Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wednesday Declared Air Quality Action Day

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast an air quality action day for Wednesday, Sept. 1, in all five forecasting regions of Pennsylvania.
The air quality forecast predicts Wednesday will be code ORANGE for ozone in the Pittsburgh, Liberty/Clairton, Susquehanna Valley, Lehigh Valley/Berks and Philadelphia regions. It will also be code ORANGE for fine particulate matter in the Liberty/Clairton and Philadelphia regions. Click here for details.

Applications For NOAA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education Grants Due

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office is now accepting applications for B-WET-- Bay Watershed Education and Training Grants-- until October 15.
B-WET funds high-quality K-12 environmental education programs, fosters the growth of new, innovative programs, and encourages capacity building and partnership development for environmental education programs throughout the watershed.
For the formal notice and more information, visit the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office webpage.

Tuesday NewsClips

Editorial: Severance Tax Must Be Priority #1 For Legislature
DEP Chief Advocates For Permanent Water Supply For Dimock
Group Touring State To Push For Marcellus Gas Tax
Out-Of-State Drillers Fill Up Williamsport Hotels
Lackawanna College Offers Marcellus Shale Course
Panther Hollow Watershed Restoration Gets Million Dollar Boost
Op-Ed: A Break For Breathing In PA
Fed Grants To Aid Homeowners With Energy Costs
Sestak Bashed Over $350,000 Energy Earmark Request
Editorial: Let More Sun Shine In
Schools, Towns Doing Their Part Going Green

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tuesday Is An Air Quality Action Day

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast an air quality action day for Tuesday, August 31, in all five forecasting regions of Pennsylvania.
The air quality forecast predicts Wednesday will be code ORANGE for ozone in the Pittsburgh, Liberty/Clairton, Susquehanna Valley, Lehigh Valley/Berks and Philadelphia regions. It will also be code ORANGE for fine particulate matter in the Liberty/Clairton region. Click here for more details.

Keep Promise Tour Reminds Legislators Of Commitment To Adopt Marcellus Shale Tax

Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future today announced it is launching the “Keep the Promise Tour” across Pennsylvania to make sure the General Assembly keeps its promise to pass a Marcellus Shale natural gas production tax by October 1.
“A poll taken last week shows that nearly everyone in the state agrees on one thing: the Marcellus Shale drillers must pay their fair share,” said Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of PennFuture. “The drilling companies are spending enormous amounts of money to stop the severance tax. They have hired lobbyists of every stripe – including former Governor Tom Ridge – and are working hard to keep the voice of the people from being heard.
"The drillers will make enormous profits from the natural gas they take from our land – it's only fair that they pay a reasonable tax that will go to protect our environment and local communities that "host" the drilling, fund our natural resource agencies, and help balance our budget.
“A poll taken last week shows that nearly everyone in the state agrees on one thing: the Marcellus Shale drillers must pay their fair share,” continued Jarrett. “Three out of four voters in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia want the legislature to pass a severance tax. The support is even stronger in rural areas, with 84 percent supporting the tax. Three out of four Republicans support the tax, and 79 percent of Democrats want the tax passed. But we need to make sure that the sheer number of lobbyists and available campaign cash from the drillers don’t blind the legislators to the wishes of their constituents and the good of the Commonwealth.”
Tour Schedule
-- September 8 - Breakfast in South Hills (Pittsburgh), Allegheny County 8:00-10:00 a.m.;
-- September 9 - Town Hall in Jersey Shore, Lycoming County 7:00-9:00 p.m.;
-- September 10 - Breakfast in Scranton, Lackawanna County 8:00-10:00 a.m.;
-- September 13 - Breakfast in Gettysburg, Adams County 8:00-10:00 a.m.;
-- September 16 - Breakfast in Horsham, Montgomery County 8:00-10:00 a.m.; and
-- September 17 - Breakfast in Essington/Tinicum, Delaware County 8:00-10:00 a.m.
Can't join the Keep the Promise Tour? Follow us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.
There will be no onsite registration. Registration may be made online where a list of speakers and the details for each stop are available, or by telephone at 717-214-7920.

LandStudies Names New President, Restructuring

LandStudies, an environmental restoration design / build firm based in Lititz, announced the realignment of the organization by appointing Kelly Gutshall, RLA, ASLA president of the firm.
Gutshall, a registered landscape architect has designed and managed projects with LandStudies since 1988. The announcement coincides with strategic rebranding efforts centering around innovative water resource management and sustainable design.
LandStudies' "Green Masterplan" is a creative approach in which unique "green" solutions are integrated into a site plan to address environmental challenges. Examples include stormwater management Best Management Practices (BMP), stream and floodplain restoration, native landscape design, groundwater recharge, watershed planning and the emerging field of nutrient credit trading.
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to lead our dynamic organization and our outstanding team," said Gutshall. "LandStudies has a great reputation as a leader in the environmental restoration industry and the new initiatives build upon this extensive experience to address the many emerging environmental challenges facing our communities."
With the company relaunch, LandStudies has reorganized its structure and staff to provide the diverse expertise needed to support the company's new direction. As the premier organization in developing and implementing innovative cost-effective solutions to environmental challenges, LandStudies will continue to provide full service design/build approaches to meet client needs.
LandStudies also recently achieved certification as a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) through the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) and Woman-Owned Business (M/W/DSBE) with the City of Philadelphia Office of Economic Opportunities. This process is designed to confirm that the business is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by one or more women. By achieving WBE certification, LandStudies will have the opportunity to do business with organizations that purchase from WBE-certified companies.
In addition, LandStudies also announced the launch of a new website. The site features a sleeker design with a new navigational interface that will provide visitors with faster access to information and improved ease of use.

