Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Newsclips

The Allentown Morning Call reported this morning energy companies spent at least $1 million on lobbying and contributed thousands of dollars to various lawmakers last year partly in an effort to oppose the natural gas production severance tax.
Range Resources, the Call said, spent $228,869 on lobbing between January and September and, through its political action committee, contributed $16,000 to the campaigns of various lawmakers. Gubernatorial candidates received $12,250 including Republican Tom Corbett, Democrats Jack Wagner and Dan Onorato. Senators Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Jake Corman (R-Centre) received $2,000 from the company.
Others reporting lobbying expenses include: Spectra Energy Transmission- $153,000 and Independent Oil and Gas Association- $20,000 in campaign contributions.
The Sudden Emergency Of Shale Gas Frenzy
DCNR Accepting Applications For Community Conservation Partnership Grants
PPL Rates Will Varry Rates By Days, Evenings
Citizen Science Reigns In Great Backyard Bird County
No Controversy In Management Of Deer Program
Proposals To Alter Deer Seasons In Southwest

Friday, January 29, 2010

Feb. 1 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The February 1 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Governor: DEP Hire 68 More Staff To Deal With Marcellus Shale, Pass Severance Tax

Gov. Rendell this week directed the Department of Environmental Protection to begin hiring 68 new personnel who will make sure drilling companies obey state laws and act responsibly to protect water supplies. And he again called on General Assembly to pass a natural gas severance tax.
DEP also will strengthen oil and gas regulations to improve well construction standards. These critical upgrades are designed to prevent gas leaks that can pose risks to the public and water quality. Click here to read more....

DCNR Posts Community Conservation Partnership Grants

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources recently posted the list of 143 grants it awarded under the Community Conservation Partnership Grant Program totaling $18.9 million. A complete list of grants awarded is available online.
The deadline for applications for the 2010 round of grants is April 21. DCNR is sponsoring grant writing workshops starting February 2 around the state.

Friday NewsClips

Lawmakers Talking About Next Year's Budget
DEP Hiring More Gas Drilling Inspectors
DEP Plans To Hire 68 Gas Inspectors
PA To Hire More Oil And Gas Drilling Inspectors
More Drilling Inspectors, Safer Gas Well Rules In Plans
Law On Gas Drilling Still In Flux, Public Told
Drilling Opponents Feel Oregon Twp. Can Be A Waterloo
Letter: Devastating Drilling
Eco-Friendly Agenda, Recycling Earns Miller Award
State Approves Time-Of-Use Billing For PPL
Pittsburgh Trails To Get Million-Dollar Improvements
Forest Service Still Working On Rules For Drilling
Editorial: Drilling Raises Host Of Environmental Questions
Recycling Program A Hit At Pine Road
Legislators Outline Natural Gas Drilling Proposals
Gas Well Incident Hurts 3
Rendell's Move To Tighten Drilling Rules Praised
Editorial: Northumberland Should Seek Fair Share With Penn Wind

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fish & Boat Commission Urges Action On Susquehanna River Water Quality Issues

Calling the Susquehanna River “increasingly impaired,” the board of commissioners of the Fish and Boat Commission today called on state and federal environmental agencies to expand efforts to determine the sources of pollution which are contributing to the demise of the river’s smallmouth bass fishery.
The board’s resolution, passed at its quarterly meeting, urges the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to step up their investigations, saying recent data confirms a serious problem exists.
Commissioners cited evidence from a two-year water quality study coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey and partially funded by the PFBC which found stress factors such as elevated water temperature and low dissolved oxygen concentrations during the critical May through July development period for smallmouth bass. The Commission contributed $400,000 to the study in an effort to discover the causes behind the fishery’s decline.
Problems were first detected in the middle reaches of the river in 2005, when PFBC biologists found unusually high numbers of dead or distressed smallmouth bass. They later determined that the affected fish were suffering from infections related to a common soil and water bacteria Flavobacterium columnare, or Columnaris.
The disease is considered a secondary infection brought on by environmental or nutritional factors that stress fish, weakening their ability to cope with the bacterial agent. The same bacterium was discovered again in 2007 and 2008.

Governor: DEP Hire 68 More Staff To Deal With Marcellus Shale, Pass Severance Tax

