Tuesday, June 25, 2019

CBF: House Passes Increase In Federal Funding For Chesapeake Bay Program

On June 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget containing an increase in Chesapeake Bay Program funding from $73 to $85 million.
The increase was instead of the 90 percent cut proposed by the Trump Administration.
The Bay Program coordinates the science and modeling that drive restoration efforts, provides grants to states to support the work, and funding to put practices on the ground that reduce pollution.
Additional funds would be used to expand grant programs—one that improves water quality and habitat in small, local waterways, and a second that supports innovative and market-based approaches to reducing pollution.
In addition, funds will be used to assist local governments in reducing pollution and provide increased assistance to priority watersheds that will provide the most cost-effective pollution reductions.
Following the vote, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Vice President of Environmental Protection and Restoration Lisa Feldt issued this statement--
“This is good news for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, the local economies that the Bay supports, and those of us who treasure this amazing resource. The Chesapeake Bay Program is the glue that holds the multi-state clean-up effort together and provides essential oversight to ensure that all are doing their part.
“Under the leadership of the Bay Program, we are making progress. Over time the dead zone is getting smaller, Bay grasses are rebounding, and oyster restoration is underway.
“Since President Ronald Reagan singled out the importance of restoring this national treasure in his 1984 State of the Union Address, Bay restoration has had strong bipartisan support.
“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation thanks Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and Matt Cartwright (D-PA), and the Bay Task Force led by Congressmen Bobby Scott, John Sarbanes and Robert Wittman along with the many members of the Bay delegation who advocated for and supported this critical investment. CBF looks forward to working with the Senate to make this critical funding a reality.”
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Streamlines Science Department With Promotions, New Hire

On June 25, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County announced it has revamped the Conservation Science Department with a series of internal promotions and an addition of a new research biologist to the team.
These personnel changes have better streamlined the department and will expand the Sanctuary’s research efforts moving forward.
Following Dr. Laurie Goodrich’s promotion to Director of Conservation Science in January, the rest of the science staff shifted position titles, also allowing for the hire of a new research biologist.
All positions are housed in the Sanctuary’s Acopian Center for Conservation Learning.
Dr. Jean-Francois Therrien, formerly a Senior Research Biologist, became the newly established Senior Scientist and Graduate Study Director position.
Therrien joined the Sanctuary in 2011 as Senior Research Biologist, and has been leading research projects and overseeing graduate students studying raptor ecology worldwide for over 12 years.
He assumed a key role in several conservation science initiatives including Hawk Mountain’s world-renown traineeship program, the long-term American kestrel nest box research, and helping with annual migration count.
Therrien has also been leading an international research project on arctic raptors and is a main player in Hawk Mountain’s research initiatives on vultures worldwide.  
David Barber, formally a Research Biologist, was promoted to the Senior Research Biologist position.
This is a core science position with primary responsibility for collecting data in the field and managing our natural history databases, including our long-term raptor, bird, and butterfly counts and general natural history.
Additionally, Barber is proficient in GIS mapping and analysis techniques, which is vital in studying raptor movement ecology and training graduate students and trainees.
Most recently, local educator and dedicated, long-time Hawk Mountain volunteer Bracken Brown has joined the team as a Biologist-Naturalist.
Brown grew up in the shadow of Hawk Mountain, and since his childhood has been engaged in the Sanctuary’s local trapping and monitoring projects, including the American kestrel nest box program, new world vulture research, and seasonal counts and surveys.
In this new position, Brown will be able to continue his efforts full time. He will assist in natural history monitoring and long-term research, conduct migration counts and surveys, and maintain avian and GIS databases.
Additionally, he will help with volunteer recruitment and public outreach. Brown adds another set of very capable hands to the Sanctuary science team.
When Bracken accepted this opportunity, he described it like “a merlin crossing in front of the lookout, something you always hope for.”
With his addition to the staff and the adjustment of responsibilities amongst the department, the Conservation Science team is set up for success, soaring forward.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary website or call 610-756-6961.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Sanctuary, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, visit them on Flickr and visit their YouTube Channel.  Click Here to support Hawk Mountain.
(Photo: Acopian Center for Conservation Learning.)

Help Wanted: Allegheny Land Trust Land Manager

The Allegheny Land Trust is seeking qualified applicants to fill a Land Manager position.  The deadline for applications is July 15.
The Land Trust protects more than 2,500 acres of green space that need to be monitored, maintained, improved, and supported generally.
The land manager will lead stewardship activities, including basic maintenance and carpentry, wildlife management, forest management, chainsaw work, invasive and non-native plant species management, public access management, trail design and implementation, parking coordination, and long-range planning.
For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming educational programs and other events, visit the Allegheny Land Trust website.  Click Here to read the Trust’s most recent newsletter.  Click Here to add your email to their mailing list.  Click Here to support their work.