Monday NewsClips

Hydro Plant Malfunction Kills 1,200 Yough Trout
Green Way To Recycle Electronics
PA Coal Plants Face Big Changes Under Planned EPA Pollution Rules
Editorial: U.S. Steel's Upgrade At Clairton Gets Better
Editorial: Hybrid Plant, Pie In Sky?
Schools, Towns Doing Their Part Going Green
Lack Of Rainfall, Geology Bring Water Restrictions
Invasive Species Plagues Perkiomen
Editorial: Protect Clean Water, Septic Tank Standards
Drilling Company Takes Steps To Ensure Safety

Friday, August 27, 2010

August 30 PA Environment Digest Now Available

August 30 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Rendell Proposes Oil Company Tax, Driver/Vehicle Fee Increases For Transportation

Gov. Rendell this week unveiled what he said would be a $1 billion increase in annual transportation-- highway and transit-- funding. His plan (no surprises here) includes--
-- $576 million from a new net profits tax on oil companies which he said now only paid $35 million in state Corporate Net Income Tax, while making $5 billion in profits in Pennsylvania; and
-- $434 million by raising driver and vehicle fees consistent with the increase in inflation (for the average driver the increase would cost 33 cents per week). Click here to read more...

DEP's Marcellus Shale Examiner Online

Click here to read this week's Marcellus Shale Examiner from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Friday NewsClips

PennDOT, Turnpike Fight Over $472 Million
Editorial: Rendell Transportation Plan Doesn't Do Enough
Editorial: Shale Gas Tax Is Needed
Marcellus Shale Has Potential For Good, Environmental Harm
Luzerne's First Well Nearing Gas Lode
Gas Activists Urge Caution
Community College Training For Green Jobs
First Of 4 Owls Released In Presque Isle State Park
DCNR Offers First Look Inside Nature Inn (Video)
Driller Donates To Casselman River Watershed Association
Learning The Ins, Outs Of Gas Drilling
Energy Conservation Saved Council Rock Schools Nearly $9M
Editorial: Bravo! Native Brook Trout Returned To Kettle Creek
DEP Sets New Rules For Drilling Wastewater
DEP Employee Recognized By PEC As Environmental Leader

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DCNR Now Offering 2011 State Parks Calendar

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is now offering a 10 x 13 inch deluxe 16-month wall calendar featuring beautiful scenes from the Pennsylvania's State Parks. They have a full page for each month starting with September 2010 through December 2011.
The calendar is $8.49 plus sales tax, and a small shippng fee of $1.95. Profits from calendar sales goes directly into maintaining state parks. Calendars can be ordered by calling the PA State Park's resevation center toll-free at 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), or by visiting any state park office.
Click here to view the photo pages. For more information, visit the 2011 Calendar webpage.

Tuesday NewsClips

Rendell Pitches Plan To Fix Roads
Opposition Mounts To Rendell's Transportation Funding Plan
Monongahela River At A Crossroads
In Little League's Home, Gas Drilling Is Huge
Boback's Bill Would Return Local Drilling Oversight
McCandless Starts Work On Drilling Ordinance
Editorial: Court Upholds Gas Land Zoning
Ag Groups Report Progress, Challenges For Chesapeake Bay Cleanup
Westmoreland Tour To Teach Farmers About Rotational Grazing
Editorial: Environmental Ed Center A Natural
Shift To Solar Power Easy, Affordable With Group Discount
Group Says Utilities Overcharged By Billions
Editorial: Nuclear Energy: It's Our Future, We Must Support It
First Ladies To Speak During 9/11 Anniversary
ECI Awards Funds To Alternative Energy Projects
Editorial: Be Cautious On Drilling Policy
4,800 Gallons Of Brine Water Spilled

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rendell Proposes $1 Billion More For Transportation

At a press conference this morning, Gov. Rendell unveiled what he said would be a $1 billion increase in annual transportation-- highway and transit-- funding. His plan (no surprises here) includes--
-- $576 million from a new net profit tax on oil companies which he said now only paid $35 million in state Corporate Net Income Tax, while making $5 billion in profits in Pennsylvania; and
-- $434 million by raising driver and vehicle fees consistent with the increase in inflation (for the average driver the increase would cost 33 cents per week).
He again cited the poll numbers he released last week saying 74 percent of the public supported the oil company tax and a narrow majority supporting the increase in driver and vehicle fees.
The Governor was flanked by Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Minority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Barry Stout (D-Washington), Minority Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Notably, no other members of House Democratic Leadership nor Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), Majority Chair of the House Transportation Committee, appeared at the press conference.
In answer to a question about how many House Democrats will vote for tax increases, Rep. Evans said he didn't know, but "it will pass." Later he went further saying he didn't know if the vote would happen before the election. (The Senate has already said they will not be in session after the election.)
Sen. Costa also expressed optimism a package will pass because there is concern across all the General Assembly about transportation funding.
Gov. Rendell used Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's "no tax increase" pledge to say the funding has to be raised now or funding would not be increased for five years.
Rendell Proposes Driver Fee Increase, Oil Company Tax

