Friday, May 28, 2010

May 31 PA Environment Digest Now Available

May 31 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

House Ds Fail To Muster Votes For Severance Tax Bill, Deficit Gets Bigger

After caucusing most of Tuesday, House Democrats failed to put together enough votes to pass a modest size tax bill saying they will come back in June to try again.
At nearly the same time, the Majority and Minority Chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee told a PCN call-in show audience the state's deficit is likely to be at least $1.4 billion, up from $1.1 billion last month. Revenue numbers for May are likely to again be significantly below expectations.
Both Senators said additional cuts will be necessary to balance the state budget. Click here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Rendell Abandoned Plans To Change Sales Tax
Shell Buys East Resources Gas Driller For $4.7 Billion
Oklahoma Company Adds To Gas Land Lease Holdings For $501 Million
Penn Virginia Buys 10,000 Acres Of Marcellus Shale Gas
Public Warned Not To Eat Fish From Pymatuning Reservoir
Penn State Competes In Eco Car Challenge
Erie Coke To Stay Open While Judge Deliberates
Montco Sewer Plant Operator Charged With Discharging Raw Sewage
Butterflies Star In Jeannette School Garden
Bear Fact: They Just Want Your Food And A Route Home
Water Conservation, Diversion Still Issues For Great Lakes
Greenfield Twp. Considers Zoning Change For Gas Drilling
UGI Closes Last Coal-Fired Plant In NE PA, 50 Out Of Work
Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In Tamaqua's Little Schuylkill
House Panel OKs Bill Bolstering Drilling Safeguards
Anadarko Drilling To Appeal Water Withdrawal Decision
Drilling Seismic Survey Will Cover 400 Square Miles In Lycoming County
Chemical Reaction Evacuates 500 People In Allegheny County

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NRCS Provides $1.1 Million To Protect Private Forest Land In PA

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications in Adams, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Snyder and York Counties for approximately $1.1 million available to protect Pennsylvania's forest land through the Healthy Forests Reserve Program.
Applications for the HFRP program will be accepted on a continuous basis until funding is exhausted.
In Pennsylvania, HFRP funding will be utilized to protect and improve critical habitat for the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), a federally listed endangered species. Indiana bats frequent wooded areas near streams, roosting in crevices under tree bark or in hollow trees.
The HFRP program offers 99-year and 30-year conservation easements and/or 10-year cost share agreements supported with habitat improvement through the implementation of selected conservation practices and supporting activities.
Owners of forest land in select areas of the twelve counties listed above are eligible to enroll in HFRP. The land must be capable of supporting Indiana bat habitat, and must be located in proximity to where known Indiana bat hibernation areas and maternity colonies exist.
Easement applicants must be able to convey clear title to the land. In addition, the landowner must provide documentation for NRCS to determine if the landowner is eligible to participate in the program.
Applicants can submit their applications to their local NRCS County field office or to the Pennsylvania NRCS State Office at One Credit Union Place, Suite 340, Harrisburg, PA 17110-2993.
For more information, visit the Healthy Forests Reserve Program webpage. Information on other farm and forest conservation programs from NRCS is also available online.

Wild Resource Conservation Grant Applications Now Being Accepted

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Wild Resource Conservation Program is again accepting applications for grants to protect the state's non-game animals, native plants and their habitats. The deadline for applications is June 30.
This year the Wild Resource Conservation Program is soliciting grant applications in four areas: identifying species and natural communities at risk from climate change; species inventory and monitoring; sustainable energy extraction and transport; and critical conservation needs.
"We need to invest our grant dollars in projects that target major environmental threats," said WRCP Executive Director Greg Czarnecki. "We're looking for applied research and conservation projects that deal with climate change, energy extraction, and habitat loss and degradation."
Launched in 1982, the program is funded through Growing Greener and voluntary contributions. It supports research and protection efforts to conserve Pennsylvania's diverse native wildlife resources, including bird and mammal species, amphibians and reptiles, insects and wild plants.
While grants vary in amount, the average award size is $30,000, and the term of the grant is 18 months.
Applications must be for work to be performed between January 2011 and June 2012 and they will only be accepted electronically through DCNR's eGrants online grant application system.
For more information, visit the Wild Resource Conservation Program webpage or contact Greg Czarnecki at 717-783-1337.

Thursday NewsClips

Both Sides Face Off On Natural Gas Severance Tax
Editorial: Too Much Gas On Marcellus Shale
Editorial: Here's A Way Government Should Work On Severance Tax
Editorial: House Wisely Approves Lake Erie Wind Power Bill
Op-Ed: PA Should Pass New Solar Energy Legislation
Energy Auction Cuts $1 Million Off Electric Bills
Eco-Friendly Designs
Erie Coke Denies Plant Badly Maintained
Editorial: Time To Prune, Not Plant Trees
Gas Pressure: Leasing, Easements And Community Perception
Riverkeeper, Township Challenge DRBC On Drilling
Study: Marcellus Shale Investments Will Triple From 2008-11
Wayne County Launches Gas Task Force
Middletown Recycling Expands
Crime, Road Wear Drilling's Effects
Luzerne Commissioners Leery Of Charter Draft, Gas Drilling
Natural Gas Future Big, But Unknown
Weatherization Wellness Check Now Available From PPL
Chapman Twp. Turns Down Anadarko Request To Pull Water From Susquehanna
MoValley Students Learn About Streams, Mining Impacts
Procter & Gamble Gas Wells To Start

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sen. Baker Pushes Water Protection Measures Related To Drilling

