Friday, February 27, 2009

March 2 PA Environment Digest Now Available
Click Here to Print This Digest

Selected Headlines--
Budget Hearings For DEP, DCNR, Agriculture, PUC
Sen. Casey's Guide to PA Federal Stimulus Funding
EPA's Guide To Green Infrastructure Funding Under Federal Stimulus
Video Blog: Signs Of Spring In Wildlife Areas
Online Education, REAP, Gas Drilling
Video Blog: Carbon Capture, Sequestration
Advisory Committee Critical of DEP Proposal To Rollback Water Quality Protection
11th PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation & Coal History Conference
2009 Green$ense Conference in March
PA Environmental Professionals Conference May 13-15
Southeast Environmental Advisory Council Conference March 14
DEP To Announce Energy Conservation Financial Help March 2
Opinion- Green Farming Boosts Pennsylvania Economy
Student Video Blog: Chesapeake Bay Student Leadership Program
Student Feature- Springside School Student Environmental Projects

Guide To PA Federal Stimulus Funding

U.S. Senator Robert Casey just issued a guide to funding Pennsylvania is due to receive under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 58-page Guide not only includes total dollar amounts, but contacts for individual assistance programs. (Click here for the Guide)

Friday NewsClips

Stricter Air Standards May Put Lehigh Valley At Unhealthy Level
Dubois Creek Watershed Study Receives State Funding
Venango County Projects Receive Growing Greener Funding
Western PA Conservancy Plans Gardens At Pittsburgh Schools
Effort On To Keep Irwin Run Valley Green
Editorial: River Walk, Pittsburgh's Next Makeover Is Down On The Mon
Tighter Rules Eyed For National Forests
Editorial: Melting Questions, Unsettled Science
Tires To Energy Plant Now 0-3
Op-Ed: Green Jobs Are A Way To Aid The Middle Class
Lower Nazareth Township Studies Need For Green Energy Ordinance
Lebanon County Diverts Greener Money To Repair Historic Plumbing System
Editorial: PA Should Reveal Data On Marcellus Gas Bonanza
Lycoming County: Gas Wells Must Have Registered Address
Clean And Green Amendments Address Gas Drilling Penalties

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PUC Chair Opposed To Phasing In Electric Rate Increases After Caps Expire

Public Utility Commission Chair James Cawley told the House Appropriations Committee today he was opposed to requiring electric distribution companies to phase in electric rate increases after the caps expire in most areas of the state in 2010-11
Gov. Rendell, who appointed Cawley, said in his budget address he favors a phase in if electric rates were projected to be 25 percent or more. Acting Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger repeated that position to both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week.
Chairman Cawley said extending the existing rate caps, which have been in place since 1997 would be illegal, according to a recent U.S. Supreme Court case involving a utility company in North Carolina.
In addition, Cawley said consumers need appropriate price signals to encourage energy conservation. He said there is no incentive to save energy if unless there is a competitive market for electricity.
Chairman Cawley noted the PUC has already approved phase-in plans for several electric companies requiring them to stagger purchases of electricity over time so there will hopefully not be a significant spike in rates.
A study released by the PUC in January shows the price for electricity has dropped significantly over the last year due to lower natural gas and coal prices. If there was a competitive market for electricity now, rate increases would vary from only a 1 percent increase in the PECO service area to 37 percent in the Met Ed territory.
Chairman Cawley said one key to making a competitive market work is educating consumers on the fact they do have a choice and there might be a supplier with a lower price available.

Wednesday NewsClips

Reverse Vending Machines Make Winners Out Of Recyclers
St. Mary's Still Looking For Ways To Recycle Plastic
Editorial: No Drilling Secrets, It's Our Water, Our Land
Time To Bargain Over Natural Gas?
Amid Cheap Gas, Drillers Carry On
U.S. Gas Drilling Boom Stirs Water Worries
Concern Grows In Gas Drilling and Methane In Water Wells
Marcellus Shale Still Delivering Change In PA
Marcellus Shale Still Delivering Change
Lycoming County Proposal Addresses Gas Wells
Chesapeake Energy To Hold Public Meeting on Drilling March 5
As Gas Drilling Continues, Concerns Evolve
Whew! What A Year In The Oil Patch
Importance Of Well Water Testing Stressed
Growing Greener Funding Goes For York Projects
Well Tests Leave Creek Running Clean
Delaware County Maps Out $720 Million Infrastructure Wish List
Energy Savings Add Up For Cumberland County
Wind Power Considered For Franklin County Nursing Home
More Electric Bill Angst In Ephrata
PPL to Cut 200 From US Work Force
Harrisburg Mayor Says He Favors Selling Off Energy From Waste Facility
Relicensing Three Mile Island Hearing
TMI Safety Questioned In Relicensing Hearing
Sour Times for Area Dairy Farmers

