Saturday, January 18, 2020

Trout Unlimited: Federal Bill To Fund Abandoned Mine Cleanup Moving Forward

By Mark Taylor, Trout Unlimited

Much-needed legislation to continue funding abandoned mine cleanup is moving forward in Congress. [The federal fee supporting the program is set to expire in 2021.]
The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee this week [January 15] approved H.R. 4248 by a voice vote following testimony from lead sponsor Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA). 
“H.R. 4248 would ensure that states and tribes can continue addressing challenges presented by historic mining operations,” Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, wrote in a letter to the committee. “TU deeply appreciates the bipartisan leadership that Representatives Cartwright and Glenn Thompson (R-PA) have shown in sponsoring this bill, and for the support from the bill’s cosponsors.” 
[The bipartisan] H.R. 4248 would reauthorize the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 and provide ongoing funding through 2036.  
Since 1977, the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund has poured more than $5.5 billion into abandoned mine projects across the country. The fund is supported by a small per-ton fee on current coal production. But the work is not done. 
Another $10.5 billion in cleanup is ahead of us, and addressing AMD pollution would add billions to the cost.  
TU volunteer leader Robert “Bobby” Hughes of Ashley, Pa., testified when the House Subcommittee for Energy and Mineral Resources met in November to discuss H.R. 4248. 
Hughes has spent his entire life in the coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania. He is executive vice president for the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited and executive director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.   
“The majority of the streams that I’ve grown up around still run orange to this day,” he said in his testimony before the subcommittee. “It’s not fair that my children to have to live with this legacy of past mining.” 
Pennsylvania has more abandoned mine land sites than any state in the nation. TU has spent decades working with partners to clean up water pollution from abandoned mine drainage (AMD), which has left streams devoid of life. 
Working with partners on more than 200 projects in the state, we are restoring streams and seeing wild trout populations rebound in the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed.  
These extensive restoration projects create direct local jobs for equipment operators, truck drivers, engineers, technicians, even former mine industry employees. For every federal dollar invested in cleanup, $1.59 is added to the local economy.   
“Ongoing federal funding is essential to states, tribes and groups like mine that work with local communities to address hazardous conditions, improve water quality, and promote economic development in historic coal mining areas,” Steve Moyer, TU’s vice president for government affairs, wrote in a letter to the subcommittee.  
“For the first few centuries of American coal mining,” Cartwright said at the November hearing, “it was standard practice to mine an area until the coal was gone and then have the company simply move on to a new mine without cleaning up the old one. As a result, millions of Americans live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine. These hazardous sites pose risks to our health, our safety, our environment and our economy.”  
Thompson extolled the successes of the Abandoned Mine program and noted the need to continue the work. “I’ve seen waters go from orange to clear and some pretty good fishing, let alone great habitat that gets planted on those reclaimed areas in cooperation with our sportsmen to support game.”   
Lowenthal highlighted the bipartisan support for H.R. 4248, and urged colleagues to move forward quickly before the collection of AML fund fees expires in 2021.  
“I know Congress is known for waiting until the last possible second on absolutely everything, so discussing this bill two years before expiration may seem out of character,” Lowenthal said. “But this is a problem that isn’t going away.” 
Take Action
Visit the Trout Unlimited Action Center for more information about how you can email or call your congressional representative today to support abandoned mine cleanup.
[Visit the PA AML Campaign website for more information from the point of view of local and regional groups involved in abandoned mine reclamation in Pennsylvania.
[Visit the Our Work’s Not Done website supported by states involved in the federal abandoned mine reclamation program.]

(Reprinted from the Trout Unlimited website.)
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[Posted: January 18, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

PA Environmental Council At 50: We Had To Do Something

This is the first in a series of articles recounting the history of the PA Environmental Council from PEC’s 50th Anniversary webpage. 

