Thursday, September 20, 2018

CFA Awards $850,000 Grant To Valley Energy, Inc. To Extend Natural Gas Pipeline In Bradford County

The Commonwealth Financing Authority Tuesday awarded an $850,000 state grant to Valley Energy, Inc. for a pipeline project located in Bradford County, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
The grant from the Pipeline Investment Program will help to fund the $1.8 million dollar project to extend gas service to East Athens in Athens Township, Bradford County through the installation of approximately 18,000 feet of pipeline.  
The extension will service 66 new gas customers and seven commercial properties.  Company officials have indicated that they would begin engineering and permitting later this year with construction expected to start and be completed in 2019.
“There is widespread support in seeing locally produced natural gas used locally to benefit our area homeowners and businesses,” Sen. Yaw said.  “As one of many supporters, we look forward to the advancement of this important project to the community and its citizens. I’m glad that the CFA saw value in Valley Energy’s application.”
The PIPE program was crafted by Sen. Yaw and approved by the Legislature in 2016 as an amendment to the Fiscal Code bill providing grants to construct the last few miles of natural gas distribution lines to business parks, existing manufacturing and industrial enterprises, which will result in the creation of new economic base jobs in the Commonwealth while providing access to natural gas for residents.
There have been a total of 12 pipeline extension projects funded by this program totalling $9,956,374.  Click Here for a list of approved projects.
The Commonwealth Financing Authority has an open application period for this program.
For more information, visit the CFA Pipeline Investment Program webpage.
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Comments Invited On PUC Procedures For Acquisition Of Publicly-Owned Water, Sewage Systems

The Public Utility Commission Thursday adopted a Tentative Supplemental Implementation Order that puts forth proposals to further improve procedures for how the PUC examines the acquisition and valuation of municipal and authority-owned water and wastewater systems under Section 1329 of the Public Utility Code.
The Commission voted 5-0 to issue proposed revisions for public comment on potential changes to procedures and guidelines for applications seeking rate base valuation treatment under Section 1329 of Chapter 13 of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code (Code).  
Signed into law as Act 12 of 2016, Section 1329 addresses the sale of water and wastewater systems owned by municipal corporations or authorities by providing a process for the sale of public water and wastewater assets for at fair market rates.
With the benefit of approximately two years’ experience applying Section 1329 to applicable transfers of control under Chapters 11 and 13 of the Code and PUC regulations, the Commission now seeks to create more certainty in the process, improve the quality of valuations and further ensure that the adjudication process is both fair and efficient.
The Commission invites interested parties to provide formal comments-- and to offer recommendations for consideration-- on its proposals to improve the processes, evidence and guidelines for Section 1329 applications.
Comments are due within 30 days of publication of the Tentative Supplemental Implementation Order in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, with reply comments due 15 days thereafter.
Click Here for a copy of the proposed Order.
NewsClips:

PUC Approves Resolution Of Mariner East 2 Pipeline Valve Dispute In Chester County

The Public Utility Commission Thursday approved a motion to resolve a complaint concerning construction or location of a pipeline valve station for Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline project filed by West Goshen Township, Chester County.
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve a motion by Commissioner David W. Sweet, adopting a Recommended Decision issued by Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes, following extensive review of this case.
The complaint related to proposed construction of a pipeline valve station outside a defined area in the township and alleged that Sunoco has violated an earlier agreement reached between Sunoco, West Goshen Township and Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township.         
Under the terms of the Recommended Decision approved today:
-- Sunoco is enjoined from constructing or locating a valve or related facilities in West Goshen Township, except for a designated use area, without first consulting with and obtaining the express written consent of West Goshen Township.
-- Sunoco shall provide engineering documents and plans to experts for West Goshen Township for safety reviews, including plans to eliminate a valve in the township and automate a valve approximately 2.5 miles from the township.
-- Sunoco shall file an affidavit attesting to the fact that it has installed remotely operated or automatic valves in proximity to West Goshen Township.
Click Here to read the decision.
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Pike County Conservation District Celebrates Natural Resources Nov. 1

A hike through the forest might feel very different if you imagine a network of communication happening below your boots. This year, the Pike County Conservation District Annual Dinner on November 1 will feature a live performance of TREES by NACL Streets.
The event is a celebration of the natural resources of Pike County, and the great conservation work completed by Conservation District partners, its Board of Directors, and staff.
TREES is about the connectivity, communication, and co-operative existence in forests.
“TREES is a metaphor for our own humanity as we search for and build communities,” says NACL Streets Director Tannis Kowalchuk, an actress and teacher dedicated to creative place-making and community engagement.
The original stilt walking performance, which includes drums and accordion, is based on the bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees by German forester Peter Wohlleben.
“Traditionally, the sustainability equation has included the three pillars of people, planet and profit,” says PCCD Executive Director Michele Long. “More recently, that equation has been broadened to include culture as a fourth pillar. It is through that perspective that we welcome NACL Streets to share their original work, which blends science and art, and was created by local people under professional direction.”
The evening begins with a social gathering at 6:00 p.m., which is cash bar, followed by dinner and welcoming remarks at 6:30. The performance of TREES takes place at 7:30.
The Annual Dinner, which is open to the public, will be held November 1, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., in The Waterfront Room at Silver Birches Resort on Lake Wallenpaupack. The cost is $35 per person for a buffet-style meal and the performance.
Click Here for more information on the Annual Dinner.  RSVPs are requested by Thursday, October 25 by sending email to: pikecd@pikepa.org or call 570-226-8220.
For more information on programs, initiatives, technical and financial assistance, visit the Pike County Conservation District website.

