Thursday, July 31, 2014
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti Thursday announced work will begin in August now that contracts have been awarded for the construction of a new park office/visitor center at Kinzua Bridge State Park, McKean County.
A groundbreaking event will be held at the park on Aug. 21.
“After completing the skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park in 2011, we are now ready to move forward with the next phase of amenities -- a visitor center to welcome people and provide interpretation of the park’s history, and the recreational opportunities not only onsite, but in the Pennsylvania Wilds region," Ferretti said.
This project is part of Enhance Penn’s Woods – a two-year, more than $200 million initiative launched by Gov. Tom Corbett to repair and improve Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.
Contracts have been awarded by the Department of General Services to JC Orr of Altoona, $4.7 million for general contract work; W.C Eshenaur & Son of Harrisburg, $853,000 for HVAC system; A&MP Electric Inc. of Guys Mills, $614,000 for electrical work; and Rabe Environmental Systems, Erie, $707,500 for plumbing. The funds for the work are provided by the state’s capital budget.
“Planning and preparations for the Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitor Center have been in progress for the past several years,” Sen. Joseph Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said. “I am grateful to Secretary Ferretti and Gov. Corbett for supporting this important investment in our region. This state of the art facility will help to provide numerous recreational and educational opportunities, while also fostering economic development for the surrounding area. I am very pleased to be a part this project and look forward to witnessing the positive effects of the center in years to come.”
The visitor center will house 2,800-square feet of space in two exhibit halls and a lobby; park administrative offices; public restrooms; and classroom space. The project also includes a maintenance building.
The building will seek LEED certification and will include water efficient plumbing fixtures; geothermal heating and cooling system; regionally sourced materials with a high level of recycled content; sustainably certified wood; and diversion of construction debris and waste to recycling centers instead of landfills.
The work is expected to be complete by fall of 2015.
The 329-acre Kinzua Bridge State Park features remnants of the 2,053-foot long viaduct that was first built of iron in 1882, and then rebuilt of steel in 1900. The viaduct, commonly referred to as a railroad bridge, is series of arches that carry the railroad over the wide valley.
The viaduct was toppled by a tornado in 2003. In 2011, DCNR opened a pedestrian walkway with a glass-bottom observation area down into the Kinzua Gorge on the remaining half of the bridge.
The bridge and observation deck will remain open during construction of the office and visitor center.For more park information, visit the Kinzua Bridge State Park webpage.
The Brodhead Watershed Association in Monroe County invites everyone to join them for the annual River Ramble on August 10 from 1-4 p.m., at the ForEvergreen Nature Preserve in Analomink. There will be entertaining activities for the whole family.
Whether you like to walk, pedal or paddle there will be something for you to enjoy, from nature walks, eagle nest viewing, kayaking demonstrations and guided bicycle rides (you must supply your own bicycle) it is a celebration of the Brodhead Creek and the watershed in which we live and play.
Some of the regions finest naturalists and water resource experts will be on hand to share their love of the Brodhead Watershed with all. Everyone is invited to stay for refreshments from 4-5 pm in the old Evergreen Golf Course clubhouse during the traditional 'After Ramble' party. All of the presenters will be on hand in a relaxing atmosphere to visit with everyone.
The suggested donation is $10 for members or $15 for non-members, with a $2 discount for pre-registration. Children under 12 are free.If you would like more information on the day’s activities or other opportunities to get involved with BWA, visit the Brodhead Watershed Association website or call 570-839-1120.
On Thursday, Vince Brisini, DEP Deputy Secretary for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation testified on EPA’s proposed rule, offering Pennsylvania’s plan for how cleaner air, lower energy prices and more jobs can be achieved through a responsible plan for emissions reduction that recognizes Pennsylvania’s diverse energy resources.
Click Here for a copy of DEP’s greenhouse emission reduction white paper.
PPL Corporation announced Thursday that its Pennsylvania utility, PPL Electric Utilities Corporation, is proposing to build a major new regional transmission line that would make electric service more reliable and enhance the security of the electric grid while reducing the cost of electricity for consumers.
PPL Electric Utilities submitted the project to PJM Interconnection as part of the competitive solicitation process under FERC Order 1000. As currently proposed, the 500-kilovolt line would run about 725 miles from western Pennsylvania into New York and New Jersey, and also south into Maryland.
