Tuesday, April 16, 2024

DEP: Next Round Of Growing Greener Plus Grants Will Open April 22

The Department of Environmental Protection will open the next round of
Growing Greener Plus Watershed Restoration Grants on April 22.

Growing Greener Plus includes funding from the Environmental Stewardship Fund, EPA’s Section 319 Program and federal coal mine reclamation funding.

Click Here to sign up for email notification of the next grant round.

Visit DEP’s Growing Greener Plus webpage for more information.

For more information on environmental programs in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s website, Report Emergencies, Submit Environmental Complaints; Click Here to sign up for DEP’s newsletter; sign up for DEP’s eNotice; visit DEP’s BlogLike DEP on Facebook, Follow DEP on Twitter and visit DEP’s YouTube Channel.

Related Article:

-- CFA Accepting Applications For Act 13 Watershed Restoration, Mine Reclamation, Sewage, Flood Mitigation, Recreation Grants  [PaEN]

[Posted: April 16, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

CFA Accepting Applications For Act 13 Watershed Restoration, Mine Reclamation, Sewage, Flood Mitigation, Recreation Grants

The
Commonwealth Financing Authority is now accepting applications for Act 13 Program watershed restoration, abandoned mine drainage abatement, baseline water quality data, orphaned or abandoned well plugging, sewage facilities, flood mitigation programs and recreation grants.

The deadline for applications is May 31.

These grants are funded by the Act 13 drilling impact fees paid by unconventional shale gas drillers.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s available and the links for more details--

-- Watershed Restoration: The overall goal of the Watershed Restoration and Protection Program  is to restore, and maintain restored stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff, and ultimately to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Impaired Waters list.

-- Abandoned Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment: Projects which involve the reclamation of Abandoned Mine Well(s), construction of a new AMD site, remediation and repair of existing AMD project sites, operation and maintenance maintaining current AMD remediation sites, establishment of trust fund to ensure ongoing maintenance is achieved, and monitoring of water quality to track or continue to trace nonpoint source load reductions resulting from AMD remediation projects.

-- Orphan or Abandoned Well Plugging Program: Projects which involve the cleaning out and plugging of abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells; stray gas mitigation systems; and well venting projects.

-- Baseline Water Quality Data: Projects which involve practices for water sample collection and analysis to document existing groundwater quality conditions on private water supplies.

-- Sewage Facilities Program: Costs associated with the planning work required under Act 537 Sewage Facilities Act.

-- Flood Mitigation: Projects authorized by a flood protection authority, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or identified by a local government for flood mitigation are eligible for the program.

-- Greenways, Trails And Recreation Program: Projects which involve development, rehabilitation and improvements to public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails and river conservation.

Applicants are strongly urged to contact their House and Senate member to make them aware you intend to submit an application for funding under these programs and ask for their endorsement.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit the Commonwealth Financing Authority Act 13 Programs webpage.  Questions should be directed to 717-787-6245.

[Posted: April 16, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

PA Chapter American Planning Assn. Accepting Nominations For Great Places In Pennsylvania

The
PA Chapter of the American Planning Association is accepting nominations for Great Places In Pennsylvania in two categories: Great Public Spaces and Great Transformations.  The deadline for submissions is May 17.

Great Places are unique, memorable places that display community planning best practices, have an exemplary character, and a sustainable vision for tomorrow.

Nominations will be considered by the Great Places in Pennsylvania Judges Committee with notification to applicants in the summer.

Click Here to submit a nomination or for more information.

Visit the PA Chapter of the American Planning Association website to learn more about programs, initiatives and upcoming events.


(Reprinted from the WeConservePA website.)

[Posted: April 16, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

The Conservation Fund Transfers Conservation Easement For 19,800 Acres In Elk, McKean Counties To Western PA Conservancy

 The Conservation Fund has transferred more than 19,800 acres of forestland along the Clarion River in Elk County and Kinzua Creek in McKean County to the Western PA Conservancy.

This conservation project, called the Clarion Junction Conservation Easement, totals 32,598 acres and provides long-term protection of forested lands in Elk and McKean counties, while keeping them in private ownership and allowing public access.  Read more here.