Monday NewsClips

Lawmakers To Hear Rendell Transportation Funding Plan
Ruling Gives Towns Power Over Drillers
Water Among Victims Of Gas Drilling Process
Activists, Artists Air Marcellus Shale Drilling Fears
Op-Ed: General Assembly's (Marcellus) Gas Filled Rooms
Editorial: Cautionary Tales On Gas
Lawmakers Consider Consolidation Of Local Governments
Wilkes Professor Wins Major Ecology Award
Blog: PA Nature Artist Packs His Second Life
Teens Improve Emergency Access To Treacherous Trail
Solar Trade Lobbyist Faces Challenges Pushing Legislation
Williams Twp Installs Solar Panel System
Editorial: Legislators Inept On Natural Gas Issue Too
Upper Bucks Water Report Nears Completion
Painting An Environmental Picture With Low VOC Paint
Bucks County Stormwater Plan Approved For Watershed
Flood Study Funding Flows Into Delco
Sunlight Solar Announces New Philadelphia Office
Cautionary Tales On Natural Gas
Sept. 8 Workshop: Understanding Natural Gas Pipelines, Rights Of Way
Newfield To Sponsor Gas Drilling Training In Wayne

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 23 PA Environment Digest Now Available

August 23 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

CBF: More Resources Needed For PA To Meet Federal Water Quality Cleanup Standards

Matt Ehrhart, Executive Director Pennsylvania Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, this week outlined a plan to help Pennsylvania meet federal standards to cleanup the Chesapeake Bay and the Commonwealth's 19,000 miles of streams and rivers that do not meet federal Clean Water Act water quality standards in testimony before the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees during Ag Progress Days near State College.
At this same time, CBF provided details of the Bay cleanup plan to the Watershed Implementation Plan work group formed by the Department of Environmental Protection. Click here to read more...

Friday NewsClips

Rendell To Outline Plan To Fix Roads, Bridges
Marcellus Shale Drillers Want Low Severance Tax, Forced Pooling
Forum Draws Sharp Exchange On Marcellus Shale Severance Tax
Advocacy Groups Concerned About Use Of Gas Severance Tax
State Parks Vulnerable To Gas Drillers
Officials Explain Marcellus Shale Challenges, Opportunities
Gas Drilling Leases Could Yield Millions For Pittsburgh
Casey Calls For Federal Government To Oversee Gas Rush
Chief, Talon, Anschutz Marcellus Shale Firms Up For Sale
Gas Stock To Mix Shale Concerns, Entertainment
PA Agriculture Must Do Better In Chesapeake Cleanup
Virginia Will Spend Budget Surplus On Roads, Chesapeake Bay Cleanup
Sestak Announces Groundbreaking Project To Prevent Flooding In SE
Energy Retailer Says Putting Users Up For Bid Could Cut Bills

Thursday, August 19, 2010

DEP Marcellus Shale Examiner Now Available

Click here to read this week's Marcellus Shale Examiner from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Thursday NewsClips

Rendell: The Ride Is Over At 100 State Layoffs
Rendell's Layoff Estimated Drops From 20,000 To 100
Onorato Supports Severance Tax, Lashes Out At GOP Foe
State DEP Chief Puts Drilling Firms On Notice
Marcellus Shale Coalition Cancels Summit Where Protest Planned
Shale Gas Drillers Injected Diesel Fuel Into The Ground
PA Company Could Drill For Shale Under Cemeteries
Company Faults DEP For Marcellus Drilling Delays
Little League Baseball Sends Marcellus Shale Prospectors Packing
Marcellus Shale Focus Of New Penn State Center
Pipeline Safety Tips Discussed By Emergency Responders
South Fayette Will Discuss Gas Drilling On Public Land
Fish & Boat Commission Wants Part Of Severance Tax
Small Changes Can Help Planet, Health Educator Says
Game Commission: 2010-11 Migratory Game Bird Seasons
Editorial: Taking A Stand On Drilling In Upper Delaware
Impact Of Marcellus Shale Drilling Violations
Allied Waste To Offer Recycling Incentives In Bucks, Montgomery
Drilling On First Luzerne Marcellus Well Wrapping Up
Clearfield Authority To Continue Taking Drilling Wastewater
Wild Well Control To Locate Team In Clearfield
Editorial: Wells In State Parks? Don't Take Partial Title

