Wednesday, March 31, 2010

State Looks At Possible $1 Billion Budget Deficit

Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee told a press conference today the state faces a $1 billion budget deficit by the end of June. March state revenues, he said, will be down another $230 million.
He said the lower-than-expected revenues will make it difficult to get a budget done on time.
Sen. Corman said there is no support for an across-the-board tax increase in either the Personal Income or Sales taxes, leaving cutting spending as the only option for bringing the state budget into balance. He also said he did not see much support for either the Marcellus Shale natural gas production tax or for taxing smokeless tobacco or cigars.
Despite disappointing revenue collections in March, Pennsylvania remains in position to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year, pending tax data for April, Gov. Rendell said today.
"With the significant revenue month of April just ahead, it is important to wait and see how the major tax category collections come in before we make assumptions about end-of-year revenues," the Governor said. "At this point it would be premature to deviate from the plan that I have already presented to balance the budget.
State Faces Tough Budget Choices, Top GOP Senator Warns
State Deficit To Hit $1 Billion By End Of June
PA Could See Billion Dollar Deficit By Summer

Wednesday NewsClips

Philadelphia Dives Into Gas Drilling Issue In Wayne County
Natural Gas Industry Trade Group, Rendell Trade Shots
Obama OKs Drilling Off Coast Of Virginia
Ideas Abound On Boosting Great Allegheny Passage Trail
Hard To Recycle Items To Be Taken At Westmoreland Fairgrounds
Editorial: Harrisburg Authority Underbilled For Sewer Services
Bethlehem Preservation Effort: Hidden Historic Gems
Wayne Conservation District Launches New Website
Gas Well Education Day Focuses On Safety, Security Issues
Officials Investigate Mine Subsidence In Carbondale
Doherty Takes Tour Of Susquehanna Gas Wells
Gas Boom Adds To Local Rail Traffic
Drilling Water Withdrawal From Fishing Creek Quashed
FERC To Hold Site Visit On Pipeline Project
Column: Don't Forget The Road Less Traveled On Drilling

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 29 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The March 29 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

House Committee Reports Out State Forest Gas Leasing Moratorium Bill

By a vote of 16 to 9, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this week reported out House Bill 2235 (Vitali-D-Delaware) which would impose a five year moratorium on leasing State Forest land for natural gas drilling.
            All the Democratic members of the Committee voted for the bill and two Republicans-- Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming).  Rep. Everett supported moving the bill saying leasing State Forest land may crowd out private landowners who want to lease their own land for drilling.  He represents an area of the state with a lot of Marcellus Shale drilling activity. Click here to read more....

Buffer-Bonus Program For Plain Sect Farms In Lancaster, Chester Watersheds

Plain sect farmers in watersheds draining to the Susquehanna River in Lancaster and Chester counties can now take advantage of a special bonus program for installing forested stream buffers to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff.
For every acre of buffer enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or restored privately, a farmer can receive up to a $4,000 bonus for each acre of forest buffer in the form of a “BMP Voucher.” These funds can be used to reimburse farmer’s costs of installing eligible conservation practices elsewhere on the farm.
This bonus is in addition to the cost-share (typically 75 to 100 percent of the cost of installing the buffer), incentive payments and annual rents for the buffer under the CREP program. CREP annual rental payments vary from county to county, but are typically $150-$350 per acre in the region.
A current whole farm conservation plan is needed to qualify. If the farm has no up-to-date plan, this project will pay up to an additional $2,000 for conservation plan preparation, plus a small incentive $2,000 per farm to jumpstart plan implementation.
On streams with multiple farms participating, CBF would like to assess water quality and stream habitat before and after BMPs are installed. As an incentive to groups of participating farmers along the same stream, CBF will restore fish habitat with structures that also provide stream bank stabilization.
Partners in this initiative include: Lancaster and Chester County Conservation Districts, Comprehensive Land Services, Lancaster Co Agricultural Preserve Board, Lancaster Farmland Trust, Red Barn, Inc., TeamAg, Inc., and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Funding for the three year project is provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Federation.
Download a program brochure. A farmer checklist is also available along with a more detailed summary that includes an example of how the program would work for an individual farm.

In Memoriam: Roger J. Hornberger, Former DEP District Mining Manager

Roger J. Hornberger, former Department of Environmental Protection District Mining Manager in Pottsville, passed away on March 19.
Roger started as an intern with the former Department of Environmental Resources in Harrisburg in 1978 and worked his way up to District Mining Manager over his career. He retired from the agency in 2006 after 19 years of service.
Roger did pioneering research into the impacts of abandoned mine drainage on aquatic life and water uses and helped develop groundbreaking policies and technologies to remediate mine drainage and abandoned mines.
He was a recognized national and international expert on mine remediation, including both active and passive treatment systems, and in preventing mine drainage problems from modern surface and deep mines.
"Roger advanced our scientific understanding of mine drainage issues and remediation techniques with a quiet competence that was instantly credible with the public and professionals alike," said David Hess, former Secretary of DEP. "His legacy is not only a significant body of knowledge, but hundreds of miles of restored streams throughout Pennsylvania and wherever there is mining."
Roger was District Mining Manager from 1987 to 2006. From 1978 to 1986 he was a hydrogeologist with PA's Bureau of Mining and Reclamation. Prior to working for the Commonwealth, he was employed at Penn State University in the Department of Landscape Architecture (1973-1976) and at the Institute for Research on Land and Water Resources (September 1974 – August 1975, and July 1976 – November 1978).
Roger had a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture and a M.S. in geology, both from Pennsylvania State University. He was the author of publications on coal mine drainage prediction and prevention and is the Interstate Mining Compact Commission's representative on the Operations Committee of the Acid Drainage Technology Initiative.
He was also a member of the Army National Guard for 22 years in Schuylkill County with the Red Horse Division. Click here for full obituary.

