Thursday, December 31, 2009

Applications Due For EPA Environmental Community Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making $2 million available in 2010 to reduce pollution at the local level through the Community Action for a Renewed Environment Program.
Applications are due March 9.
This competitive grant program gives local communities a way to take action to reduce the toxic pollutants they face and the funding to address these risks.
EPA will conduct three Webcasts to answer questions from prospective applicants about the application process on February 2, 23, and 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
CARE cooperative agreements are awarded at two levels. Level I awards range from $75,000 to $100,000, and Level II awards, range from $150,000 to $300,000 each.
To apply, visit: the CARE Program webpage and for a program overview visit the CARE Program Description webpage.

Public Meeting On Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling Set For January 19 In Media

Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) will host an informational meeting on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. January 19 in the large auditorium at Delaware County Community College, 901 S. Media Line Road, Media.
“The purpose of this meeting is to educate the public and policy makers about the environmental and fiscal issues surrounding Marcellus Shale gas extraction. This will be an issue of increasing importance in the upcoming decade,” Rep. Vitali said.
Speakers include:
-- Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger,
-- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John Quigley,
-- Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Executive Director Sharon Ward,
-- Chesapeake Energy Vice President of Government Affairs David Spigelmyer, and
-- East Resources General Manger for Environment, Health and Safety Scott Blauvelt.
Speakers will discuss the impact of drilling on water quality, the leasing of additional state forest land for drilling, and the imposition of a natural gas severance tax.
The public will be invited to participate in a question-and-answer session.
For additional information about this meeting, please contact Rep. Vitali’s office at 610-789-3900.

Thursday NewsClips

Gas Driller Cited For Violation After Environmentalist Takes Photos
Environmentalists Want Tougher Gas Drilling Rules
Chesapeake Bay Advocates Call EPA Cleanup Plan Too Weak
PRC Urges Going Green In The New Year
Beaver County Pollution Lawsuit Settled
SEPTA Begins Signing Agreements For Trail Project

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Says EPA Action "Lacks Specifics"

Chesapeake Bay Foundation senior water quality scientist Dr. Beth McGee issued this statement following EPA’s announcement of how they intend to hold the Bay states and Washington D.C. accountable for reducing pollution.
“Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts have been littered with promises broken and commitments unfulfilled. As a result, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has called for increased federal leadership, measurable goals, accountability, and serious consequences for failure to achieve pollution reduction goals.
“EPA's December 29th letter to the states and the District of Columbia outlining consequences it may take for future failures reflects the Agency's responsiveness to our demands. We commend EPA for the letter released today.
“However, while the letter lists a series of actions EPA may take, it lacks specifics about when EPA will impose those consequences. The letter lacks concrete standards that will ensure when EPA will act. By what margin must a jurisdiction miss its goals before EPA takes action, for example?
More troubling EPA said it would not use the existing authorities outlined in the letter to hold the states accountable for the pollution reduction commitments made as recently as last May. That discretionary enforcement of the Clean Water Act does not bode well for holding governments accountable in the future.
That is why the ‘Chesapeake Clean Water Act’ under consideration in Congress (sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (MD) and Representative Elijah Cummings (MD), among others) is essential. It would statutorily require across-the-board pollution reductions, mandate consequences, promote market-based strategies, and provide technical assistance to reduce pollution.
“Organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Choose Clean Water Coalition (an organization of over 100 groups) support the ‘Chesapeake Clean Water Act’ in order to ensure pollution is reduced from all sources.”

EPA Outlines Framework for Holding States Accountable for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed the creation of a rigorous accountability framework for reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and the region’s streams, creeks and rivers.
A letter sent today to the six states in the Bay watershed and the District of Columbia outlined a series of consequences EPA could impose if jurisdictions do not make adequate progress in reducing water pollution.
“President Obama, EPA and the states want real, measurable results to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. To get there EPA is strengthening support for our partners, setting clear standards for progress, and ensuring accountability if those standards aren’t met,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Pollution in the Chesapeake is a challenge that has persisted for decades. This federal-state partnership presents new opportunities for cleanup, and we’re increasing support and accountability to be sure we get the job done.”
Federal, state and local officials have been working together on development of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a pollution budget that will set limits for sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to the Bay and its tidal creeks, rivers and bays. EPA is confident the collaborative work will continue and that the states and D.C. will successfully meet expectations for reducing water pollution. The series of consequences will serve as a backstop, however, to achieving water quality goals.
To help the states and D.C. improve the performance and accountability of pollution control programs, EPA will provide technical assistance and an additional $11.2 million in grants for fiscal year 2010, more than doubling 2009 funding levels to the states. The funds are designed to improve permitting, enforcement and other key regulatory activities that increase accountability for reducing water pollution. Click here for full announcement.

Updated Fish Consumption Advisories Issued For 2010

State officials today released updated fish consumption advisories that include two new fish species and a water body that had not previously been on the list, but also eases or lifts advisories on fish from seven water bodies, including lifting the advisory for Sinnemahoning Creek as a result of Mercury contamination
The advisories were developed through an interagency partnership between the Fish and Boat Commission and the state departments of Environmental Protection, Health and Agriculture.
"Consumption advisories are not intended to discourage anyone from fishing or eating fresh fish in moderation," Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said. "However, at-risk groups and people who regularly eat sport fish are most susceptible to contaminants that can build up in fish over time and should space out fish meals according to these advisories, and in consultation with their physician."
The advisories do not apply to fish raised for commercial purposes or bought in stores or restaurants. Click here for full announcement.
NewsClip: PA Supreme Court Invalidates PA Rule Setting Mercury Emission Limits