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

PEC Recognizes 40 Under 40 Environmentalists In Pennsylvania

In celebration of its 40th Anniversary, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council has selected 40 Pennsylvanians under the age of 40 as recipients of its 40 Under 40 Awards. Recipients will be honored at PEC's 40th Anniversary Celebration at the Civic Club of Harrisburg on September 22.
Nearly 100 environmental professionals and volunteers were nominated for this statewide honor. Nominees included volunteers and professionals in a diverse range of environmental fields throughout the entire Commonwealth including planning, research, education and advocacy.
"PEC has reflected much on our past successes during our 40th Anniversary, and recognizing this next generation of environmental leaders is our way of looking to the future with a great deal of excitement," said Don Welsh, President and CEO of PEC.
"We learned that these young leaders stand poised to tackle our state's most important upcoming challenges including Marcellus Shale development, renewable energy, and stormwater, among others," he said.
The 40 Under 40 Recipients are:
1. Sherry Acevedo, 36. Resource Conservation Specialist, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton
2. Phyllis Barber, 38, Sustainanbility Coordinator- Environmental Management, Highmark, Inc., Pittsburgh
3. Thomas Baxter, 31, Executive Director, Friends of the Riverfront, Pittsburgh
4. Lindsay Baxter, 27, Sustainability Coordinator, Office of the Mayor, City of Pittsburgh
5. Heather Blakeskee, 36, Programs & Advocacy Director, Delaware Valley Green Building Council, Philadelphia
6. April Claus, 37, Director of Environmental Education, Sewickley Heights Borough/Fern Hollow, Nature Center, Sewickley
7. Maureen Copeland, 27, Community Programs Manager, GTECH Strategies, Inc., Pittsburgh
8. Danielle Crumrine, 32, Executive Director, Friends of Pittsburgh Urban Forest, Pittsburgh
9. Timothy Dugan, 29, Assitant District Forester, PA-DCNR- Bureau of Forestry, Elverson
10. Katherine Gajewski, 30, Director, Mayor's Office of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia
11. Marijke Hecht, 39, Director of Education, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Pittsburgh
12. Tara Hemmer, 37, Special Projects Manager, Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Fairless Hills
13. Robert Hughes, 38, Executive Director, Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Ashley
14. Stacey Kennealy, 29, Certification Program and Sustainability Director, GreenFaith, New Brunswick
15. Christine Knapp, 31, Director of Outreach, Citizen's for Pennsylvania's Future, Philadelphia
16. Christopher Kocher, 37, President, Wildlands Conservancy, Emmaus
17. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, 33, Executive Director, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia
18. Emily Landsburg, 32, CEO, BlackGold BioFuels, Philadelphia
19. Lauren Lazzari, 29, Vice President, Investar, Inc., Johnstown
20. Megan Lehman, 29, Environmental Planner, Lycoming County, Williamsport
21. Brian Linton, 23, Founder, United By Blue, Philadelphia
22. David Masur, 38, Director, PennEnvironment, Philadelphia
23. Maura McCarthy, 36, Executive Director, Friends of the Wissahickon, Philadelphia
24. Deborah Nardone, 36, Coldwater Resource Specialist, Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, Pleasant Gap
25. Joel Perkovich, 31, Principal, Tsuga Studios and Allegheny GreenRoofs. Cheswick
26. Daniel Reilly, 36, Attorney/Associate, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Philadelphia
27. Jenn Rezeli, 37, Principal, Re:Vision Architecture, Philadelphia
28. Ann Roda, 30, Market Based Programs Coordinator, Office of Water Planning, PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg
29. Jake Romig, 37, President/Founder, Ecostruction LLC, York
30. Todd Sampsell, 38, Deputy State Director, The Nature Conservancy, Harrisburg
31. Kristin Sewak, 35, Executive Director, Natural Biodiversity, Windber
32. Aurora Sharrard, PhD, 30, Director of Innovation, Green Building Alliance, Pittsburgh
33. Brian Shema, 34, Director of Conservation, Audubon Society of Western PA, Pittsburgh
34. Jennifer Shuey, 39, Executive Director, ClearWater Conservancy, State College
35. James Sloss, 35, Energy & Utilities Manager, City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
36. Amy Jo Smith, 28, Grant Manager, Economic Development Corporation of Erie County
37. Sarah Thorp, 38, Master Planning Manager, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Philadelphia
38. Susan Turcmanovich, 38, External Affairs Manager, Pennsylvania American Water, Wilkes-Barre
39. Brad Waldron, 34, Vice President, Novel Geo-Environmental, LLC, Moon Township
40. Nathan Wildfire, 28, Sustainable Policy Coordinator, East Liberty Development, Inc., Pittsburgh
For more information, visit PEC's 40th Anniversary Celebration webpage.

Governor Implements Plan To Make Up $280 Million Shortfall

Gov. Rendell announced in a press conference at noon he is implementing his original plan to make up for the $280 million shortfall caused by a reduced federal appropriation for Medicaid funding. That plan includes--
-- An across-the-board cut of 1.9 percent in the state budget that would yield $212 million: 1.9 percent cut to "discretionary appropriations," including $50 million to basic education funding; 1.9 percent cut to the General Assembly, Courts and to elected row offices (Auditor General, Attorney General and State Treasurer);
-- Using $70 million from the proposed Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax.
The Governor said the "good news" is there will only be about 100 state worker layoffs as a result of a higher than expected number of retirements-- 2,000 more than a normal year-- of which 600 positions will not be filled. He did not have a list of which agencies would still suffer layoffs.
Gov. Rendell also urged the Senate to pass House Bill 2497 (D.Evans-D-Philadelphia) to help deal with the state and school employee pension fund deficits and encouraged the Senate and House to use the $200 million in legislative account balances to help meet the pension deficits.
Late Friday, Senate Republicans wrote to Gov. Rendell agreeing with his suggestion to cut funding to certain line items and cutting $50 million in extra funds for basic education funding. But they went further and suggested the remaining $200 million in extra funding should be directed to deal with the school employees pension funding shortfall.
Transportation Funding
Capitalwire reported Gov. Rendell will present his plan to make up the transportation funding deficit on Monday at a meeting with House and Senate "transportation caucus." The Governor said at his press conference today he has scheduled a press conference for noon on Thursday on his transportation funding plans.
Rendell: Only 100 State Employee Layoffs Will Be Necessary
Rendell: All Agencies Must Cut Spending By 1.9 Percent
Rendell Proposes $50 Million Education Subsidy Cut

CBF Outlines Plan To Help PA Meet Federal Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Standards