Kelly Heffnar Named Acting DEP Deputy For Field Operations

Kelly Heffner has been named Acting Deputy Secretary for Field Operations at the Department of Environmental Protection, replacing Mike Sherman who will be retiring next week.
Kelly has served as Policy Director for DEP since March 2007 and has served as the DEP's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Coordinator since March 2009. Other previous positions held by Kelly include Policy Specialist in the DEP Policy Office; Chief of the Permitting Section in the Division of Waterways, Wetlands and Storm Water Management; and Water Pollution Biologist in both Central Office and the Northeast Regional Office.
Before joining DEP, Kelly worked in Pottstown as a Project Manager/Biologist for RMC Environmental Services.
Cathy Curran Myers will assume Kelly's duties as the Department's ARRA Coordinator. In addition to Cathy's existing roles in ARRA implementation, Cathy will act as the DEP point person for ARRA programs, including project tracking, reporting and accountability, and liaison with the Governor's Office, Secretary Creedon's Office, and the Stimulus Oversight Commission.
Duke Adams, currently an Executive Policy Specialist in the Policy Office will serve as Acting Policy Director.

Friday NewsClips

Philadelphia Seeks Ban On Natural Gas Drilling
Marcellus Rush Fuels Spinoff For Local Firms
PA Governor Finds Natural Gas Drillers Cool To Tax Idea
Old Duryea Railroad Yard Taking On New Life
Editorial: House's Budget Leaves Tough Issues For Another Day
Op-Ed: Relax PA Building Permits
Lackawanna Transit Botched Center Plans, Wants New Green One
Bicyclists Want Needs Considered
How Does A Toad Cross The Road? If Lucky, By Hand
Carbon Conservation Districts Gets Grant To Stabilize Creek
Penn State Students Petition To Pass Severance Tax
Editorial: Switch To Natural Gas Logical

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Covanta Energy Offers Free, Safe Destruction Of Unwanted Drugs To Protect Waterways

To reduce pharmaceutical pollutants being discharged into the nation's waterways, Covanta Energy is launching an important collaboration with municipalities.
As more and more communities establish collection centers for unwanted medications, Covanta will offer, for 2010, a free disposal and destruction service designed to keep these products out of the nation's waterways.
Covanta Energy, a world leader in the development, ownership and operation of energy-from-waste facilities and other renewable energy projects, is rolling out a national program to process pharmaceuticals collected by local governments in drug take-back programs.
In Pennsylvania, Covanta Energy operates energy-from-waste facilities in Dauphin, Delaware Lancaster, Montgomery and York counties.
These programs provide residents with a safe and proper way to dispose of unwanted medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter and veterinary medications and nutritional supplements. When flushed down the drain, or disposed of in landfills, such products contaminate surface waters and have an adverse effect on the environment.
"Studies have shown that pharmaceuticals are present in our nation's streams and rivers. We want to help prevent the discharge of these drugs into the waters that we drink, the waters where we fish and the waters where we swim," said John G. Waffenschmidt, Vice President, Environmental Science and Community Affairs. "Our facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art combustion controls and air pollution control equipment to ensure the destruction of these drugs in an environmentally sound manner, one that protects the water we depend upon day in and day out. Our facilities ensure that any pharmaceuticals processed in them do not end up in surface waters."
Covanta is a Sustaining Partner of the Product Stewardship Institute, a non-profit group which has been spearheading national efforts to define steps for appropriately handling unwanted drugs. Covanta has worked with PSI, various regulatory agencies, and with municipalities to reduce the potential for contamination of waterways by discharged pharmaceuticals.
"Drugs that are disposed of down sinks and toilets, or simply thrown in the trash, can cause environmental harm," said Scott Cassel, Executive Director of the Product Stewardship Institute. "Take-back programs can lower the environmental and health risks associated with waste pharmaceuticals. Covanta's offer will reduce the cost of take-back programs in municipalities that choose this kind of destruction. Thermal destruction at Energy-from-Waste facilities, hazardous waste incinerators, or medical waste incinerators, provides for the ultimate destruction of these unwanted drugs."
Municipalities interested in participating in the program must obtain appropriate regulatory approvals in order to ensure that such wastes are not classified as hazardous waste from a federal, state, or local perspective. Each program would be subject to a due diligence review by Covanta Energy.
Municipalities interested in participating should contact Larry DellaVecchia, Director, Covanta Secure Services at 973-882-7310.

