Monday, July 31, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Celebrates 20 Years Of Leadership, Sustained Growth In PA Organics Industry

During a visit to the Pennsylvania Organic Farm Fest at Centre County Grange Fairgrounds, state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding last Friday recognized Pennsylvania Certified Organic for helping make the Commonwealth one of the nation’s leading states for organic agriculture.
PCO, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-accredited organization that certifies operations as organic, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
“Your vision and leadership have contributed to the tremendous growth in organic production and the strength of agriculture,” said Secretary Redding, recognizing PCO founding members. “The transparency and accountability of the organic standard give consumers the assurance they want and expect when they buy a product labelled as organic.
“PCO founders showed tremendous foresight in recognizing growing consumer interest in where and how their food was produced, anticipating a trend that has exceeded 13 percent annual growth. You have been an excellent partner with department in nurturing the industry as a natural resource, and helping to develop the industry to be sustainable over the long term.”
Pennsylvania ranked third in the U.S for organic sales with $313 million in 2014, the last year for which data are available. Contributing to that overall ranking, the state ranks first in egg production, second in mushroom sales, third in turkey production, fourth in organic crops and fifth in milk sales, to the USDA’s 2014 organic sales survey.
Twenty-four Pennsylvania counties are considered “hot spots” for organic production and sales nationwide.
The USDA sets standards for what can be sold as organic, but relies on organizations like PCO, to inspect and certify operations. PCO serves businesses in 16 states and the District of Columbia, ensuring that consumers know what they are getting when they purchase products labelled as organic.
The agency educates and certifies growers, processors and handlers of organic crops, wild crops, livestock and livestock products sold in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
The Department of Agriculture supports organic farming through a number of programs, including the Organic Cost Share program, which reimburses livestock, crop, and processing operations for a percentage of their certification costs.
From 2015 to 2016, the program provided $703,840 to 798 organic farm operations to help defray the annual cost of certification.
For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Certified Organic website.
Information on sustainable farming is also available from the PA Association For Sustainable Agriculture website.

Lisa Daniels Named Acting DEP Deputy For Water Programs

Lisa Daniels has been named Acting Deputy for Water Programs at the Department of Environmental Protection.  She replaces Dana Aunkst in that position.
She will be responsible for overseeing the operations of the bureaus of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands, Safe Drinking Water, and Clean Water, Compacts and Commissions Office and Planning and Conservation Division, and will oversee the Chesapeake Bay Office.
Daniels served as the Director of the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water prior to this position and has been with DEP since 1989.
Before becoming Director, Daniels served in a variety of positions within the Bureau, including as Chief of the Operations Section and spent many years developing and delivering training on numerous drinking water topics.
She started her career at DEP as a sanitarian working out of the York District Office in Southcentral Pennsylvania.
She has a bachelor of science degree in biology from Penn State University and spent time working in an environmental laboratory before starting her career with the Commonwealth.
Dana Aunkst started with DER in 1985 as an environmental engineer in the Meadville Regional Office. He also worked for a period of time in the Williamsport Regional Office. He has been with the Department off and on for 23 years and has worked in environmental protection, in both the private and public sectors, for 31 years.
Aunkst will be moving to a position with the Bureau of Waste Management.

PA State Assn Of Township Supervisors Call For Conference Workshop Proposals

The PA State Association of Township Supervisors is looking for subject matter experts to present educational workshops at its 2018 Annual Conference to be held April 22-25 in Hershey.  The deadline for proposals is September 1.
The Conference attracts nearly 4,000 registrants and offers more than 90 informative and interactive workshops, many networking opportunities, and provides the largest municipal trade show in Pennsylvania.
PSATS is looking for presenters who want to deliver a 70-minute interactive educational workshop and share their expertise on any number of issues important to municipal officials and employees.
Topics typically include effective office and municipal program administration procedures and practices, the latest land use planning and zoning topics, public safety and emergency management measures, or the many aspects of public works, including road maintenance and construction, asset management, parks and recreation considerations, and stormwater management activities, just to name a few.
If you are interested in presenting a workshop at the PSATS 2018 Annual Educational Conference, you must submit your workshop proposal by September 1.
To submit a workshop proposal, go to the 2018 Annual Conference webpage and click on the red “Workshop RFP” button and then follow the instructions.
If you have questions about the PSATS Annual Educational Conference and Exhibit Show or the types of workshops presented there, please contact James Wheeler, PSATS Chief Education Officer, by sending email to:

Monday PA Environmental NewsClips

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday PA Environmental NewsClips