Matt Ehrhart, Executive Director Pennsylvania Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, today outlined a plan to help Pennsylvania meet federal standards to cleanup the Chesapeake Bay and the Commonwealth's 19,000 miles of streams and rivers that do not meet federal Clean Water Act water quality standards in testimony before the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees during Ag Progress Days near State College.
At this same time, CBF provided details of the Bay cleanup plan to the Watershed Implementation Plan work group formed by the Department of Environmental Protection.
“Substantial progress has been achieved by the farming community in reducing pollution to our local streams, the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Bay. Indeed, Pennsylvania agriculture has reduced its share of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment loads to the Bay more than any other sector. Nevertheless, we still have a considerable way to go in the effort to bring all farms into compliance, restore our watersheds, and remove over 19,000 miles of streams from the PA list of impaired waters.
“By the end of 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalizes a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, for the Chesapeake Bay which will affect all Pennsylvania waterways that flow to the Bay. This TMDL or “pollution diet” will allocate numeric pollution caps for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment for each sector – primarily wastewater treatment plants, urban/suburban runoff, and agriculture.
Not Just A Bay Issue
“This is not just a Chesapeake Bay issue. TMDLs are already being applied to many of these streams. The fact is that Pennsylvania is legally bound to reduce pollution levels necessary to achieve applicable water quality standards both here and downstream of the Commonwealth. Most of the steps we must take to fix the Bay are steps we must take to fix our local streams.
“This Bay TMDL differs from past efforts; there is greater accountability and there are consequences for failure. Pennsylvania and the other signatories to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement will be required to achieve two year milestones as part of EPA-approved Watershed Implementation Plans that are subject to EPA approval. If the states fall behind and fail to take corrective action, they face consequences from EPA that could include tighter (and increasingly expensive) permit limits on wastewater treatment plants and industry, requirements that more businesses get permits, and loss of federal funds.
“Obviously, the timing of the TMDL is not ideal given the recession, the budget crisis, and the multitude of other pressing needs facing the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, we can no longer put off the tough decisions and policy choices. In the absence of a Pennsylvania plan with the necessary funding and programmatic steps to ensure success, solutions will be imposed upon us.
Resources To Meet Commitments
“There is intense pressure to continually cut more and more funding to programs, and the budget situation is only likely to worsen in the coming year. Unfortunately, past years of flat funding combined with recent budget cuts have left Conservation Districts and DEP less able to assist farmers, developers, and urban/suburban residents and enforce the Commonwealth’s existing laws at the very time we need to accelerate implementation and adherence to regulations. While we recognize that there must be sacrifice in every program supported by the state, these are not optional programs but legal obligations under the federal Clean Water Act and the PA Clean Streams Law.
There are several opportunities to help Pennsylvania meet our goals and the EPA requirements:
-- Stormwater Management: A revised and updated state stormwater management plan (Act 167) could be used as the fundamental tool to achieve compliance with the stormwater-related requirements of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, as well as local TMDLs;
-- Water Infrastructure: The State Water Plan (Act 220) states that the legislature: “Clearly authorize by legislation, regulation, or policy the creation and operation of local Authorities, Utilities, or Management Districts and/or other sustainable funding sources that enable entities to collect fees and generate revenues dedicated to planning, constructing, monitoring, maintaining, improving, expanding, operating, inspecting and repairing public and private stormwater management infrastructure.” To date, no such action has been taken by the legislature but we believe it is a vitally important to do so;
-- Stormwater Planning: House Bill 1390 (Freeman-D-Lehigh), commonly referred to as the Integrated Water Resources Act, would set a framework for a more consistent, coordinated, and comprehensive approach to stormwater management in the Commonwealth.
-- Agriculture: On the agricultural front, consider that Conservation Districts help deliver federal farm conservation funds, which the last Farm Bill increased substantially for Pennsylvania under the most recent federal Farm Bill, specifically to accelerate the Chesapeake Bay clean up. These are funds provided to the Commonwealth that not only improve our waterways, but support good jobs in construction and engineering. We simply cannot afford to leave any of these limited conservation funds unspent because we don’t have the people in place to deliver them.
-- Farm Conservation Tax Credit: The REAP state tax credit program, now in its fourth year and facing even greater demand from the farm community, is a very small but critically important tax credit program. In the first two years the $10 million cap for the program was exceeded by applications almost immediately. The program has been cut to less than half despite the fact that farmers match the program with their own funds.
“Finally, the federal Chesapeake Clean Water Act (SB 1816), currently under consideration in Congress, could bring much needed funding to Pennsylvania. The Act will provide critical funding for stormwater upgrades, 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.”
A complete copy of the testimony is available online as well as a copy of the detailed plan submitted to DEP's Watershed Improvement Plan work group.