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Agriculture Expects $34 Million In Federal Farm Conservation Help

Department of Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff this week told Senate and House Appropriations Committees he is expecting $34 million in help installing farm conservation practices as a result of funding from the federal Farm Bill.
He said Farm Bill funding was for installing conservation practices in farms, including a special program for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and for technical assistance to help farmers select and design those practices.
Secretary Wolff's written testimony is available online.
Democratic and Republican members of the Committee expressed significant concerns about the proposed 17 percent cut in funding proposed in Gov. Rendell's 2009-10 budget. Eleven of the 28 line items in the agency's budget were zeroed out.
Secretary Wolff acknowledge the difficult budget decisions he had to make, but said he was proud of the fact his agency has created programs copied by his peers across the country.
Other issues raised at the hearings include:
-- Conservation Districts: Agriculture praised the work of conservation districts in helping farmers, despite the $500,000 cut in district funding in his budget (a total of $1 million or 25 percent cut in the overall budget).
-- Cooperative Extension: Agriculture said they would urge funding be restored to the Cooperative Extension Service in Penn State's block grant.
-- Farmland Preservation: It was noted by Committee members the Department of Agriculture was not receiving the 14.8 percent of the Environmental Stewardship Fund earmarked for farmland preservation.

DCNR Does Not Expect Another Marcellus Shale Windfall

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis told the House Appropriations Committee today not to expect another windfall from leasing state forest lands for drilling Marcellus Shale natural gas wells.
Appearing with the Secretary at the House heairng were Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance and the McKenna Foundation and Bob Griffith from the PA Recreation and Parks Society.
Secretary DiBerardinis said leasing rates have declined from $2,500 per acre to $1,000 or less. He said the $190 million DCNR received from leasing 74,000 acres of state forest land last year hit the peak of the natural gas market.
Gov. Rendell proposed to transfer $174 million in these revenues from DCNR's Oil and Gas Lease Fund to help plug the hole in the General Fund budget. Secretary DiBerardinis said, contrary to earlier reports, legislative authority is needed to transfer the funds as part of the state budget bill.
Secretary DiBerardinis said he was not happy about having the funding transfer, but he understands the need to help balance the state's budget.
DCNR is preparing another lease offering for Marcellus Shale for this year.
The Secretary also said the agency has lost significant revenues from leasing timber from state lands due to the collapse of the timber market. Even though the agency is offering the same amount of timber for sale, the revenue from the sales has declined by two-thirds.
Other issues arising at the hearings include:
-- Federal Stimulus: DCNR expects to receive some funding from the federal economic stimulus package, but the amounts are not yet clearly known. The areas of funding may include: support from the U.S. Forest Service, funding for floodplain land easement purchases from N.R.C.S. and funding from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for jointly owned/operated facilities.
-- Cuts In Service: DCNR said the public will notice cuts in services at State Parks as a result of budget cuts, but no park closures. Cleaning restrooms, closing some park services and reducing some environmental education programs were examples pointed to by DCNR, but no final decisions have been made yet.
-- Heritage Area Grants: DCNR said even though these grants have been zeroed out, they have encouraged Heritage Areas to apply for funding in other remaining DCNR grant programs.
-- Lifeguards: DCNR said the decision to not provide lifeguards through its Open Swim Program at many State Parks is not a budget decision, but the result of the lack of success the agency has had in hiring a sufficient number of lifeguards. They said it was an issue faced by every recreation agency across the country.
-- User Fees: DCNR expects to propose fee increases and reap the benefits of fees it raised last year to generate an additional $1 million in income for the agency.
-- PNDI Permit Reviews: In response to questions, DCNR said it has added staff to the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory program that identifies threatened and endangered species during permit reviews.
-- Hiring Dan Surra: Secretary DiBerardinis said hiring former House member Dan Surra for $95,000 during a time he expects to lay off 68 people has given him a resource he needed and asked for over the last three years to help administer the Pennsylvania Wilds Program that he called one of the most complex recreation, tourism and economic development projects in the country.
Secretary DiBerardinis did not submit a written statement for the hearings.