Gov. Rendell today directed the Department of Environmental Protection to begin hiring 68 new personnel who will make sure that drilling companies obey state laws and act responsibly to protect water supplies. Again calls on General Assembly to pass a natural gas severance tax.
DEP also will strengthen oil and gas regulations to improve well construction standards. These critical upgrades are designed to prevent gas leaks that can pose risks to the public and water quality.
“Interest in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation is greater than ever before and as natural gas prices continue to rise, that interest will only increase,” said Gov. Rendell. “In fact, the industry has told us that they expect to apply for 5,200 permits to drill in the Marcellus Shale this year -- nearly three times the number of permits we issued in all of 2009.
"Given these conditions, an extraction tax is gaining widespread support across our state and I will again ask the General Assembly to enact such a levy. It is fair and affordable to drillers. They know it, and so do members of the House of Representatives who voted for it last year.
“The actions I am announcing today, however, are about decisive, progressive protections for the people of Pennsylvania. We were able to hire 37 additional inspectors and permitting staff in 2009, but the industry’s projected growth in 2010 means that we need additional inspectors to ensure oil and gas companies follow environmental laws and regulations.
'As I’ve said all along, we want to encourage the development of this resource because it’s a tremendous economic opportunity for the state, but we will not allow that to happen at the expense of our environment.”
DEP performed 14,544 drilling site inspections in 2009 and took 678 enforcement actions against drillers for violations.
The 68 additional personnel will be funded entirely from money generated by new, higher permitting fees that were instituted in 2009—the first such increase since 1984. The new fees were put in place with bipartisan support from the General Assembly, industry and environmental organizations.
The Governor noted that given the need for these additional health and safety personnel and the dedicated funding source that is independent of the state’s General Fund, these new hires are exemptions to the general hiring freeze he instituted last year.
DEP’s work to amend Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulations will strengthen well construction standards and define a drilling company’s responsibility for responding to gas migration issues, such as when gas escapes a well or rock formation and seeps into homes or water wells. Specifically, he said the new regulations will:
-- Require the casings of Marcellus Shale and other high-pressure wells to be tested and constructed with specific, oilfield-grade cement;
-- Clarify the drilling industry’s responsibility to restore or replace water supplies affected by drilling;
-- Establish procedures for operators to identify and correct gas migration problems without waiting for direction from DEP;
-- Require drilling operators to notify DEP and local emergency responders immediately of gas migration problems;
-- Require well operators to inspect every existing well quarterly to ensure each well is structurally sound, and report the results of those inspections to DEP annually; and
-- Require well operators to notify DEP immediately if problems such as over-pressurized wells and defective casings are found during inspections.
“These new draft regulations, which were developed through open meetings with experts in the industry, are designed to give Pennsylvanians peace of mind by bringing our state’s requirements up to par with other major gas producing states or, as in the case of the well casing requirements, to a level that is even more rigorous,” said Gov. Rendell.
The new regulations will be offered for public comment on January 29 before going through DEP’s formal rulemaking process.
Interest in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation has been increasing. One third of the more than 6,200 oil and natural gas drilling permits DEP issued in 2009 were for drilling in the Marcellus Shale. By comparison, only four of the more than 6,000 permits issued in 2005 were for the Marcellus formation.
For more information, visit the DEP Marcellus Shale webpage.

West Branch Susquehanna Symposium Set For May 6-7, Abstracts, Student Posters Invited

Trout Unlimited and the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition will hold the 5th West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Symposium on May 6 & 7 at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport.
May 6 will be filled with a variety of presentations on topics related to abandoned mine drainage cleanup efforts in the West Branch Susquehanna watershed. On May 7, training sessions will be offered that will teach participants how to perform water sampling and biological surveys according to state and federal protocol and will help to make data collection more consistent throughout the watershed.
Call For Abstracts
Do you have interesting or innovative research or a project to share related to abandoned mine drainage, mine reclamation, innovative uses for mine drainage or treatment residuals, or a related topic? Projects with a focus in the West Branch Susquehanna River basin are preferred, but not required.
TU and the WBSRC are seeking individuals to provide presentations on these topics on May 6, during the 5th West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Symposium. Interested persons should send a short abstract (250 word maximum) along with their name, affiliation, and contact information to Rachel Kester at by February 10.
Student Poster Contest
TU and the WBSRC are also pleased to announce that a student poster competition will be held in conjunction with the 5th West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Symposium. Posters should present research related to abandoned mine drainage, abandoned mine reclamation, or a related topic.
Projects with a focus in the West Branch Susquehanna River basin are preferred, but not required. Each student entering a poster will receive a scholarship to attend the conference and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place contestants will receive a monetary award. To enter, please send an abstract (250 word maximum) along with your name, affiliation, and contact information to Rachel Kester at by April 30.
For more information, visit the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition website or call 570-748-4901 or send email to:

2010 Watershed Summit May 1

The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds is hosting a 2010 Watershed Summit on May 1 for watershed associations and their allies. The theme of the conference is, "What's Next? Building A Stronger Organization, Technical Advice for Improving Your Watershed." The conference will be held at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in State College. Stay tuned for more!

Thursday NewsClips

Senate Panel Probes Water Quality Issues Related To Gas Drilling
PA's Gas Wells Booming, But So Are Spills
Lawmakers Seeking Public Input On Gas Drilling
Fish Commission May Call For More Action On Susquehanna River
Returning To Nature In Lehigh Development
Philadelphia Gets $27 Million In Federal Energy Efficiency Funding
Editorial: Climate Danger- Check The EPA
Robinson Coal Waste Power Plant Loses Permit
DEP Investigates Wayne County's First Marcellus Well
Judge OKs Delaware River Dredging
Barletta Touts Solar Farm At Hazleton State Of City Address
Letter: Meeting Needs Of Gas Drillers A Sound Strategy
Northumberland Wind Farm Talks To Continue
Drilling Has Many Unknowns, LWV Speaker Says
PUC Model Shows Profound Effect Of Electric Deregulation

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Long-Time Democratic Chair Of Senate Environmental Committee Ray Musto To Retire

Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne), long-time Democratic Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, this week announced he will not seek re-election and will retire from the Senate at the end of his current term.
"After nearly 40 years of public service to the citizens of the northeast and seven terms serving the 14th Senatorial District, it is time to retire from the Senate," Sen. Musto said. "I have been fortunate and blessed, and I am grateful for all the kindness that has been extended to me over the years."
For many years Sen. Musto has been the regarded as a leading voice on environmental issues in the Senate and as a fierce advocate for his district. He has been involved in the passage of every major state environmental law and program for the last 30 years.
Among the notable environmental laws and initiatives completed as a result of Musto's work:
-- Curbside Recycling: Legislation that created Pennsylvania's curbside recycling program -- the largest in the country;
-- Land Recycling: Pennsylvania's land recycling program--Acts 2, 3 and 4 of 1995 which has become the national model program for the effective re-use of abandoned industrial property;
-- Growing Greener: Act 68 (1999) Pennsylvania's Growing Greener program that has led to the protection of open spaces and farmland preservation as well as water and sewer system upgrades;
-- Air Pollution Control: Far-reaching changes to the Air Pollution Control Act (Act 95) that has led to steadily improving air quality;
-- Hazardous Materials Spills: Act 165 (1990) a measure that enables counties to be better prepared in the event of a hazardous materials spill; and
-- Establishment of Nescopeck State Park.
"It is amazing how much can be accomplished when no one worries about who gets the credit," Musto said, attributing his long tenure in the Senate and in public service to his dedicated staff and supportive family.
"My staff both in the district and Harrisburg has been quietly serving residents for nearly 40 years and doing a tremendous job meeting the needs of the local community," Musto said. "They are hard-working, honest and determined to make sure the job is done correctly."
"They are great public servants who, along with my family, made great sacrifices over the years," Musto said. "Being in public service is a tough job where criticism and cynicism come with the territory; but it is also a wonderful job because you can directly make a difference in the lives of people."
Sen. Musto is a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53. He is a 1971 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre. He holds Doctorate of Letters degrees from Kings and Wilkes Colleges. Musto has received many awards and honors for his work in the Senate.
The veteran lawmaker served in the state House from 1971 to 1980. He began his career when he was elected in a special election in 1971 to fill his late father James Musto's unexpired term. Musto was then elected to Congress in a special election in 1980. In 1982, he was elected to the state Senate. Musto has the distinction of being among only a few public servants to serve in the U.S.Congress, the state House and state Senate.
The senator's term will conclude on November 30.

Senate Committee Told Drilling Wastewater Recycling Becoming More Effective

Representatives of both the natural gas drilling industry and the Department of Environmental Protection told the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today much more of the 3.4 million gallons of water used to drill and develop each Marcellus Shale well is being recycled by operators.
On the other hand, representatives of several groups and two Committee members expressed concern about whether DEP had enough staff to adequately handle both gas well permitting and enforcement and wastewater issues.
The number of Marcellus Shale gas well applications is predicted to more than double this year in Pennsylvania to 5,200 from the 1,984 issued last year.
Steve Rhoads, East Resources, Inc. and the PA Marcellus Shale Coalition, said of the 3.4 million gallons of water used to develop and frack each Marcellus Shale well, about 25 percent (875,000 gallons) returns to the surface on average to be treated and properly disposed of. (DEP differed slightly saying up to 40 percent was returned on average.)
As a result of concerns with Total Dissolved Solids (primarily chlorides), drilling companies are moving to recycle more and more of their drilling wastewater Rhoads said. Some companies are reportedly are recycling as much as 90 to 95 percent of the drilling/frack water by treating it and taking it to the next drilling site.
Rhoads noted TDSs typically pass through most wastewater plants and the industry relies on the assimilation capacity of streams to deal with the remaining wastewater.
Operators are also exploring the use of deep injection wells to dispose of the wastewater which are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Pennsylvania.
Rhoads said the industry opposes the TDS regulations recently proposed by DEP saying a better approach would be to take a watershed view of the TDS problem through a Total Maximum Daily Load plan developed with the help of a local stakeholders group. He also said a comprehensive water monitoring network should be set up to help define and monitor the problem.
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) asked whether the provision of the state Oil and Gas Act requiring well water sampling and a presumption of a well causing problems within 1,000 feet of a gas well should be strengthened.
Rhoads said both DEP and EPA have told the industry there has not been a complaint about water contamination as a result of gas well fracking in Pennsylvania, noting the industry has over 60 years of experience with the technique.
He did say there have been instances where wells were improperly constructed that resulted in the migration of natural gas into water supplies causing problems for property owners.
Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester) asked whether the drilling industry would back up its claims about the lack of impact on water wells with a guarantee program, like the Chester County Landfill has, to guarantee the value of properties within a mile of a well
Rhoads said he did not think a guarantee was needed and the industry would stand behind its responsibilities to follow the rules on well drilling.
John Hines, Deputy Secretary for Water Management at DEP, provided the Committee with an overview of wastewater issue and DEP's regulatory programs. He was assisted by Scott Perry, Director of the Bureau of Oil and Gas Management, and Dana Aunkst, Director of the Bureau of Water Standards and Facility Regulation.
First he said he wanted to clear up confusion over the contents of fracking fluids used in the gas well development process. He said the chemicals used in the fracking fluids have been posted on the DEP Marcellus Shale webpage for all to see, although the precise proportion of the chemicals are trade secrets.
Hines said the agency is working with a subcommittee of the Water Resources Advisory Committee to develop new standards for Total Dissolved Solids discharges because many streams and rivers have very little capacity to assimilate additional TDSs.
He noted "the capacity to treat the expected levels of wastewater (from drilling operations) is not yet available. E
ven with reuse and recycling, we must still find a solution for the flow-back and production fluids that cannot be reused... the department fully anticipates the need for increased treatment capacity, even at the reduced flow-back estimates."
He said TDSs come from a variety of sources including acid mine drainage, stormwater runoff, meat processing plants as well as drilling operations.
Hines said the department is also working to improve natural gas well construction standards to protect the public from gas migration.
"The regulations and protections I've described above are important to the protection of our natural resources," said Hines. "However, they mean very little if the department does not have the staff necessary to inspect well sites and oversee the environmentally protective development of this resource."
Hines said DEP was able to add 37 new staff during 2009 funded by increases in drilling permit fees for inspection and drilling permit review. Fee increases will also be proposed shortly to help fund wastewater treatment and water quality permit reviews and enforcement.
Sen. Baker said there is a significant concern in her area that there is no local DEP presence in Wilkes-Barre covering gas well drilling saying the staff added in Williamsport is good, but that's a one or two hour ride from where drilling is occurring in her district.
Sen. Baker also asked DEP to look at certifying the operators of drilling wastewater treatment plants like they are for municipal wastewater plants.
Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) said he was concerned about whether DEP had the capacity to do the permit reviews and the enforcement needed to properly oversee thousands of new natural gas wells. He also said there are issues of consistency of enforcement and permitting between regions.
Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) said the capacity of streams and rivers to absorb additional TDSs is not only a problem for an expanding oil and gas industry, it was also a concern for the coal mining industry and how it is going to expand.
Hines said the TDS stakeholder group was coming up with some interesting suggestions for dealing with these issues and would be reporting its results in the next few months.
Peter Slack, PA Municipal Authorities Association, said his group has a concern about whether DEP has the capacity to oversee the drilling and wastewater issues. He noted DEP just suspended major parts of the wastewater plant operator certification program because of recent budget cuts.
In response, Sen. Mary Jo White said the new gas well drilling application fees will bring the agency significant new resources, adding, "We want to be sure budget constraints do not result in under enforcement of regulations."
Erika Staaf, Clean Water Advocate with PennEnvironment, said DEP's wastewater program should be beefed up to include a cradle to grave water monitoring system from the time water is withdrawn for use by a driller to when it is ultimately disposed of.
She also said PennEnvironment encourages wastewater reuse to the maximum extent and setting tougher standards for the discharge of Total Dissolved Solids.
David Kohl, CWM Environmental, previewed wastewater treatment technology his company has produced to reduce the wastewater used in well development by 85 percent.
Paul Hart, President of Hart Resource Technologies, Inc. & Pennsylvania Brine, outlined how three drilling wastewater plants his company operators can be part of the solution for wastewater issues.
Additional written comments were submitted to the Committee by: Aqua America, Chester Environmental Partnership, Bartramian Audubon Society, Greater Wyoming Valley Audubon Society and The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.
“Today’s hearing provided an overview of the challenges faced from Marcellus Shale wastewater, and how we can best meet them,” said Sen. Mary Jo White. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Pennsylvania to produce not only an abundant supply of clean energy, but scores of well-paying jobs. At the same time, citizens have a right to expect that their natural resources and communities are being respected, that the gas is produced safely, and that our land and water resources are protected. I am confident that we can achieve the proper balance.”
For copies of testimony and comments as well as a video of the entire hearing, visit the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee webpage.
Also visit DEP's Marcellus Shale webpage for more background information.
Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair.