Senate Environmental Committee OKs Bill To Make Report On Impacts Of Deep Coal Mining Optional, And Other Bills

On June 25, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee reported out legislation making reports on impacts of deep coal mining options and other legislation.  The bills included --
-- Making Report On Impacts Of Underground Coal Mining Optional: Senate Bill 763 (Bartolotta-R-Washington) - Amends the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act (Act 54) to make reporting on impacts of underground coal mining optional [reported out by party-line vote, Republicans supporting].  Click Here for more.
-- Accounting For Gas Production From Multiple Leases: Senate Bill 694 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) amends the Oil and Gas Act to provide for a process and accounting mechanism to allow well bores to cross multiple units, provided the operator has the right to drill wells on the units via leases with all landowners/members of the units [not pooling] (sponsor summary);
-- Coal Refuse Permit Cessation: House Bill 1557 (Gabler-R-Clearfield) - amends the Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act to provide for the temporary cessation of coal refuse disposal site permits; and
-- Spent Mushroom Compost: Senate Bill 256 (Dinniman-D-Chester) amends the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act (Act 101), to expand the definition of “compost materials" to include spent mushroom substrate (sponsor summary).
The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to: gyaw@pasen.gov.   Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7105 or sending email to: yudichak@pasenate.com.
Related Article:

Senate Committee Amends Bills Making Changes To Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program, But It Doesn’t Address The Real Issue

On June 25, the Senate Transportation Committee amended and again reported out a 5-bill package making changes to the state’s vehicle emissions inspection program, but the changes do not avoid the need to amend federal law to make the proposed changes.  
Without changes in federal law, the bills direct PennDOT and DEP to take unlawful actions.
The bills include--
-- Senate Bill 742 (Ward-R-Westmoreland) exempting vehicles from emissions testing for 8 years after manufacturing;
-- Senate Bill 743 (Ward-R-Westmoreland) replace annual emission inspections with inspections every 2 years for vehicles more than 8 years old;
-- Senate Bill 744 (Langerholc- R-Bedford) exempt Blair, Cambria, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, and Westmoreland Counties from the vehicle emissions testing; and
-- Senate Bill 745 (Stefano-R-Fayette) replace the tailpipe test in Pittsburgh and the 2-speed idle test via a dynamometer/treadmill in the Philadelphia region with a gas cap test and a visual inspection for model year 1994-95 vehicles.
Senate Bill 746 (Vogel-R-Beaver) extend the transition date for existing emissions inspection stations that are required by the Department of Transportation to obtain new emissions testing equipment by November 1, 2019 to July 1, 2021 remains on the Senate Calendar. [This bill does not direct PennDOT to do an unlawful act.]
This is the second time the Committee considered the bills which now go to the full Senate for action.
Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-6063 or send email to: kward@pasen.gov.  Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-9608 or send email to: john.sabatina@pasenate.com.
(Photo: Senators Ward, Langerholc, Stephano, Vogel.)
Related Article:

Act Now To Block Elimination Of Funding For Community Environmental, Recreation Projects In State Budget - Growing Greener Coalition

The 2019-2020 state budget that legislative leaders and Governor Wolf are moving to complete in the next few days includes a roughly $10 million diversion of Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF) project investments to pay for government operations.
A $10 million loss for Pennsylvania’s natural resources may not seem so bad to them given the much larger cuts proposed in February’s executive budget.
Nevertheless, Pennsylvania shouldn’t be cutting $10 million from the environment when research demonstrates that the state is already underinvesting in environmental needs by $100s of millions each year.
-- Call Governor Wolf's office at 717-787-2500. Urge his office to work with legislative leaders to undo this $10 million loss for ESF projects. Thank them for the Governor’s leadership in seeking to boost environmental funding through his Restore PA proposal, but also tell them that present environmental project funding shouldn’t be cut—not at all, that we shouldn’t move backward—while working to get Restore PA passed.
-- Call your state senator and representative and also tell them to undo the $10 million loss for Environmental Stewardship Fund projects—taking action any way they can. Point out to them that the General Assembly also needs to take leadership in addressing the annual multi-hundred million dollar shortfall in environmental investments. Ask them to take up these issues with their House and Senate leaders.
Resources and Background
Why Act Soon? Because the House will probably vote today and the Senate will probably vote soon after.
See the Growing Greener Coalition's website, pagrowinggreener.org, for past Coalition communications and background material.
Visit GrowingGreener.info to learn more about how the projects funded by the Environmental Stewardship Fund benefit communities across Pennsylvania.
Related Articles:

Growing Greener Coalition Asks General Assembly, Governor To Restore Local Environmental Project Money Cut In FY 2019-20 Budget