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

PA Senate GOP Leaders Stab Gas Industry With Severance Tax Plan

The following article was published in the Marcellus Drilling News and distributed Saturday morning via Twitter by Drew Crompton, Chief Of Staff for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson)--
Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have betrayed the Marcellus gas industry and should be tossed out on their rear-ends in the next election.
“Corman, Scarnati and other so-called Republicans in the PA Senate leadership have signed on to promote a severance tax plan to “close” the budget gap THEY CREATED by idiotically passing a bloated spending plan they couldn’t pay for.
“Now, caving to pressure from a tax-and-spend liberal media and tax-and-spend Democrat Party, PA Senate Republicans have opened a door that should never have been opened.
“PA’s Marcellus drillers already pay the equivalent of a 9.16 percent severance tax–highest in the country (called an impact fee).
“This new plan leaves the impact fee in place, AND places a severance tax on top of it, guaranteeing LESS drilling (and less tax money) for PA, not more.
“How utterly stupid is that?
“Last night 19 members of the PA Senate Appropriations Committee voted on a plan that, among other things, puts a 2 cents per thousand cubic feet severance tax on all natural gas produced, which, according to the wizards of smart in the Senate, will raise an extra $108 million.
“Today the package goes to the full Senate for a vote, where it is expected to pass. It then goes to the House.
“If a severance tax is passed (big if), Gov. Wolf can finally “check a box on a campaign promise” to give away other people’s money to teacher’s unions.
“Our only line of defense now is the steel backbone of PA House Speaker Mike Turzai and the House Republicans, to hold the line and reject the severance tax proposal coming from the Senate…"
In response, Crompton’s Tweet said, “We knew this would be whispered. I didn’t think it would be printed.  All the shale provisions are nonseverable.”
Nonseverable means if one provision of the Tax Code bill is declared unconstitutional, then the severance tax and the whole set of Tax Code amendments passed by the Senate related to DEP permitting "reforms" will become null and void.
That’s why the most onerous provisions related to DEP’s permit programs were put in the Tax Code bill in the first place-- as a trade off.
Click Here for an image of the article.  Click Here for an image of Crompton’s Tweet.
The Rest Of The Article Says...
If you subscribe to the Marcellus Shale News, this is what a key part of the remainder of the article says--
“We sincerely hope and trust the drilling industry will put big money behind challengers to Corman, Scarnati and the other traitors in the PA Senate. In fact, we have the list of names from the Republicans on the budget committee who voted “yes” to a severance tax, so you know who to vote (and contribute) against next time around.”
The article goes on to list the Republican “traitors” and the “four brave Republicans who voted against this insanity, worthy of your support in the next election” -- Senators Argall, Langerholc, Martin and Wagner.
Click Here for an image of the article not included in the free view and from which this quote was taken.
(Photo: Illustration from the article in Marcellus Shale News.)

Saturday PA Environmental NewsClips

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July 31 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The July 31  PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

The Tax Code bill passed by the Senate Thursday-- House Bill 542 (Thomas-D-Philadelphia) -- includes provisions creating a special Advisory Committee that must approve any air quality general permits for oil and gas operations before they go into effect and directs DEP to set up a third-party permit review program for all its permits.
The net impact of the changes would be to emasculate the ability of the Department of Environmental Protection to regulate pollution under any of its programs and sets up significant conflicts with the ability of the agency to continue to administer any of its federal regulatory programs.

The PA Environmental Council Thursday sent a letter to all members of the General Assembly  and Gov. Wolf urging them to oppose provisions in the Tax Code bill-- House Bill 542 (Thomas-D-Philadelphia)-- that make drastic and unprecedented changes to permit reviews by the Department of Environmental Protection.

The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday announced it has submitted the 2016 Draft Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, listing the 19,900 miles of impaired waterways in Pennsylvania.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manages about 2.5 million acres of public lands on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. As part of its mission, the department looks to incorporate sustainable management practices to do the right thing, and also demonstrate those practices to the public.

Pennsylvania has 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, which flow through farms and backyards, cities and towns, forests and fields. This means that no matter where Pennsylvanians live, virtually all citizens have a role to play in protecting the state's critical water resources.

The Environmental Hearing Board Tuesday granted the petition of Clean Air Council, Mountain Watershed Association, Inc., and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to halt all drilling operations at 55 locations associated with the construction of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipelines.

On July 28, 1988 Gov. Bob Casey signed into law the most innovative recycling legislation in the nation, setting the standard for state recycling laws across the country.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni issued a ruling Tuesday saying the New York program awarding zero emission credits to certain nuclear generators for their zero-emissions electricity production is constitutional and does not intrude on federal jurisdiction of wholesale electricity markets and dismissed the case against the program, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Former Gov. Mark Schweiker, former DEP Secretary David Hess, Joe Sbaffoni, then head of Bituminous Mine Safety, several miners rescued from the Quecreek Mine and current DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell Thursday joined rescue site owner Bill Arnold and many others to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the historic Quecreek Mine Rescue.

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

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

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