House Hearing On DEP Budget

Acting DEP Secretary John Hanger appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to answer questions about Gov. Rendell's proposed 2009-10 for the agency. (Acting Secretary Hanger's written testimony.)
DEP is set to receive about $340 million in federal economic stimulus funding: $130 million for energy conservation, efficiency and alternative energy projects, $219 million for drinking water/wastewater system funding (administered by PennVEST), $6 million for cleaning up abandoned underground storage tanks and $1.8 million for conversion to cleaner diesel engines.
DEP has already prepared a list of some 500 energy and water infrastructure for funding, in particular those applications it already has that were worthy but not funded before.
DEP has advised legislators of the urgent need to reauthorize the $2/ton recycling fee to support the program which is being hurt by a reduction of waste imports and a $15 million diversion of recycling funds to balance this year's budget.
DEP is drafting a Green Building Code as promised by Gov. Rendell in his budget address based on LEED and other green building standards.
DEP said there is much more work to be done in reducing nutrients flowing to the Chesapeake Bay, highlighting significant progress already made by agriculture and wastewater plants. DEP also said there is a need to do more to make sure the nutrient credit trading program is a success.
DEP praised the work of conservation districts, at the same time noting a $500,000 cut in district funding in their budget ($1 million overall) was the result of eliminating "legislative adds" to the budget over the last few years.
DEP said there is a need to take the next steps in expanding the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards and creating a carbon sequestration network to help deal with climate change issues as proposed in legislation by Rep. Vitali (D-Delaware) and Sen. Erickson (R-Delaware).
With respect to the expiration of electric rate caps in 2010, DEP said the Governor supports phasing in rate increases which are expected to be on average 25 percent.
DEP said there are now about 1.2 million scrap tires to be cleaned up across the state. As a result of efforts over the last 10 years 29 million tires have been cleaned up.
DEP has permission to hire 37 more people to speed processing of permits for Marcellus Shale natural gas wells and a new office in Williamsport. Process times have been reduced to an average of 28 days.
DEP said there is a limited need to make changes in law to deal with issues raised by Marcellus Shale drilling, but one of which is to give DEP authority in the Ohio River Basin to approve water withdrawals related to drilling.
In response to questions about significant permit backlogs in the agency, DEP said they have directed staff to take steps over the next two years to eliminate the backlog. They were also proposing changes to erosion and sedimentation and stormwater management permits that should speed processing, although the proposals so far are opposed by environmental groups as a rollback of federal Clean Water Act requirements.
The Senate hearing on DEP's budget is Wednesday.

Tuesday NewsClips

Mill Creek Watershed Receives Growing Greener II Grant
Global Warming Vs. Fly Fishing In PA
Trout Ready For Area Waters
Op-Ed: Infested Hemlocks Harm Trout Habitat
Philly Piloting Program To Protect Drinking Water
Grant To Help Philadelphia Keep Water Supply Safe From Attack
Cumberland County Strives To Cut Energy Costs
Editorial: Drilling Companies Of All Sizes Would Benefit From Tax

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday NewsClips

DEP Runs Short On Funds For Sewage Reimbursement
Local Projects Received Growing Greener Funds
Philadelphia Receives $2 Million From EPA For Water Security
PA May Post Driller Secrets
Tapping The Marcellus Shale
Natural Gas Drilling: Deep Impact
Drilling Issues: Treatment Of Water Is A Major Concern
Group's Goal: Explain, Boost Green Jobs
Weatherly OKs Study Hydroelectric Plant Along Lehigh River
DEP: No Danger To Public From Low-Level Rad Waste Accumulation
Voluntary Recycling Program A Success So Far In Bedford County
Mine Foreman To Face Trial On All But 1 Charge
Luzerne County OKs Gypsy Moth Spray Fee