Thursday Late NewsClips

Potential Leak At Gas Drilling Site Probed
Noncompliance Results In Fines On Gas Drillers
Publicly Financed Training For Natural Gas-Related Jobs Limited
North Branch Land Trust Not Interested In Gas Leases Yet
Thousands Flock To Gas Expo, Lone Resident Urges Caution
Op-Ed: Protecting The Delaware River Basin From Drilling
Editorial: Death By A Thousand Cuts (Wells)
Pump Fails At Gilberton Mine Pool
$664,000 For Mine Drainage Project In Schuylkill County
McKean Officials Discuss Proposed Stormwater Management Plan
Delaware River Residents Vent To DEP On Flooding
Wilkinsburg Enters Flood Insurance Program
Contract Paves Way For Semi-Automated Trash, Recycling Pickup
PennDOT Encouraging Folks To Pick It Up Along Roadways
Packer Township Wins Round One Of Sludge Lawsuit
Column: It Takes Patience To Be Really Green
Corbett Visits Mining Operation Near Girardville
Hybrid Buses: Blowing Smoke?

Thursday NewsClips

Gas Drilling Moratorium Advances In Harrisburg
Potential Leak At Gas Drilling Site Probed
Gas Company Officials Discuss Marcellus Shale
Susquehanna River's Water To Be Monitored Full Time
PEC Speaks To Elementary Students About Environment
PPL Launches Energy Saving Program
Lawmakers Oppose PPL Rate Hike

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

House Committee Reports Out State Forest Drilling Moratorium Bill

By a vote of 16 to 9, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today reported out House Bill 2235 (Vitali-D-Delaware) which would impose a five year moratorium on leasing State Forest land for natural gas drilling.
All the Democratic members of the Committee voted for the bill and two Republicans-- Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming). Rep. Everett supported moving the bill saying leasing State Forest land may crowd out private landowners who want to lease their own land for drilling. He represents an area of the state with a lot of Marcellus Shale drilling activity.
Several other members of the Committee mentioned concerns with the bill, but acknowledged moving the legislation to the House floor was part of a deal to get State Forest leasing amendments withdrawn from consideration during the debate on the General Fund budget bill earlier in the week.
Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and Rep. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Minority Chair.

Report Confirms-- Growing Greener II Finished, Decrease In Funding For Future Projects

A report issued today by the Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee confirms virtually all of the $625 million in Growing Greener II bond funds have already been committed to projects, significantly reducing project funding for abandoned mine reclamation, watershed restoration, farmland preservation, recreation and other projects for the future.
Funding available from the Environmental Stewardship Fund for these projects will drop from $54 million to just $15 million once all the Growing Greener II bond funds are spent, the report said. In addition, debt service payments will increase from $30 to more than $50 million a year, cutting further into available Environmental Stewardship project funding.
The report was issued by the as a result of House Resolution 17 sponsored by Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery).
The report found, as of June 30, 2009, Growing Greener II funds have been spent on 1,500 projects including--
-- Agriculture- 316 farmland preservation projects, which preserved 33,713 acres of farmland in perpetuity;
-- Community and Economic Development- 66 projects that created 1,500 jobs, improved 41 buildings, leveraged $140.4 million in private dollars, remediated 1 site, and con- structed 4 new buildings;
-- Conservation and Natural Resources- 441 projects, including improvements in 234 community parks, 132 state park and forest infrastructure projects, and the purchase of 42,357 acres of open spaces;
-- Environmental Protection- 685 projects in- volving abandoned mine reclamation (46), acid mine drainage (16), brownfields (25), drinking/wastewater (104), energy devel- opment (72), watershed protection (400), gas and oil well plugging (13), stream im- provement and dams (9);
-- Fish and Boat Commission- 9 projects, pri- marily to improve state hatcheries; and
-- Game Commission- 29 projects for various purposes.
Growing Greener II also created the $90 million County Environmental Initiative Program, which has funded 509 projects. The report lists the CEIP projects, including 36 farmland preservation, 20 community revitalization, 139 community parks and recreation, 90 drinking water/wastewater, and 198 watershed protection projects initiated by the counties. The CEIP monies are exhausted for most project categories.
The report goes into more detail for each agency and the county program listing types of projects funded and all the individual projects funded by county.
A copy of the full report is available online. A summary is also available.

Wednesday NewsClips

House OKs Budget, Senate Revisions Still Loom
PA Forests Significantly Threatened By Gas Drilling
Marcellus Shale's $$ Impact On NE Unknown
Oil/Natural Gas Rep Touts Environmental Record
Driller Seeks Permits For Wayne County Wells
Editorial: EPA Right To Study Drilling's Health Impact
Pittsburgh Passes Bike-Parking Legislation
Walk In Woods Picked For Next One Book Project
Brandywine Conservancy Honored For Work On Herbicides
Going Green Can Save Big Green
Drill Site Spill Subject Of Investigation
McKean County Sewer Authority Selling Effluent To Gas Drillers

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Senate Committee Meets On Quigley Nomination

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee has scheduled a public hearing on April 13 to consider the nomination of John Quigley as Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Majority Caucus Room.
Acting Secretary Quigley will appear before the Committee to respond to questions from members of the panel. This is the second time Quigley is being considered by the Committee. His nomination was withdrawn last year without action as time for considering the nomination ran out.
Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair.

