Tuesday, January 16, 2018

House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing Schedule Now Available

Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Tuesday released the schedule of hearings on the FY 2018-19 budget.  The hearings will be held--
-- February 20-- 10:00- Independent Fiscal Office; 1:00- Department of Revenue.
-- February 21-- 10:00- Job Creation: Department of Labor & Industry, Department of Community & Economic Development, PA Higher Education Assistance Agency; 1:00- Ensuring Stability of the PA State System Of Higher Education-Focus On Workforce Development.
-- February 22-- 10:00- Department of Transportation; 1:00- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
-- February 26-- 10:00- Department of Environmental Protection; 1:00- Career & Technical Education- Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, Lancaster County Career & Technology Center, PA Association of Career & Technical Administrators, Community Colleges; 3:00- Department of Agriculture.
-- February 27-- 10:00- Reducing Costs in the Correctional System - Department of Corrections & Board of Probation & Parole; 1:00- Office of Administration- Office for Information Technology.
-- February 28-- 10:00- Department of General Services; 1:00- Liquor Control Board; 3:00- Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.
-- March 1-- 10:00- Combating Opioids - Departments of Health and Drug & Alcohol Programs; 1:00- Combating Opioids - Attorney General.
-- March 5-- 10:00- Department of Education.
-- March 6-- 10:00- Department of Human Services.
-- March 7-- 10:00- State Police - Homeland Security; 1:00- Office of Inspector General; 3:00- Gaming Control Board.
-- March 8-- 10:00- Governor’s Budget Secretary.
All hearings will be held in Room 140 of the Main Capitol in Harrisburg.  Click Here to watch the hearing online.
The Governor’s Budget Address is February 6.
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DEP/Health/ATSDR Hold Public Meeting Jan. 29 On Keystone Landfill Health Assessment Document

The Department of Health, the Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Tuesday announced they will hold a public meeting January 29 to answer questions from the public regarding the Keystone Landfill Health Assessment Document that was released in December 2017.  
The meeting will take place at Mid Valley High School, 52 Underwood Road, Throop, Lackawanna County starting at 7:00 p.m
The meeting will be an opportunity for officials to explain the findings of the study to those in attendance, and to answer any questions. Representatives from the DOH, DEP or ATSDR will take questions.
A comment period on the document is open until February 14.
Click Here for a copy of the report.  Questions should be directed to Colleen Connolly, DEP Northeast Regional Office, 570-826-2035 or send email to: coconnolly@pa.gov.

January Catalyst Newsletter Now Available From Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition

The January edition of the Catalyst newsletter is now available from the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition in Butler County featuring stories on--
-- 2017 Year In Review
-- Slippery Rock Campground Stream Bank Project Funded (photo)
-- The KIDS Catalyst - Winter Word Search
-- 2018 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference June 20-21 Click Here for more.
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy.
The Catalyst newsletter is distributed to over 1,200 individuals in over a dozen countries including: Brazil, Peru, South Korea, Mexico, England, Wales, Venezuela, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Germany.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition website.
(Photo: Shaun Busler from SRWC stands next to a severely undercut bank at the Slippery Rock Campground.)

DCNR, Local Officials Celebrate Investments To Expand Delaware River Access In Southeast

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Tuesday joined other state officials and City of Philadelphia representatives at an event celebrating the Commonwealth’s recent investments in improvements at Bartram’s Garden, along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
The oldest surviving botanic garden in North America, Bartram’s Garden in southwest Philadelphia covers 46 acres, providing visitors an historic botanical garden, arboretum and public access to the Schuylkill.
A DCNR grant will be used to expand a current public boat dock, making the river more accessible for community recreation and learning.
“With these improvements, Bartram’s Garden and Philadelphia are rolling out the ‘Welcome Mat’ to visitors to come, appreciate, and enjoy the Schuylkill River and all its beauty and recreational promise,” Dunn said. “With this project, you embrace two major initiatives supported by DCNR: water conservation and appreciation, and greater involvement of our youth in the outdoors.”
The recipient of a $150,000 grant, Bartram’s Garden will be expanding its current public boat dock, making the tidal Schuylkill River more accessible for community recreation and learning. Also, project improvements will include ADA accessibility, landscaping and signage.  
"Connecting our neighbors to their river and parks is one of the most important things we do at Bartram’s Garden,” said Maitreyi Roy, executive director of Bartram's Garden. “This support will increase access to our free public boating and healthy outdoor recreation, and we expect more than 5,000 people will get out on the river each year. This is a wonderful opportunity to create many happy memories."
“I appreciate the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources support of the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department through its grant program,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “Its ongoing and generous support has enabled us to improve access to quality public spaces across Philadelphia.
“This importance placed on the revitalization of this community and public open space will prove to serve as a great resource to Philadelphians,” said Gilbert King Elisa, volunteer and active user of the river.
Dunn noted the Bartram’s Garden grant is among 22 projects focused on water, including more than $1 million in grants for rivers conservation, and $600,000 for riparian forest buffers in the 2017 DCNR grant round.
The additional projects in southeast Pennsylvania are:
-- Delaware Canal 21, $85,000 for canal hydraulic studies in Bucks County;
-- Delaware River Waterfront Corp., $50,000 for a master plan for the South Philadelphia Wetlands Park;
-- East Goshen Township, $500,000 for development of Milltown Dam Park in Chester County;
-- Upper Makefield Township, $37,000 for a watershed restoration plan in Bucks County;
-- Wildlands Conservancy, $125,000 for Jordan Creek watershed restoration and stream buffer work in Lehigh County; and
-- Worcester Township, $50,000 for a riparian buffer project in Montgomery County.
“Grants such as this also help achieve something else that’s very important -- they supply much-needed recreational opportunities to those who often need it most -- area residents,” Dunn said.
“As Gov. Wolf said when the 2017 grants were announced: ‘Communities go from good to great when they provide residents and visitors with parks and trails, access to waterways, and opportunities for healthy outdoor activity.”  
Bartram’s Garden is a National Historic Landmark, operated by the John Bartram Association in cooperation with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. It is a destination and an outdoor classroom, living laboratory, and membership organization for ever-expanding audiences – more than 50,000 each year.
The John Bartram Association’s mission is to protect and enhance the landmark Bartram’s Garden and House; advance the Bartram legacy of discovery, gardening, and art; and inspire audiences of all ages to care for the natural world.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Nature Conservancy-PA Reviews 2018 Conservation To-Do List For Pennsylvania