These lands include sweeping ridges and scenic hardwood forests of red and sugar maple, black cherry, yellow and black birch, red oak and eastern hemlock. 

There are forested riparian areas along the West Branch Clarion River, East Branch Clarion River, the main branch of the Clarion River, and many high-quality tributaries that support wild trout.

The easement protects the conservation values of property that is surrounded by and also an important connection between state forest lands, state game lands and the Allegheny National Forest. 

Along with the nearby public lands­­, these lands offer residents and visitors opportunities for fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife watching in this natural and picturesque PA Wilds region that attracts thousands of tourists annually.

The Conservancy’s conservation easement will provide public access to this privately owned working forest, while restricting future development and ensuring the property’s conservation values are protected in perpetuity. 

The easement permits the continuation of sustainable forestry operations on the property. This forest provides a steady source of wood for the local forest product industry, including a papermill in downtown Johnsonburg. 

The Conservancy’s stewardship staff will be responsible for monitoring the property ensuring it remains in accordance with the easement provisions.

Protecting large acreage and providing connectivity to other nearby, large protected public lands is important for wildlife species’ survival, says Conservancy President and CEO Thomas Saunders.

“We appreciate The Conservation Fund’s donation of this important conservation easement that further protects open space and this large working forest, beautiful natural area and important habitat,” says Saunders. “We are glad to steward these streamside forestlands to ensure they remain thriving ecosystems for generations to come,” he adds.

Matt Marusiak, the Conservancy’s land protection manager in its Allegheny Regional Office in Ridgway, is very familiar with this forest. He lives and works near the lands in Elk County, and has frequently fished the local mountain streams.

“This forestland has long been managed well and provides great opportunities for hunting, fishing and hiking. The Conservancy’s role will ensure this community treasure will continue being open for public recreation and contributing to the local economy and quality of life,” says Marusiak.

Since the 1970s, the Western PA Conservancy has permanently protected thousands of acres of land across the region through conservation easements. 

For more information about conservation options to protect land, please contact the Conservancy at 412-288-2777 or land@paconserve.org

More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events at the Western PA Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, join them on Instagram, visit the Conservancy’s YouTube Channel or add them to your network on LinkedinClick Here to support their work.

The Conservancy has helped to establish 11 state parks, conserved more than 250,000 acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, maintains 132 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of more than 11,000 volunteers and the support of more than 9,000 members.


(Reprinted from WeConservePA website.)

Related Articles:

-- Heritage Conservancy, Warrington Township Conserve Nearly 175 Acres Of Open Space In Bucks County

-- Berks Nature Protects 131 Acres In Schuylkill County

-- Allegheny Land Trust Completes 3 Land Conservation Projects Bringing Close-To-Home Green Space To Communities

[Posted: April 15, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

Yuengling Brewery, Keep PA Beautiful Celebrate Partnership With Cleanup In Schuylkill County

Through a partnership between
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. and Keep America Beautiful, Route 209 in the Pottsville area of Schuylkill County received extra care and attention by way of a roadway cleanup project. 

On April 12, Yuengling employees and their family members met at Francis E. Lubinsky Park to sign in and receive supplies of bags, gloves and safety vests. 

As part of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s Pick Up Pennsylvania community improvement program, Yuengling volunteers were shuttled to pick up trash along the Route 209 and Schuylkill River corridor leading into Port Carbon.   

All told, 3,070 pounds of beverage and food containers, stray paper items, cigarette butts, glass bottles, tires and other litter commonly found along roads and public spaces were bagged within a span of two hours. 

The cleanup event highlights Yuengling’s ongoing commitment to caring for our local communities and sustainability. 

“As the Oldest Brewery in America, we have embraced the importance of preserving resources for 195 years,” said Debbie Yuengling, 6th generation family member of D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. “By raising awareness and organizing clean up events, we look forward to bringing together all those who share our passion to care for our beautiful country.”

“Litter negatively impacts our communities – the environment, waterways, property taxes, home values, tourism, businesses and the safety of our neighborhoods. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is grateful for our partnership with Yuengling and their staff for caring about keeping their community clean and beautiful. Their efforts are greatly appreciated and go a long way in helping to mitigate the negative effects of litter," said Heidi Pedicone, Director of Programs, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.  