By delivering lower-cost electricity into the region, and by enabling the development of new power plants fueled by lower-cost and cleaner-burning natural gas, the project is expected to create savings for millions of electric customers in several states including Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and New York, according to the PPL Electric Utilities analysis submitted to PJM.
The project is in the preliminary planning stages. If approved and built as proposed, the line would help replace supplies of electricity that will be lost when existing power plants retire. It also would help prevent power shortages during periods of extremely high demand, like the prolonged severe cold weather this past winter.
"This is a forward-looking project with significant benefits for customers, for several states and for the region as a whole," said Gregory N. Dudkin, president of PPL Electric Utilities. He noted that the company has extensive experience planning, obtaining approval for and building major regional electricity infrastructure projects.
The company has begun a comprehensive regional planning effort to determine the best route and final details of the proposed line. As always with such projects, the company would have an inclusive public outreach process and would consider public input when making a final route selection.
The project is expected to create jobs, including thousands of temporary construction jobs, and have a lasting positive impact on the regional economy. The project also is expected to foster regional economic development as new employers take advantage of a reliable, secure and lower-cost supply of energy.
"The project would help secure this region's ability to deliver adequate supplies of energy for decades to come," said Dudkin. "In addition, it would make the electricity delivery network more reliable and more secure over a wide swath of the Mid-Atlantic region."
According to preliminary estimates, the cost of the project would be between $4 billion and $6 billion. These potential capital expenditures are not included in PPL Corporation's most recent capital expenditure projections. PPL Electric Utilities may enter into partnerships to develop and build some or all of the project.
The preliminary timeline envisions completion of the project between 2023 and 2025, assuming all necessary approvals are received and construction begins in 2017. Approvals are needed from various regulatory and regional planning entities.PPL Electric Utilities will be meeting with appropriate state and federal agencies as planning for the project moves forward. Further details of the project will be made public as they become available.
Putting her pedals behind her message, PA Parks and Forest Foundation President Marci Mowery is cycling to support the foundation’s work for state parks and forests with a Ohiopyle State Park to Point State Park ride.
On September 9, Marci and PPFF Membership Coordinator Pam Metzger will hop on their bikes and ride from the foundation’s Western PA office in Confluence, through Ohiopyle State Park, and on to Point State Park—88 miles—in one day.
The vital funds raised by the ride will support PPFF’s work to enhance, conserve and protect Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.
“The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation has been making a difference for 15 years,” Marci Mowery says, “Improving parks and forests through the establishment of friends groups, working on special programs, accessibility projects and trainings, and getting people excited about outdoor recreation opportunities across the state. Riding on the Great Allegheny Passage, we will test our will power and humor to support that important work.”
This is also a ride to continue the conversation about remaining active throughout your lifespan and the value of outdoor recreation to mental, physical and emotional well being. Mowery says one of the challenges for her will be dealing with the arthritis in her hands for the length of the ride.
“Anyone who knows Marci knows that she loves to just jump right into things and all too often she drags the rest of us along, kicking and screaming. In the case in question, it's kicking and singing,” Pam Metzger says. “It'll be fun no matter what, but it certainly would be more fun knowing we're raising a lot of money for the cause.”
Upon arrival at Point State Park, Pam and Marci will break into a Pennsylvania-centric rendition of "Bicycle Race" by Queen, the length of which will be determined by the amount of funds raised.
They also hope to take a kayak trip using the park's new ADA EZ launch—a joint venture between the Hillman Foundation, Point State Park, and PPFF—on the day following their bike ride… body willing.Follow her on Twitter at #OSP2PSP. Visit Marci’s fundraising page for more information, and to make a donation.
Bucknell University will host the 9th Susquehanna River Symposium on November 21-22 at the Elaine Langone Center in Lewisburg, Union County.
The symposium brings together researchers, managers, consultants, and the public to discuss ongoing scientific research and innovative projects, to share ideas, and to increase awareness of watershed health, management and sustainability issues facing the Susquehanna today.
Abstracts are being sought for oral presentations and posters covering a wide range of projects and research topics pertaining to the Susquehanna watershed. All interested parties, including academics, professionals, and regulators, are invited to present either an oral presentation or poster. Students are encouraged to submit posters.
The deadline for online submission of abstracts is September 17.