Tuesday NewsClips

Costa Upbeat About Budget Process
Court Sides With State Workers On Payless Paydays
Environmental Groups, Natural Gas Drillers Debate Impact Of Marcellus Shale
Editorial: On Marcellus, Eyes Wide Shut
Editorial: New Nuke Era
Op-Ed: Leaders Failed To Protect Us From Worst Of Electric Deregulation
Lawmakers Weigh In On Stormwater Rules
Presque Isle Offers Wonderland Of Winter Activities
Sea-Level Rise Quickening Along East Coast
Weatherization Workers Sought For Training
Wayne Conservation District Revises Fees
River Champions See More Work Needed
80 Waterdogs Trained To Montor Pine Creek Watershed

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dec. 28 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The Dec. 28 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Rendell Says Get Ready For 1,000 More State Worker Layoffs, Supports Natural Gas Tax

Gov. Ed Rendell said this week he has no confidence a revenue-raising table games bill will arrive on his desk for his signature by his January 8 deadline. So he has ordered his Cabinet secretaries to identify 1,000 to 1,200 positions in their departments to furlough. Click here to read full story...

Friday NewsClips

Stimulus Funds Pay For Farm Projects In PA
PA High Court Backs Ruling Saying Mercury Rule Unconstitutional
Editorial: No Pennsylvanian Should Be Left In The Cold
Quecreek Mine Rescue Among Inspiring Stories Of The Decade

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gov. Rendell To Support Natural Gas Severance Tax Next Year

During an end-of-year interview today, Gov. Rendell said he will push for even more school funding next year, along with a first-ever natural gas severance tax when he presents his last proposed budget in February.
The Governor originally proposed the severance tax as part of his 2009-10 budget, but backed away from the proposal saying the time was not yet right.
He also said the next Governor will have to raise $4.5 to $5 billion in new revenues to replace federal stimulus funding in this year's budget and to help pay for the coming spike in state worker and school employee pension costs. That would equal about 15 percent of today's budget. Click here to read the article.

Wednesday NewsClips

State Parks On Chopping Block
Rendell: Might Have To Close PA Museum, Parks
Rendell: Prepare For Layoffs
Friends Of Watershed, Notes From The Countryside
Passive Treatment System Restores Sterling Run
Suit Dismissed Alleging Excessive Pollutants In Conemaugh River
Letter: Green Roofs Next Big Thing In Philly?
Pittsburgh Port Authority Adds 20 Hybrids To Its Bus Fleet
Pitt Group Finds Surprising Attitudes Toward Hybrid Cars
Clearfield County Streams Contaminated By Drilling Discharges
Fracking Support Company Looks To Locate In Kirkwood
Wayne County Landowners Groups Gets $178 Million Gas Leasing

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WREN Grant Funding Available For Watershed Education Projects

The Water Resources Education Network invites partnerships of local or regional organizations, such as watershed associations, civic groups, community water systems, governmental entities and other public interest organizations to apply for watershed education grants.
Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded for projects to take place July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011.
Applications are due March 26. Guidelines and the application are available online.

Rendell Orders Agencies To Identify 1,000 Positions To Cut

Gov. Ed Rendell said he has no confidence that a revenue-raising table games bill will arrive on his desk for his signature by his Jan. 8 deadline. So he has ordered his Cabinet secretaries to identify which positions in their departments they will cut. Click here to read the entire article from the Patriot-News.
“We were able to do this last year without closing any state parks,” he said. If the table games bill does not pass by his deadline, leading to 1,000 to 1,200 layoffs, Rendell said: “We are going to have to close a lot more state parks, … perhaps the State Museum.”
Gov. Rendell is ordering the cuts even though he said last week the fiscal year would end with a $124 million surplus.
Although no figures were released on what 1,000 furloughs would save the state, even a back of the envelope calculation shows it would be much less than $30 million and even less than that when unemployment benefits are included.
Merry Christmas...

PA Center For Environmental Education Looking To Fill Position

The PA Association of Environmental Educators and the PA Center for Environmental Education are seeking a quaified individual to fill a full time Americorps VISTA position to be located at the PCEE office in Slippery Rock. Click here for job announcement.

Tuesday NewsClips

Consol Allows Pumping Mine Water Into Dunkard Creek
First Natural Gas Drilling Permit Submitted To Lehman Twp.
Green Projects New Focus At Allegheny County Buildings
Erie Schools Recycle Phone Books To Benefit Food Bank
Push For Alternative Energy Bill Ran Out Of Gas
Federal Funds To Determine Fate Of Ethanol Pipeline
Saving More Than One Trout Stream At A Time
Penn State Faces More Pressure In Climategate Inquiry
Mt. Carmel Expands Sewer Treatment Plant
Editorial: It's Clear Who Pays For Chesapeake Cleanup
Environmentalists, Developers Debating New Water Quality Rules
Lacawac Sanctuary Becomes Accredited Research Field Station
Montgomery County Putting Recycling Into Gear

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ultra Petroleum Spends $400 Million On PA Marcellus Shale Leases