REAP Farm Conservation Tax Credit Webinars

The State Conservation Commission is hosting two “Webinars” to provide an update on the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax credit program.
Hosted by Mary Bender, REAP Administrator, this one hour session will cover the status of the program to date, the use and sale of tax credits which have been awarded to farmers, and plans for the upcoming fiscal year 2009-2010.
The webinars will be held March 3 and again March 11 from 2-3:00.
To access the site, you will need to create a free “Friends of PSU” account by visiting this website.
Once you are logged into the site, you will be able to watch the live presentation. At the end of the presentation, there will be an opportunity to have your questions answered. Please contact Amy Smith (717-787-8821) if you have any questions.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Feb. 23 PA Environment Digest Now Available
Click Here to Print This Digest
Selected Headlines--
$21.5 Million In Growing Greener II Grants Awarded
Coalition Asks Agency To Involve Groups In New Chesapeake Bay Plan
USDA Offers Farm Conservation Help In Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Federal Stimulus: What Role Will General Assembly Have?
DEP Runs Out Of Money To Pay for Septic System Checks
Penn State Extension Private Drinking Water Well Videos
Economic Benefits of West Branch Susquehanna Mine Water Cleanup
DEP Water Resources Committee To Discuss Permit Rollback
Study Shows Improvements, Problems In Private Water Wells
Supreme Court Knocks Down Local Oil & Gas Well Ordinance
KeystoneHELP Loan, Rebate Energy Help For Homeowners
Covanta Energy-From-Waste Facility Operator Named Climate Leader
Geisinger Completes First LEED Certified Building
Feature - Penn State Extension Helps Landowners With Gas Drillers

$21.5 Million In Growing Greener Grants Awarded

Gov. Rendell today announced the investment of more than $21.5 million in 144 Growing Greener projects to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff and farms, treat acid mine drainage, reduce flooding and improve water quality across the commonwealth.
The funds are being distributed to non-profit organizations, watershed groups and county and municipal governments to address local and regional water quality issues.
In 2005 the Growing Greener Program was capped by the General Assembly and Gov. Rendell and will end in 2010-11. (Click here for full announcement and list of grants awarded)

Friday NewsClips

$1 Million Growing Greener Grant Funds Quarry Reclamation On Commercial Land
Federal Mining Agency To Gauge Size Of Fire
Teachers Turn Blue To Help School Go Green
Editorial: Patrons Should Not Swim At Own Risk At State Parks
Northumberland County Planning Director Takes Futures Plan To France
Interest In Gas Wells Has Clinton County Planners Looking For Answers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

DEP Halts Payments For Septic System Enforcement

High demand has exhausted this year’s fund to reimburse municipal sewage enforcement agencies for part of the cost of on-lot sewage permitting and enforcement, forcing the Department of Environmental Protection to halt payments.
The Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act, commonly known as Act 537, authorizes DEP to reimburse local government agencies up to 85 percent of the annual local cost incurred in ensuring that new and repaired on-lot systems are properly sited, designed, permitted and inspected.
“Since the passage of Act 537 in 1966, DEP has reimbursed a portion of the local cost of permitting and inspecting on-lot sewage systems as an enticement to municipalities to establish and operate local sewage enforcement agencies as required under the law,” Environmental Protection acting Secretary John Hanger said. “Many local agencies are incurring higher costs now and consequently, are submitting for increased reimbursements, which has drawn down the available funding and reserve funds. We will not be able to resume these reimbursements until funds are made available under the next fiscal year’s state budget. (Click here for full announcement.)
NewsClip: DEP Runs Out Of Money To Pay For Septic System Checks

Wednesday NewsClips

DEP Runs Out Of Money To Pay For Septic System Checks
Study Finds Improvement, Problems In PA Water Wells
Cleaner Bus Air In Pipeline For Pittsburgh Students
Study: Land Use Varied Bushkill's Path
Bushkill Creek Flooding Report Unveiled
Coal Prices Come Back To Earth
Attorney To Press Legislature On Chloramine In Water
Lycoming Commissioners Expected To OK Loan For Water System Expansion
Single Stream Recycling Gets Thumbs Up In Upper Darby
Philadelphia Considers Fee For Trash Pickup
Central PA Forestry Blog
Hazleton CAN DO Program Helps Firms Lower Energy Costs
Competition Seeks Energy Ideas
Natural Gas Workshop Scheduled Near Lamar
DEP Plans To Fight Coal Fire Under Palo Alto
Wind Project On Hold In Wyoming
Award Presented To Heron's Eye Communications

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BP donation supports North Park Greenway In Pittsburgh