To many of a certain age, it may be difficult to imagine a time when the world seemed indifferent to the ravages of litter, air and water pollution, chemical waste, overpopulation, and other legacy impacts of the modern industrial age.
But there was. In Cleveland, Ohio, the Cuyahoga River caught fire—not just once, but three times. In Love Canal, New York, groundwater contamination from a chemical waste dump forced the evacuation of 800 families from their homes.
Closer to home, parts of the lower Delaware River were so badly polluted as to be considered dead, devoid of most fish and wildlife. 
Throughout northern Pennsylvania, the ravages of mining had left large desolate areas that would take generations to heal. 
And in Pittsburgh, air pollution from steel manufacturing blocked the sun at mid-day, causing streetlights to operate around the clock.
“In the late 1960s, there was a growing concern that Pennsylvania’s environmental degradation would become irreversible,” recalls Eleanor Webster Winsor, one of the original founders of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
“Pennsylvania had seen a lot of major environmental problems and we realized that we had to do something. Science and technology could solve many of these problems if people understood the importance of acting responsibly. 
“What was missing was an organization that could speak for the environment in the political arena and help state government apply existing knowledge to the problems we faced. We needed laws and regulations that were based on emerging scientific and technological knowledge.”
“Pennsylvania’s environment had historically been controlled by large, polluting industries, which focused on immediate profits without accounting for the long-term impact of their activities on the communities in which they operated. 
“As people throughout the United States recognized that things had to change, Pennsylvania was in the vanguard of efforts to transform the way people perceived and treated the environment. Activists realized that the place to make the greatest impact was to speak truth in Harrisburg.”
By the late 1960s, the environmental movement was gaining traction and achieving critical mass in the United States. 
At the national level, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb thrust awareness of environmental science into public consciousness. 
And as the U.S. manned space flight program brought back the first pictures of Earth from space, Americans-- perhaps for the first time-- began to grasp the fragile and finite nature of their ecosystem.
“The protestations of conservationists have accomplished too little for too long,” according to a 1970 PEC briefing document, written after considerable debate. 
“Conservationists, whether individuals or organizations have lacked the facts to speak effectively, the communication with others to act cohesively, and a medium to present responsibly and consistently their viewpoints to the legislators and regulators… who determine the quality of Pennsylvania’s environment. 
“Consequently, their efforts to affect environmental policy at the state level have met with minimal success.
“The Pennsylvania Environmental Council… has concentrated on developing and pushing a few environmental matters, rather than diluting its effectiveness by speaking frequently without sufficient expertise to support its positions.”
The Times They Were A-Changing
Things were beginning to change in Pennsylvania. In 1967, Franklin Kury, representing Montour and Northumberland Counties, became one of the new faces in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 
“From 1965 to about 1972,” recalls Kury, “Pennsylvania went through an environmental revolution. The people of Pennsylvania woke up to the fact that they’d been badly exploited by the coal industry, the steel industry, and the railroad industry. And they were determined.”
In the summer of 1969, a small handful of concerned Pennsylvanians decided that they had seen enough. 
Thomas Dolan IV of Philadelphia, Curtis Wright, Esq. of Ambler, Dr. Colson Blakeslee of Dubois, Robert Kolek of Pittsburgh, Josh Whetzel, Robert Broughton of Pittsburgh, Eleanor Webster of Philadelphia, and Curtin Winsor of Ardmore conceived a statewide environmental “coordinating organization” to which individuals, other organizations, government and business and industry could turn for information on environmental issues. 
Webster and Whetzel had worked together at the Conservation Foundation in Washington and were able to bring a national perspective to the discussions.
Their approach was to bring conservationists, community leaders, business interests, agriculture, lawyers, and local government together to work with state government to restore and enhance environmental quality. 
Unlike other environmental organizations in the state, however, the “Pennsylvania Environmental Coordinating Council” was incorporated with the ability to lobby the state legislature and administration. 
PEC would maintain its focused approach from then until the late 1980s when it was transformed from a lobby to an environmental organization with broader objectives.
It’s likely that few present at that first meeting could have imagined the profound and lasting impact their upstart organization would have over the subsequent five decades.
It was a humble beginning, but not without an impact. 
In an article years later Mr. Winsor recalled that “…in the fall of 1969, we had 100 members, no office, no staff and a debt in the amount of $2,500. 
“That was the lawyer’s fee for the case of Pennsylvania Environmental Council v. Volpe, which established the right of a nonprofit citizens’ group to sue the federal government on a matter of environmental concern,” a landmark decision in the history of U.S. environmental law.
And with that very first case, the stage was set for a new chapter in Pennsylvania’s history of conservation and stewardship. 
After that case, PEC moved away from litigation, realizing that its limited resources needed to be concentrated on getting legislation passed.
Articles of incorporation were completed in January 1970, and that April, with just $200 in the bank, PEC opened an office on South 16th Street in Philadelphia, just days before the first Earth Day and more than six months before the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Curtis Wright was selected to be PEC’s first president, albeit only briefly. He resigned due to illness after only a few months as president and was succeeded by fellow co-founder Curtin Winsor.
Find out more by visiting the Celebrating 50 Years Of PEC webpage.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, PEC Bill/Regulation Tracker, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.
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[Posted: January 18, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