Ultra Petroleum Corp. announced today it has signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire approximately 80,000 (net) acres in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale, from a private company at a cost of $400 million.
Following the acquisition, Ultra Petroleum will hold approximately 250,000 net acres in this region, with the potential for 1,800 net drilling locations.
In November, the Department of Environmental Protection revoked two Marcellus Shale well drilling permits because of numerous technical deficiencies and after the Chesapeake Bay Foundation appealed the issuance of the permits to the Environmental Hearing Board.
"We are strategically increasing the scale of our Marcellus position with assets that rival the returns of our current acreage. With this acquisition, we believe that our net recovered resource in the Marcellus alone will exceed 8.5 trillion cubic feet equivalent (Tcfe), an increase of 3.5 Tcfe from current estimates," stated Michael D. Watford, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
The company expects the transaction to close late February 2010, subject to standard closing conditions, with an effective date of October 1, 2009.
2009 year-to-date, the company has drilled 30 horizontal wells with 13 producing. Initial production rates for the producing wells average 7,500 Mcf per day with preliminary estimated ultimate recoveries ranging from 3.5 to 4.0 Bcf.
The company started 2009 with 288,000 gross (152,000 net) acres in the Marcellus. Through a combination of land acquisitions and swaps, including today's announcement, Ultra Petroleum has added over 192,000 gross acres, nearly doubling its position to approximately 480,000 gross (250,000 net) acres.
The company's expanding core position is concentrated around Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming, Potter, Clinton and Centre counties in north central Pennsylvania.
A PowerPoint presentation regarding the acquisition is posted on Ultra Petroleum's homepage.

Monday NewsClips

Eco-Friendly South Huntingdon Farm Bob Berich Honored
Editorial: Don't Confuse Electric Consumers
Midstate Students Attend Climate Talks
Natural Gas Could Be Answer In Global Warming Fight
Trail Loops Seen As Links To Wilkes-Barre's Features
Birdwatchers To Take Snapshot Of Ecology's Health
Bradford County Discusses County's Role In Gas Industry
Editorial: Compare Electricity Options Apple To Apple
Natural Gas Shines In Energy Scene

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dec. 21 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Dec. 21 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary John Quigley told the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this week his agency does not have the resources to police State Forest Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling as it ramps up over the next few years. Click here to read story...

DEP Set To Release Final Climate Change Action Plan

In a notice scheduled for publication in tomorrow's PA Bulletin, the Department of Environmental Protection said it will be releasing the final PA Climate Change Action Plan today.
The draft report recommends 52 actions to help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to a changing climate and calls for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below year 2000 levels by 2020.
Included among the recommendations were a “Re-Light Pennsylvania” program that encourages residential and commercial use of more efficient lighting systems, the Eco-Driving program that offers fuel-saving tips and incentives to drive less, and an urban forestry program that increases carbon storage in trees while reducing buildings’ heating and cooling demands.
The recommendations, combined with recent federal and state actions, such as the passage of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, electricity conservation measures approved by Act 129, the 2008 Biofuel Development and In-state Production Incentive Act, the Diesel-powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act, and the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program, has the potential to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 42 percent, or more than 120 million tons.
DEP said the final report will be posted on the PA Climate Change webpage.

Friday NewsClips

Rendell Warns Of Minimum 1,000 Layoffs
Rendell Threat: 1,000 Layoffs
Without Table Games, PA Layoffs Loom Again
Gas Drilling Has Back Mountain Group Concerned
PA Must Step Up To Protect Chesapeake Bay DEP Chief Says
PUC: More Living With No Heat Utility
PPL Residential Customers To Get Rebate
Lots To Learn Before Electric Cap Runs Out
Camp Hill Church Goes Solar, Notes Role As Steward
Letter: Renewable Energy Can Lower Electricity Costs, Secretary Hanger
Barletta's Plan For Hazleton: Go Green
Electric Competition Growns
Easton School District Adopts Energy Efficiency Program

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Governor Threatens At Least 1,000 State Worker Layoffs

At a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Rendell said it's clear the House and Senate will not complete work on a table games bill this week. The House will go home today after putting the table games bill in the Rules Committee. The Senate went home yesterday.
As a result, if the General Assembly does not pass table games by January 8, he said he will be forced to cut another $250 million from the budget which will come out of General Government Operations and descretionary grant programs. That's the amount table games were projected to contribute to the budget.
The Governor said the projected cuts to General Government line items will require the layoff of at least 1,000 state employees. He gave no details on which state agencies would be affected.
These cuts are on top of an additional $170 million in cuts Gov. Rendell ordered as a result of his mid-year budget review.
The House and Senate are scheduled to return for the beginning of session next year on January 5, but are not scheduled to begin voting session until the week of January 25.
He also said he will sign non-preferred appropriations bills for Penn State, Pitt and the state-related universities, but he would blue line (cut) the remaining non-preferred appropriations bills on his desk by from 12.8 to 50 percent.

Thursday NewsClips

Public Supports New Wastewater Rules For Drillers
Unexpected Donation Boosts Efforts To Monitor Drilling
Western PA Business Leaders Seek Wind Energy Opportunity
State Agriculture Nominee Gets Senate Approval
Eaton Dedicated To Sustainable Business Practices
Midstate College Students Attend Climate Talks

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

PA American Water Launches Stream Of Learning Scholarship Program

Pennsylvania American Water this week unveiled its Stream of Learning Scholarship Program to provide post-secondary scholarship assistance to students living in Pennsylvania American Water’s service areas.
The program is designed to support outstanding students who are charting a course of study in specific fields that are crucial to the water and wastewater industry, from engineering to environmental science.
Applications are due February 12. Click here for full announcement. Click here for application.