The final symposium program will be determined by the content of submitted and accepted abstracts. The following list of topics is provided to encourage potential conference participants to consider the full extent of multidisciplinary themes, however, it is by no means all-inclusive--
— Aquatic ecosystems;
— Fisheries management and habitat restoration;
— Groundwater hydrology; aquifer contamination and remediation projects ;
— River valley terrestrial ecosystems and the riparian corridor;
— Stormwater management;
— Water policy; sustainable watershed management;
— River water chemistry; and remediation;
— Lakes and wetland studies; restoration and cleanup projects;
— Stream restoration and fluvial geomorphology;
— Assessing the impact of natural resource extraction on the watershed;
— Land use, BMPs, and water resources planning and protection strategies;
— Susquehanna River - Chesapeake Bay connections; and
— Susquehanna watershed and climate change.
The poster session will be held November 21 from 7 to 9 pm (posters can be set up set up between 4:30 and 6 p.m.). Posters are encouraged to remain on display until until 2 p.m. on November 22.
Oral presentations will be 15 to minutes in length and scheduled for presentation during the Symposium's technical sessions from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on November 22.
If the author wishes to be considered for an oral presentation, they can indicate so in the abstract submission online form.
To be considered for placement in the symposium, please submit your abstract online by September 17. Instructions on submitting abstracts and student posters will be available after August 10.
Soon after the September 17 submission deadline, abstracts will be reviewed by the Technical Program Committee for originality, technical merit, currency, and relevance to Symposium topics. Authors' suggestions for topic and format placement (oral or poster) will be considered, but the Committee will make the final decision. Abstracts received after the deadline may not be accepted.
Acceptance and placement notification will be made via email to the corresponding author by October 1.Electronic versions of the Symposium Proceedings, which includes all accepted abstracts, will be made available on the River Symposium website.
On Wednesday, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources released more details on how it plans to go about leasing additional State Forest and State Park lands for “non-surface disturbance” natural gas development.
Draft leasing criteria and a draft text for a lease were given to the Natural Gas Advisory Committee for discussion. These documents are designed to implement Gov. Corbett’s Executive Order 2014-3 outlining the general ground rules for additional natural gas leasing.
In the draft leasing criteria, DCNR provided definitions for two key terms--
-- Surface Disturbance: The long-term conversion of the park or forest to a non-park or forest use. Examples include creating or increasing the footprint of infrastructure such as roads, pipelines and well pads. This definition shall be used for purposes of evaluating whether a non-surface disturbance leasing proposal would result in “additional surface disturbance.”
-- Temporary Disturbance: Impacts to the park or forest itself, the surface or vegetation that are short-term in nature and will allow the resource to be restored to its normal state naturaly. Examples include seismic activity and air and noise impacts associated with an increase in truck traffic.
DCNR said four principles will guide natural gas development generally--
-- Avoid impacting critical natural and ecological resources through early and comprehensive planning and the utilization of existing disturbances;
-- Minimize potential impacts by apply appropriate buffers, timing restrictions or construction techniques;
-- Mitigate any adverse impacts by restoring sites to park or forest conditions, enhancing wildlife habitat, recreation facilities or removing invasive species infestations; and
-- Monitor to track activities, detect changes, report findings and modify practices where applicable-- practicing adaptive management.
DCNR also outlined review criteria for additional leasing proposals so it can properly assess the ecological, recreational and landscape-level resource impacts. DCNR will also use its existing Guidelines for Administering Oil and Gas Activity on State Forest Lands as a guide to reviewing proposals.
DCNR has asked Committee members to comment on the documents.
Unfortunately, none of the documents or the agenda or location of the July 30 meeting of DCNR’s Natural Gas Advisory Committee were posted on the agency’s website.
On July 18 an agreement was announced by parties to the PA Environmental Defense Fund v. Commonwealth challenge to the transfer of monies from the Oil and Gas Fund prohibiting DCNR from actually entering into additional natural gas leases until Commonwealth Court rules on the issue. It does not prohibit DCNR from developing the process for leasing additional State Forest and State Park land for natural gas development.For more general information, visit DCNR’s Natural Gas Development and State Forests webpage.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The July edition of the Environmental Synopsis newsletter is now available from the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee.