The Allegheny Land Trust today announced BP America recently donated more than $40,000 to Allegheny Land Trust to support conservation projects, including the North Park Greenway project in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The contribution will be used to assist in funding a land acquisition project which will conserve approximately 75 acres adjacent to Allegheny County’s North Park by creating a “conservation corridor.”
The land conservation project will enhance the quality of life for people of southwestern Pennsylvania by maintaining and protecting green spaces, biodiversity and the water quality of North Park Lake.
“BP is pleased to provide Allegheny Land Trust with funds to be used on the North Park Greenway Project, which will benefit the environment, the residents involved and the citizens of Pennsylvania,” said Shawn Croucher, environmental business manager with Atlantic Richfield, a wholly-owned BP subsidiary.
The BP pledge currently represents a significant 8 percent share in the protection of the property, according to Roy Kraynyk, executive director for Allegheny Land Trust. Allegheny Land Trust is in the final phase and working with the local community to secure the remaining funds required and anticipates closing by March 31, 2009.
“BP America’s generosity is appreciated and we applaud their innovative approach and commitment to help preserve green spaces and the environment,” Kraynyk said.
The BP donations emanate from a creative, cooperative and voluntary Multi-Site Agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection The MSA sets targets and goals that guide the cleanup of petroleum-impacted retail sites and bulk storage facilities.
Under the MSA, when certain target goals are exceeded with respect to moving sites and facilities toward cleanup, BP provides donations to environmental initiatives approved by the DEP. Previous donations were used to cleanup an old tire dump, to install solar arrays on Commonwealth of Pennsylvania office buildings, and to fund environmental projects by Boy Scouts councils throughout Pennsylvania.
“BP is proud to support the North Park Greenway Project. The conservation and stewardship of this land will improve the environmental well-being of the local community,” Croucher said. “It might seem a bit unconventional to support environmental conservation projects this way, but it’s another example of BP’s innovation when it comes to finding creative ways to solve complex issues.”

Tuesday NewsClips

List Of Federal Stimulus Funding Headed To PA
Avondale Hill Reclamation Project Nearly Done
Lehigh Valley Municipalities Seek Grants For Water Projects
DEP Opening Oil & Gas Permitting Office In Williamsport
School Districts Largely Uninterested In Funds For Retrofitting Buses
Op-Ed: Energy Needs, Environment Must Co-Exist
SE PA Habitat Resource Network
Students, OPP Collaborate To Find Green Toiletry Provider
Idea For Green Heat Tested At New Building In Hazleton
Hazleton's Pine Street Neighborhood Honored For Energy Innovation
Weatherly Hydroelectric Plant One Step Closer To Reality
Harrisburg Heating Plant Exelon Hopes To Buy NRG
Limerick Looks Into Development Model That Would Save Land

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Litter Hawk Youth Award Program

PA CleanWays' Litter Hawk Program nominations are due March 31.
The Program honors students who share their ideas about how to get rid of trash and litter in two age groups-- 10 and under and 11 to 18.
Click here for more details.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Feb. 16 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Go to

Click here to print Digest

Selected headlines--
Conservation District React To Proposed 25% Cut In State Funding
PA Forests Web Seminar
Audubon Study Shows Bird Movement Reveal Global Warming Threat
DCNR Accepting Bids On Carbon Sequestration Study
Air Products Carbon Capture Technology For Power Plants Gets Recognition
PA Environmental Professionals Accepting Karl Mason Award Nominations
Join Chesapeake Watershed Network
Applications For Sue Wiseman Student Scholarships
Coca-Cola/NRC Recycling Bin Grant Program Accepting Applications
PA Outdoor Lighting Council Sponsors Outdoor Lighting Workshops
Study Finds Presque isle Facility's Windmill Poses Little Threat
Volunteers Needed For Annual Amphibian Migration In Chester County
PA Trout Unlimited Issues Marcellus Shale White Paper
2008 PA Environmental Heritage Summit
Your Help Needed-Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Air Products Carbon Capture Technology For Power Plants Wins Recognition

A team led by Pennsylvania-based Air Products and including Imperial College London and Doosan Babcock Energy Ltd. were presented the Rushlight Carbon Capture and Storage Award 2008 for work addressing impurity removal in carbon dioxide waste streams from coal-fired power plants. (Click here for Air Products CO2 webpage.)
CO2 purification is an essential requirement for the compression, transport and potential sequestration of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. (Click here for full announcement.)

Coca-Cola/NRC Recycling Bin Grant Program Opens Feb. 15

The Coca-Cola/NRC Recycling Bin Grant Program will be accepting applications starting February 15.
The Program supports local community recycling programs by providing bins to selected grant recipients for the collection of beverage container recyclables in public settings. Grants will be provided to a limited number of applicants who can demonstrate how their proposals will lead to sustainable recycling opportunities.
The grant program is open to government, civic, school, non-profit groups and for-profit companies. Applications are available only on-line. Click here for past Pennsylvania awards.