In response to citizen and community concerns about the safety of water resources, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Lackawanna) is preparing a series of bills to provide additional protections to drinking water sources.
“As more drilling takes place in our region, it increases the chances of something going wrong. Prevention and protection are preferable to crisis management and emergency response. Individuals and groups are taking a hard look at state laws and regulations, finding restrictions that seem too slight in contrast to the consequences of human error or technological failure, and offering constructive suggestions on steps that should be taken,” Sen. Baker said.
“While there are proposed water protection regulations moving through the process, people understand that law has more force. As drilling proceeds on a larger scale, area residents want answers that show responsibility being assured, rather than risks being assumed,” she emphasized.
“The economic benefits of gas extraction will be realized statewide, while the environmental drawbacks will be experienced locally. We have to be properly prepared and protected. Reasonable environmental protections will not discourage the development of this industry; they will help to make sure that unreasonable costs are not imposed on local communities and homeowners,” Sen. Baker stated.
In order to protect aquifers and determine any adverse consequences attributable to drilling, one bill would require testing at three times – before drilling, at the completion of drilling, and six months afterwards – at three different depths.
A second bill would rule out drilling at sites too close to drinking water sources such as reservoirs.
A third bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that the operators of wastewater treatment facilities are properly trained and sufficiently monitored to lessen the chances of human error creating a major problem.
Sen. Baker said that some of the costs would be borne by the gas companies. Oversight costs could be paid for through a severance tax, which is expected to be debated in the coming weeks. She reiterated her opposition to any severance tax plan that would devote the revenue generated to filling a hole in the state budget, rather than providing for community protection in drilling areas.
“The environmental and economic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico underscores the crucial nature of taking all reasonable precautions and for being prepared for dealing with extreme situations when things go horribly wrong,” Sen. Baker concluded.
NewsClip: Sen. Baker Proposes Bills On Gas Drilling, Drinking Water

Wednesday NewsClips

Vote On Natural Gas Severance Tax Could Be Weeks Away
Would Taxing Natural Gas Extraction Be Boon Or Doom?
Editorial: Gas Severance Tax A Necessary Evil
House Panel Approves Bill To Protect Wells From Drilling
Bills Would Protect Water In Gas Drilling Areas
Study Pegs $18B Impact From Gas Drilling, Critics Say Ignores Environmental Costs
Study: Marcellus Shale Will Bring 212,000 Jobs
Study Boosts Shale's Fiscal Pluses For PA
Shale Gas Costing 2/3 Less Than OPEC Oil Incites Water Concern
Williams Cos Buys Marcellus Shale Acres For $501 Million
Editorial: Farm Conservation Practices Protect All Our Resources
Discovery Of Wetlands Changes Plans For Erie Reservoir
Greenworks Philadelphia Hits Some Marks
Weatherization Program Changes Coming
Audubon Dedicates Browning Beaver Meadow Sanctuary
DCNR Awards Grant To North Coventry Twp. For Open Space
Edwin Kitner, Overseer Of Three Mile Island Cleanup, Dies
Letter: More Areas Need Stream Cleanup
State Treasurer Says Gas Industry A Potential Boon
Kanjorski Talks Of Marcellus Shale Potential
Editorial: New Bond Requirement For Gas Extraction Makes Sense
Haines Twp. Dump Gets Volunteer Cleanup
DuBois To Have Watershed, Drilling Study

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 24 PA Environment Digest Now Available

May 24 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

EQB Approves Drilling Wastewater Standards, Buffers, New Fees To Support Programs

The Environmental Quality Board this week approved first-of-its-kind regulations to protect waterways from the effects of natural gas drilling wastewater, better enabling the state's Marcellus Shale reserves to be developed without sacrificing the health and quality of Pennsylvania's vital water resources. Click here to read more....

Friday NewsClips

State Lawmakers Hope To Avoid Repeat Of Budget Impasse
Western PA Conservancy's Summit Today Precedes World Environment Day
Editorial: State Playing Catch-Up In Regulating Drilling
Marcellus Shale Coalition Presidents Promotes Drilling's Economic Benefits
Workshop Focuses On EPA Groundwater Discharge Practices
State's Landfill Fee To Go through 2020
Volunteers TreeVitallize LeTort Park Landscape
Editorial: Help Wilkes-Barre River Park With Pepsi Grant
Appalachian Trail Shelter Resurrected As Museum Exhibit
There's A Bald Eagle Out Here!
Public Shares Opinions On Presque Isle Facilities
Historic Group Worried By Budget Cuts In PA, NJ
Duquesne Residential Rate To Rise $4 Monthly
DuBois Hires Expert To Study Pros, Cons Of Gas Drilling
Costs Of Marcellus Shale Activity In Clinton County Mounting
Editorial: Township Zoning Board Should Approve Drilling Water Withdrawal
House GOP Policy Committee Holds Marcellus Shale Hearing
DEP Appoints New Regional Director In Williamsport
SRBC Official Explains Agency's Purpose Regarding Gas Drilling
Natural Gas Severance Tax Prompts Heated Discussion In Bradford County
Editorial: Money Trail Shows Need For Tax On Natural Gas Extraction

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grant Proposals Sought For AML/AMD Reclamation Projects By ARIPPA