Tuesday NewsClips

Rendell's Budget Set For House Approval
Both Rep. Levdansky (D-Allegheny) and Rep. Vitali (D-Delaware) withdrew amendments from House consideration which would have either reduced the need for State Forest land leasing for natural gas drilling or imposed a temporary moratorium on drilling. They said amending the General Fund budget bill was not the right time to raise this issue.
Consol Energy To Pay $964 Million For CNX Gas
Some Colleges Add Programs To Train Natural Gas Workers
DEP Steps In After Another Leak In Jefferson Hills Tank Farm
Lebanon Valley Chamber Hopes To Add To Its Electricity Buying Pool
Youth Building Nature Trail In Somerset County
Pittsburgh Film Series Celebrates Parks, Nature
PA Hunters Take Fewest Deer Since 1987
PA Deer Harvest Tumbles To Lowest Figure In 23 Years
Susquehanna, Northern Wayne Under Flood Watch
Goose Creek Cleanup Needs Volunteers In West Chester
Chester, Ridley Crum Watershed Assns. Seeking Cleanup Volunteers
Wellsboro Explores Tax On Natural Gas
Editorial: Gas Drilling Watchdog Process Clearly In Place
Chesapeake Energy Fined $20,000 Over Water Withdrawal Violations
Marcellus Traffic Adds To Rough Ride In PA
Gas Wells Making Inroads In Mehoopany
Susquehanna Landowners' Pipeline Group Forms
Op-Ed: Electricity Disruptions A Growing Threat

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 22 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The March 22 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Issues Report On PA Cleanup Commitments

Pennsylvania will have to double and triple its efforts to install agricultural best management practices if the Commonwealth is to meet the milestone commitments it set by the end of 2011 to cleanup our rivers and streams, according to a new report issued by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation this week. Click here to read more....

DEP Schedules First Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement Plan Meeting March 31

The Department of Environmental Protection will hold initial discussions with stakeholders on the development of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan required by the Chesapeake Bay Watershed TMDL on March 31.
Pennsylvania is required to submit a draft implementation plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by June 1.
The meeting will be held in the Susquehanna Room, DEP Southcentral Regional Office, 909 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg starting at 10:00. (formal notice)
For more information, visit DEP's Chesapeake Bay webpage or contact Karen Price, DEP Water Planning Office by calling 717-772-4785 or sending email to:

Friday NewsClips

Back Mt. Group Will Work For Gas Drilling Law
EPA To Look Into Effects Of Fracking
Range Resources Poised For PA Expansion
Connellsville Mayor Matthews Praises Flood Prep
Alcoa Lowers Solar Power Costs With Special Coated Mirrors
Editorial: The Wind Ruse, A Foolish Push
Lycoming County Recycling Decreases
SRBC Approves Drilling Water Treatment Plant Water Withdrawal
Gas Drilling Firms Prodded For Not Complying With State Rules
Gas Firms Now Looking To Upgrade Roads Before They Use Them
System Monitors Water Quality In Drilling Areas

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Senate Bill Introduced To Save Heating Oil Customers Money And Help The Environment

Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) introduced Senate Bill 1282 today to help heating oil customers reduce their heating costs by requiring a much cleaner burning heating oil that will burn more efficiently and reduce furnace maintenance costs.
The legislation is supported by the Pennsylvania Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and other groups.
The legislation will require heating oil sold in the Commonwealth have a sulfur content not to exceed 15 parts per million by May 2011. This limit mirrors the federal ultra low sulfur requirement for both on-road and off-road diesel. The on-road ultra low sulfur requirement was fully implemented in 2009 and the off-road by August of this year.
Heating oil and diesel fuel are in the fact the same product and refiners have been making ultra low sulfur diesel fuel to meet the federal requirements since 2009. Sunoco, a Pennsylvania-based oil refiner in Marcus Hook, now makes nothing but ultra low sulfur heating oil and diesel fuel for its customers.
The second part of the legislation will also bring heating oil into the state's biofuels mandate which already requires diesel fuel to contain 5 percent farm-grown soybean oil or other biofuels by May 1, 2011.
The use of ultra low sulfur fuel will also help the state meet federal mandates of limiting PM .5 particulate standards and reduces the state's carbon foot print compared to the existing fuel.

Nominations For 2010 Waste Watcher Awards Now Being Accepted

The Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania are now accepting applications for the 2010 Waste Watchers Awards. Nominations will be accepted through May 14. Click here for nomination form.
The Waste Watcher Awards are sponsored by the PROP, SWANA Pennsylvania Keystone Chapter and the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association.

State Forest Drilling Moratorium Bill To Be Considered By House Committee

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meets on March 24 to consider House Bill 2235 (Vitali-D-Delaware) which would impose a five year moratorium on leasing State Forest land for natural gas drilling. The meeting will be held in Room 39 East Wing starting at 10:00.

Thursday NewsClips

Investigation Is Continuing Into Drilling Discharge
PUC Sets Hearing On Marcellus Shale Pipelines
Water Leaks Can Drain Budget
Future Of Abandoned Landfill Eyed
House Passes Bill To Encourage Schools To Build Green
Western PA Mercury Emissions Up
Philadelphia Zoo Energizes A Rain Forest Rescue
DEP Officials Act On New Septic Rules
West Chester Schools Receive EPA Energy-Saving Grant
Building An Affordable Sustainable House
River Road Closure For Annual Amphibian Migration
Natural Gas Dominates Tioga County Agenda
Gas Wells Producing At Elk Lake, Parent Questions Water Quality
Granville Woman Hopes Vent Solves Methane In Well
PennDOT Gets Tough On Gas Companies

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Senate Committees Get Update On Chesapeake Bay TMDL Progress