On June 25, the Growing Greener Coalition sent an open letter to members of the General Assembly and to Gov. Wolf asking them to restore cuts in funding for community-based environmental and recreation projects in the FY 2019-20 budget.
The text of the letter follows--
The Environmental Stewardship Fund was established to make environmental investments—to fund on-the-ground projects—not to pay for government operations.
The need for a robust Environmental Stewardship Fund has never been greater given Pennsylvania’s billions of dollars of project needs:
-- to reduce destructive flooding, restore waterways to productive life, and protect drinking water
-- to address the Chesapeake Bay watershed, MS4, and other regulatory requirements that aim to achieve the same; and
-- to rehabilitate state park and forest infrastructure and county and local park facilities, support farmland preservation, and more.
Why, given this tremendous need, does the proposed budget divert roughly $10 million in potential ESF project investments to pay for government operations?
This spring, Pennsylvania’s watershed implementation plan for the Chesapeake identified a $257 million/year shortfall to restore water quality. This number doesn’t include needs in the Delaware, Ohio, and other river basins or non-water environmental infrastructure needs.
Why are you on the verge of cutting $10 million from environmental projects when annual funding needs to be expanded by $100s of millions?
The pending budget expands the Rainy Day Fund. Pennsylvania is having plenty of rainy days—causing all manner of flooding problems.
At a time when the State is proposing to increase the Rainy Day Fund, why would it cut funding for ESF investments? ESF will deliver on-the-ground results for communities now, and help us avoid future costs from water pollution and property damage.
Governor Wolf and members of the General Assembly, the Growing Greener Coalition requests that you:
-- Adjust the final 2019-2020 budget to ensure that there is no loss of new funding for environmental projects.
-- Move administrative expenses charged to ESF back into the General Fund.
-- Work to address the state’s multi-hundred-million-dollar annual shortfall in environmental investments—whether through Restore PA, some variation on it, or other funding mechanisms.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the people and organizations of the Coalition including:
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Conservation Voters of PA
Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds
Lancaster Farmland Trust
Natural Lands
PennFuture (Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future)
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association
Pennsylvania Park and Forest Foundation
Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society
Sierra Club PA Chapter
The Conservation Fund
The Nature Conservancy, PA Chapter
The Trust for Public Land
Trout Unlimited
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Click Here for a copy of the letter.
For more information, visit the Growing Greener Coalition website.
Related Article:

Tuesday PA Environmental NewsClips

Meetings TODAY:
9:30: Senate Transportation Committee:  Senate Bill 742 (Ward-R-Westmoreland) exempting vehicles from emissions testing for 8 years after manufacturing; Senate Bill 743 (Ward-R-Westmoreland) replace annual emission inspections with inspections every 2 years for vehicles more than 8 years old; Senate Bill 744 (Langerholc- R-Bedford) exempt Blair, Cambria, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, and Westmoreland Counties from the vehicle emissions testing; Senate Bill 745 (Stefano-R-Fayette) replace the tailpipe test in Pittsburgh and the 2-speed idle test via a dynamometer/treadmill in the Philadelphia region with a gas cap test and a visual inspection for model year 1994-95 vehicles; Senate Bill 746 (Vogel-R-Beaver) extend the transition date for existing emissions inspection stations that are required by the Department of Transportation to obtain new emissions testing equipment by November 1, 2019 to July 1, 2021 Click Here for more on these bills. Note: 2nd trip through the Committee in as many weeks.  Click Here to see if it is available live.
11:30: Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee: Senate Bill 763 (Bartolotta-R-Washington) amends the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act (Act 54) to make reporting on impacts of underground coal mining optional.  Click Here for more; Senate Bill 694 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) amends the Oil and Gas Act to provide for a process and accounting mechanism to allow well bores to cross multiple units, provided the operator has the right to drill wells on the units via leases with all landowners/members of the units [not pooling] (sponsor summary); House Bill 1557 (Gabler-R-Clearfield) - amends the Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act to provide for the temporary cessation of coal refuse disposal site permits; and Senate Bill 256 (Dinniman-D-Chester) amends the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act (Act 101), to expand the definition of “compost materials" to include spent mushroom substrate (sponsor summary). Click Here to check if the meeting will be available online.  Click Here for more on the agenda.
Off The Floor: Senate Appropriations Committee: Senate Bill 619 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) makes fundamental changes to the definition of water pollution under the state Clean Streams Law to require an individual or company who causes pollution to surface or groundwater to determine if it should be reported to DEP and whether it is pollution in the first place Click Here for more; House Bill 1516 (Causer-R-Cameron) establishing an Agriculture Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, a bipartisan proposal included in Gov. Wolf’s PA Farm Bill proposal (House Fiscal Note and summary).
It’s Budget Season, Committee meetings can happen at any time with little or no notice.


Tuesday PA Capitol NewsClips - Click Here
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