To commemorate its 20th anniversary, the Anthracite Region Independent Power Producer's Association is offering competitive grants to watershed organizations working on Abandoned Mine Land and/or Abandoned Mine Drainage remediation projects.
Proposals are due July 30.
Grants ranging from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000 and will be awarded to at least one eligible environmental organization or conservation district in the Bituminous Region and one eligible environmental organization or conservation district in the Anthracite Region of Pennsylvania actively working on AML/AMD issues.
Grant proposals should be for on-the-ground AML/AMD construction projects with a completion date between August 2009 and August 2011.
Unsightly waste coal piles and the problems associated with them are gradually disappearing, due in part to ARIPPA member activities. ARIPPA facilities remove and utilize waste coal (refuse) from both past and current mining activities, thereby abating acid mine drainage from waste coal piles.
ARIPPA reports that 145 million tons of waste coal has been processed and burned for energy by their member plants from 1998 to 2008. Further, the technology used to convert waste coal to electricity, known as Circulating Fluidized Beds, produce alkaline-rich ash by-products.
There are many beneficial uses for CFB ash including; filling mine pits, as a replacement for lime, for acid mine drainage remediation, as a soil amendment at mining sites, and/or as a concrete additive for roadways.
Applying organizations must support the mission of ARIPPA, including the removal and conversion of waste coal into alternative energy and the beneficial use of CFB ash for AML/AMD reclamation.
The unique nature of ARIPPA's work combined with the desire to coordinate efforts with environmentally oriented groups and governmental agencies symbolize a commitment to improving the landscape and environment.
Requests for Proposals and supporting documents are available online.

Wednesday NewsClips

It's Corbett vs. Onorato For Governor's Mansion
Onorato, Corbett Win Nominations For Governor
Chesapeake Bay Gets C Grade On Health In Report
Pittsburgh Researchers Look For Better Ways To Treat Gas Drilling Wastewater
House GOP Policy Committee To Hold Hearing On Gas Drilling Issues
Editorial: Private Plan, Someone Should Own Up To State Parks Idea
Illick's Mill Partnership Wins Award From EPA
Luzerne Officials Decide Against Levee Maintenance Fee Increase
Habitat Work Bearing Fruit On State Game Lands
Falcons At Cathedral Of Learning Are Tagged, Released
Chesapeake Energy Honors Student Leaders
Mehoopany Signs Pact With Chesapeake Energy On Drilling
Editorial: Tunkhannock, Rural Yes, But Progressive Too On Energy
Abington, Lackawanna Trail Advance In Envirothon
Students Take To Forest, Field

Monday, May 17, 2010

Maurice K. Goddard Recognized With Historical Marker

The PA Historical and Museum Commission today recognized 11 people and places with new state historical markers, including Dr. Maurice K. Goddard who lead Pennsylvania's environmental protection programs for decades.
"State historical markers serve to inform people of the fascinating history of our state," said PHMC Executive Director Barbara Franco. "Travelers seek out the markers and often use them as an opportunity to learn more about the subjects that they tell about."
The wording on the marker, which will be located in Dauphin County: Maurice K. Goddard, Dauphin County, Harrisburg, established Pennsylvania's modern state park system. He led the expansion of the state's environmental protection programs, and was a steadfast advocate for conservation of natural resources who served the administrations of five Pennsylvania governors.
The plaques are nominated by the general public and approved by the commission on an annual basis. Once approved, local communities plan public ceremonies to unveil the markers.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program. Click here to read more about Dr. Goddard.

EQB Approves New Drilling Wastewater, Casing, Stream Buffer Rules

The Environmental Quality Board today gave final approval to regulations setting new, stricter standards for drilling wastewater and other sources of Total Dissolved Solids. The Board also approved proposed changes to oil and gas well casing and cementing requirements for public comment. Click here for full announcement.
New regulations were also finalized to prohibit earth disturbances within 150 feet of streams where erosion and sedimentation permits are required. The regulations also update other erosion and sedimentation requirements.
The rules will go to the House and Senate Environmental Committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for review.
Copies of the proposed changes are available online at the EQB webpage (see the May 17 meeting handouts).

Monday NewsClips

House Committee Hearing Held On Marcellus Shale Regulations
Regulatory Future For Marcellus Gas Discussed At Conference
Editorial: Marcellus Shale Flows With Campaign Dollars
Chief Oil & Gas To Lay Pipeline In Dallas, Franklin Twps.
Laser Marcellus Gathering Seeks Public Utility Status
Huge Flood Control Costs, Planning Mess Put SW PA In Bind
North Hills Regarded As Model For Flood Project Cooperation
South Side Landlord Has Big, Sustainable Ideas For Her Buildings
One Couple's Success Harnessing Solar For Their Home
Op-Ed: Can Gas Drilling Be Done Without Harming Environment?
Gas Drilling Deal Shouldn't Disturb Environmentalists
Crayola To Add More Solar Panels
Dominion Energy Green Building Going Gold
Drilling Costs To Lycoming County Becoming Apparent

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 17 PA Environment Digest Now Available

May 17 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

DCNR Leases 32,896 Acres Of State Forest For Drilling, Rendell Now Supports Moratorium

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this week announced it has leased 32,896 more acres of State Forest land for Marcellus Shale drilling in a sole source negotiation without competitive bidding netting $120 million in revenue.
As a result, Gov. Rendell announced his support for House Bill 2235 (Vitali-D-Delaware), passed by the House last week, to impose a three year moratorium on new Marcellus Shale leases on State Forest land. Click here to read more....