Wednesday NewsClips

EPA Creates Tipline For Reports Of Suspicious Drilling Activities
Drilling In Pennsylvania's Forests
Drilling Up For Debate
WREN: Working To Keep Pennsylvania Water Clean
Rising Waters Close Key Roads In Western PA
Flooding Impacts River Commons In Wilkes-Barre
Editorial: Urinetown, Ignore Name, Support The Show
PPL Rates May Be Competitive Next Year
Forum On State Money For Alternative Energy Draws 100 To HACC
PA Agencies At Odds Over Deer Plan
Delaney Now President Of Game Commission
Op-Ed: Gluing Philadelphia Back To Its Waterfront
Emergency Crews Learn Gas Well Procedures
Expert Discourages Dumping In Greenbelts
Cap And Trade Subject Of Bucks Forum
Centre County Task Force To Study Gas Drilling
Penn State Profs Talk Morals On Climate Change Issue
Editorial: Dumkard Creek, Some Dots Are Missing
Editorial: Government Works To Alert People Of Flood Risks
Energy Purchase Options Debated For Businesses
$3.5 M Energy Savings Program For Highlands School District
DuBois Questioned On Watershed Property Gas Well Drilling

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

EPA Announces Eyes On Drilling Tipline For Citizens

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the creation of the “Eyes on Drilling” tipline for citizens to report non-emergency suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development.
The agency is asking citizens to call 1-877-919-4EPA (toll free) if they observe what appears to be illegal disposal of wastes or other suspicious activity. Anyone may also send reports by email to: Citizens may provide tips anonymously if they don’t want to identify themselves.
In the event of an emergency, such as a spill or release of hazardous material, including oil, to the environment, citizens are advised to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
Public concern about the environmental impacts of oil and natural gas drilling has increased in recent months, particularly regarding development of the Marcellus Shale formation where a significant amount of activity is occurring.
While EPA doesn’t grant permits for oil and gas drilling operations, there are EPA regulations which may apply to the storage of petroleum products and drilling fluids. The agency is also very concerned about the proper disposal of waste products, and protecting air and water resources.
EPA wants to get a better understanding of what people are experiencing and observing as a result of these drilling activities. The information collected may also be useful in investigating industry practices.
The agency works closely with state and local officials, as well as industry and public interest groups, to ensure that oil and natural gas drilling occurs in a manner which is protective of human health and the environment and complies with applicable laws. The agency is also counting on concerned citizens to report unusual or suspicious activity related to drilling operations.
EPA is asking citizens to report the location, time and date of such activity, as well as the materials, equipment and vehicles involved and any observable environmental impacts.
The Marcellus Shale geologic formation contains one of the largest mostly untapped reserves of natural gas in the United States. It underlies significant portions of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York, and smaller portions of Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky.
Interest in developing Marcellus Shale has increased because recent improvements in natural gas extraction technology and higher energy prices now make recovering the gas more profitable.
Operators produce this gas through a process called hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Fracking requires drilling a well thousands of feet below the land’s surface and pumping down the well under pressure millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals to fracture the shale.
The process allows the gas trapped in the formation to flow to the well bore. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the fluid flows back to the surface. This “flowback” fluid consists of fracking fluid and brines which contain dissolved minerals from the formation.
Operators are urged to recycle their flowback water for reuse in the fracking process, but some of the flowback is taken offsite for disposal. Chemicals used in the process are often stored on-site. Spills can occur when utilizing these chemicals or when transporting or storing wastewater, which can result in the contamination of surface water or ground water, which is used for many purposes including drinking water.
For more information, visit the Eyes On Drilling webpage.