Visit Yuengling’s website to learn more about the company’s sustainability programs.

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from KPB, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, visit their YouTube Channel.

The 2024 Pick Up Pennsylvania Initiative through May 31!  Questions should be directed to Michelle Dunn at 1-877-772-3673 Ext. 113 or send email to: mdunn@keeppabeautiful.org.

Keep PA Beautiful helps mobilize over 100,000 volunteers a year to pick up litter, clean up illegal dumping and beautify Pennsylvania.

Related Articles:

-- Little Juniata River Assn.: More Than 100 Volunteers Clean Up 30 Miles Of River Banks In Huntingdon, Blair Counties  [PaEN] 

-- PA Resources Council Offers Free Statewide Recycling Webinar On Earth Day, April 22  [PaEN]

[Posted: April 16, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

Senate Committee Hearing April 17 On Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater

On April 17, the
Senate Democratic Policy Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the Road Dumping Conventional Oil and Gas Wastewater.

The hearing was organized by Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester), Chair of the Committee, and Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

The hearing is intended to thoroughly examine the environmental and public health impacts associated with disposing of conventional oil and gas wastewater on public roads.

Despite a moratorium implemented in 2018 on DEP approvals for road dumping, reports indicate continued use of conventional drilling waste on roads, raising significant concerns over the potential release of harmful substances such as salts, metals, and radioactive materials into the environment.

Individuals expected to testify include--

-- Dr. William Burgos, Penn State Professor of Environmental Engineering, who has studied the health and environmental impacts of conventional oil and gas wastewater extensively.

-- David Hess, Former Secretary of DEP under Governors Ridge and Schweiker.

-- Siri Lawson, Warren County resident, significantly impacted by road dumping.

-- Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, who has done important research into waste reporting and related issues on conventional road dumping.

The hearing will start at 11:00 a.m.  Click Here to join the hearing via Zoom.

Briefing On Road Dumping

Oil and gas wastewater is a waste generated from the time a conventional oil and gas well is drilled through its entire life.  The only way to stop this waste from being produced is to plug the well.

It’s Contaminated

Penn State studies have found the amounts of at least 25 of the chemicals they tested for in this wastewater exceeded environmental and health standards and radioactive radium exceeded industrial waste discharge standards.

Penn State also found from 2008 to 2014, “spreading O&G PW [oil and gas wastewater] on roads released over 4 times more radium to the environment than O&G [oil and gas] wastewater treatment facilities, and 200 times more radium than spill events,” according to Dr. William Burgos.  Read more here.

It Will Burn

This waste also has to be stored in tanks and transported in trucks with warnings that include “flammability” hazard because it can catch fire or explode.

Municipalities Are Disposal Facilities

DEP considers municipalities where conventional oil and gas well owners road dump their waste as “waste facilities” in its waste disposal recordkeeping.  Read more here.

So far, 84 townships have this designation in DEP’s waste disposal database.  There’s a list.  Read more here.

DEP has also taken the step of advising municipalities in writing that road dumping conventional oil and gas drilling wastewater is illegal and considered waste disposal-- since it doesn’t meet Residual Waste Regulation requirements.  Read more here.

Is it Useful?  Experts Say No

The experts on dirt and gravel road construction and maintenance-- the Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies-- call the road dumping of conventional wastewater an “environmentally unsound practice” that can cause water pollution and even damage roads.  Read more here.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources bans road dumping oil and gas wastewater for any purpose on its over 6,500 miles of state forest roads.  DCNR is the largest owner of dirt and gravel roads in the Commonwealth. Read more here.

The Allegheny National Forest says “commercial dust suppressants now available render the practice of spreading oil and gas wastewater on roads unnecessary” within the National Forest in Elk, Forest, McKean and Warren counties.  Read more here.

Penn State’s Dr. William Burgos, who has extensively studied oil and gas wastewater and road dumping and its environmental and health risks says, “Pennsylvania should ban road spreading of O&G PW [oil and gas wastewater].  Read more here.

He continues, “There is no public benefit to road spreading O&G PWs…. It is all risk, no reward. The only beneficiaries are the O&G [oil and gas] operators who choose this disposal option.”  Read more here.