Thursday NewsClips

Lost Funds To Leave Hole In PA Budget
Stimulus Package's Aid For PA
Thousands Of Fish Killed At Elk Creek Fish Hatchery
Eastern Pike Negotiates Two Years Of Lower Energy Rates
Allegheny Energy Profits Fall 85 Percent In Fourth Quarter

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

DCNR Accepting Bids to Collect Data, Study Possibility of Storing Carbon Underground

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis announced today that the department is undertaking the next step in its innovative work to reduce the amount of climate-changing greenhouse gases that reach the atmosphere.
The department is requesting bids on a package of four contracts that will examine geologic information to determine whether any suitable areas in the state exist to store carbon dioxide underground.
The carbon dioxide would be captured and collected from coal-fired electricity generating plants and other industrial sources, a process known as geologic carbon sequestration. (Click here for full announcement.)

Tuesday NewsClips

As Birds Winter, Signs Of Warming
As Climate Warms, More Birds Go North
State List Of Birds Becoming More, Less Common
CCCTC To Offer Four Ethanol Courses
East Lycoming School District Plans To Go Solar, Use Wind Power
Hazleton Authority Looks At Turbine's Effect On Bats
Management Shift Follows Allegheny Forest Drilling Debate
Biofuel Firm Announces Commercialization Of Waste Oil Processing Technology

Monday, February 9, 2009

PA CleanWays Now Accepting Sue Wiseman Scholarships Apps

PA CleanWays announced today it is now accepting applications for the Sue Wiseman Scholarship, an annual $1,000 scholarship that recognizes youth who have demonstrated leadership and shown exceptional commitment and dedication to reducing litter and illegal dumping in their community.
The Sue Wiseman Scholarship is open to Pennsylvania youth, ages 16-21, who have initiated and carried out a personal project that addresses littering, illegal dumping, recycling, proper disposal, beautification, or education. An education project must address one of the other topics listed.
Applications and project requirements are due May 1. (Click here for more)

Monday NewsClips

Letter: DEP Proposal Fails To Protect Our Rivers, Streams, Moyer, Wendelgass
Groups To Seek Removal Of Bushong's Mill Dam In Reading
Ice Jams Causing Flooding In Lawrence County
Allegheny County Program Recycles Freon-Containing Appliances
George School Accepts Green Cup Challenge
Are Drafts Blowing Away Your Money?
Greening The Home

Letter: DEP Proposal Fails To Protect Our Rivers, Streams

By Bob Wendelgass & Matt Royer
The Pennsylvania Campaign for Clean Water applauds The Patriot-News' recognition of the economic and environmental benefits of streamside buffers in its editorial "Compromise on runoff offers pragmatic answer for builders" (Dec. 17). But DEP's plan to create an alternate stormwater approval process for new commercial and residential developments is neither a compromise nor a pragmatic answer. Rather, it is a failure of DEP to do its job to protect our rivers and streams.
DEP is proposing to eliminate DEP and county conservation district technical review of stormwater and erosion and sediment control plans submitted by the developers' paid engineers. Plans signed and sealed by the developer's engineer and meeting other eligibility requirements will be approved without the review necessary to ensure protection of streams and downstream properties from pollution and flooding.
(Click here for full copy from the Feb. 9 Harrisburg Patriot-News)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Feb. 9 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Go to Click here to print Digest.
Selected headlines--
Rendell Proposes $77 Million Cut In Environmental Spending
Environmental Groups Say Conservation Programs Suffer More
Conservation Districts Announce End Of Assistance
CBF Urges States To Use Federal Stimulus For Green Infrastructure
Video Blog: Franklin & Marshall Professors Talk About Legacy Sediments
House Consumer Affairs Committee On Electric Competition
House Consumer Affairs Committee On Water, Wastewater Issues
Feb. 9 Environmental Forum On Susquehanna Greenway Partnership
PA Resources Council Lens On Litter Contest Winners
PennVEST Waives DEP Permit Requirements For Feb. 16 Apps.
WREN 2009 Watershed Education Grants Due
Conservation Districts Accepting Watershed Experience Grants
First Carbon-Neutral Temple
Update On 10 Percent Abandoned Mine Reclamation Set-Aside
Opinion- Will Pennsylvania Be Smart Or A Sap On Natural Gas?
New Marcellus Shale Education And Training Center