Members of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Environmental Resources and Energy Committees today held an informational meeting on efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a federal court-ordered Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Plan for the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
In Pennsylvania, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed includes two-thirds of the state.
John Capacasa, Director of EPA's Water Protection Division, and Robert Koroncai, Chesapeake Bay TMDL Manager provided an overview of the TMDL planning process which has EPA completing a draft TMDL for public comment by August, followed by public input meetings on the plan through October and a final plan by December of this year.
In response to questions from Senators, they outlined the support EPA and the federal government have given states to help meet this mandate, including $188 million in additional federal Farm Bill aid, doubling implementation grants to states, increases in the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund and additional federal stimulus dollars.
They noted meeting Bay cleanup standards also has local benefits in Pennsylvania watersheds, including not only more efficient and healthy farming operations, but also benefits to local streams which many times fail to meet clean water standards themselves.
Both officials emphasized Pennsylvania has been a good partner in Bay cleanup efforts noting much has been accomplished since 1983 when the program began. However, they said EPA's new approach to Bay cleanup includes a new level of accountability for results from states.
If states do not get the results they commit to, then EPA would have to act on its own to "backstop" state efforts by taking one or more of these steps-- expand NPDES permit coverage to currently unregulated sources, object to NPDES permits and increase permit oversight, require net improvement offsets, establish finer scale waste load and load allocations in the Bay TMDL, require additional reductions of loadings from point sources, Increase and target federal enforcement, condition or redirect federal grants and promulgate federal local nutrient water quality standards.
State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding told the committees it is "imperative" Pennsylvania meet the clean water goals for the Chesapeake Bay and at the same time have economically viable and thriving farms and communities in Pennsylvania.
He noted 55 percent of all nitrogen reductions made in the Pennsylvania portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed were made by improvements on farms. He said, however, "There is a critical shortage of technical assistance and compliance oversight staff in Pennsylvania" to help farmers meet the Bay mandates.
He said federal funding is 'extremely important" to continued efforts to improve water quality in the Bay watershed "because of the financial limitations within our own state budget here in Pennsylvania and at the county consideration district level."
Secretary Redding said we have to understand this is a 15-year process and recommended--
-- EPA not simply require more permits;
-- Set clear obligations for farmers to meet;
-- Create a "safe-hold" for farmers meeting their obligations;
-- Provide more critically important technical assistance; and
-- Provide better and simpler tools for farmers to use.
He said to him, TMDL means-- Time, Money, (conservation) Districts and Leadership.
In written testimony, DEP Secretary John Hanger said the state has achieved 46 percent of the nitrogen reductions and 64 percent of the phosphorus reductions required by the Bay program. The new Bay milestones, however, require the state to reduce nitrogen by another 30.9 million pounds and phosphorus by 1 million pounds by 2025.
He said DEP is engaging stakeholders in the Bay cleanup effort to help develop the initial Watershed Implementation Plan set to be submitted to EPA in draft by June 1. The first meeting of the stakeholders group is March 31.
The first 2011 milestone requires Pennsylvania to reduce nitrogen by 7.3 million pounds and phosphorus by 300,000 pounds.
As part of an effort to take credit for every existing farm conservation practice, including privately funded practices, he said DEP and other partners are doing county "sweeps" for best management practices that have not shown up on any database. He said the agency is also developing a non-point source repository to store all BMP information.
Secretary Hanger said DEP is supporting the development of new technologies to help address agriculture issues, in particular through projects like the regional methane digester and associated wastewater treatment plant being developed in the Cove area of Blair County. The cost of the digester is $32 million.
Both Secretary Hanger and Secretary Redding pointed to recent experiences in Watson Run, Lancaster County, as a model for dealing with agricultural enforcement and compliance efforts.
Responding to EPA, the agencies and the Lancaster County conservation district worked on a strategy to identify and bring farmers into compliance with state requirements to develop and begin implementing farm-based conservation plans.
Secretary Hanger said Pennsylvania's efforts to reduce runoff pollution are paying off, citing a recent Susquehanna River Basin Commission report showing reductions in nutrient and sediment going into the river from Pennsylvania.
At the committee meeting, Secretary Hanger took strong exception to a Chesapeake Bay Foundation report card issued today on Pennsylvania's progress toward meeting the 2011 milestones saying the report was "riddled with inaccuracies from beginning to end."
The report, using DEP's numbers, said Pennsylvania will have to double and triple its efforts to install agricultural best management practices based on the resources made available over the last seven years, if the Commonwealth is to meet the milestone commitments it set by the end of 2011 to cleanup our rivers and streams.
The report goes on to document the help needed by wastewater plants, decisions DEP needs to make to have a functioning nutrient credit trading system and the need to begin the planning needed to meet the stormwater management requirements of the milestones.
In addition, CBF said, the report "is not an indictment of the Department of Environmental Protection staff, but is a reflection of the current prioritization of resources by the Administration and General Assembly."
He said DEP would be responding to the report, but said again he believes the resources are in place to meet Pennsylvania's 2011 commitments. (see separate story).
A video of the hearing and copies of testimony are available online.
Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair.
Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and Sen. Michael O'Pake (D-Berks) serves as Minority Chair.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Issues Report Card On PA Bay Cleanup Commitments