Businesses Showcase Cutting-Edge Tech Solutions For Reducing Oil & Gas Methane Emissions In PA

The Center for Methane Emissions Solutions Thursday brought together members of the business and environmental communities, along with representatives of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, in Pittsburgh to discuss opportunities for reducing emissions from natural gas development in Pennsylvania.
The event was co-sponsored by the PA Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund and underscored the feasibility of reducing oil and gas methane emissions, even as the federal government takes steps to remove national clean air protections.
“The Wolf administration is proud of the progress it has made implementing its Methane Reduction Strategy to address climate change while supporting responsible energy development, safeguarding public health, and protecting our environment,” said Deputy Chief of Staff Sam Robinson. “As we continue to move forward with the Reduction Strategy, we are eager to utilize the most technologically advanced tools available to achieve the largest possible reductions at the lowest possible cost.”
Methane is the primary constituent of natural gas and is also a potent greenhouse gas responsible for 25 percent of the man-made warming being experienced.
In February of this year, an analysis by Environmental Defense Fund estimated methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas sites may be five times higher than what oil and gas companies report to the Department of Environmental Protection.
The methane forum featured demonstrations from FLIR Systems, which manufactures cameras that allow operators to find invisible gas leaks. Technologies such as these are among existing tools that can cut methane emissions in half for no net cost, according to the International Energy Agency.
“FLIR cameras are widely used today by the most forward-thinking companies in the oil and gas industry,” said Frank Pennisi, president of the Industrial Business Unit at FLIR. “We stand at the ready with our optical gas imaging technology to empower industry stakeholders to realize even greater emission and waste reduction benefits while concurrently saving money.”
Many other methane reduction strategies are being developed by Pennsylvania-based companies and academic institutions including Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
“As the second largest natural gas producing state in the nation, it is critical for the energy industry to tackle methane emissions to both protect air quality and ensure the viability of this industry as it faces growing competition in the energy sector,” said Isaac Brown, director of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions. “Fortunately, the region is at the vanguard of a robust industry of methane mitigation companies that are already working with the oil and gas industry to provide cost-effective solutions. Today’s speakers put on display how innovation is transforming the way industry operates for the betterment of Pennsylvania communities and in response to a citizenry that is calling for smart solutions now.”
The event also included a special virtual reality experience developed by EDF that transports users to a modern day gas facility, allowing them to find and fix virtual methane leaks while underscoring current opportunities to reduce this potent greenhouse gas, which often leaks with other harmful pollutants that deteriorate air quality and create risks to public health.
Pennsylvania is among the early states to set standards to control harmful emissions from oil and gas facilities, actions which will help the state cut future emissions while benefiting the economy.
“Forward-looking leaders such as Gov. Tom Wolf understand that methane is a problem and that sensible methane controls protect the health of Pennsylvania communities, spur job growth and reduce natural gas waste,” said Andrew Williams, director of regulatory and legislative affairs at EDF. “Expanding controls to apply to the thousands of existing natural gas facilities operating across the state will secure Pennsylvania’s role as a leader in establishing smart energy policies that reduce environmental risk, protect residents and grow the economy.”
For more information on methane reduction technology, visit the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions website.
(Photo: Isaac Brown of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions speaks to the environmental and economic benefits of a growing methane mitigation industry.)
NewsClips:
Interior Rolls Back Methane Pollution Rules For Drilling On U.S. Lands
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Report By Kleinman Center For Energy Policy Raises Concerns Over Philadelphia Refinery Site