This month’s newsletter features stories on: Pennsylvania’s growing bald eagle population, potential hazards from lead in aviation fuels, California’s vehicle replacement program, Atlantic coast wind power projects, Colorado recommendation on flood prevention related to oil and gas drilling, and much more.
Environmental Issues Forums
The next scheduled Environmental Issues Forums will be held--
-- September 22: Pennsylvania’s abandoned Turnpike, a 13-mile stretch of the original Turnpike in Bedford and Fulton counties and plans to turn it into a scenic, recreational biking trail. Room 8E-A East Wing. 11:00.
-- October 6: Keep PA Beautiful will present its recommendations for significantly reducing illegal dumping in Pennsylvania. Room 8E-A East Wing. Noon.Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Joint Conservation Committee.
The Keep PA Beautiful Litter Free School Zone Program is designed to encourage students to keep their school grounds litter-free and to raise public awareness regarding litter via a Litter Free School Zone sign to be displayed outside the school.
Students, clubs, classes, and even entire school districts can participate in the Litter Free School Zone program. Keeping their school litter-free is an easy and fun way for students to work together, learning valuable community leadership and responsibility skills while gaining a respect for the environment and the world around them.
It is also an opportunity to develop a school-wide stewardship ethic and set a community example.
The Litter Free School Zone program strives to resolve the issue of littering in two ways:
-- Cleanup: Remove existing and deposited litter as soon as possible after it appears, so that further littering will be less likely to occur.
-- Prevention: Create a sense of understanding, caring, and responsibility, often described as environmental stewardship, in our children so that they will not think of littering as an acceptable behavior in their world.For more information, visit the KPB’s Litter Free School Zone webpage or contact Stephanie Larson by sending email to: email@example.com or call 877-772-3673 x104.
Approximately 4,000 pounds of recyclables were collected during the four-day Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, a tenfold increase over 2013, in Centre County.
Thanks to the efforts of FestZero; a group of Penn State Alumni, current students and concerned citizens, the Borough of State College, the Pennsylvania State University and the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority, recycling collection was “stepped up a notch”, according to Joanne Shafer & Brad Fey; two of the event organizers.
For the first time, organic waste was collected for addition into the Borough’s organics recycling program.
“We’ve been recycling at Arts Fest since 1990”, Shafer stated, “but his year, a very dedicated group of volunteers vowed to improve the efforts”. “I think the numbers speak for themselves.”
“We need to be looking at organics as essentially another recycling commodity”, Shafer said. “Although the weight of the recyclables was not huge in comparison to the trash collected, since the majority of the organics were paper products and the bulk of the recyclables were plastic bottles, the volume was substantial.”
According to the National Recycling Coalition’s Environmental Benefits Calculator, recycling at this year’s Arts Festival equated to an energy savings of approximately 90 households’ yearly energy consumption, and two metric tons carbon equivalents of greenhouse gas reduction. This is the same as removing one car from the road for a whole year.Look for additional recycling efforts at the 2015 festival.
The July issue of Keep PA Beautiful’s Beautiful Resources newsletter is now available. Articles highlight the upcoming KPB report on recommendations to reduce illegal dumping to be released in September, details on the upcoming Litter Free School Zone Program for this year and much more. Click Here to read this edition.
Gov. Corbett Wednesday rallied on behalf of working families in Pennsylvania’s energy sector. Joined at the Rally to Support American Energy in Pittsburgh by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, Gov. Corbett criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent proposed rule for power plant emissions reduction, which could result in significant job loss in Pennsylvania.
“In Pennsylvania, nearly 63,000 men and women work in jobs supported by the coal industry,” Corbett said. “Anything that seeks to or has the effect of shutting down coal-fired power plants is an assault on Pennsylvania jobs, consumers, and those citizens who rely upon affordable, abundant domestic energy.”
Pennsylvania’s coal industry is a vital contributor to the state’s economy, with direct, indirect and induced impacts responsible for approximately $4.1 billion in economic output; $2.1 billion directly by the coal industry. Of the nearly 63,000 jobs attributed to Pennsylvania’s coal industry, more than 8,100 are miners.
Coal is a crucial energy resource, used to generate more electricity than any other resource in Pennsylvania and responsible for approximately 44 percent of the state’s electricity generation. In 2011, Pennsylvania generated 227 million megawatts of electricity, making it the second largest producer of electricity in the United States and the largest net exporter of electricity among the states.