Friday NewsClips

DEP Head Asks Gas Drillers To Comply With New Rules
State Tells Drillers To Follow The Rules
Gas Industry Urged To Act Soon On Drilling Rules
State Tells How To Protect Water Quality From Drillers
House Holds Marcellus Shale Hearing At Shawnee
NE Campaigns Seeing Little Gas Money
Water Festival Returns To Fayette County Fairgrounds May 19
Nazareth Area Gets Grant For 2nd Solar Plant
Back Mountain Residents Concerned Over Gas Drilling
Lycoming Commissioners Talk Clean Water, Transportation
State Leases Land Under Susquehanna River For Drilling
Coal Township Recycling Center Making A Profit
Rex Energy Fined For Wetland Violations
Clinton County Envirothon Winners To Compete At State Event
Op-Ed: Visioning The Upper Delaware River Valley

Thursday, May 13, 2010

DEP Meets With 90 Companies Involved In Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development

The Department of Environmental Protection today met with 90 companies involved in Marcellus Shale natural gas development and told them they must follow proper well construction procedures to prevent gas migration problems that endanger public health and safety and threaten residential water supplies to avoid the problems occurring in Dimock, Susquehanna County.
Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger and staff from DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management met with industry officials to review state regulations governing the proper construction of deep, high-pressure natural gas wells.
“As we have seen in Dimock, stray gas migrating from improperly constructed wells can build up to explosive levels near and inside homes and can make residential water supplies unusable,” Secretary Hanger said. “The drilling industry is ultimately responsible for ensuring their wells are properly constructed and must use the best casing and cementing practices to prevent problems. We will hold drillers in Pennsylvania accountable for problems caused by drilling.”
In addition, the Secretary also stressed the need for companies to respond promptly to complaints of gas migration from natural gas wells and to immediately notify the department and local emergency responders to ensure that lives and property are protected.
“The marcellus gas industry in Pennsylvania can and must be the very best in the world. Strong rules and enforcement combined with companies dedicated to production, environmental and safety excellence is the way to become world class,” Secretary Hanger added.
DEP staff and drilling operators discussed the status of ongoing gas migration investigations at drilling sites and reviewed proposed regulations that strengthen well construction standards and establish procedures for reporting gas migration problems. Those regulations will be presented to the Environmental Quality Board for consideration on May 17.
Marcellus Shale Coalition president and executive director Kathryn Klaber said after the meeting, “The Marcellus Shale Coalition remains fully committed to continuing its efforts to work closely and collaboratively with regulators at all levels of government to ensure that the promise and potential of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania is realized in a safe and responsible way. Today’s meeting with DEP represents yet another honest and straightforward discussion about the best practices needed to fully achieve this vision. Positive progress on practices relating to the management of historic and naturally occurring shallow gas, as well as other initiatives related to transparency and well integrity, will help our industry continue to strengthen its safety and environmental record while continuing to create tens of thousands of jobs each year for residents of this state.”
Klaber said Secretary Hanger expressed his appreciation at the industry’s technical assistance in updating Pennsylvania’s rules. The MSC also endorsed the creation of a Gas Management Task Force, which will work alongside DEP and other professional experts to provide technical expertise related to Marcellus shale gas production across the state.
“Working to make certain that clean-burning shale gas production throughout the Commonwealth continues to be done effectively, prudently and in a way that continues to create thousands of good-paying jobs and economic activity is an aspiration shared by everyone who attended this meeting today," said Klaber. "The opportunity to discuss reasonable ways to continue to achieve these shared goals demonstrates our commitment to being good neighbors, partners and stewards of the Commonwealth’s environment and its job-creating resources.”
DEP Head Asks Gas Drillers To Comply with New Rules Ahead Of Adoption
DEP, Gas Companies Talk About Drilling Regulations

DCNR Reports On Carbon Dioxide Storage Show Opportunities, Need For Changes In Law

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today posted two reports online that conclude that with the appropriate changes in laws, Pennsylvania's geology could store carbon dioxide in a cost-competitive and manageable way.
Creating such a system would bring with it jobs and a cleaner environment, but it cannot be accomplished without substantive changes to laws governing subsurface ownership rights and long-term liability issues.
The reports conclude that the next step is to identify specific geographic areas where storage could be evaluated, but note that this promising technology cannot be deployed at power plant scale in Pennsylvania now or in the foreseeable future because ownership of adequate underground storage cannot be assembled.
"Gov. Rendell has made Pennsylvania a national leader in renewable energy development and in energy conservation and efficiency, but there is more work to be done as we confront the challenges of a warming planet," DCNR Secretary John Quigley said. "These reports suggest that a carbon capture and storage network, which would take the carbon emissions from the air and store it deep underground, can be achieved successfully and safely in Pennsylvania. But in order for Pennsylvania to provide this storage at the scale necessary to significantly offset carbon emissions, sweeping changes to state and federal laws are necessary.
"Deploying this technology here would mean Pennsylvania's abundant coal resources could be used in a more environmentally sound manner, and that could lead to an extraordinarily large number of research and development, manufacturing, retrofit and export jobs for our citizens," Secretary Quigley added. "However, the issues that must be addressed include identifying specific storage sites, resolving the ownership of those sites and figuring out who is liable for maintaining a site after it closes."
A carbon capture and sequestration network would collect carbon dioxide from coal-fired electricity generating plants and other industrial sources, compress it into a liquid, and then transport it through pipelines deep underground where it would be injected into the rock formations or other suitable geologic features.
The assessment prepared by Tetra Tech of Pittsburgh suggests that favorable geologic conditions exist for a network in Pennsylvania, which mirrors the findings of an initial report issued in May.
The technical and economic analysis, which examined the potential of retrofitting six coal-fired power plants in central and southwestern Pennsylvania, was prepared by WorleyParsons Group Inc., Spectra Energy, Climate Change Capital, and the Clinton Climate Change Initiative, part of the William J. Clinton Foundation, in cooperation with cooperation from CONSOL Energy, Allegheny Energy, PPL, Midwest Edison, RRI Energy, GE and US Steel.
Assuming no additional costs for subsurface rights or long term liability costs, a Pennsylvania-based network would bear total capture and compression costs of $43 to $69 per ton, along with transport and storage costs of $3 to $4 per ton. This per-ton cost range is competitive with international CCS projects that exist or have been proposed.
Based on these numbers, the preliminary cost analysis for capture, transport and storage of carbon dioxide from six plants is estimated to be about $8 billion, with additional annual operating costs of $269 million. However, these estimates will vary depending upon further detailed engineering analysis and the actual volume of carbon dioxide that is captured, transported and stored.
The assessment also found that CCS has some well-understood and quantifiable risks, which are now addressed in the private insurance market. However, the insurance market cannot fully insure CCS until all costs and risks associated with subsurface rights and long term liability are resolved by changes to federal and state statute and regulations.
"CCS cannot be a viable emission reduction solution unless and until certain substantial legal issues are worked out," Secretary Quigley said. "Some business entity would be required to gain legal control over vast amounts of underground storage space—as much as 100 square miles per plant, according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates. Federal and state laws are unclear on ownership rights for that storage space. Sweeping federal or state legislation would be needed to assemble the necessary property rights for a CCS network in Pennsylvania."
The two reports released today complete DCNR's work in complying with Act 129 of 2008. The findings were included in two separate reports provided to the Governor and General Assembly. The reports are available online.