Wednesday NewsClips

A Paralysis In Harrisburg Unequaled For Decades
Rendell Says No More State Employee Layoffs Required Now
Tougher Total Dissolved Solids Rules Eyed For Drilling, Wastewater
Gas Industry Economist Touts Development, Counters Environmental Concerns
Drilling Firm Explains Safeguards
PennEnvironment Calls For Stricter Gas Drilling Rules
Opinions Differ On how To Regulate Marcellus Shale
Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling Planned In North Fayette
2004-06 Flooding On Delaware Would Have Happened Regardless
Wilkes-Barre Levee Fees Not Covering Bills
Cleaning Up To Connect Community, Environment
Energy Company Announces Lowest Rate Yet In PPL Area
ConEdison Emerges As Lowest Cost Electric Supplier For PPL Customers
Another Electricity Provider Gets In Mix - PPL
Op-Ed: Electricity Deregulation Changes Will Shock
Energy Research Funds To Flow Into Pittsburgh
Harrisburg Energy From Waste Facility Given Honors
Grant Will Save Bucknell U. Energy Costs
Editorial: Solar Panels Make A Difference
Gas Companies Set Up Drilling Operations In NE
Illegal Dump Sites Cleared ON Alden Mountain
More Steps Needed To Control River Flooding
Lower Reservoirs Would Lessen But Not Prevent Delaware Floods
DRBC Releases Results Of Flood Analysis Model
NYC Reservoirs Would Have Lessened Sting Of Floods, DRBC Says
Letter: Volunteers Vital To Monitoring Drilling
Court: Ban On Drilling Lifted In Allegheny National Forest
Residents, Company Talk Wind Turbines For Rausch Creek

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Application Assistance for Green Energy Works! Dec. 17 Call

Potential large-scale wind energy project developers looking for guidance and assistance on how to apply for $19.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are invited to take part in an informational conference call for the Green Energy Works! Wind grant program from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, December 17.
The Department of Environmental Protection will conduct the call, which will be accessible by dialing 866-469-3239 and entering the access code 21331162.
"DEP staff will discuss and answer questions about the Green Energy Works! Wind program, its application process, and its requirements," said DEP Secretary John Hanger. "Pennsylvania's wind industry is one of the fastest growing in the country. With nearly $20 million available, this grant program has the potential to develop wind projects that will put Pennsylvanians to work and build facilities that will help power our future with clean, renewable energy.
"The competition for federal stimulus dollars is great. We want to ensure that potential developers have the opportunity to submit a complete and thorough application."
The Green Energy Works! Wind program is open to Pennsylvania projects that combine grant funding with private investments for wind energy systems with a capacity of at least 3 megawatts and that use Pennsylvania goods and services to the greatest extent possible.
Funds may be used to purchase and install equipment for producing wind energy or distributing energy by covering interconnection costs and network upgrades. All proposals must be for a minimum of $250,000 and may not exceed $19.8 million.
The deadline for submitting Green Energy Works! Wind applications is 4 p.m. on December 31. Click here for more information.

Quigley: DCNR Does Not Have Resources To Police State Forest Drilling

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary John Quigley told the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today his agency does not have the resources to police State Forest Land Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling as it ramps up over the next few years.
He said drilling will cover one-third of the State Forest system and involve thousands of new wells and thousands of new miles of collection pipelines and roads that will fragment forest land. He noted Bureau of Forestry staff has effectively been cut in half with the 2009-10 budget cuts.
Acting Secretary Quigley also said budget cuts for 2009-10 have forced his agency to fundamentally change the State Park system from a year-round operation to a seasonal one because of cuts of 700 wage positions in the Parks eliminating maintenance work, environmental education and teacher training programs and reducing hours.
Currently there are 250 wells on State Forest land of which three are active Marcellus Shale natural gas wells. Acting Secretary Quigley said 100 more Marcellus Shale wells are in advanced stages of development so far.
He said DCNR currently leases about 660,000 acres of State Forest land for well drilling, which will increase to over 700,000 when the current year leases are finalized. Quigley said he anticipates going out for a third round of Marcellus Shale leases in the middle of next year once the second round is completed.
Asked by Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) about the adequacy of staff to oversee the leases, Acting Secretary Quigley said the agency is now doing an evaluation of staffing needs because it is clear, faced with thousands of new wells and thousands of miles of new collector wells and supporting structures, current staffing will not be adequate to deal with this activity.
DCNR is planning a summit next year with the oil and gas industry, Quigley said, to explore ways in which the agency can partner with the industry to develop best management practices and other tools that will reduce the staff needed to police the leases.
Quigley said the scale of Marcellus Shale gas leasing means it will be the "dominate activity for the agency for the next generation." At the same time, he said DCNR is determined to maintain the "gold standard" in regulating the natural gas leases in ways that go beyond what other landowners would do because of concerns about forest land impacts.
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) asked if county conservation districts or staff from the Department of Environmental Protection could help with overseeing gas well leases. Acting Secretary Quigley said DEP and DCNR have very different missions. DCNR is a land manager and has to deal with the impact on the State Forest system and its wildlife and other resources, while DEP is concerned with water quality and other impacts.
Quigley expressed concern about the extent of forest land fragmentation that will result from introducing thousands of new miles of natural gas collection lines and roads into State Forests saying they will have to find new and creative ways to manage these impacts.
Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester) said DCNR should look for other innovative ways to fund its lease oversight activities because he felt support was not coming through the state General Fund. He said he was disappointed Gov. Rendell gave up on the idea of a severance tax on natural gas for this year because he thought that might be part of the solution.
In response to a question by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), Acting Secretary Quigley said he has enough funding from the Oil and Gas Fund to keep State Parks open, with reduced services, for this fiscal year. Left unsaid was whether that same commitment can be made for next year.
Quigley also noted his agency is much more dependent on funding day to day operations from the Oil and Gas Fund than ever before, and not only to help keep State Parks open. He said with the collapse of the timber markets, the Bureau of Forestry ran out of money this past March and all of its operational costs had to be taken from the Oil and Gas Fund to finish the fiscal year. He said things do not look much better for next year.
Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango) asked Quigley if he was aware the four Caucuses and Gov. Rendell have agreed to take another $180 million from the Oil and Gas Fund to help balance the 2010-11 state budget. He replied he was not.
Over the last two budgets, $60 million taken from the Oil and Gas Fund to balance the 2009-10 budget and the $143 million taken from the Fund to balance the 2008-09 budget. (11/23/09 Pa Environment Digest)
A copy of Quigley's prepared remarks is available online. Video of the full December 15 hearing is also available at the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee webpage.
Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair.