Tuesday NewsClips

Pileggi Concerned About Low State Revenue Figures
Susquehanna River Expected To Flood At Harrisburg
EPA Discusses Pequea Creek Farm Inspections
New Green Pond Development To Feature Wetland, Wildlife Preservation
$17.2 Million Sewage Plant In Wayne County Will Not Trigger Rate Hike
Scranton Sewer Authority Gets Earful Over Fat Rate Plan
State Money To Help Build UGI Solar Plant In Steelton
Hybrid Bus Fleet Enjoyed By Passagers, Officials In Luzerne
Op-Ed: Making Mines Safe
Solving The Mystery Of The Dying Bats
Groups Wants Caves Closed To Keep People From Spreading Bat Disease
op-Ed: Flow Of Natural Gas, Wealth Needs Balance
Editorial: Severance Tax Won't Impede Gas Rush
Surveyor's Business Burdened By New Sewage Regulation
Electricity Deregulation Will Shock Some Central PA Businesses
Man Camp To Be Training Facility, Chesapeake Energy Says

Monday, January 25, 2010

Farmers Eligible For BMP Funding In Columbia, Moutour Counties

Funding is available to farmers, landowners, livestock and horse owners to install Best Management Practices on their farms to reduce non-point source pollution from entering local waterways and degrading water quality in Fishing Creek, Chillisquaque/ Limestone, Briar Creek, Roaring Creek, and Catawissa Creek Watersheds in Columbia and Montour counties.
Applications are due by February 19.
Funding is provided by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant for Pennsylvania.
Implementation of Agricultural BMP’s such as installing riparian buffers, enhancing or restoring wetlands, fencing livestock out of environmentally sensitive areas, establishing stabilized livestock laneways, installing watering systems, and improving pasture systems to reduce the amount of soil and nutrients that enter local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay as non-point source pollution.
The Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation and Development Council, Columbia County Conservation District, Montour Conservation District, along with partners from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, are looking for eligible farmers with livestock that are interested in upgrading their farms by reducing the amount of non-point source pollution entering local waterways. These landowners will be required to submit an application to participate.
Applications will be scored and ranked based on the greatest resource concern and environmental benefit. Each project will need a Conservation/Resource Management Plan which will identify the BMP’s needed to implement the project and address long-term management. Projects must be completed by July 31.
Visit the BMP webpage obtain an application and information or call the Columbia County Conservation District at 570-784-1310 ext.102 and talk to Mary Ruth Wagner, District Manager or Todd Rush, Resource Conservationist.

PA CleanWays Accepting Applications For Sue Wiseman Scholarship, Litter Hawk Awards

PA CleanWays is now accepting applications for the $1,000 Sue Wiseman Scholarship and the Litter Hawk Youth Award Program.
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 of an area to deter illegal dumping, or public education that addresses one of the other listed topics.
Applications and project requirements are due May 1.
The scholarship is named for Sue Wiseman, whose own commitment and dedication to a cleaner environment led to the founding of PA CleanWays, a statewide nonprofit organization empowering people to eliminate illegal dumping and littering in Pennsylvania.
Litter Hawk Award
The Litter Hawk program gives youth an opportunity to express their concern about littering and illegal dumping, and preventative measures such as recycling, proper disposal, beautification, and stewardship through visual arts, language arts, and community outreach.
Nominations are due March 31.
This program includes two age groups, 10 and under and 11 to 18, and is ideal for organized youth groups, a classroom activity, or an individual project.
Entries will be judged on creativity and the project’s ability to convey the chosen subject. Three winning entries in each age group will receive gift cards to a bookstore in the amount of $75 (10 and under) and $100 (11-18).
Awards will be announced during Earth Month (April). The Litter Hawk Youth Award Program is not open to PA CleanWays employees or the immediate relatives of PA CleanWays employees. Only one entry per youth allowed.
Program brochures are available by submitting an online request form on the PA CleanWays website or by contacting the PA CleanWays’ office toll free at 877-772-3673.
Since 1990, PA CleanWays has facilitated over 1,000 illegal dump cleanups resulting in the removal of over 11,635 tons of trash, 2,224 tons of scrap metal and 401,490 tires statewide. PA CleanWays community-based approach has involved more than 50,600 volunteers.

DCNR Sponsors South Mountain Regional Conservation Landscape Initiative Summit Feb. 19

Community leaders from throughout the South Mountain region are invited to a summit in February to discuss ways to enhance its sense of place and expand the region's economy by capitalizing on its natural and cultural resources.
Scheduled for February 19, the first South Mountain Summit is part of the region's Conservation Landscape Initiative – an effort by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to engage communities and local partners with state agencies and funding partners to conserve and protect the high-quality natural and cultural resources and enhance the region's economic viability.
"With its fertile farmlands, clean waterways, renowned trout streams and vast woodlands, the more than 400,000-acre South Mountain region is truly blessed," Acting DCNR Secretary John Quigley said. "This summit will help leaders discover the natural and cultural assets of the region and learn why they are important to the local economy; learn about the partnership working to promote the region's assets; and share their thoughts on what future actions will be crucial to the economic vitality of the region and its sense of place."
The South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative – one of seven such regional initiatives in the state – encompasses Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties. The South Mountain Partnership working on the initiative, led by DCNR and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy with many others, promotes and hopes to encourage economic growth and revitalize local communities based on the abundance of recreational and heritage tourism opportunities.
The summit will be held at the Penn Township Fire Hall in Newville, Cumberland County, on February 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration is required. The cost per person is $15.
Acting Secretay Quigley will begin the summit by discussing an innovative model of conservation and preservation of sense of place on the state and local scale.
Three speakers will share the importance of the region's resources. Scott Weidensaul, an internationally known wildlife biologist and author of two dozen books, is a featured speaker. Also featured will be Dan Marcucci, a scholar of landscape studies and planning and a South Mountain native. The last speaker will be Lenwood Sloan, the Director of Culture and Heritage Tourism in Pennsylvania.
Feb. 18 Program
Prior to the summit, the first of the South Mountain Speaker Series will be held the evening of February 18 at the Woods Center at the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg. A reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a lecture at 7 p.m. The lecture, "South Mountain: Cradle of Conservation," will be given by Shippensburg University professor Susan Rimby. A panel discussion will follow.
South Mountain is at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Communities surrounding South Mountain have thrived off the fertile limestone agricultural lands, the timber that fed the iron furnaces, the plentiful game and wildlife, and off the abundance of pure spring water that is captured by the mountains permeable soils and released into the valleys. A rich cultural heritage exists in communities like Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Carlisle, and many smaller quaint villages.
The foresight of visionaries like Joseph Rothrock and Gifford Pinchot has protected thousands of acres of state forest land in the region. The 85,000-acre Michaux State Forest in the region is one of the largest intact forests between Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.
For registration and other information, visit the South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative webpage or call the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 717-258-5771.