USDA Urges Landowners To Sign Up Now For Conservation Stewardship Program

Landowners still have time to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program, but the deadline-- June 11-- for getting signed up for 2010 funds is approaching quickly.
According to NRCS State Conservationist Denise Coleman, now is the time for producers and forest landowners who have considered applying for CSP to sign up at their local NRCS field offices.
CSP is a voluntary program that encourages producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt new ones on their farm, ranch, and non-industrial forestland operations. The program is popular for those who go the extra mile with conservation and sustainable practices—whether they've accomplished it on their own or through USDA and NRCS programs.
"We've had good interest in CSP last year and this year but we did not reach all the producers this program was designed to reach. I'd like to change that this year, but time is running out," explains Coleman.
According to Coleman, the sign-up process is more streamlined than its predecessor, the Conservation Security Program. "The conservation options available through CSP will make sense to our producers," she said.
Producers, farm families, and forest landowners who have maintained a conservation legacy on their farm over the years or those who have changed the operation over the last few years to include more eco-friendly management strategies, are rewarded through CSP. CSP pays you to maintain those successful practices AND it helps you add even more solutions that protect soil, water, and related natural resources on your land.
"I know Pennsylvania has many landowners and producers who are committed to conservation because I see evidence of it on the land every day," Coleman says. "If you are one of those stewards of the land and you think it might be time to partner with NRCS to do even more of the right thing, I urge you to visit with your local NRCS staff and tell them all you've done. This program was designed to encourage more conservation activity and recognize good stewards."
To learn more and get involved with the program for 2010, visit your county USDA Service Center today, or visit the USDA Conservation Stewardship webpage.

Thursday NewsClips

Rendell: State Employees Won't Be Impacted By Budget Impasse
Delaware River Protectors Hold Fate Of Wayne County Gas Drilling
Gas Exploration Of State Forest Land Has Some Concerned
Pollution Diet In Federal Chesapeake Bay Fix Plan
Wilkes-Barre Arena To Plug In Energy Conscious Sign
Armstrong Trail Users Urged To Return Survey
Chester County Envirothon 2010
Senate Hearing On Marcellus Shale
Editorial: PA Must Comply With Chesapeake Bay Strategy
House Severance Tax Hearing Comes To Town
Shamokin Authority Discusses Alternative Energy
Penn State May Switch To Natural Gas

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Your Help Needed In Odwalla Plant A Tree Campaign For PA

Pennsylvania will compete with the other 49 states throughout May in a “Plant a Tree” campaign sponsored by Odwalla fruit juices.
Over the past two years—through Plant a Tree—Odwalla has helped plant 160,000 trees in state park systems across the country. This year, it will dedicate $200,000 to the tree planting cause.
Beginning May 25, citizens across the country will be asked to go to the Odwalla website, and vote for their favorite state to have a tree planted. Each vote will count as a dollar, and once all $200,000 are allotted, the campaign will end. The number of votes a state gets will equal the number of dollars it receives to plant trees within state parks.
Over the last two years, Pennsylvania has received more than $25,000 from Odwalla.
It’s easy to help Pennsylvania become the top vote getter and score the most dollars for state park trees. Citizens must vote early before all the dollars are gone. Last year’s campaign, involving only nine states, lasted less than two weeks. Don’t miss the opportunity to make Pennsylvania the winner.
Vote May 25! After voting, don’t forget to view Pennsylvania’s hilarious new video featuring iConservePA’s very own Barkleavies attending a rally for more trees. You’ll be chanting and singing along with them.
Record your vote now!

Rendell Signs Bill Extending Recycling Fee Through 2020

Gov. Rendell today signed House Bill 961 (Buxton-D-Dauphin) extending the $2/ton Recycling Fee supporting more than 1,600 municipal recycling programs.
“Making it easier for citizens to recycle by supporting community-based programs is about sustainability and preserving our natural resources; it’s about supporting jobs; and it’s about providing our manufacturers with an affordable and stable supply of raw materials,” said the Governor. “It’s a win-win-win for our economy and our environment.
Launched in 1988, Pennsylvania’s recycling program is funded by a “tipping fee” of $2 per ton on all waste managed at municipal waste landfills and resource recovery facilities in the state. The fees generate approximately $35 million each year to support municipal recycling programs that serve nearly 10 million residents.
In total, Pennsylvania recycles millions of tons of materials each year and reuse businesses annually generate more than $20 billion in sales, which saves communities money on disposal costs and provides an additional source of revenue. The recycling industry in Pennsylvania also has a yearly payroll of more than $2 billion.
“Recycling diverts five million tons of waste from our landfills annually and has helped businesses and local governments avoid more than $1 billion in disposal costs since the program was created,” Gov. Rendell said. “Since Pennsylvania’s recycling program began, young people have learned to reduce, reuse and recycle, and thanks to the support of the legislature -- particularly Rep. Buxton, who sponsored this bill, and Sen. Mary Jo White, who saw it through the Senate -- we will be able to pass these valuable lessons on to future generations.”
Gov. Rendell’s signature on the act ensures the tipping fee will continue to be collected through 2020 and also authorizes a $1.25 million transfer from the recycling fund to the Waste Tire Remediation Fund to complete high-priority tire pile cleanups, work that is important to protecting public health, he said.
“By cleaning up waste tire piles, we’re removing a blight that plagues many towns and cities across the state,” said Gov. Rendell. “These piles pose a fire danger and offer a breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile Virus. So preserving the funding to clean up these piles is important to protecting the safety and health of our communities, too.”
Since 2003, the Governor noted, Pennsylvania has already removed nearly 12.5 million waste tires by cleaning up 111 piles. Nearly 4.8 million of these tires were removed at no cost to the state as a result of aggressive enforcement action by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Wednesday NewsClips