Gov. Rendell Orders Additional Budget Cuts

In the Governor's Budget Office mid-fiscal year review, projections show the fiscal year will end with a $450 million deficit and Gov. Rendell ordered a freeze on an additional $170 million in budget cuts from a 1 percent across the board reduction in discretionary spending (about $70 million) and $100 million in "targeted cuts" in discretionary grant programs.
The Governor added he did not believe more furloughs of state employees would be necessary.
Click here for full announcement. Mid-Year Budget Brief PowerPoint available online.
NewsClip: Rendell- No More Furloughs Required For Now

Tuesday NewsClips

State Plans Regulation Of Total Dissolved Solids From Drilling Operations
Editorial: Hearing Trees Fall In State Forest
Exxon Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play
Nutrient Credits Save Some Midstaters On Sewer Rates
Funding Approved For Susquehanna River Flood Monitoring
Kids At Bear Creek Walk On Wild Side
Berks County Farms Selected To Transition To Organic Farming
Grants Available To Expand Wind Energy Projects In PA
Editorial: Copenhagen, Theater Of The Absurd
Cong. Carney Comments On Drilling Frac Act
SRBC To Begin Real Time Water Monitoring Of Drilling
Electric Choice, Choose Wisely
More Competition For PPL
Chester Groups: Keep Drilling Wastewater Out Of Facility

Monday, December 14, 2009

DCNR's Quigley Outlines Impacts Of Budget Cuts

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee posted a copy of the statement Acting DCNR Secretary John Quigley has submitted to the Committee outlining the impact of the 2009-10 budget cuts on the agency for the hearing to be held Tuesday. Click here for a copy.
The statement itemizes impacts on personnel, State Forests, State Parks, recreation grants and the leasing of State Forest Land for Marcellus Shale drilling.
Link: DEP, DCNR To Furlough Or Eliminate 333 Positions Due To Budget Cuts

Help Wanted: Shaver's Creek, Western PA Conservancy

Shaver's Creek Environmental Center and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy are looking for individuals to fill paid positions.
Shaver's Creek is looking for a Marketing Information Coordinator to market all of the Center's programs and events through it swebsite, print meterial and other media outlets. Click here for a complete description and now to apply.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is seeking a watershed technician to fill an AmeriCorps Position. Deadline for applying is December 24. Click here for full announcement.

Monday NewsClips

Legislation Could Help Nutrient Credit Trading Program
Green Building Demolition
Wildlife Habitat Develops At Alliance Sanitary Landfill
NWF Welcomes New Partner In Pennsylvania
Federal Funding for River Basin Commissions Is In National Interest
DEP Seeks Green Energy Revolving Loan Fund Manager
Choices Are There For Those Fearing Electric Rate Surge
Hearing Planned To Tackle Wastewater Treatment Rules
Solar Panel Will Power Pottstown Business
Consumers Getting Ready For Big Electric Switch
Delaware River Basin Flood Warning System Gets Federal Funding
Climate Change, Minus The Hot Air

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dec. 14 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The December 14 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Growing Greener Is 10 Years Old But Facing An Uncertain Future: On December 15, 1999 Gov. Tom Ridge and the General Assembly created the five year, nearly $645 million Growing Greener Program which continues to be the largest single investment in cleaning up and restoring the environment in Pennsylvania's history. Click here for more...

DCNR Increases State Park, State Forest Fees For 2010

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources published notice of fee increases for use of State Park and State Forest facilities effective January 1.
The new schedule includes a new pricing structure for State Parks Nature Inns along with some changes to utility prices for campgrounds and organized group cabin camps, instituting ranges for certain facilities to allow for market based pricing and adding some new miscellaneous fees.
The remaining changes are needed to compensate the Bureau of State Parks for increased utility costs at our electric campsites and fine tune our existing rate structure. For example, the changes to the boat launch and firewood permits are needed to conform to the current fees of the Fish and Boat Commission and the Bureau of Forestry.
The camping fee changes include both increasing and decreasing fees at specific campgrounds that reflect market conditions and are comparable with surrounding states current pricing practices.
DCNR said it would post a comparison of the old and new fees online.
For more information and reservations at State Parks, visit the DCNR fee webpage.

Friday NewsClips

Consol to Resume Discharging Wastewater Into Dunkard Creek
Studies Possible Costs Of Natural Disasters In Lackawanna, Luzerne Counties
Growers Pleased With Christmas Tree Crop
Utilities Under Gun To Push Cuts In Electricity Use
Allentown To Unplug PPL, Buy Lower Priced Power Elsewhere
Divide On Climate Change Makes Action Difficult
Op-Ed: We Must Invest In Homegrown Green Energy Industries
Physicist Probes Response To TMI Leak
Bald Eagles Spotted In Allentown Area
Bradford County Seeks To Document Impact Of Gas Industry On Crime
SRBC To Start Monitoring Network To Detect Pollution From Drilling
Monitors To Check Streams In Gas Drilling Areas
Engineering Students Cook Up Green Ideas
Property Owners Seek Solution To Building Moratorium Along Susquehanna
$2.5 Million Grant Will Fund Green Generator At Geisinger
EPA Cap And Trade Tyranny Is On The Way
EPA: No Urgent Concern Over Crumb Rubber Field Surfaces