Monday NewsClips

New Gas Drilling Companies Targeting Wayne County
Safety, Water Protection Are Top Natural Gas Drilling Concerns
Vitali Lauds Marcellus Drilling Debate
Colleges Take Part In RecycleMania
PRC Offers Rain Barrel Workshops In Delaware County
Trust To Keep Chippewa Township Land In Natural Condition
Lehigh Water Agency Explores Carbon Market
Firm Receives Funds For Building Sites To Refuel Electric Cars
Remembering The Knox Mine Disaster
Hunters Complain Of Too Few Deer
Column: We Lose Faith In Technological Genius, The Environment Loses
Edinboro Fieldhouse Slated For Big Solar Project
Editorial: Impose Tax, Industry Won't Run Out Of Gas
Holden Calls For Investigation Into Coal-To-Liquid Fuel Subcontractor
Woods, Water And Wildlife
Court Decisions Alter Wetland Protections
Throop To Develop Reclaimed Mine Site As Park
Concerns About Water And Drilling Dominate Meeting
Some Tioga Residents Oppose Gas Industry Water Farm
Editorial: Gas Drilling Boom Has Region Changing Power
PSU Prof Sees Wastewater Plans As Potential Energy Source

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Forest Fragmentation And Natural Gas Development

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary John Quigley told the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee recently he was concerned thousands of new natural gas wells and thousands of miles of access roads and related collection pipelines could have a major impact on Pennsylvania's State Forests.
The fragmentation of forest habitats has also been a concern of environmental groups like Pennsylvania Audubon.
Until now it was hard to illustrate how natural gas and oil well development can affect a forest. Recently, however, the website Damascus Citizens circulated aerial photos of gas well sites from all over the country, including in Pennsylvania.
An aerial photo of traditional oil and gas well development in Forest County, Pa in a portion of the Allegheny National Forest just north of the Clear Creek State Forest clearly shows how roads and drilling pads can fragment a forest.
To see it for yourself, enter these coordinates in Google Earth-- 41 degrees, 30 minutes 47.77 seconds North, 79 degrees 11 minutes 16.13 seconds west.
Marcellus Shale well development patterns are different because they use fewer well pads by drilling very deep vertical wells and then drill horizontal wells out in several directions in the natural gas producing strata.
The aerial photo on Google Earth is part of the statewide series made available by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' PA Map Program, recently eliminated in this year's state budget.

Sunday NewsClips

Editorial: Natural Gas Extraction Tax- Time Is Now
Marcellus Shale Group Leader Excited
Marcellus Shale Focus Of Jan. 26 Trout Unlimited Meeting
Recycling Fee Bill Misses Budget Liftoff
Smarter Placement Of Windmills Could Reduce Bat Fatalities
Green Lick Reservoir Getting Nice Boost
Tree Planting Grants Available From Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority
Students Build For The Future In Engineers' Competition

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jan. 25 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The January 25 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Registration Now Open For 2010 Great American Cleanup Of PA

PA CleanWays and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful announced registration is now open for the 2010 Great American Cleanup of PA.
          This annual event is in partnership with support from the Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT, and partnering agencies and local businesses including AAA - Mid-Atlantic, American Chemistry Council, Keystone Sanitary Landfill, PA Builders Association, PA Landscape & Nursery Association, PA Beverage Association, PA Waste Industry Association, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Steel Recycling Institute, and Waste Management. Click here to read more....

Friday NewsClips

Drilling Industry Affecting PA Housing
Skyrocketing Rents In Bradford County
Groups: Restore Conemaugh River Lawsuit
Proposed Fuel Plant Would Burn Manure
Editorial: PA Utility Shutoffs Are On The Rise
Call For More State Investment In Hybrid Vehicles
Stricter Rules Urged On Toxic Chemicals

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Registration Now Open For 2010 Great American Cleanup Of PA