Northeast Environmental Partners Name 2010 Award Recipients

The Northeast Environmental Partners this week named the seven winners of the Environmental Partnership Awards and the Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award.
The awards will be presented on October 14 at a special, “An Evening for Pennsylvania’s Environment,” dinner at the Woodlands Inn & Resort in Wilkes-Barre.
The Northeast Pennsylvania Environmental Partners announces the recipients of the Environmental Partnership Awards for 2010:
-- Field Habitat Partnership at Nescopeck State Park, Luzerne County: Field Habitat Partnership is being honored for their work to restore more than 60 acres of old fields located within Nescopeck State Park in Butler Township, Luzerne County in an area known as the old Hoda Farm.
-- Susan Gallagher, Chief Naturalist, Carbon County Environmental Education Center (CCEEC), Carbon County: Gallagher is being honored for her work as the planner, teacher and coordinator of all the environmental educational activities at the CCEEC. Gallagher has been with the CCEEC since 1988 and became the Chief Naturalist in 1998.
-- Keystone Active Zone Passport Program, Luzerne County: The Keystone Active Zone Passport Program is being honored for its successful efforts at inspiring thousands of Luzerne County residents to “get outside” and be active. In 2009, the Passport Program had 915 participants and currently has 605 people registered for the 2010 program.
-- Ryan Koch, Natural Resource Conservation Service Coordinator, Lackawanna County: Koch is being honored for his work and achievements in bringing together partners, organizations and individuals to work on a variety of environmental projects including native grasses, bio-fuels and sustainable energy.
-- Don Miller, Technology Instructor at Clear Run Elementary Center, Monroe County: Miller is being honored for his efforts to preserve Monroe County’s natural resources via his career as an educator as well as his numerous other activities.
-- Schuylkill County Sportsman Association, Schuylkill County: The Schuylkill County Sportsman Association is being honored for their activities to protect and manage the fish and wildlife habitat of Schuylkill County.
-- Dr. Jerry M. Skinner, Susquehanna County: Dr. Skinner is being honored for his outstanding achievements as a professor of biology at Keystone College, educator for the Keystone College Environmental Education Institute and the resident Naturalist and Volunteer Steward at the Nature Conservancy’s Woodbourne Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary in Susquehanna County.
In addition to his work as a Biology Professor at Keystone College, Dr. Skinner teaches a variety of courses including the “Flora and Fauna of Pennsylvania” (created by Dr. Skinner) for teachers enrolled in the Keystone College Environmental Education Institute, conducts nature education and natural history activities in partnership with Lackawanna State Park, Salt Springs State Park and Endless Mountains Nature Center, conducts aquatic fauna studies in the Ackerly Creek Watershed and lead the Eco Club at Keystone College.
Thomas P. Shelburne Award
The Sixteenth Annual Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award will be presented this year to Tim Herd, Monroe County.
Herd is being honored for his dedication to providing environmental education and promoting community collaboration for the benefit of the environment in Northeastern Pennsylvania for over the last 30 years.
This year’s Keynote address will be given by Joanne Denworth, Land Use and Environmental Lawyer who has been working in Gov. Rendell’s Office of Policy since March, 2003.
For more information or tickets to the Awards Dinner, contact PEC at 215-718-6507.

Wednesday NewsClips

Low Flow Limits Gas Drilling Withdrawals
Dry Weather Affects PA's Natural Gas Drillers
Catholic Cemeteries To Permit Gas Drilling Among Headstones
Ridge: No Gas Rig By My Grave
Ridge Pushes For Environmentally Safe Gas Drilling
Wilkes College To Analyze Drilling Impact
New Well Databased Launched By Wilkes (Video)
Marcellus Shale Opens New Holes For County Commissioners
Marcellus Gas Drilling Debated In Pittsburgh
Gas Driller Ban In Pittsburgh Proposed
Driller Fined Over Washington County Spill
PA Fines Driller $97K For Frack Spill
Roustabouts Wanted As Companies Rush To Drill For Gas
Cooperative Delaware Basin Restoration Initiative Launched
Northeast Environmental Partners Name Award Recipients
Allegheny County Office Building Roof Goes Green
Speakers Oppose Power Line Plans
Boaters Urged To Refrain From Drinking, Texting
Local Governments Say No To Regionalization
Legal Battle Develops Over Mineral Rights In Wyoming County
Mehoopany Enacts Sewage Tank Ordinance
Tempers Flare Over Solar Panels In East Bradford
Shale Drilling Developers Will Benefit From Permit Extension Law
Is Your Cool Water Safe Water?
Bucks Faces Hefty Fines For Fish Kills
Haverford Ordinance Bans Drilling, Wells
Cabot Launches New Drilling Website With Susquehanna County
Harvey's Lake Officials Weigh Natural Gas Drilling Options

Monday, August 16, 2010

DEP Secretary To Kick Off Oil & Gas Conference And Trade Show August 31

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger will serve as the lead-off speaker for the meeting portion of the August 31-September 1 Eastern Oil & Gas Conference and Trade Show at the Monroeville Convention Center.
Produced by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, the industry-oriented event includes a day-and-a-half of conference programming as well as the only full-scale oil and gas trade show in the Eastern U.S. Monroeville is located 15 miles east of Pittsburgh.
With the tremendous interest in development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas play, DEP has been at the forefront of regulatory initiatives affecting Marcellus operators and other oil and gas companies working in Pennsylvania. Stricter wastewater-treatment and well-construction requirements are two of the regulatory initiatives being finalized by DEP.
Other speakers and presentations include:
-- An update on water-related regulations by Burt Waite of Moody & Associates, Inc. and Paul Hart, Hart Resource Technologies;
-- Developments at the Public Utility Commission affecting both Marcellus and conventional gas producers by Kevin Moody, Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott, LLC;
-- Well control and risk management by Sam Bowden, Wild Well Control;
-- A panel discussion on pipeline issues, including the effects of gas from the Rocky Mountain region and the Marcellus Shale on the region’s pipeline systems;
-- Project permitting in an era of increased activism by Kyle Parker, Crowell & Moring, LLP; and
-- Marcellus deal activity and entry strategies by Stephen Bull, Statoil ASA.
The sold-out trade show will feature 275 exhibitors displaying cutting-edge products and services of interest to companies drilling for and producing Marcellus Shale gas as well as conventional sources of crude oil and natural gas.
While many of the exhibiting companies are based in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, some come from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Alberta, Canada. The list of exhibitors is available via the conference webpage.
The conference schedule gives conference participants plenty of time to visit the exhibit area, including an exclusive Show Preview Reception the evening of August 30.
More details about the Eastern Oil & Gas Conference and Trade Show can be found online. The conference registration deadline is August 23. The trade show also is open to the general public for a fee at the door.