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Susquehanna River Basin Receives Donation To Start Marcellus Shale Monitoring

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission this week announced it will begin installing a monitoring network to continuously measure and report water quality conditions of smaller rivers and streams located in northern tier Pennsylvania and southern tier New York in early 2010.
SRBC will receive the data collected by the network and will make it available to other resource agencies and the public through its web site. The data will help agency officials track existing water quality conditions and any changes in them on an ongoing, real-time basis.
East Resources, Inc., a natural gas company based in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, announced it will be contributing $750,000 to SRBC for the water quality monitoring network.
“Environmental organizations and local watershed groups have expressed concerns over the potential impact of Marcellus Shale natural gas development on public water supplies and water quality in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin,” Terry Pegula, president and CEO of East Resources, noted. “We firmly believe that the Marcellus Shale can be developed with little impact on water resources. This new monitoring system will provide a valuable service to citizens, communities and watershed groups in the region by informing them about local water quality conditions and helping state and federal agencies respond more rapidly if water quality impacts occur.
“East Resources has substantial leasehold interests and a major stake in the Upper Susquehanna watershed, and we are committed to the development of the Marcellus Shale in a way that protects the environment. Our contribution to the SRBC reflects East’s long-term commitment to the economic vitality and environmental quality of the region," said Pegula.
“The Commission truly appreciates this substantial contribution from East Resources. It will allow us to cover the cost of installing the initial monitoring stations in the targeted areas," said Paul Swartz, SRBC Executive Director. With this contribution, the Commission has now secured a commitment of the financial resources needed to proceed with the project sooner than planned. If winter weather cooperates, we could begin installing equipment as soon as January 2010.”
“With the current concerns about the natural gas drilling activities occurring in the Susquehanna basin, SRBC believes that a data collection effort is critically important as the basis for making future decisions,” said Swartz, SRBC.
SRBC will initially set up 30 water quality monitoring stations in the regions where drilling in the Marcellus shale is most active, as well as other locations where no drilling activities are planned so SRBC can collect control-data.
The monitoring network will provide constant data collection with instruments sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in water quality on a frequency that will allow background conditions and any changes to them to be documented throughout the year. This level of data collection would not be feasible without the use of advanced technology.
Each of the monitoring stations will be equipped with water quality sensors and a transmitter to continuously monitor and report water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductance (ability to conduct electricity) and turbidity (water clarity). The water depth also will be recorded to establish a relationship with stream flows.
The monitoring of conductance is key to detecting impacts associated with natural gas activities if they occur; this constituent in water produced by the natural gas industry is generally 200 times greater than normally measured in streams in the Susquehanna River Basin, allowing it to be a leading indicator.
The monitoring network will provide early warnings to help environmental protection officials respond more rapidly and better pinpoint causes if water quality conditions change. It will also help local public water suppliers, local watershed groups and communities stay informed.
Swartz said, “The Commission’s overarching objective of this monitoring network is to apply good science in order to track changes in water quality conditions over time and to allow for timely responses in the case of pollution events. The Commission will rely on the know-how and expertise it has gained through an existing early warning system program and nearly 24 years of continuous monitoring to ensure the successful set up and operation of this expanded remote monitoring effort.”
Other objectives are to reduce the cost of data collection by using advanced technologies, form partnerships, enhance water supply protection through source water monitoring and be responsive to public concerns.
SRBC has already reached out to local government officials, colleges and universities along with watershed organizations to gauge their interest in assisting SRBC staff on the project.
For more information, visit SRBC’s water quality monitoring network webpage.

Thursday NewsClips

Rendell Warns Of More State Layoffs
Gov Warns Of More Layoffs As PA Revenues Lag
Rendell Raises Possibility Of Additional State Layoffs
State Cuts Affect Local Programs, Mandates In Clearfield
Dec. 10 EPA Meeting On Chesapeake Bay To Be Webcast
PA Gets Flunking Grade In Chesapeake Stormwater Program
Municipalities Partner With Watershed Conservancy On Stormwater
PUC Officials Tout Electric Competition
Failure To Collect Water Bills Costs Philadelphia Millions
Long Message Riles Philadelphia Recycling Patrons
PSU Panel To Review All Climategate Emails
Editorial: World Needs To Act On Climate In Copenhagen
Editorial: The Battle For Planet Earth
Lycoming Expected To Support Financing For Landfill Energy Project
Feral Pigs Run Wild In PA, Mid-Atlantic States
Bill Would Protect Land, Gas, Water Royalties
Editorial: Another Climate Summit In NE PA
Drilling Solutions Proposed
Wayne, Pike Lawmakers Back Natural Gas Production Tax
Lawmaker, Group Push To Bolster State's Gas Drilling Laws
Allegheny National Forest Drilling Case Still Pending

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thomas M. Gerusky, Former Director Bureau Of Radiation Protection Passes

Former Director of the DER Bureau of Radiation Protection Tom Gerusky passed away this week at the age of 74.
As Director of that Bureau Tom helped direct the Commonwealth's response to the March 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and then the following cleanup of the damaged Unit 1 reactor.
He remembered the events surrounding the accident at TMI in a special column developed for the 20th anniversary.
Tom also provided national leadership in developing programs to detect and deal with the health hazards in homes, businesses and schools from naturally-occurring radon gas.
In 1984 radon was a relatively unknown threat to public health, but monitoring at a Pennsylvania power plant lead to its discovery in homes all across the state. In this article, Tom outlines how the problem was discovered and Pennsylvania's response.
Click here to read published obituary.