Editorial: Rendell Kept Number Of State Employees In Check
Governor Supports Moratorium On Gas Drilling On State Land
Rendell: No Additional State Forest Land Will Be Leased
Rendell Backs Halt To Gas Leasing Of PA Forests
Rendell Announces Drilling Deal That Protects Land
Drillers Spending Millions To Influence Harrisburg Study Finds
Natural Gas Drillers Raise Campaign Contributions
Natural Gas Industry Pumps Legislators
Corbett Gets Biggest Share Of Natural Gas Campaign Money
Drilling Safety Steps Detailed
Chesapeake Energy Aims To Raise $5 Billion
Worker Dies After Accident At Cabot Drill Site
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Settles Suit Against EPA
Chesapeake Bay Settlement Has EPA Enforcing Pollution Reduction Goals
Oil Spill Creates Business For Pittsburgh Business
Spill Prompts Doubts Over Atlantic Oil Drilling
Another Lawsuit Filed Over PWSA Water Line Insurance Fee
AG Reviewing Pittsburgh's Sewer Warranty Program
Erie Colleges Use Eco-Friendly Caps, Gowns
Land For Carbon Storage A Challenge
4 Falcon Eggs Hatch At Gulf Tower Nest

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

DCNR Leases 32,896 Acres Of State Forest Drilling, Governor Now Supports Moratorium

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced today it has leased 32,896 more acres of State Forest land for Marcellus Shale drilling netting $120 million in revenue. As a result, Gov. Rendell announced his support for House Bill 2235 (Vitali-D-Delaware), passed by the House last week, to impose a three year moratorium on new Marcellus Shale leases on State Forest land.
Under the new lease agreement, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has paid the Commonwealth $120 million to access 32,896 acres that are surrounded by tracts of land for which drilling companies already hold lease agreements.
The newly leased acres cover 11 tracts in the Moshannon, Sproul and Tiadaghton state forests where Centre, Clinton and Lycoming counties meet.
Because these newly leased tracts can largely be accessed by gas operations on the adjacent tracts, the amount of new state forest surface area that must be disturbed is minimized.
As a result of the new lease, Gov. Rendell said the Commonwealth will not have to make any additional state forest land available to reach its revenue $180 million goal for natural gas drilling in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
"This is a responsible approach that meets our revenue targets and limits the impact of additional natural gas exploration in our state forests," said Gov. Rendell.
"We do not need to expand our drilling footprint in state forest lands to meet our revenue goals, because these parcels are already surrounded by other leased acres," Gov. Rendell said. "They also are within areas leased in the 1970s and 1980s by DCNR, but not all the acreage was drilled because technology wasn't available to exploit Marcellus Shale deposits.
"In order to develop the acreage, DCNR and Anadarko have agreed to certain provisions to make certain there is minimal impact on the surface. Horizontal drilling technologies allow Anadarko access to most of this acreage from already disturbed areas on their adjoining leased lands."
For 27,185 acres on ten tracts, Anadarko agreed to pay $4,000 per acre, consistent with the average price paid during DCNR's January 2010 competitive lease sale. For the remaining 5,711 acres on one tract, the Commonwealth will receive $2,000 per acre because the geology underneath is not as promising for gas production.
The lease of the 11 tracts totals about $120 million. DCNR's January 2010 lease sale generated $128 million -- $60 million of that went toward this year's General Fund budget and the additional $68 million will be applied to a target of $180 million to help balance the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010.
"With this agreement negotiated and the money in the bank, we can safely be on board with the moratorium which passed the House and is now in the Senate. If the Senate passes the legislation and it comes to my desk, I will sign it," Gov. Rendell said.
This lease ensures the citizens of Pennsylvania will benefit in a positive way from the development of the Marcellus Shale on public lands. Gov. Rendell believes it is vital for the General Assembly to pass a severance tax to further protect the interests of the citizens of Pennsylvania.
For more information, visit the DCNR Natural Gas Exploration on State Forest Land webpage.
NewsClip: DCNR Lease Land Under Susquehanna River To Gas Driller