South Mountain Partnership 9th Annual Power Of The Partnership Celebration Jan. 31 In Adams County

The Annual Power of the Partnership Celebration is the South Mountain Partnership’s yearly event to celebrate what makes the South Mountain region so special. 
Join us on January 31 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Liberty Mountain Resort located at 78 Country Club Trail in Fairfield, Adams County to honor this special place and the work of partners who invest in a sustainable, healthy future for our communities and citizens. 
Anyone interested in making the South Mountain region a better place to live, work, and play is welcome to attend.
Connecting portions of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties and covering approximately half a million acres and including almost 1 million residents, the South Mountain landscape is one of Pennsylvania’s most unique regions. 
The region’s most prominent geographic feature is the forested uplands of the South Mountain ridgeline, but fertile agricultural valleys shape this landscape as well. 
In fact, no single element or feature defines this region of Southcentral Pennsylvania, but rather it is the unique convergence of diverse natural and cultural elements that makes this landscape so special.
The event includes a hot breakfast, a presentation of the 8th annual Spirit of the South Mountain Awards, the awarding of 2019 South Mountain Mini-Grants, a showcase of the successes of 2019, and highlights of our plans for 2020. 
Mini-Grants are provided through the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund, through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The 9th annual event is sponsored by our generous partners at Destination Gettysburg, Adams County Economic Alliance, and Adams County.
The cost of the event is $18, which includes a hot breakfast and beverages. Register by January 24th online.
For more information on programs, initiatives, other upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the South Mountain Partnership website.   Click Here for upcoming South Mountain Speakers Series schedule.
[Posted: January 18, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Registration Now Open For March 14 Watershed Congress Along The Schuylkill