Tuesday NewsClips

Dimock, PA - Dark Side Of A Natural Gas Boom
Millions In U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show
Crackdown On Greenhouse Emissions To Hit PA Hard
Copenhagen Summit Is Destination For Pittsburgh Lawyers
Op-Ed: Forests A Part Of Climate Fix
PJM Plays Essential, Controversial Role In Electricity Pricing
DEP Fines Chesapeake Appalachia, Schlumberger For Drilling Acid Spill
DEP Fines Chesapeake Appalachia For Acid Spill
A Trash Coal-lection Tradition
Harrisburg Incinerator Gets Some Good Ink
Harrisburg Incinerator Debt Complicates City Budget
Grant To Support Penn State Research On Climate, Infectious Disease
Geisinger To Install A New Generator And Boiler

Monday, December 7, 2009

Federal Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Bill Will Generate Millions In Revenue For PA Farms

A new analysis of the nutrient trading program contained in the proposed federal Chesapeake Clean Water Act-- HR 3852/S 1816-- has determined that Pennsylvania farmers could be paid as much as $117 million annually to reduce nitrogen pollution, creating jobs and bolstering the agricultural economy.
The analysis by the World Resources Institute, an international leader in market based environmental programs, found that water quality trading could potentially double conservation funding compared to what is currently available in the federal Farm Bill.
"The Chesapeake Clean Water Act puts farmers squarely in the driver's seat – directing significant public and private market dollars to farmers to address the problems," said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker. "Even without this legislation, pollution from all sources including agriculture, local communities and future growth, will have to be reduced."
Farmers could be paid for adopting conservation practices that will strengthen their ability to produce over the long-term; for example, by planting cover crops that will help keep top soil in its place.
Water quality trading for nutrients, or "nutrient trading," makes it possible to achieve reductions efficiently and cost-effectively, and offers a new revenue source for those able to sell "nutrient credits."
The trading program works like this: once a farm has met and exceeded environmental requirements, the farmer is eligible to sell credits for additional pollution reduction.
Reducing pollution from agriculture is more cost effective than from other sources, so farmers will be able to sell the credits, for example to a municipality, for significantly less than that local government would pay to reduce a pound of pollution from stormwater.
This means that an urban center in Maryland or Virginia could fund conservation efforts on Pennsylvania farms that improve local streams that drain to the Chesapeake Bay.
With the proper safeguards, pollution trading can accelerate the reduction of pollutants that degrade many local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. It can save taxpayer money and provide vital income to farmers while dramatically reducing water quality pollution locally and regionally.
"WRI works to identify cost-effective ways to achieve environmental goals, and our analysis supports the concept that there is a significant market for nutrient trading in the region," said WRI President Jonathan Lash.
"The creation of a market for nutrient reductions would allow farmers to earn a reasonable return for making choices that benefit the Bay and its millions of users."
Because there is no significant interstate nutrient trading underway today, the WRI analysis looked at the current Pennsylvania market for credits, and then assessed the impact of increasing demand as a result of growth and the need for municipalities to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff -- the most expensive source of pollution to control.
The results showed that in today's market in Pennsylvania, approximately $18 million in annual revenue could be available. After pollution caps are put in place in 2010, the WRI analysis estimates demand driven by the need to reduce stormwater pollution and growth across the watershed could generate as much as $117 million annually for Pennsylvania farmers.
Congress is now considering the Chesapeake Clean Water Act, which proposes an inter-state trading program, complementing Pennsylvania's ongoing program, to reduce pollution through the marketplace. The bill also includes no less than $96 million, and possibly substantially more, for technical assistance to farmers, as well as $75 million for a new "Stewardship Grants" program to fund pollution reduction activities, and $1.5 billion to help local governments reduce stormwater runoff.
"We all are responsible for the Bay's poor condition, and we all must take responsibility for its revival – including farmers, local communities and future residents. This legislation has the provisions to ensure we have profitable farms and a restored Chesapeake Bay, because we believe you can't have one without the other." said Matt Ehrhart, Pennsylvania executive director for CBF. "In fact, the Chesapeake Clean Water Act will hold the federal government and states responsible for providing agriculture with the resources that have been insufficient and sporadic over the past twenty years."
"The technical assistance the proposed legislation will provide is critical, and has been lacking for many years," said Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson. "This bill will provide funding for state and local governments, colleges, soil conservation districts and others to advise and assist farmers in developing and maintaining conservation practices."
The Chesapeake Clean Water Act sets scientifically-based standards for pollution reduction from local governments, sewage treatment plants, industries, farms, and others. It gives the states flexibility in how to reach these goals, while providing tools to help reach them. Click here for a copy of the WRI report.

State Forest, Parks Award Nominations Due

Celebrate the importance of parks and forests by nominating a park, forest, or friends group that you think represents the best of the best!
The PA Parks and Forests Foundation established an awards program in 2007 to recognize the outstanding service, programs and exemplary work being done at state parks and forests. Award Nominations are due by December 11.
Award Categories
Keystone Legacy Award: This is the top honor, given to a group, individual, or business-chosen at the discretion of PPFF.
President's Award: This award recognizes outstanding citizens or businesses who have made an impact in protecting opens space, conservation, outdoor recreation or volunteerism.
Government Award: This is given to a person or department at any level of government to recognize their work in the stewardship of Pennsylvania's state park and forest system.
Park of the Year: This award is designed to recognize a park for their exemplary or innovative work in any or all of the following: customer service; education; programming or recreation; stewardship of the natural, cultural, or historic assets; and/or accommodation of special needs of visitors.
Forest of the Year: This award is designed to recognize a forest district for its innovative and exemplary work in both forest management and recreation for a wide range of activities.
Friends Group Awards: Three awards are given for recognition of achievements made by friends groups. These include awards for volunteerism, improvement, and education.
We are especially looking for nominations for the Keystone Legacy and Government award. If you have someone you would like to nominate, or have a suggestion for a nomination, please visit the PPFF website or contact PPFF President Marci Mowery at (717) 236-7644 or