How Much Is There?  We Don’t Know

How much of this conventional wastewater is there?  We don’t know.

In March, DEP reported 86% of conventional oil and gas well owners did not comply with waste disposal reporting for 33,505 wells in 2023.  Read more here.

That means DEP has no idea where at least 32% of all waste generated by conventional oil and gas wells is being disposed, but probably much more.  Read more here.

DEP data shows over 8 million gallons of conventional wastewater was road dumped in 2017,  but that’s only what well owners reported.  Read more here.

The same DEP data showed from 1991 to 2017, over 240.4 million gallons of conventional wastewater was road dumped.  Read more here.

This is a huge issue and conventional well owners continue to dump.

There is no system in place to track this waste from where it is generated to where it is disposed, recycled or treated.

Even for the amounts that have been reported by well owners, DEP does not have the staff to do audits of what they report to see if it is accurate.

Attempts To Regulate Before Failed

There have been attempts to regulate the road dumping of conventional wastewater before to reduce its environmental and health impacts.

Starting in 1996, DEP looked at road dumping and the environmental impacts of this disposal method.  Read more here.

The result was a set of guidelines in 1998 that limited how much could be dumped on roads and where so it wouldn’t run off and pollute.   Read more here.

The industry failed to comply with the limits on how they dumped or required reporting.

In fact they are dumping now.  Citizens in counties with conventional oil and gas drilling continue to report road dumping as well owners get rid of their wastewater.  Read more here.

Attorney General Investigation

The fact conventional well owners continue to road dump hasn’t gone unnoticed.

According to a consultant for conventional oil and gas well owners, the state Office of Attorney General has been investigating the illegal disposal of conventional drilling wastewater by road dumping under DEP’s Residual Waste Regulations  Read more here.

No charges have been announced, yet.

Non-Compliance The Norm

Non-compliance with regulations and the law is not an isolated event with conventional well owners.

In December 2022, DEP issued a first-ever assessment of compliance by conventional well owners that found “non-compliance” is an “acceptable norm in the conventional oil and gas industry.”  Read more here.

Kurt Klapkowski, DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, told the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in March-- 

“Unfortunately, reviewing inspection and compliance data developed since 2017, DEP has identified widespread non-compliance with laws and regulations in the conventional oil and gas industry, particularly regarding improper abandonment of oil and gas wells but also not reporting hydrocarbon and waste production and conducting mechanical integrity assessments.”

Bottomline

-- Indiscriminate Dumping: Conventional wastewater is now being illegally road dumped indiscriminately and unnecessarily anywhere the industry wants with no limits.  We don’t know exactly how much because the industry fails to report;

-- Decades Of Non-Compliance: The conventional oil and gas industry has demonstrated over decades that  “non-compliance” is an “acceptable norm in the conventional oil and gas industry,” according to DEP;” 

-- Doesn’t Work Better Than Water:  Penn State research has shown conventional wastewater has no greater value than water as a dust suppressant and has the potential to cause environmental harm;

-- Pollutants Exceed Standards: The science says 25 pollutants in conventional wastewater exceed standards to protect public health and the environment, including radioactive radium;

-- Preventing Millions Of Gallons Of Pollution: The potential benefits include preventing millions of gallons of conventional wastewater a year from being illegally dumped contaminating our environment and threatening public health;

-- Preventing Damage To Roads, Saving Taxpayers Money: Dirt and gravel road experts now know road dumping damages and destabilizes dirt and gravel roads and imposes additional costs on taxpayers;

-- Shale Gas Road Dumping Already Banned:  DEP banned road dumping shale gas drilling wastewater in 2016 because it presents a threat to the environment and health, and conventional wastewater is very similar and presents the same threats; and

-- Enforceable: A total ban on road dumping wastewater would be a tool DEP could enforce.

It is clear an immediate and total ban on road dumping conventional oil and gas wastewater is the only effective option for preventing millions of gallons of waste from polluting our environment.

(Photos of road dumping in March and April of this year.)

Resource Links:

-- Photos Of Typical Road Dumping:  See Photos Here + See Photos Here 

-- Spring Road Dumping Season Underway As Conventional Oil & Gas Well Owners Get Rid Of Their Wastewater  [PaEN]

[Posted: April 16, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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