The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy Thursday released a report raising concerns about contamination at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery site and highlights the utter lack of public participation in the remediation planning process.
According to the report-- Beyond Bankruptcy: The Outlook for Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Refinery-- Sunoco did not follow the required public participation process for remediation planning under DEP’s Land Recycling Program.  As a result, local residents, city agencies, elected officials, and other stakeholders were not able to provide input.
The Department of Environmental Protection has already approved Sunoco’s analysis of contamination for eight of the eleven refinery sites deemed an “area of concern,” meaning Sunoco may comply with site-specific standards under the Land Recycling Program.
Two of the three remaining areas of concern for which site characterization reports have yet to be approved involve pollution that has migrated off site, and one area of concern involves the New Jersey drinking water aquifer.
Separate from DEP, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to open a public comment period on the proposed site cleanup plan, which is estimated to be available by 2020.
The report said, “The omission of public involvement in the remediation planning for the refinery is a meaningful grievance. Given the magnitude, severity, and toxicity of the site’s contamination, coupled with its proximity to highly populated environmental justice neighborhoods, population centers, and drinking water resources, public involvement is critical to informing the municipality and community about existing risks, appropriateness of site-specific standards, and remediation options. In turn, this input could inform, improve, and garner public support for the project approach and goals.”
Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council, issued the following statement--
“Sunoco has unlawfully denied local residents, city agencies, elected officials, and other stakeholders the opportunity to meaningfully provide input during the remediation planning process for the PES refinery site.
“The lack of public participation in planning for remediation at the site is completely unacceptable, especially given the extensive environmental contamination at the site and the proximity of the refinery to environmental justice neighborhoods.
“As PES is likely to go bankrupt again in the near future, it is critical that the city engage the public in thoroughly assessing the best possible future use of the refinery site that aligns with Philadelphia’s sustainability goals.”
Click Here for a copy of the report.
[NOTE: This post will be updated as more information becomes available.]
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Brandywine Conservancy & Museum Of Art, Chester County, Seeks Renewal Of Accreditation Thru Land Trust Alliance

The Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art in Chester County Thursday announced it is applying for renewal of its land trust accreditation.
The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs every five years.
“Accreditation ensures that the Brandywine holds itself to the highest professional standards in the land trust field. It provides confidence to our landowners, constituents, members and donors that this organization can responsibly fulfill the promise of preserving and stewarding our working and natural resources for generations to come,” said Ellen Ferretti, Director of the Brandywine Conservancy.
The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art complies with national quality standards, which address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust.
For the full list of standards or to learn more about the accreditation program, please visit the Land Trust Accreditation Commission website.  
Comments can be submitted online, emailed to: info@landtrustaccreditation.org,  faxed to 518-587-3183 or mailed to: Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments, 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.  
The deadline for comments on the Brandywine’s application is December 14, 2018.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Brandywine Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy (middle of the webpage.)  Visit the Conservancy’s Blog, Like the Conservancy on Facebook and Follow them on Instagram.
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Gov. Wolf Urges Congress To Reauthorize Federal Land & Water Conservation Fund

Gov. Tom Wolf Thursday urged Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund-- an important federal tool that communities across Pennsylvania-- rural, suburban, and urban--  have used to revitalize their neighborhoods and create outdoor recreation opportunities for all citizens.
“Congress must act to save this important community development and conservation tool for states and local communities,” Gov. Wolf said. “Our economy depends on strong and attractive communities for businesses and workers to move, stay, and grow. Congress needs to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund without delay.”
Over 50 years ago, Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, a remarkable bipartisan measure that provides urban and rural outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. Unfortunately, without congressional action this tremendous resource to states will expire at the end of this month.
I write to request that you support H.R. 502, which was reported from the House Committee on Natural Resources last week, and to urge your leadership to make this a priority in the coming days.
This bill provides for the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF and will ensure that the Fund will continue to enable new recreational opportunities for future generations in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
LWCF grants have improved thousands of communities throughout the Commonwealth and have helped fund significant improvements in our award-winning State Parks. Projects range in size from large, high-profile undertakings-- like the rehabilitation of the Big Savage Tunnel, a key point along the Great Allegheny Passage trail-- to more local initiatives, such as the rehabilitation of Milltown Dam Park in Chester County.
Federal projects have added to the Appalachian Trail, rehabilitated historic Valley Forge National Park and enabled dozens of other projects across the state.
Last week I attended a moving event at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville PA, marking the 17th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our nation and memorializing the 40 passengers and crew who lost their lives on Pennsylvania soil that day.
LWCF funds were instrumental in enabling the creation of that fitting memorial as a place of reflection and tribute to all who lost their lives on that tragic day.
Tremendous strides have been made in meeting local outdoor recreation needs thanks to the LWCF in Pennsylvania.
The 40 percent guaranteed funding to the states in the bill will address greatly needed infrastructure upgrades, meet new health and safety requirements, and respond to changing population trends.
Parks created through this visionary law provide areas that will forever be available to address the needs of our youth, adults, seniors, and those of all abilities.
I am requesting your support for permanent reauthorization of the Act. Your commitment is critical to carry forward the visionary legacy of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
Click Here for a copy of the letter.
In Pennsylvania
To date LWCF has provided more than $309 million in funding support to Pennsylvania, from well-known places like the Appalachian Trail and the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon County to local projects like public park development and improvement in counties and municipalities across Pennsylvania.
Click Here for more background on LWCF projects funded in Pennsylvania.
Contact your Representative and Senator in Congress to let them know you support LWCF and want to see it both reauthorized and fully used for its intended purpose – to protect natural, cultural, and recreational opportunities in Pennsylvania.
For more information on this issue, visit the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition website.
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Op-Ed: Congress Needs To Permanently Reauthorize Land & Water Conservation Fund - Ed Perry

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