SRBC: Drought And Gas Drilling: Susquehanna Stream Protection Program Working

By Paul O. Swartz, Executive Director, Susquehanna River Basin Commission

This summer began with one of the hottest Junes on record in the Susquehanna River Basin. Successive weeks of extremely high temperatures, blazing sun-filled skies and much below normal rainfall amounts led to emerging drought conditions in late June and early July.
Of particular concern to the Commission and other water management agencies were the rapidly dropping streamflows, especially in northern Pennsylvania.
Not unexpectedly, we began getting calls from citizens very concerned that smaller streams would be harmed if water withdrawals by the natural gas industry in the Marcellus shale region were not suspended.
As the calls were mounting for the Commission to consider tighter restrictions and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to consider drought declarations, heavy rainfall events provided needed relief throughout much of the Susquehanna watershed starting in mid-July.
As periodic storms rolled across the watershed, drought-like conditions were kept largely at bay. But hydrologic conditions quickly declined as yet another heat wave hit the basin in mid-August.
Is the Commission relying solely on the return of rains to protect our waterways? Absolutely not.
Do we rely on calls from concerned citizens to suspend certain water withdrawals when streams drop below normal? Again, absolutely not.
Without fanfare, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s process for protecting streams during low flows is working as intended. Throughout July and so far in August, many water withdrawals for natural gas activities have been suspended because of the Commission’s protective requirement, known as the passby flow restriction.
We started off in July with 45 water withdrawals being suspended because of passby flow restrictions. As I write today in mid-August, there are more than 63 water withdrawals in 19 counties that have been suspended. While those numbers account for various types of water-dependent activities approved by the Commission, many of them involve natural gas activities.
The Pennsylvania counties where such suspensions are in place involving water sources for natural gas include Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Lackawanna, Lycoming, Potter, Susquehanna, Tioga, and Wyoming.
Under our passby flow restrictions, when streams drop to designated protected low flow levels, project sponsors who are required to meet the Commission’s passby requirement MUST stop taking water. And they cannot resume taking water until streams have recovered above the protected level for at least 48 hours.
Our field inspectors have been verifying that those companies required to suspend withdrawals are in fact abiding by those restrictions. Many of our inspections are taking place during non-standard work days and hours, including weekends and evenings to avoid predictable patterns.
But we don’t rely solely on field inspections to verify compliance. All project sponsors are required to install tamper-proof water meters that automatically record their takings on a daily basis. The Commission gets that information reported to us quarterly, in addition to our field staff continuously doing spot inspections.
In early 2010, the Commission opened its first-ever field office in Sayre, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, to significantly enhance compliance and enforcement activities. This field office allows us to be more proactive in our inspections and to follow up more quickly on calls from concerned citizens.
It is important to note that the Commission’s stream protection measures kicked in even when no drought declarations were in place. And that’s because our system is ahead of the curve. We do not wait for drought declarations or phone calls from citizens or keep our fingers crossed and hope for rain. Our system is based on science and kicks in well before streams drop to critical low levels.
We base our surface and groundwater withdrawal approvals on the conservative assumption that hydrologic conditions will be on the below-normal side, not normal or above. These conservative assumptions are why our protective measures kick in early to protect waterways.
We are rightfully being asked, “Why does the Commission approve some water withdrawals without placing passby restrictions on them so companies can continue to take water during low flow periods?” Those are the withdrawals where the approved amounts are so small that they will not affect the protective levels of streams.
Of course, there is always the theoretical possibility of impacts where no passby restrictions exist. But, because we take our science seriously and we review each water withdrawal application on a case-by-case basis to ensure protection, we are confident the science is working and we are doing the due diligence to protect our environment.
Will we rely solely in our confidence that everything is working as it should? No.
I have directed staff to conduct additional scientific field evaluations to verify and make certain that the system we have in place continues to work during lower flow periods.
In light of the increased water demands from the natural gas industry, the Commission is committed to devoting the resources necessary to protect the environment and downstream water uses.
The citizens of the Susquehanna watershed have the commitment of my commissioners and me that if we determine more protective measures could be needed above and beyond the protective system we have in place, we will not fail to institute additional measures.
For more information, visit the SRBC Marcellus Shale Regulation webpage.