PA CleanWays and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful announced registration is now open for the 2010 Great American Cleanup of PA.
This annual event is in partnership with support from the Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT, and partnering agencies and local businesses including AAA - Mid-Atlantic, American Chemistry Council, Keystone Sanitary Landfill, PA Builders Association, PA Landscape & Nursery Association, PA Beverage Association, PA Waste Industry Association, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Steel Recycling Institute, and Waste Management.
March 1 - May 30
The 2010 Great American Cleanup of PA will begin on March 1 and end on May 30. During this period, registered events can get free bags, gloves, and vests from PennDOT District offices.
Events consist of litter cleanups, illegal dump cleanups, beautification projects, special collections, and educational events. Events must be registered through the Great American Cleanup of PA website to get these free cleanup supplies.
Free Cleanup Trash Disposal
As part of this event, the Department of Environmental Protection will be sponsoring Let’s Pick It Up PA – Everyday. During the Pick It Up PA Day’s, registered events will be able to take the trash collected during their cleanup to participating landfills for free disposal.
The Let’s Pick It Up PA – Everyday event will begin on April 17 and end on May 1. The focus day will be April 24. 
2009 Cleanup
All 67 counties in Pennsylvania were represented in the 2009 Great American Cleanup of PA. There were 4,837 events with 171,940 volunteers. Volunteers collected 344,021 bags of trash or 6,880,420 pounds. They cleaned 16,498 miles of roads, railroad tracks, trails, waterways, and shorelines, and 6,986 acres of parks and/or wetlands. Additionally, volunteers planted 6,264 trees, bulbs, and plants in an effort to keep Pennsylvania beautiful. 
Since the inception of this event in 2004, over 42 million pounds of litter and waste have been removed from Pennsylvania’s landscape, and tens of thousands of trees, bulbs, and flowers have been planted.
To register your event, find an event near you, or to find additional resources go to the Great American Cleanup of PA website. Any additional questions can be answered by the Great American Cleanup of PA Hotline at 1-877-772-3673 ext. 113.

Senate Majority Leader Warns Of New State Deficit

In a podcast released this morning, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) warning this morning if state revenues do not improve, the state could face a $400- $500 million budget at the end of this fiscal year. If that's the case, the state will face a new round of very difficult budget cuts.
Sen. Pileggi also said he was working on changes to the Open Records law for the coming year. He noted issues related to "nurturing and promoting" Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling will also be in the forefront of items considered this year.

Tuesday NewsClips

Corbett Opposes Tax On Natural Gas Extraction
PA Bids For Shale Gas Land Lower Than Elsewhere
New Regulations For Chesapeake May Hurt Midstate Farmers
Editorial: The Mann Climate Change Grant
Editorial: Win Fight For Global Warming
House Lawmakers Pushes Power Authority Bill
Most PPL Customers Stay Put As Rates Rise
Philadelphia Aiming To Improve Energy Efficiency
Pleasant Hills Officials Expected To Sign Sewage Order
State Biologists Talk To Shad Fisherman On Delaware
College Gets Funds To Train Marcellus Shale Workers
Public To Comment On Hanover Wind Turbines
DELCORA Wastewater Plant Expansion Still Pending
Agencies Keep Eye On Natural Gas Drilling Boom
We're Drilling Watchdogs, Not Lap Dogs

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jan. 18 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The January 18 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

DCNR Natural Gas Leases Take In $128.3 Million To Balance State Budget

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources opened bids this week for 31,000 acres of Marcellus Shale natural gas leases on State Forest land. The winning bids totaled $128,397,888 about twice the required $60 million they must produced to balance this year's General Fund budget. Click here to read this story....

Air Quality Action Day Forecast In 3 PA Regions For Saturday

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast an unusual winter time air quality action day for Saturday, January 16, in the Liberty/Clairton, Susquehanna Valley, and Lehigh Valley/Berks regions.
The Liberty/Clairton region in southeastern Allegheny County includes Clairton, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue boroughs. The Susquehanna Valley region includes Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties, while the Lehigh Valley/Berks region includes Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties.
The air quality forecast predicts Friday will be code ORANGE for particulate matter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standardized air quality index uses colors to report daily air quality. Green signifies good, yellow means moderate, orange represents unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people, and red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for all.
Fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, about one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair. These particles can get deep into the lungs and can cause significant health problems. PM 2.5 has been determined to be most closely associated with health effects related to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits for hear and lung disease, increased respiratory symptoms and disease, and decreased lung function.
The particles come from a wide range of sources – from power plants, industry, cars, trucks, buses, wood stoves and forest fires. Some particles are released when fuels are burned; others form in the atmosphere from reactions between gases released from power plants and factories.
On air quality action days, young people, the elderly and people with respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and should limit outdoor activities.
To help keep the air healthy, residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily limit certain pollution-producing activities by taking the following steps: Ride the bus or carpool to work; Wash dishes and clothes only with full loads; and Save energy – turn off unused lights in your home.
These forecasts are provided in conjunction with the Air Quality Partnership of the Delaware Valley, the Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership, the Lehigh Valley/Berks Air Quality Partnership, and the Susquehanna Valley Air Quality Partnership.
For more information, visit the Air Quality Partnership webpage.

Friday NewsClips

Rendell Proposes Natural Gas Tax
Rendell Presses For Extraction Tax On Marcellus Shale
Rendell To Revive Gas Drilling Tax Plan
Drilling For Gas In State Forests Proves Lucrative
Upside Surprise On Gas Leases
Blog: Rendell Takes Second Bite At Natural Gas Tax
Editorial: State's New Gas Rush
Second Marcellus Shale Business Webinar Set January 27
Flood Protection Projects Share $194,000 In State Grants
Home Weatherization Projects Begin In Lehigh Valley
Column: West Philly Students Closer To $10M Alternative Fuel Prize
Carlisle Looks At Green Concepts For New School
Lower Dauphin Wants Green Elementary
InterMountain Medical Seeing Green
PEC Urges Luzerne County To Keep Recreation Funding
Public Gets Details Of Allentown Greenways Plan
More Quakes Rattle Midstate Residents
Cumberland County Efforts To Save Farmland Continues
Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge Field Trip
Tom Ridge Center Launches Natural History Museum Website
Editorial: Alliance Landfill Dump Cleans Up Act

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Budget Hearings Announced By Senate Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee released its schedule of budget hearings today. Those related to environmental agencies for both the Senate and House include:

February 3-- House - 2:00 Public Utility Commission.
February 16-- Senate - 10:00 Governor's Budget Office/Department of Revenue
February 17-- Senate - 10:00 Department of Agriculture
February 22-- House -10:00 Department of Environmental Protection, 11:00 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 1:00 Department of Agriculture.
February 23-- Senate - 10:00 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 1:00 Public Utility Commission.
February 25-- House- 9:00 Office of the Governor/Executive Offices/Secretary of the Budget.
March 1-- Senate - 10:00 Department of Environmental Protection.