Reduced rate registration is available through February 9. Student rate is available, send an email to: chari@delawareriverkeeper.org.
The annual Watershed Congress melds science, policy, and practical applications into one program that highlights the best available information and techniques for protecting and restoring watersheds.
This year’s program features a keynote on community building and engagement efforts to move inclusively, build awareness, and activate urban youth and adults in water protection, as well as information-packed breakout sessions, presenter’s roundtables, poster sessions, and much more.
Sessions include-
-- RENEW-ing Wilmington, DE, Kristen Travers, and Willa Rowan, Delaware Nature Society
--Updates and Improvements to the Online Water Quality Modeling Application, Model My Watershed®, Dave Arscott, PhD, Stroud Water Research Center 
-- Microplastics in the Passaic River - Methods and Community Connections, Sandra LaVigne, Great Swamp Watershed Association 
-- Biosolids and Sewage Sludge: The Politics of Human Waste?, Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Lauren Williams, Curtin and Heefner LLP 
-- The Role of Citizen Environmental Advocacy in the Revitalization of an Industrial River Town, Paul Kusko, Phoenix Iron Canal and Trails Association 
-- Salt and Metal Inputs to a Rural to Urban Watershed, Nicole Marks and Steven Goldsmith, PhD, Villanova University
-- Revitalization through GSI – Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters Program and the American Street Corridor Project,  Kevin Selger, Gilmore & Associates, Inc. with Lena Smith, PennFuture
-- Monitoring and Managing for Climate Change in the National Parks, Amy Ruhe, Valley Forge National Historical Park
-- Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Stream Conductivity and Temperature in the Delaware Basin, Diana Oviedo-Vargas, PhD, David Bressler, and Marc Peipoch, PhD, Stroud Water Research Center 
-- Ditching Disposables: Community Organizing to Ensure the Success of Local Plastics Legislation, Liz Magill Peer, City of Lambertville and Alex Ambrose, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions
-- New Wetland Maps Released for Pennsylvania – How Accurate Are They?, Stephen Kunz, Schmid & Company, Inc., Consulting Ecologists
-- Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership Implementation and Resources, Brenda Sieglitz, Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership / Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA
-- Fishable and Swimmable Waters, Recreation, and Stream Health - Survey Findings, Meghan Kelly, Green Motivate; Sophia Hull, Environment New Jersey; and Fred Stine, Delaware Riverkeeper Network
-- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Widening (MP320-MP326): Taking the Long Way to Better Stormwater Management, Pete Goodman, Valley Forge Chapter, Trout Unlimited; and Michele Adams, Meliora Design
-- Integrating Municipal Climate Change Concerns into County Hazard Mitigation Plans, Robert Graff, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
-- 2 Rounds of short discussions with selected presenters
-- Poster sessions-
     -- Redevelopment and Natural Resource Restoration, 78 Corporate Center, Lebanon, New Jersey, Randy Kertes, Nautilus Environmental Group, LLC
     -- Water Ways Presents The Fracking Game, Meg Lemieur and Bri Barton, Water Ways
-- Role of American Eels in Controlling Invasive Crayfish in the Schuylkill Watershed, Erik Silldorff, PhD, Delaware Riverkeeper Network; Richard Horwitz, PhD, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University; and David Lieb, PhD, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy / Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission
-- Historical Deposition of Coal Sediment in the Schuylkill River Floodplain, Steven Goldsmith, PhD, Villanova University
-- Stream Redesignation 101, Alice Baker and Abigail Jones, PennFuture
-- Carversville Farm – Stream, Floodplain, and Multi-Functional Riparian Buffer Restoration, Michael Hartshorne, Emily Bjorhus, and Cory Speroff, Princeton Hydro, LLC
-- Patterns and Processes of Fecal Indicator Bacteria in the Delaware River Basin, Jinjun Kan, PhD, and Raven Bier, PhD, Stroud Water Research Center
-- Quantifying the Value of Chester County's Open Space, Rachael Griffith, Chester County Planning Commission; John Goodall, Brandywine Conservancy; and Judy Thomas, Chester County Department of Parks and Open Space Preservation
-- Using Environmentally-based Intergenerational Storytelling to Nurture Climate Resilient Communities, Sarah Chudnovsky, Berks Nature; Tamara Peffer, Pennsylvania Department of Education; Fred Lewis and Eleanor Lund-Wade, Center in the Park - Senior Environmental Corps
-- What's Next? Closing Comments
Student Facilitator
During the Watershed Congress, concurrent sessions are presented in classrooms to small groups ranging from 20 to 40 participants. Concurrent sessions are led by Student Facilitators who help to keep the program running smoothly.
The Watershed Congress Planning Committee offers these roles first to college students in the region with the goal of introducing students to watershed issues, the Congress event, and encouraging them to consider becoming presenters in the future.
The Student Facilitator opportunity is not a paid position, but those selected will receive complimentary registration to the Watershed Congress. In addition, the Student Facilitator role allows opportunities for networking with professionals in the environmental field.
Click Here to apply or for more information.  The deadline is February 9.
Sponsorship
Consider becoming a financial sponsor for the 2020 Watershed Congress. Sponsorship dollars are used to help ensure that we can continue to offer the high-quality event our audience has come to expect and still keep the cost to participants low.
Click Here for more information, or call 215-369-1188, ext. 109 or send an email to: chari@delawareriverkeeper.org
Congress Presented By
The Schuylkill Watershed Congress is presented by the Delaware RiverKeeper, Berks County Conservation District, Berks Nature, Bucks County Conservation District, Cadastral Consulting, LLC, Center in the Park / Senior Environment Corps, Delaware Nature Society, Delaware River Steamboat Floating Classroom, Inc. SPLASH, Delaware Valley University, Green Valleys Watershed Association, A.D. Marble & Company, Montgomery County Community CollegeMontgomery County Conservation District, Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Penn State University, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Reading Area Community College, Schuylkill Action Network, Schuylkill River Greenways NHA, Stroud Water Research Center, Sustainable Choices, LLC & Philadelphia Water, Temple University, Valley Forge Trout Unlimited, The Write Beat and Yellow Springs Farm
To register and for more information, visit the 2020 Watershed Congress Along The Schuylkill website.
(Photo: Original Artwork, "Put the Yak in the River and Go" by Jon Bond.)
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[Posted: January 18, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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