New Clean Heating Oil Newsletter Calls For Action On Clean Heating Oil Bills

A new Clean Energy Matters newsletter from the The Department of Environmental Protection is now available promoting bipartisan, Senate and House legislation to dramatically reduce the amount of sulfur in heating oil and require heating oil to have a biofuels content just like diesel fuel has already.
The clean heating oil bills-- House Bill 2578 (George) and Senate Bill 1282 (Erickson)-- will help Pennsylvania's 1.3 million heating oil customers reduce their heating costs, improve air quality, reduce health care costs and provide markets for famers.
If the General Assembly adopts the legislation, the sulfur content of heating oil will drop from 5,000 parts per million to just 15 ppm, the same ultra low level of sulfur now required for diesel fuel. The bill also requires heating oil to have the same biofuels content as diesel fuel.
Heating oil and diesel fuel are actually the same product, but now with different sulfur and biofuels content. The legislation would make them the same simplifying distribution of these products as well as making heating oil much cleaner.
The reduction in sulfur will improve the operating efficiency of existing furnaces dramatically by burning less heating oil and reducing the residues that build up in furnaces. And all without any changes on the part of homeowners.
According to a study commissioned by heating oil furnace experts, these efficiencies mean heating oil users will have to clean their furnaces less resulting in saving the equivilant of 14 cents per gallon in heating oil costs.
Statewide it means heating oil customers will reduce their heating oil costs by about $86 million every year.
Adding biofuels-- soybean oil and other blends-- to heating oil will help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil imports, help create more local markets for our farmers and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change by up to 1.1 million tons a year.
The legislation is supported by a unique coalition of groups-- the Pennsylvania Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, the American Lunch Association, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and other organizations.
To sign up for the e-newsletter and find out how you can support the legislation, visit DEP's Clean Energy Matters sign-up webpage.

DEP Complement Down 643 Positions From 2002-03

Staff complement for the Department of Environmental Protection is now 2,557, according to a report today from Capitalwire, down from the 3,200 positions in 2002-03 or just over 20 percent of its staff-- 643 positions. The bright spot continues to be DEP's Bureau of Oil and Gas Management and the Marcellus Shale permit/inspection program which was exempted from the general 2 year freeze on hiring. The Bureau was allowed to add 68 staff in February, although all the new positions have not yet been filled.
DEP now has a vacancy rate of between 9 and 10 percent of its staff positions as a result of the freeze and retirements which could not be refilled. The historic vacancy rate has been between 1 and 1 percent.

Monday NewsClips

Legal Point Could Open State Park Land To Gas Drills
Doubts Raised About Future Of Gas Drilling In Many State Parks
First Marcellus Shale Well Due In Wayne County
Cabot Trying To Repair Tarnished Image In Pennsylvania
Photo Exhibit To Raise Awareness Of Chesapeake Bay
Op-Ed: PA Townships, Boroughs Are Managing Just Fine
Editorial: World's Severe Weather Events Send A Warning
From Dump The Pump To Kill The Drill
Restoring The Wyoming Valley Through Photography
Wilkes To Track Water Quality In Shale Region

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 16 PA Environment Digest Now Available

August 16 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Rendell Proposes Nearly $4 Million More Cut From DEP, DCNR To Fill Budget Hole

Gov. Rendell told Senate and House legislative leaders this week a $280 million deficit remains in the budget after Congress passed the extra Medicaid funding.
The Governor said he would like to fill the gap with--
-- An across-the-board cut of 1.9 percent in the state budget that would yield $212 million: 1.9 percent cut to "discretionary appropriations," including $50 million to basic education funding; 1.9 percent cut to the General Assembly, Courts and to elected row offices (Auditor General, Attorney General and State Treasurer); and
-- Using $70 million from the proposed Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax (Gov. Rendell has never proposed using severance tax revenue to fund any environmental program or even Growing Greener which exhausted its funding this year).
A sheet distributed by the Governor's Office shows DEP would be cut by $2.4 million and DCNR cut by $1.5 million, but no individual line items were noted. Click here to read more...

DEP Now Accepting Coastal Zone Management Grants

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for Coastal Zone Management Grants. The deadline for applications is October 15.
Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements (for example, be a political subdivision, an authority, a nonprofit organization, or an educational institution) and must be located within the two defined Coastal Zone geographic areas of the state: the Delaware Estuary and Lake Erie Coastal Zones.
Proposals must also support the Coastal Zone Program's mission to protect and enhance the Commonwealth's coastal resources.
Applications for Coastal Zone Management Program grants must be submitted electronically through the eGrants system.
DEP will post more information on the grants on its Coastal Zone Management webpage. (formal notice)

Friday NewsClips

Federal Education Money: Windfall Or Waste?
Editorial: Transportation Woes, There Are Ways To Generate Money
DCNR Says No State Forest Lands Left For Gas Leasing
Rep. Mundy Calls For Floodplain Drilling Ban
Mundy Urges Tough Drilling Rules
Methane Found In Wells After Lid Blows Off In Bradford
Senator Casey, Marcellus Assn. Chief Headline Aug. 19 Forum
UGI To Invest $300 Million In Marcellus Shale Projects
Storms Cause Flooding Across Midstate
Luzerne County OKs Stormwater Management Plan
No Phosphate Dishwash Detergents Ranked
Heating Equipment Rebates Puts Buyers In Bind
Discounts Aim To Dim Electricity Use
No Need To Fear Silver Spring Twp Wind Turbines
Bill Would Loosen Rules For Municipal Electric Suppliers
Allegheny County To Host Green Festival
DEP Begins Cleanup At Erie Metal Plating Business
Emerald Ash Borer Surfaces In 2 More Midstate Counties
North Wales To Remain In Stormwater Coalition
Future Gas Wells Concern Lake Twp Residents
Casey Bill Would Encourage Hiring Local People For Marcellus Drilling
Sugarloaf Twp Considers Various Energy Ordinances
Parts Of NE Region In Drought
Gas Drilling, State Police Protection On Minds At Luzerne Twp Convention
Editorial: Contempt For Local Drilling Law
Gas Driller Sues Wayne County Official

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