“Reducing greenhouse emissions is a goal we support,” Corbett said. “However, some officials refuse to acknowledge that coal is now cleaner, and they don’t recognize the advancement this American industry has made, particularly in Pennsylvania. In recent years, Pennsylvania has made great strides to reduce emissions, and I am confident in saying that our commitment to Pennsylvania’s coal industry does not mean we have to sacrifice clean air.”
In April, in anticipation of EPA’s proposed rule, Pennsylvania submitted a plan that would achieve lower emissions from existing power plants, which would lead to cleaner air, by removing obstacles and encouraging efficiency projects. At the heart of Pennsylvania's plan is efficiency and the preservation of states’ authority and discretion in the development and implementation of emissions control programs.
“No one disagrees that protecting our environment is crucial, and that we need to do our fair share,” Corbett said. “In Pennsylvania, that is exactly what we are doing. We have proposed a plan to EPA that would realize lower emissions and cleaner air through increased efficiency, without endangering jobs or our stable and diverse energy supply.”
On Thursday, the Department of Environmental Protection will be testifying on EPA’s proposed rule, offering Pennsylvania’s plan for how cleaner air, lower energy prices and more jobs can be achieved through a responsible plan for emissions reduction that recognizes Pennsylvania’s diverse energy resources.For more information, visit Gov. Corbett’s Energy = Jobs Plan webpage. Click Here for a copy of DEP’s greenhouse emission reduction white paper.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti Wednesday announced the department will seek public comment once a draft Surface Development Management Agreement has been negotiated to protect the natural and recreational resources of a 25,000-acre tract known as the Clarence Moore lands in the Loyalsock State Forest, Lycoming County.
The state does not own the subsurface rights to this land. Anadarko and Southwest Energy Company each own or lease 50 percent of the subsurface rights and have requested access to extract natural gas.
At present there is no known date for the comment period as all parties are still in discussions and no development plan has been submitted for department review.
“For about a year now, DCNR has been meeting with a small group of stakeholders to inform them of the progress of talks between Anadarko and Southwestern Energy Company,” Ferretti said at a meeting of the department’s Natural Gas Advisory Committee in State College. “From previous public input we understand that there is a unique interest in this particular tract of land and that we needed a much broader way to communicate with the public.”
“To that end, although we have not reached an agreement, the department is committing to a process that will involve sharing the final draft agreement with the public for comment, once that draft is in place.”
Ferretti noted that DCNR will allow 15 days for public comment on the document, which will then be reviewed and considered before an agreement would be finalized. A timeframe has not been determined for completion of the final draft.
DCNR will publish notice of the comment period in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and issue a news release at that time to make sure all interested parties are informed.
A copy of the agreement and development plan will be posted on the DCNR website for review.
Members of the public currently can submit written comments on this issue to DCNR by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DCNR Use Agreements
DCNR uses agreements to manage oil and gas activity on state forest lands where it does not own the subsurface rights. The Surface Development Management Agreement will protect Commonwealth assets on the surface while outlining reasonable infrastructure development to extract natural gas. It will include a development plan for the entire 25,000 acres.
Unlike a permit decision, there is no law or regulation that outlines or requires any process or timeframe for talks or agreements where the subsurface rights are held privately.
DCNR’s priorities in protecting the natural resources and recreational opportunities on the Clarence Moore lands include:
— Minimizing surface disturbance to the greatest extent possible;
— Limiting impacts on trail users on the 27-mile Old Logger’s Path trail that circles the lands or relocate trail if necessary;
— Reducing fragmentation from pipelines, right-of-ways and roads;
— Avoiding or minimizing activity in wetland areas and important habitat for threatened or endangered species;
— Avoiding or minimizing development in the headwaters of the Rock Run
— Mitigating noise impacts from compressor stations.
“Our main interest is protecting this resource. That is our mission. It’s our job to balance the protection of habitat and recreational resources such as the Old Logger’s Path with the various uses of the state forest, including gas extraction. Our multi-disciplined team of professionals is working diligently to that end,” Ferretti said.
Any development by the subsurface owners would also be subject to the required environmental reviews and permitting process with the Department of Environmental Protection.For more information about possible gas development on the Loyalsock State Forest, Click Here for a fact sheet. For more information generally about natural gas developments and state forests, Click Here.