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday NewsClips

Rendell's Budget To Inflict Pain
Rendell's Budget Plan Assailed
Painful Choices
Group To Monitor Study Of Pince Creek Watershed
Washington Twp. Supervisors Rethinking Buffer Rule
Fewer Going Without Heat This Winter
Adams Grant Applicants Get Preliminary OK
Hanover Recycling Pickup Program Pitched
New Farm Odor Management Regs To Take Effect Feb. 27
Allegheny Land Trust To Buy Land Near North Park Lake

Conservation Districts End Engineering Assistance Program For Watershed Projects

The PA Association of Conservation Districts today announced it is discontinuing the Engineering Assistance Program due to the lack of funding from the Department of Environmental Protection's Growing Greener Watershed Grant Program.
Since 2001, the PACD Engineering Assistance Program has provided help to over 500 water quality projects with a total value of $22.2 million in environmental improvement.
Design and technical assistance was provided to conservation districts, watershed organizations, Resource Conservation and Development Councils and many others on projects.
Susan Fox Marquart, Executive Director of PACD, said there is a chance the program could be re-established if a new Growing Greener Grant is announced by February 20. An application for funding was submitted to DEP one year ago.
Gov. Rendell's proposed 2009-10 budget also included a $1 million cut in funding for conservation districts.
Contact Susan Fox Marquart for more information by sending email to:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday NewsClips

Rendell Delivers Budget Address With Promised Pain
Meteorologist Says Widespread Flooding Unlikely In West Branch Susquehanna
Growing Greener Money Not Received In Laceyville
Crabby Creek is Getting Back In The Swim
Bats Mysteriously Dying
Hundreds Of Bats Found Dead In PA
Waste Coal-Fired Plant Rejected In Somerset County
Coal Mine Violations Were Covered Up In 2004 Buck Mountain Blast
DEP: Gas Concern, Drilling Not Linked
Solar Panel Workshop Offered In Bellefonte
Ex-Wastewater Plant Operators Plead Guilty
State's Ruling On Mercury Upsets DEP
Top Green Citation Recognizes Land Conservancy of Adams County
Exelon Shelves Plans For Lancaster County Power Plant

Groups Say Conservation Programs Suffered Larger Budget Cuts Than Others

Members of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Restoration and Conservation today called on Gov. Rendell and the General Assembly to invest a portion of the proposed severance fee on drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania to environmental protection and improvement through the Environmental Stewardship Fund.
“We agree with the governor that these are desperate economic times, and they call for everyone to bear their share of the burden, but we cannot miss this opportunity to invest in the future of our land and water,” said Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture). “The Marcellus shale gas deposit has the potential to make Pennsylvania the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. It needs to be recovered responsibly and drillers should pay their fair share of fixing any damage to our natural resources that drilling causes.”
“These economic times call for shared sacrifice, said Andy Loza of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, “but in the proposed budget, conservation programs have lost far more than others. Even before the state budget imploded with our faltering economy, the Environmental Stewardship Fund had been reduced by 40 percent, or $29 million annually, to pay off bond debt. And the governor plans to divert $174 million – or 92 percent – of the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to pay for general state operations, leaving environmental infrastructure needs unmet. As gas drilling impacts our natural resources, the natural gas severance fee provides an opportunity to reinvest in our natural resources — to protect our streams, safeguard our drinking water, restore our parks and conserve our productive farms and community open spaces.”
“The proposed fee for drilling for natural gas is long overdue,” said David Masur, director of PennEnvironment. “Unlike 39 other states, drillers here have not had to pay a fee for extracting our natural resources. And unless part of this fee goes to environmental protection and cleanup, funds for reinvesting in our parks, forests and other green infrastructure will continue to evaporate – just when public works efforts and great green jobs could be most beneficial to the economy. A severance tax invested at least in part in the Environmental Stewardship Fund could make Pennsylvania a better place to live, work and play.”
PARC is an alliance of conservation, parks, and environmental organizations that work to ensure adequate funding for conservation and restoration projects around the state. PARC was instrumental in the passage of the Growing Greener II legislation and ballot initiative.
In addition to PennFuture and quoted groups, PARC groups include Audubon Pennsylvania, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Conservation Fund, GreenSpace Alliance, the Nature Conservancy, PennEnvironment, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation Society, the Trust for Public Land, and local and regional land trusts.