By Bill Kunze, PA State Director, The Nature Conservancy

Welcome to 2018! In January, many of us take some time, just after the busy holiday season, to rest and reflect, to examine the passing of time, and resolve to improve ourselves, our communities and our planet.
Here are some resolutions I am setting for The Nature Conservancy's Pennsylvania Chapter in 2018. I hope you—together with our staff and partners—can keep us on track in seeing them through.
With continued support from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and our donors, we will work with local and regional land trusts to protect the most important places on the Kittatinny Ridge, a critical 185-mile corridor for birds and wildlife.
We will launch a partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department to assist in achieving its goal of greening 10,000 acres by 2036 to reduce stormwater pollution flowing from Philadelphia into local rivers.
Through our groundbreaking Working Woodlands program, we will work with private landowners to maintain the health and sustainability of working forests around Pennsylvania, from the Laurel Highlands to the Pennsylvania Wilds to the Poconos.
We will begin working with the agricultural community in central Pennsylvania to improve in-field fertilizer practices and reduce pollution into our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
We will continue our collaboration with communities and state and federal agencies to improve water quality and habitat in our rivers, from the Allegheny and Monongahela to the Susquehanna and the Delaware.
We will continue to seek ways to help accelerate investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency while minimizing the impact on our lands from the siting of this and all energy infrastructure.
Thank you for supporting our efforts to conserve nature in Pennsylvania. I am proud to report that, over the last decade, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 50,000 acres in the last decade, throughout the state.
It is my hope that, with your continued support, we can continue to increase the many ways in which people and wildlife benefit from our work.
Happy New Year!
For more information on programs, initiatives and other special events, visit the PA Chapter of The Nature Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for updates from TNC, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter and Join them on Instagram.  Click Here to become a member.
(Photo: The frozen Susquehanna River.)

Countryside Conservancy Acquires 82-Acre Gardner Spencer Preserve, Lackawanna County

Countryside Conservancy recently announced the acquisition of its single largest property to date: the Gardner Spencer Preserve in Lackawanna County.
After years of discussions, negotiations, grant-writing, and fundraising, the Conservancy was finally able to purchase the 82-acre property in December. Grant funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources helped with the purchase.
The preserve adjoins the Conservancy’s Ziegler Preserve, as well as Lackawanna State Park. The area features bucolic fields, mature hemlock groves, and a babbling brook.
To access the preserve, park at the Ziegler Preserve trailhead on Route 438, one mile east of the Route 407 intersection. Trails are currently under development, so the Conservancy recommends waiting for their completion before exploring.
Click Here for a property map (but please note that the 8-acre parcel on the map is still private property; do not trespass.)
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Countryside Conservancy website.

Berks County Conservation District Tree Seedling Sale, Education Programs April 20