Monday NewsClips

Lawmakers Hope To Revive Bill To Ease Impact Of Electric Rate Cap Expiration
Electricity Costs To Increase Sharply When Rate Caps Expire
Why Your Electric Bill Will Shoot Up In 25 Days
PPL Smart, Lucky In Recovering Stranded Costs
Before Climate Meeting, A Revival Of Skepticism
Chesapeake Bay Restoration One Stream At A Time – Lititz Run
National Aviary Expansion Reduced By Half
Dec. 15 Chesapeake Bay Forum In Harrisburg
Help Wanted: WPCAMR Regional Coordinator
Deregulation Means PPL Customers Must Pick Power Providers
Pike Changes Recycling Program
Northampton Restores Environmental Coordinator To Budget
Easton Workshop Focus On Water Conservation, Urban Gardens
Pressure Mounts On Delaware Dredging
Editorial: Environmental Slope On Gas Drilling Tricky
Natural Gas Industry Asked PA To Skip County Regulators
Upper Delaware Council Asks For Assurances With Gas Well Spills
Solar Panels Cutting Costs In Springfield Twp.
Editorial: Climate Change Work Ahead

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Nature Conservancy, Blue Source Launch Forest Carbon For Private Landowners

The Nature Conservancy-PA recently launched Working Woodlands, a model forest conservation program that aims to protect forests and fight climate change through an agreement with Blue Source to jointly develop market-based incentives that reward landowners who demonstrate exceptional forest management practices. Click here to watch video.
"Working Woodlands is a new model of conservation that puts the growing market for carbon credits to work as a means to promote high quality forest conservation strategies on private lands," said Dylan Jenkins, the Pennsylvania director of forest conservation for The Nature Conservancy.
Building on the Conservancy and Blue Source’s combined experience with land protection, forest certification and carbon finance, Working Woodlands uses an innovative combination of long-term working forest conservation agreements, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management certification, and carbon market payments to make conservation a more attractive proposition for landowners.
The program is designed to eliminate out-of-pocket, up-front costs for landowners. The Conservancy will provide services for FSC certification, and Blue Source will provide financing for carbon credit development. The resulting offsets will be added to Blue Source’s portfolio and subsequently marketed to companies that have an interest in purchasing forest carbon credits as part of an effort to manage their net greenhouse gas emissions.
"This alliance provides a means for landowners in the U.S. to embrace forest conservation at no up-front cost and enables them to receive timber and carbon revenues as a result of their commitment to improved environmental stewardship," says Blue Source Vice President, Roger Williams. "We see this as an evolution in land conservation and have structured this program to make it easy for landowners to participate."
"There are many forest carbon offsets in existence, but the Working Woodlands model offers very credible offsets because they are tied to FSC certification," said Luke Dillinger, wood procurement forester at Domtar’s Johnsonburg paper mill, an FSC-certified facility and a major market for Pennsylvania forest products. The program offers a unique, market-based mechanism to allow forest landowners to manage for the long-term health of the forest, while maximizing the sustainable revenue stream off of their properties, he said.
The program was developed in Pennsylvania but is designed to spread to other Appalachian states, Jenkins said. “We’re at the forefront of creating a viable, high-quality forest carbon program. Our hope is that over the next two to three years we’ll demonstrate the kind of success that will make others want to adopt our model in their neck of the woods.”
"Working forests are a keystone of The Nature Conservancy's conservation efforts, here in Pennsylvania and around the world, " said Bill Kunze, state director of The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Chapter. "Harnessing the power of markets in service to the long-term ecological and economic health of our forests can yield so much benefit for both people and nature."
How it Works
-- The Conservancy will offer Working Woodlands to landowners in Pennsylvania who have forests of at least 250 acres in size where FSC certification would significantly advance the conservation goals of long-term forest protection and sustainable forest management.
-- Cooperating with private forest consultants, the Conservancy will develop forest management plans that are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council. These plans will then be coupled with long-term management agreements to protect lands from forest conversion or unsustainable management practices.
-- All forest products produced from Working Woodlands properties will be FSC certified, including conventional solid wood for veneer and timber, as well as low-grade pulp and woody biomass for paper and energy production.
-- Blue Source and the Conservancy will work to ensure that the long-term management agreements are structured such that the resulting increase in forest carbon sequestered on the land can be quantified, verified and sold.
-- Blue Source will work with landowners to finance projects and to market and sell carbon credits generated by long-term forest protection and the improvement in forest conditions that result from FSC management, giving landowners additional financial incentive to manage their forest in a sustainable manner.

Sunday NewsClips

Natural Gas Companies Rushing To Cash In On Marcellus Shale
Activists Advocate Gas Drilling Regulations
Column: Cleaning Up Dunkard Creek Should Be Priority
PPL Rate Caps Come Off Jan. 1, It Couldn't Come At A Worse Time
Former PPL CEO Hecht Among First To Embrace Free Market System
Energy Forum At Mall Reveals Consumer Unease
Climategate Debate
Column: Emperor Of Climate Change Has No Clothes?
Editorial: Countering Copenhagen, Courage & Truth
Geology Guides For Western PA Parks
Carnegie Museum's Scientist Leads Montour Trail Tour
Plans For Abington's Trolley Trail Rolling Along

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