Gov. Rendell Proposes Budget With Significant Cuts

Gov. Rendell today proposed a $26.6 billion General Fund budget that includes $1 billion in budget cuts affecting 80 percent of the line items in the budget and reducing line items, other than education, public welfare, corrections and probation and parole, by 8.8 percent.
There are no general tax increases, but, as expected, taxes were proposed on smokeless tobacco, cigars, legalizing video poker and production from Marcellus Shale natural gas wells. The Governor is also proposing to continue the phase out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.
Gov. Rendell’s 2009-10 proposed budget continues infrastructure investments with $537 million for Rebuild PA projects that includes: $200 million for bridge repairs; $294.5 million for water, sewer, flood control and dam projects; $42.5 million for rail and aviation improvement projects; and another $1.9 billion in base Motor License Funds will be directed to bridge and highway repairs. (Click here for budget proposal.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

PennVEST Waives DEP Permit Requirements For February 16 Application Deadline

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority is waiving the requirement to have state and other permits in place for applications submitted to meet the February 16 deadline.
The move was made because PennVEST is expecting significant water-related infrastructure funding through the federal stimulus funding now being considered in Congress.
However, PennVEST emphasized permits must be reasonably anticipated to be in place in time for project construction to begin in the spring or early summer.
This waiver applies only to this round of funding. (Click here for full announcement)

PRC Lens On Litter Contest Winners

The Pennsylvania Resources Council today announced the winners of its annual "Lens on Litter" photo contest. The winning photos were received from all over the state.
The objective of the contest is to focus public attention on the problems of litter. Besides being unsightly, litter attracts rodents and insects that carry and spread disease. In addition, farm animals, pets and wildlife often ingest poisonous matter and harmful items.
Contest entries were placed into two categories – school children and adults. Judging was conducted at PRC’s Environmental Living Center in Newtown Square, Delaware County.
In the “School Children Category,” the winner of the $1,000 first place cash prize was 17-year-old Alexander Rothera of Springfield. His photo, “Too Much Tin in Tinicum”, was taken at the Tinicun Wildlife Refuge. The photo (above) depicts discarded cans floating in the water at the Refuge.
Other winning photos will be posted on PRC's website. (Click here to see the two first place winners and the entire announcement.)

Tuesday NewsClips

Budget Deficit Grows
Groups Oppose Clean Energy Legislation
DEP To Appeal Case Invalidating Mercury Emissions Rule
Editorial: Car Makers Need Research Aid To Meet Tougher Standards
Biofuels Firm Looking At Several Sites For Plants
Energy Efficiency Grants Available To Small Businesses
Observers Watch For Dangerous Ice On Susquehanna River
Franklin County Illegal Dumps Make Anti-Littering Group's List
Lycoming College Begins Trayless Cafeteria Initiative
Editorial: Flood Control Experts Recognize Mandate

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday NewsClips

State To Release Tap Water Plan
Mapping Project Short State Funding
Farmers And Forest Crop
Efficient Farming For Small-Scale Dairies
Nesquehoning Solar Plant
Windmill Project Would Save Hazleton Authority $400,000
Use Of Corn Furnace Trims Heating Costs

Center For Climate Strategies Now Independent

The Center for Climate Strategies and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council today announced the establishment of the Center for Climate Strategies as an independent nonprofit corporation. “This move reflects the great success that CCS has had working to address the issue of climate change in more than twenty states” said Paul King, Chair and Interim President of PEC.
Started in 2004 as a policy center of Enterprising Environmental Solutions, Inc, formerly a supporting organization of PEC, CCS has grown to national recognition based on their work across the country. “The growth of CCS has been phenomenal” said Tom Peterson, the new President of CCS and its driving force over the last five years. “We have been privileged to work with governors, state legislatures, environmental agencies, and key stakeholders in over two dozen states to develop plans that really are the foundation for addressing climate change nationwide.”
CCS works collaboratively with diverse stakeholders to develop consensus-based solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in partnering states. “We are looking forward to continuing our efforts and to focus more intently on the climate issues at the national level” said Peterson. “We greatly appreciate PEC’s support of our work over the past several years.”
“The success that CCS has had is remarkable,” said King. “This is not the first time that PEC has helped launch a successful project, and we hope it will not be the last. PEC is committed to fostering innovative projects and, when appropriate, giving them wings to fly.”

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