EPA Signs Binding Commitment To Reduce Pollution In Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, its co-plaintiffs, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency today settled the lawsuit with a binding agreement that will require pollution to be reduced across the watershed.
This historic settlement is a legally enforceable commitment that requires EPA to take specific actions by dates certain to ensure that pollution to local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay is reduced sufficiently to remove the Bay from the federal "dirty waters" list, according to CBF.
"When we filed our notice of intent in October, 2008, EPA had been missing in action for years. The Bush Administration had 60 days to respond, but consistent with its previous eight years it did nothing," said CBF President William C. Baker. "We filed suit on Jan. 5, 2009, and began negotiations with the new administration. While it has taken longer than we would have liked, we are very pleased with the results and commend Lisa Jackson and her senior staff for their willingness to work through the bureaucracy to obtain this game-changing agreement."
“The Pennsylvania (Trout Unlimited) Council applauds the settlement because it marks a new era of action for clean water, especially including the much-needed cleanups of freshwater streams, creeks, and rivers that are necessary if we are to have a clean Bay and healthy fisheries throughout the watershed,” said Bob Pennell, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. “This settlement promises strong, enforceable federal oversight of cleanup programs for both point and nonpoint sources of water pollution, as well as habitat restoration.”
"The settlement between EPA, CBF, and the co-plaintiffs raises the bar for governmental commitment to restore the Bay. The settlement helps ensure, on an ongoing basis, that EPA will play its essential role in setting targets for Bay restoration and holding the states accountable," said Jonathan Cannon, director of the University of Virginia's Law School's Environmental and Land Use Law Program and former EPA General Counsel. "This is an excellent outcome and marks a further strengthening of our collective resolve to reverse the Bay's decline."
The history of Chesapeake Bay restoration is littered with broken promises and commitments unfulfilled. The latest agreement, called Chesapeake 2000 (C2K) and signed by EPA's Carol Browner for the Clinton Administration, was left to the Bush team of no fewer than three EPA Administrators to implement. It committed the federal government and states to reducing pollution sufficiently to get the Bay and its tributaries off the federal "dirty waters" list by 2010.
In 2007, the Governors of the Bay states and the EPA announced that they would not meet the 2010 goal and that at current levels of effort it would take decades to implement some strategies to reduce pollution, while others might never be implemented.
CBF's co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit included: former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes, retired Maryland Senator Bernie Fowler, former Virginia legislator and Natural Resources Secretary W. Tayloe Murphy, former Washington D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, the Virginia State Waterman's Association, the Maryland Watermen's Association, and the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association.
EPA is developing scientific limits on pollution across the Bay watershed, and the settlement defines how EPA will ensure that the necessary reductions will be achieved. The states will have the flexibility to create plans that make sense for their state, but the plans must achieve the goal by a time certain under the agreement or face the consequences.
"We have a firm agreement that would be most difficult for the U.S. government to renege on. I am reasonably convinced that our suit, in no small way, was the stimulus for the Presidential Executive Order and subsequent plan, which is the first of its kind for the Chesapeake Bay," said retired Maryland Senator Bernie Fowler. "We retain the option for future litigation should the U.S government fail to honor the agreement. We must succeed, and we will succeed, there is no alternative."
In the settlement EPA also commits to developing regulations that reduce pollution from agriculture and urban and suburban runoff. Runoff from developed areas is the only source of pollution that is increasing.
"Watermen need EPA to do its job. We cannot continue to live our lives without EPA stopping the pollution that is damaging the Bay and our livelihoods," said Maryland Watermen's Association President Larry Simns. "This settlement agreement will hold EPA accountable in doing its job."
"This agreement is a historic first step, and we commend EPA and the Obama Administration for their commitment to clean water," Baker said. "But the job is not done. We must ensure that today's words turn into tomorrow's actions, fight to ensure that offshore drilling in this region is stopped so that the Gulf coast's disaster will never happen here, and battle to pass the Chesapeake Clean Water Act now before Congress."
The Chesapeake Clean Water Act would give EPA additional tools to require pollution reduction. It would:
-- Legally reinforce the pollution budget that is part of the settlement agreement, making it much more difficult for polluters to challenge the TMDL requirements;
-- Authorize significant new funding to reduce urban/suburban runoff, the only pollution source that is still growing; and
-- Establish a market-based, interstate pollution credit program aimed at improving water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Bay. Credit programs, which have been successful in other arenas, allow participants that can reduce pollution below baseline levels to sell their surplus reductions, or credits, to others facing higher pollution-reduction costs.
For more information about the lawsuit, go to the CBF website.

Natural Gas Industry Reports $2.8 Million In Campaign Contributions, $4.2 Million Lobbying

The natural gas industry made over $2,800,000 in campaign contributions between January 2001 and March 2010 and reported over $4.2 million in lobbying expenses from January 2007 to March 2010, according to a report released today by PA Common Cause and the PA League of Women Voters.
The $2,853,896 in campaign contributions were made to Pennsylvania candidates, committees, and PACs. This total includes contributions from twenty-three drilling companies, two natural gas pipeline companies involved in partnerships with Marcellus drillers, and one trade group-- the PA Independent Oil and Gas Association.
From January 2007 through March 2010 the industry spent $4,244,732 on lobbying state government officials, which includes entertainment, the cost of providing direct or indirect communications, tours of drilling sites, office expenses, any gifts and lodging and other
Republican candidate for Governor Tom Corbett received $361,207, with 93 percent of these contributions coming since January 2008. Among the candidates for Governor on the Democratic side, Dan Onorato was the top recipient with $59,300, followed by Jack Wagner with $44,550. Joe Hoeffel received a single contribution of $2,000 from the industry in 2004 while running for the U.S. Senate, but has received nothing since. Democratic candidate State Sen. Anthony Williams received no contributions from the industry, as did Republican candidate State Rep. Sam Rohrer.
The report found--
-- The biggest single donor by far was S.W. Jack Drilling with $1 million in contributions—an amount that comprises more than a third of the industry total of $2.85 million over the last ten years. Of S.W. Jack Drilling’s total, $990,000 came from CEO Christine Toretti.
-- Gov. Rendell was number six on the list of top recipients with $84,100. Rendell has been a leading proponent of a severance tax, but has also called himself the industry’s “best ally.”
-- Among recipients that could identified as belonging to one of the two major parties, 84 percent of industry contributions went to candidates and committees that could be identified as Republican ($2.28 million), while 16 percent went to candidates and committees that could be identified as Democratic ($428,000).
-- The industry’s annual lobbying expenditures have roughly tripled in the last three years, from $579,000 in 2007 to $1,685,000 in 2009. And from the last quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010, lobbying expenditures rose from $421,000 to $716,000.
-- Several of the contributors identified in this study have given to multiple candidates in the 2010 governor’s race. For example, on 12/16/09, Consol Energy CEO J. Brett Harvey gave $5,000 to Tom Corbett, then gave $5,000 to Dan Onorato on 12/23/09. From 2009-10, the Range Resources PAC gave $16,416 to Tom Corbett, $5,000 to Jack Wagner, and $5,000 to Dan Onorato.
-- The 33 Nay votes in the House’s recent passage of a drilling moratorium on state-owned land took on average 3.4 times as much money from the industry ($162,400 total, $4,923 average) as did the 42 co-sponsors of the bill ($60,650 total, $1,444 average).
The top 10 natural gas industry donors from January 2001 to March 2010 were--
S.W. Jck Drilling - $1,002,000, East Resources-- $427,500, Dominion- $323,800, CNX Gas- $270,000, Seneca Resources $201,000, EQT- $192,700, Snyder Bros.- $144,700, Independent Oil & Gas Assn.- $77,800, Chesapeake Energy- $58,400 and Range Resources- $52,300.
A copy of the complete report is available online.