Pennsylvania will have to double and triple its efforts to install agricultural best management practices if the Commonwealth is to meet the milestone commitments it set by the end of 2011 to cleanup our rivers and streams, according to a report card issued by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation today.
The report card was given to members of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees who held an informational meeting on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. (More on this later.)
“CBF commends the joint committees for taking a necessary step toward moving Pennsylvania in the right direction – toward providing state funding for much-needed and federally mandated improvements to reduce pollution from agriculture and stormwater sources," said Matthew Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
“Recent public comments by the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection suggest that Pennsylvania already has the resources needed to meet our Chesapeake Bay Cleanup commitment – however, the reality is that we are putting the burden of hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance costs squarely on farmers, developers, and sewage system ratepayers without further state assistance. Pennsylvania must prioritize state funding toward our obligation to meet our federal clean water commitments
“That’s why the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act is so important. If passed by Congress it will authorize significant new resources to help communities do their part to reduce stormwater pollution. The Act will provide critical funding for agricultural technical assistance and create a new region- wide trading program that could lower the costs of reducing pollution and provide a potential revenue stream for farmers.
“The TMDL is real. We must all work together to ensure that the funding and technical assistance are there, or there will be serious consequences. If we do not, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, instead of Pennsylvania, will make the decisions they feel are appropriate to meet the clean water mandates. In fact, they have already begun to take enforcement actions against farmers and communities.”
In addition, CBF said, the report "is not an indictment of the Department of Environmental Protection staff, but is a reflection of the current prioritization of resources by the Administration and General Assembly."
Pennsylvania made specific commitments in the fall of 2009 to accomplish these milestones by the end of 2011--
-- Forest Buffers. DEP has committed to implement over 19,000 acres of new forested buffers between 2009 and the conclusion of 2011. By comparison, between 2001 and 2008, a total of 29,673 acres of buffers were installed. This equates to 10.2 acres per day, 7 days a week. The commitment by DEP more than doubles that rate to 26.1 acres per day, every day, from now through 2011.
-- Nutrient Management Plans. Between 2001 and 2008, approximately 151,263 acres per year included in newly developed plans. This equates to about 414 acres per day. By the end of 2011, Pennsylvania has committed to add 473,801 acres or 649 acres per day—a 235 acre per day increase.
-- Conservation Plans. From 2001 to 2008, a total of 1,413,048 acres of plans were developed. This is equal to 144 acres per day. DEP has committed to implement an additional 327,770 acres or 449 acres per day from 2009 through 2011—a three fold increase.
-- Non-Urban Stream Restoration. Pennsylvania has committed to restore an additional 215,088 feet (40 miles) of streams through 2011. This equates to approximately 295 feet per day. From 2001 to 2008, the rate of restoration was equivalent to 38 feet per day. Or, in other words, an eight fold increase is required.
-- Tree Planting. Between 2001 and 2008, Pennsylvania accomplished 5,875 acres of tree plantings, or 2 acres per day. DEP has now committed to plant 15,065 acres of trees or 21 acres per day, or a tenfold increase in the historical rate.
The report card said, "Although not comprehensive, this information easily indicates DEP must drastically increase the resources it has devoted over the last decade to convincing landowners to adopt these practices, planning their installation and installing the practices if Pennsylvania is to meet its commitments through the end of 2011."
The report noted DEP itself estimated in 2005 the cost of installing agricultural best management practices would be about $600 million and given inflation would now cost $50 million more.
At the same time, cuts to DEP's budget have resulted in a 19 percent cut in agency staff and cuts in state assistance to county conservation districts have resulted in a significant shortfall in technical support to farmers, which both DEP and the state Department of Agriculture noted in a letter to U.S. Senator Ben Dardin of Maryland as recently as January 19, 2010 the report said.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding reiterated that shortfall at the joint committee meeting by saying, "There is a critical shortage of technical assistance and compliance oversight staff in Pennsylvania."
The report goes on to document the help needed by wastewater plants, decisions DEP needs to make to have a functioning nutrient credit trading system and the need to begin planning to meet the stormwater management requirements of the milestones.
Also included in the report are the penalties the U.S. Environmental Protection said it would impose on states not meeting the milestones:
−- Require more farms and other businesses to obtain NPDES permits for their activities using the agency’s "Residual Designation Authority."
−- Actively review all draft major and minor NPDES permits considered by DEP and object/deny permits, such as for new development and Concentrated Animal Farm Operations (CAFO) permits, which are not consistent with required Bay TMDL pollution reductions.
−- Require pollution offsets that result in an overall net pollution reduction for any new or increased NPDES discharges, and including for the first time those for new development and CAFOs.
−- Establish a watershed by watershed cap on new pollution loads, rather than a Bay watershed-wide cap as currently planned.
−- Require sewage treatment plants to make additional nutrient load reductions to the limit of technology, which would be several times more stringent and costly than today’s standard.
−- Increase and target federal enforcement and compliance oversight for all regulated sources of nutrient and sediment pollution, including air pollution.
−- Limit eligibility for federal grants to only those facilities that meet or exceed their nutrient reduction limits.
−- Establish and enforce in-stream water quality standards for nutrients for each river and stream in the watershed.
A copy of the report is available online. A video of the joint committee meeting and the testimony presented is available online.