Everyone is welcome to join the Berks County Conservation District at its annual Tree Seedling Sale on April 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Berks County Agricultural Center, 1238 County Welfare Road, Leesport (look for signs on County Welfare Road).  The deadline for orders is February 23.
Although winter has just started, it is never too early to begin thinking about spring!
The tree seedling sale offers a wide variety of conifers, trees, shrubs, and a growing selection of fruit producing plants. Other items available include planting bars, fertilizer pellets, wildflower seed, wildlife boxes, rain barrels, and five-foot tree shelters.
Recently added items include the Montmorency Cherry, tree watering bags, and wood duck, bluebird, and bat houses. All the favorites from last year are still available too.
Education Programs
During our Seedling Sale event on April 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. join the BCCD and the Penn State Extension Berks Master Gardeners at ‘Backyard Basics’ as we explore conservation topics and discuss helpful “backyard” tips! The always popular “Ask a Master Gardener” booth will be answering those tough gardening questions.
The celebration also includes our PAINT THE RAIN: Rain Barrel Decorating Contest. Preview rain barrels painted by Berks County high school students and vote for your favorite! Also, on display will be the posters created by our area students to illustrate this year’s theme:  Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home.
This year we will have Food Trucks on site so come out and enjoy food from local Food Trucks! Smokehouse Food Truck will be there from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m .and Whistlin’ Dixie BBQ will be there from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Proceeds from our annual Seedling Sale benefit the Berks County Conservation District’s Scholarship Fund. These scholarships are awarded to students who wish to continue their college education with the intent of majoring in environmental science, forestry, agriculture, engineering or related studies.
How To Order
Place your order today to plant some trees this spring and send someone to college!
For more information and to place a seedling order, visit the Tree Seedling Sale webpage or call 610-372-4657 to request your copy of the brochure and order form. The deadline to place an order is February 23. Excess plant inventory will be available for purchase during pick up on April 20, supplies will be limited.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Berks County Conservation District website.

DEP Fines Energy Corp Of America $1.7 Million For Drilling Violations In Greene, Clearfield Counties

The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday announced it has collected a $1.7 million civil penalty prescribed in a consent order and agreement with Energy Corporation of America for violations at 17 well sites in Cumberland, Jefferson, and Whiteley Townships, Greene County and Goshen Township, Clearfield County.
The violations for which ECA was penalized include: failure to properly contains fluids in onsite pits, unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into groundwater, unauthorized disposal of residual waste, failure to restore the pits and well sites, and operating solid waste storage, treatment, and transfer facilities without permits.
“Laws and regulations on the books and strong permitting are in place to protect the public and our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “When we uncovered systemic violations of proper handling practices of flowback fluids, our compliance team conducted a thorough investigation to hold the operator accountable.”
At the Mohr A & B Well Site in Cumberland Township, Greene County, a substantial leak killed vegetation, impacted groundwater, and one natural spring used for drinking water. The release did not impair any streams or waterways.
The property owner with the spring was provided with a temporary water supply and permanent water supply restoration is underway.
Following this violation, DEP’s investigation from 2015 to 2017 uncovered incidents of leaking pits and wastewater impoundments at several of ECA’s unconventional well sites and forensically demonstrated ECA’s mismanagement of drilling, flowback, and produced fluids.
DEP’s investigation revealed that ECA transferred drilling fluids from well site to well site long after the last well at these sites was completed, making these sites an unlawful waste transfer station. These fluids were stored in onsite pits for over nine months after the completion of drilling, in violation of site restoration regulations.
In October 2016, new regulations (Chapter 78a) specifically foreclosed the use of temporary storage pits and required the closure of onsite pits at unconventional well sites.
In addition, DEP determined that ECA transferred, stored, and treated fluids at these sites despite the fact that the fluids were not used for any well development or drilling activity at the sites.  Waste fluids have been removed from all sites.
The consent order and agreement sets a schedule for the removal of sludge and accumulated precipitation that exists in onsite pits at the five sites where pits remain. ECA submitted an environmental pad assessment and remediation plan that detailed how it will assess and remediate environmental impacts.
The agreement provides additional stipulated penalties if ECA fails to comply with its obligations in a timely manner.
Remediation work is ongoing. The agreement outlines sites for priority remediation and orders ECA to do the following:
-- Close open onsite pits by removing and reusing or properly disposing of all fluids, removing and properly disposing of liners, sludge, and impacted soils, managing precipitation, and managing residual solids;
-- Monitor on a quarterly basis any water supplies within 3,000 feet of the well pads with open pits and manager precipitation into the pits until the pits are closed;
-- Provide DEP with written records of reuse, disposal, or treatments of all fluids, waste, and soils removed from the sites;
-- Restore all well sites with open onsite pits; and
-- Assess and remediate all sites with open or closed pits according to the Land Recycling Act or Act 2 standards.
Click Here for a copy of the consent order and agreement.  Questions should be directed to Lauren Fraley, DEP Southwest Regional Office, 412-442-4203 or send email to: lfraley@pa.gov.
WV Company Fined $1.7 Million For Violations At 14 Wells Sites In Greene, Clearfield Counties

Central PA Green Building Council Invites Presentation Proposals For Green Building Conference By Jan. 19

The Central PA USGBC Green Building Council is now accepting presentation proposals for the 2018 Green Building Conference and Expo at Dickinson College on March 14.  The deadline for submissions is January 19.
With 200+ attendees, it is the premier event in Central PA to network with like-minded sustainability professionals and stay current on green building trends. The theme for the 2018 conference is "existing buildings."
Click Here to submit a proposal.  Questions should be directed to Heidi Kunka at 202-706-0836 or send email to: hkunka@usgbc.org.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Central PA USGBC Green Building Council webpage.

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