growing Leaner: Shrinking Commitment To The Environment Over Last 10 Years
-- DEP, DCNR Secretary Respond To Concerns About Budget Cuts
In addition, the Council was provided with a brief overview of the 2011-12 Report on State Performance which showed overall compliance with environmental regulations dropped 12 points between 2001 and the 2011-12 Performance Report.
Council Chair John Walliser asked members to think about how the Council should get involved in the budget deliberations in the General Assembly, given the 2013 Strategic Workplan highlights this issue as critical in the coming year.

Public Comment: During the public comment period three individuals presented comments:
-- Roberta Winters, PA League of Women Voters expressed concerns about the decrease in funding and staffing for DEP; urged the CAC to examine whether DEP is accomplishing its mission of protecting the environment; and aksed whether promoting advanced energy technology is in conflict with that mission.
-- Jeff Schmidt, PA Sierra Club expressed concerns about the procedures used by DEP to providing water testing results to landowners in Marcellus Shale drilling areas; highlighted concerns about TENORM waste from drilling operations triggering alarms at landfills; and noted DEP’s Environmental Justice permit review policy excludes Marcellus Shale gas drilling permits.
-- Steve Kunz, Schmidt & Company said on December 27 DEP took action in Greene County to declare six streams beyond repair due to damage from longwall coal mining in the Bailey Mine.  The company is appealing the determination.

The next meeting of the Citizens Advisory Council is March 19 in Room 105 Rachel Carson Building, Harrisburg.  Click Here for available handouts for each meeting.

Help Wanted: Capital RC&D Tillage Survey Interns

The Capital Area Resource Conservation and Development Area Council is seeking candidates for 4 or 5 intern positions to help with its 2013 Conservation Tillage Survey.  The application deadline is April 15.  Click Here for details.

2013 Trout In The Classroom Grant Applications Now Being Accepted

The PA Trout Unlimited is now accepting applications for its 2013 Trout in the Classroom Grants  for the 2013-2014 school year  Applications are due March 30.
Trout in the Classroom is an interdisciplinary program in which students in grades 3 through 12 learn about coldwater conservation while raising brook trout from eggs to fingerlings in a classroom aquarium.  All classrooms end the year by releasing their trout into a state approved waterway.
Grant applications are available in two categories, as follows:
-- Trout in the Classroom Start-Up Grants are awarded to teachers who have formed a partnership  with a 501(c)(3) conservation organization. The start-up grant provides essential equipment necessary to start a Trout in the Classroom program. A cash match of $400.00 is required if the grant is funded, and the grantee will need to provide a 55-gallon aquarium and lid (partnering organizations are encourage to provide the matching funds).
-- Trout in the Classroom Existing Grants are awarded to teachers and conservation organizations which have an existing program in place. The maximum amount of this grant is $500 for specific replacement equipment, TIC support materials (e.g., books, videos, multi-media) and classroom field trip expenses.

Pennsylvania’s statewide TIC program is made possible through a unique partnership between PA Council of Trout Unlimited and the Fish and Boat Commission.
Grant applications and additional program information is available on the PA Trout in the Classroom website at.   For more information, contact Samantha Kutskel at 814-359-5233 or send email to: c-skutskel@pa.gov.

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