Wednesday NewsClips

Companies Eager To Tap Marcellus Shale
PUC Mulls Over Its Role In Marcellus Pipeline Regulation
PA To Disclose Gas Production Results
Insurance For Floods Byproduct Of Update
Groups Press EPA To Strengthen Smog Controls
Post-Gazette: Poll- How To Achieve Sustainability
Post-Gazette: Forum- Going And Staying Green
Changes At Pymatuning State Park Focus Of Information Session
DEP Investigates Significant Discharges Of Foam From Drill Site
Drilling Frac Water Treatment Plan Could Bring New Jobs
Gas Wells Making Inroads In Mehoopany
Turbines Prompt Special Meeting In Butler Township
DEP Worried About Medical Equipment Calibration
Luzerne Authority Compiling New Flood Risk Data
Huge Financial Benefits Coming For McKean, Potter From Marcellus Shale
DEP: Water Contaminated By Drilling Will Be Restored In Demock
DEP: Gas Industry Treatment Behind Discharge On Hillside
Energy Fair To Be Held In Wellsboro
Chesapeake Energy To Hold Lease Signing In Wyoming County
Penn State Students Build Ultra-Efficient Vehicles

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday NewsClips

Consol Makes $3.5 Billion Deal For Dominion Marcellus Shale Holdings
Consol Energy Buys Stake In Marcellus Shale
Lehman Twp. Postpones Gas Drilling Vote
Two Watershed Restoration Efforts Share Common Goal
Trout And Clean Streams Expo In Sheffield On April 10
Flood Waters Pull Back, But Ground Is Well Saturated
Fredricksen Library Getting $300,000 To Go Green
Op-Ed: Doing The Trash Tax Right In Philadelphia
Deal Allows Public To Use Bear Creek Township Tract
Harrisburg Peregrine Falcon Observers On Egg Watch
Fossil Of New Amphibian Unearthed
Industry, Environmentalists Debate Hazards Of Coal Ash
Kane Plans To Sell Sewer Effluent For Well Drilling
Marcellus Shale Drilling Has Some People Worried
Editorial: Standing Water Supports Many Native Species
Editorial: Turning Energy Problem Into Opportunity
Special Post-Gazette Sustainability Section-
Pittsburgh's History Makes It A Perfect Example Of Sustainability
Government Policies Can Support Green Initiatives
Cities Have Been Embracing Sustainability Movement
Transportation Companies Embrace Green Practices
Banks Focused On A New Kind Of Green
Being Green Comes With A Cost
Green Marketing Puts Some In Gray Area
Pittsburgh's Manufacturing Base Understands Value Of Recycling
Energy Sector Under Scrutiny
Architecture Firms Being Sustainability to Clients, Offices
Retailers Find Reasons To Be Green
Coalition Supports Growth Of Green Jobs
New Tech Companies Put A Priority On Sustainability
Local Developers Embrace Green Building Practices
A Green Checklist
Op-Ed: The Sustainable Executive Creates Bridget To The Future
Op-Ed: If You Want A Green Career, You Need To Prepare For It
Op-Ed: Sustainable Thinking A Proxy For Good Management

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rohrer Releases Energy Freedom Plan

Republican candidate for Governor Sam Rohrer today released his Energy Freedom Plan with these elements--
-- Defend the rights of private property owners to explore, drill and extract natural gas and coal deposits;
-- Appoint a DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) Secretary who understands the important balance of sensible conservation, private property rights and real job creation;
-- Speed up state agency approval time for permits;
-- Oppose EPA and DCNR mandates that place unreasonable restrictions on oil and gas producers and private property owners; and
-- Veto and oppose every effort to impose a natural gas severance tax in the absence of major reductions in business taxes.
Other campaign Plans--
Tom Corbett, Republican Candidate, On Sustainable/Green Infrastructure
Tom Corbett, Republican Candidate, Part 2 of Jobs Strategy
Dan Onorato, Democratic Candidate, On Environment & Energy Issues

Corbett Releases Part 2 Of Jobs Strategy

Republican candidate for Governor Tom Corbett released Part 2 of his Jobs Strategy that includes:
Eliminate the permit backlog at state agencies. In recent years DEP has stood for “Don’t Expect Permits” rather than the Department of Environmental Protection. Tom Corbett will reinstitute the “Money Back Guarantee” program in DEP and other regulatory agencies to ensure that permits are reviewed and decisions are made in a timely manner.
Reinforce meaningful public participation. To be more accountable to the public, state government must have an open, accessible process for adopting the regulations and policies that govern its citizens. Utilizing technology and the Internet, Tom Corbett will make the work of state agencies transparent and will seek public input whenever possible. All agency advisory committees will be required to give at least one month’s notice of meetings and have agendas and meeting materials available online at least two weeks prior to the meeting. This will help to restore public confidence in the state agencies’ deliberative process. Tom Corbett also will direct agencies to explore the availability of new electronic tools to promote more public involvement in a cost effective manner to Pennsylvania taxpayers.
Other campaign Plans--
Tom Corbett, Republican Candidate, On Sustainable/Green Infrastructure
Dan Onorato, Democratic Candidate, On Environment & Energy Issues
Sam Rohrer, Republican Candidate, Energy Freedom Plan

PA's State Forests- A Disappearing Legacy?

WITF Smart Talk March 15 talked with Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary John Quigley about threats to Pennsylvania's publicly-owned State Forest land including Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, climate change and more. Click here to listen to the program.