The House budget hearings will be held in Room 140 in the Main Capital. Click here for the complete House schedule. The Senate budget hearings will be held in Hearing Room 1, North Office Building. Click here for the complete Senate schedule.
The schedule of hearings in the House is unusual this year because there are several budget hearings before the Governor unveils his proposed budget on February 9.

Governor Again Calls On General Assembly To Pass Natural Gas Severance Tax

At a press conference today announcing $128.3 million in revenues from State Forest Marcellus Shale natural gas leasing, Gov. Rendell called on the General Assembly to pass a natural gas production severance tax. His letter to the General Assembly read in part--
"As you know, last year I proposed that we impose a tax on the Marcellus natural gas extraction. Based on information from the industry, I pulled back from that proposal with the intent of giving the industry a year to get its sea legs and embed itself in Pennsylvania.
"We have seen tremendous activity in the past year, with DEP issuing 1,984 Marcellus Shale drilling permits, and in the same period operators reporting 763 Marcellus wells drilled (compared to just 195 Marcellus wells drilled in 2008). The industry has informed DEP that it expects it will seek to permit 5,200 Marcellus wells just in 2010: a huge jump or a tripling of the number of Marcellus wells now permitted.
"This week's auction results of more than $4,000 bid per acre (for DCNR State Forest leases) anticipated - is further proof of how well the industry is doing and how much this commodity is valued."
He said any revenues from the severance tax must go into the General Fund to help balance the budget, for the time being.
NewsClips: Rendell To Revive Request For Severance Tax
Rendell Presses For Extraction Tax On Marcellus Shale

Trout Unlimited Concerned About Impact Of State Forest Drilling

Pennsylvania's plan to award gas drilling rights on 32,000 acres of state forest land to energy companies for Marcellus Shale drilling could have a detrimental effect on fish and wildlife habitat.
The state legislature decided last fall to lease state land for gas drilling activities to generate revenue for the state. At the same time, the Pennsylvania legislature and Gov. Rendell declined to require a severance tax on gas drilling that would have generated significantly more revenue for the state. Pennsylvania is one of just a few states with natural gas resources that does not require a severance tax.
“The decision by Pennsylvania’s legislature to require the leasing of state forest land for gas drilling is a failure to protect public resources for the citizens of the Commonwealth now and in the future,” said Elizabeth Maclin, Trout Unlimited’s Vice President for Eastern Conservation. “The state seems more concerned with generating revenue in a manner acceptable to gas companies than it does with protecting its natural resources.”
The 32,000 acres of public state forest land are located in north central Pennsylvania in the Elk, Moshannon, Sproul, Susquehannock, and Tioga State Forests in Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton, Potter and Tioga Counties, places that are renowned for trout fishing. Eastern brook trout are found in this area. The only trout species native to the East Coast, their habitat is becoming rapidly diminished. The brook trout is Pennsylvania’s state fish.
“With one-third of our state forests now open to gas drilling, we are concerned that public recreation and water quality is at risk. We have already seen detrimental effects to water quality on our state forest land due to drilling, and find this unacceptable,” said Dave Rothrock, President of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. “The state budget should not be balanced at the expense of hunters and anglers.”
Trout Unlimited is concerned about the long-term ecological impacts of drilling in these areas, particularly the clearing of trees, habitat fragmentation, and sedimentation due to road crossings and construction.
The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a multi-agency partnership, found in its comprehensive review of the species that habitat fragmentation and sedimentation are two of the major impacts limiting the health of brook trout populations.
Each Marcellus well also requires up to eight million gallons of water to extract the gas from beneath the earth’s surface. This water is often taken from rivers, streams and other sources near the drill site. In addition, the water is mixed with toxic and other chemicals and must be disposed of after being used at a drill site. The safe disposal and treatment of this water is an additional concern.
Over 990, 000 people hunt and fish in Pennsylvania each year. Hunting and fishing in the state generates over $3.9 million in revenue each year.
Trout Unlimited supports the responsible development of Marcellus Shale gas, but believes this development must take place in a manner that protects the irreplaceable fish and game habitat in the region.

Thursday NewsClps

Rendell Orders Additional Budget Cuts
Natural Gas Leases Net More Dollars Than Expected For PA
More State Land May Be Offered To Marcellus Drillers
Scranton Sewer Authority Rate Change On Hold After Outrage
Allegheny Air Quality Program Work Lacks Deadline
Allegheny Panel Created To Regulate Toxins In Air
$12,000 From DEP Shores Up Channel In Ligonier Twp.
$27 Million Granted For Green Job Training In Westmoreland
Lehigh Valley Gets $4 Million For Green Jobs
Sustainability Expert Urges End To Habits Of Consumption
Toasting Earth And Having Fun
Editorial: Sullivan County Legislative Action List
Wayne Joins Pool To Purchase Electricity
Delaware River Council Begins Again
Officials: DEP Stifling Economic Development
Bradford School Districts Form Consortium To Lower Energy Costs
Advantages Seen To Switchgrass Fuel
Drilling For Gas Raising Issues
Federal Funds Available To Train For Natural Gas Jobs
Mysterious Disease Threatens Local Bats
Hazleton CAN DO Eyes Feasibility Of Solar Farm
Rendell Wants Energy Legislation At Forefront
Seneca To Lease 10,493 DCNR Acres For $48.5 Million
What Do Gas Wells Mean For My Water?

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