Barbara Sexton Joins Chesapeake Energy

Barbara Sexton, Executive Deputy Secretary in the Department of Environmental Protection, has left the agency to become Director of Governmental Affairs in Pennsylvania for Chesapeake Energy, a Marcellus Shale natural gas development firm which owns over 1.5 million aces of Marcellus Shale leases.
She joined the department in 1986. Since that time, she has served in a number of capacities including Executive Deputy Secretary for Policy and Communications since 2009. Previously, she served as DEP Policy Director for five years, managing development of policy, regulations and review programs. She also served as Regulatory Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Resources and Director of the Cumberland County Conservation District. 
Barbara was appointed to the position of Special Deputy Secretary in February 2003. In this position, she served as a senior advisor on regulatory issues.  She also served as Executive Deputy Secretary, the number two position in DEP, from 2001-2003.
Barbara is a graduate of Shippensburg University with degrees in Biology and Geo-Environmental Studies.

Tuesday NewsClips

Editorial: State Must Serve The Public On Marcellus Shale
Drilling's Effect On Clean And Green Land Uncertain
May 20 Marcellus Shale Workshop In New Castle
Gas Worker Injured At Cabot Site In Dimock
Western Wayne Breaks Ground For New Green Elementary School
PA GIS Hill Day Yields 55 Co-Sponsors For Geospatical Council Bill
Texas Firm Says It Could Put Out Centralia Mine Fire
Wellsboro Asked To Hire Unbiased Natural Gas Consultant
Sunbury Flood Control System In Good Shape

Monday, May 10, 2010

PA State Envirothon Set For May 26 At PPL Montour Preserve Montour County

The 27th annual Pennsylvania State Envirothon will take place on May 26 at PPL Montour Preserve, Montour County. Sixty-six teams of high school students are expected to compete at this year’s event.
The Envirothon, an environmental education and natural resource program, consists of the annual Pennsylvania State Envirothon Competition in which winning teams from participating counties compete for recognition and scholarships by demonstrating their knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management.
The competition is centered on four universal testing categories (i.e., soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, and wildlife) and a current environmental issue. Envirothon is designed to help educators and students move beyond the classroom into the outdoors preparing them to complete written exams, including hands-on experiences, developed by soil scientists, aquatic biologists, foresters, wildlife managers and natural resource professionals.
Conservation districts from Pennsylvania’s 66 counties are expected to sponsor county level Envirothon events reaching over 15,000 youth from over 700 high schools. Five-member Envirothon teams prepare for competition from late autumn until spring before working their way through the County Envirothon event. Winning county Envirothon teams earn the honor to represent their county and travel to Montour Preserve to participate in the State Competition where they compete for over $10,000 in scholarships and other prizes.
The Pennsylvania Envirothon partners with the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Fish and Boat Commission, Game Commission, Pennsylvania DCNR Bureaus of Forestry and State Parks, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Education.
These committed partners provide educational reference materials for over 700 participating high school teams as well as technical expertise, knowledge, and manpower at not only the state event but also at 66 county events, assuring the continued success of the program.
Pennsylvania’s sixty-six county conservation districts, the State Conservation Commission and the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts sponsor the Envirothon program.
Corporate sponsorship from EXCO Resources, PPL Corporation, Nestle Water North America, The Hershey Company, Air Products Foundation, Bayer HealthCare, Woodstream Corporation, Don Baker Family, PA Outdoor Writers Association, PA Trapper’s Association, Cargill, Dwight Lewis Lumber, and Lewis Lumber Products along with state grants allows the Pennsylvania Envirothon Board of Directors to continue to ensure a quality event for all those who participate. Sponsors and partners of the program award the top ten teams.
Again this year, team members of the overall winning first, second and third place teams receive scholarships that can be used toward post secondary education. The scholarships are funded by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with the State Conservation Commission. Station awards are also presented to the teams with the highest score in a specific area.
The highest scoring team from the State Competition achieves the ultimate goal to represent Pennsylvania at the Canon Envirothon, North America’s largest environmental competition for high school students, which takes place August 1 – 6, 2010 at the California State University, Fresno. Pennsylvania teams have won 11 of 22 Canon Envirothon events.
For additional information, visit the Pennsylvania Envirothon website, call Lorelle Steach, Program Coordinator at 814-623-7900 ext. 111, or send email to:

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