CONSOL Energy To Acquire Dominion's Marcellus Shale Assets For $3.475 Billion In Cash

CONSOL Energy, Inc. announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Appalachian exploration and production business of Dominion Resources, Inc. for $3.475 billion in cash. CONSOL Energy is already the most profitable coal-focused energy company and is the second largest holder of coal reserves among U.S. publicly traded coal companies. This acquisition will substantially increase its natural gas reserves and production capacity – further enhancing CONSOL Energy's position as a leading diversified energy company with a balanced portfolio of coal and natural gas.
Importantly, the acquisition will give CONSOL Energy a leading position in the strategic Marcellus Shale fairway by tripling its development assets to approximately 750,000 acres with the addition of Dominion's approximately 500,000 Marcellus Shale acres in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Click here for full announcement.

Monday NewsClips

Western PA Flooding Not So Bad, But Threat Far From Over
Western PA Dodged A Bullet With Limited Flooding
High Water, But No Flooding In Lehigh Valley
Weekend Flood Minimal In Central PA
$4 Million Susquehanna River Study Center On Way
Water Line Insurance Still Causing Controversy
Editorial: Hook, Line & Sinker In The Great Lakes
Farm Preservation Project Slows Down With The Economy
Biologists Claim Deer Have Biggest Impact On Forests
Criminal Probe An Issue In Erie Coke Lawsuit
Volunteers Sought For Red Clay Valley Cleanup
Wind Companies Hoping To Circumvent Potter County Regulations
Some Lawmakers Respond To Per Diem Criticisms
Allentown Officials Block Release Of Forester's South Mountain Report
Editorial: Flood Insurance Should Be Required

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 15 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The March 15 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.

House Members, Groups Oppose Expanding Natural Gas Leasing In State Forests

Members of the House, environmental and sportsmen's groups this week urged Gov. Rendell to drop his plan to lease more State Forest land for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling to help balance the budget. Instead, the groups urged adoption of a natural gas production severance tax. Click here to read story...

PEMA Urges Residents To Prepare Now For Possible Flooding

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is reminding residents to monitor local weather conditions as warmer temperatures and rain could cause creeks, streams and rivers to flood.
“A lot of snow across the state has melted, but the snow that remains on the ground not only in Pennsylvania, but in West Virginia, Maryland and New York, contains a lot of water,” said PEMA Director Robert P. French. “Melting snow and rainwater from those neighboring states will be coming our way and will likely impact residents and businesses here. In some areas, the impact could be significant.”
Whenever flooding is a possibility, residents of flood-prone areas should move valuables from lower levels of their home and secure any loose outdoor items -- such as lawn furniture or trash cans -- to keep them from floating away. Residents should also check now to make sure storm drains near their homes are cleared and working.
French said citizens should know at least two ways to leave their homes and communities if they are told to evacuate on short notice. Plus, residents should be prepared to survive up to three days in their homes without outside assistance by putting together an emergency kit.
French recommends that an emergency kit contain the following basic supplies: battery-operated flashlight and radio, with extra batteries; one gallon of water per person per day; essential medication and copies of prescriptions; diapers, formula and other essential baby and toddler supplies; first aid kit; non-perishable food; manual can opener; cash, credit cards and important legal documents; and food, water, leashes and toys for pets.
Don't Drive Thru Water
French also reminded motorists never to drive through standing water. Just one foot of water is enough to float many vehicles and two feet of rushing water will carry away most vehicles, including trucks and SUVs.
Individuals needing assistance should call their municipal emergency management office in the “Blue Pages” section of the phone book. If they have an emergency, should call 911 immediately. Never call 911 to request or report road conditions.
When calling 911 to report an emergency, it is critical for callers to stay on the line, even if for an extended series of rings, until the operator answers. Hang-ups due to frustration result in wasted staff time as the 911 center tries to reestablish contact.
More detailed information on emergency kits, as well as how to create a family emergency plan is available online at the ReadyPA website or by calling 1-888-9-READY-PA.

Friday NewsClips

PA, NJ, OH Under Flood Watch
Flood-Prone Areas Told To Prepare In Western PA
Western PA River Towns Prepare For Flooding
Rains Could Bring Flooding In Northeast
Susquehanna River May Cause Flooding
Southeast Bracing For Up To 5 Inches Of Rain
PEMA Urges Residents To Prepare Now For Possible Flooding
World Environment Day To Be Water-Themed
City Of 3 Rivers To Demonstrate Water Matters
Lawmakers Against Leasing More State Forest Land For Drilling
Mountain Laurel Chapter Of Trout Unlimited Supports Natural Gas Fee
Natural Gas Reps Seek Community Support In Somerset County
Letter: It's Up To All Of Us To Clean Up Chesapeake Bay
Vote Allows Razing To Make Way For Westmoreland Bike Trail
Business Sweet, But Slow Going For Maple Industry
Editorial: If It Smells Like Manure, It Must Be Manure
NE PA Agencies Lead State On Home Weatherization
Sale Of Allegheny Energy Under Fire
Londonderry Twp. Taking A Swing At Solar Energy
Outcry Greets Possibility Of Gas Drilling At Wayne County Schools
Reps. Goodman, Seip Protest Additional Natural Gas Drilling
Towanda Addressing Water Trucks Using Borough Roads
Heavy Trucks Mangle Roads
Fatality Occurs At Gas Drilling Rig
House Committee Hears About Marcellus Shale Boom
Mansfield Needs Help To Pay For Expanded Sewage Plant
Marcellus Shale Rush Is On

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