Thursday, September 30, 2010

Common Cause: Natural Gas Donations Predict Marcellus Tax Votes In House, a project of Common Cause PA and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, tracks the more than $3 million that the natural gas industry has spent on campaign contributions and $5 million spent on lobbying efforts in the Commonwealth.
Yesterday, by a vote of 104 to 94, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted in favor of Senate Bill 1155, a bill to establish a tax on drilling companies that extract gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Though a victory for environmental protection, yesterday’s vote reveals just how insidious natural gas money has become.
The 104 who voted for the bill have taken an average of $824 from the natural gas industry, while the 94 legislators who voted against the bill took an average of $2,900 from the gas industry, or 3.5 times as much as those in favor of a severance tax. The vote split largely along party lines, with Democrats generally in favor, Republicans generally against. The vote count and accompanying data can be downloaded here.
The ten Democrats who voted against the bill, Representatives Barbin, Casorio, Deweese, Harhai, Kotik, Markosek, Pallone, Petrarca, Sainato, and White, accepted a total of $64,700 from the gas industry, an average of $6,470 each. Of these Democrats, only Rep. Barbin took no contributions from the natural gas industry.
The twelve Republicans who voted in favor of the bill, Representatives Beyer, DiGirolamo, Harper, Hennessey, Killion, Micozzie, Milne, Murt, O’Brien, O’Neill, Quinn, and Ross, accepted a total of only $1,500, an average of $125 each. Only three of these representatives (DiGirolamo, O'Brien, and O'Neill) received any contributions from the natural gas industry.
“Some gas drillers may not want to pay their fair share, but a Marcellus Shale drilling tax is good for the Commonwealth, good for local communities, and good for the environment,” said Josh McNeil of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. “When legislators take thousands of dollars from the gas industry and vote to let that industry take our resources for free, we have to wonder whose interests they’re really serving.”
"This correlation between the natural gas industry's campaign contributions to our elected officials and the way in which they vote on a bill that directly affects that industry's profits speaks volumes about the current state of our elections and campaigns," said Alex Kaplan of Common Cause Pennsylvania. "In Pennsylvania, out of state gas companies are allowed to give unlimited campaign contributions to elected officials charged with protecting our environment and crafting policy to benefit our state. In Pennsylvania, wealthy special interests have the ability to speak louder than everyday citizens."
Senate Bill 1150 would tax gas drillers 39 cents per thousand cubic feet of gas extracted, competitive with similar taxes in other gas producing states. The tax is expected to raise $120 million next year, $326 million the next. These funds will be used to plug gaps in Pennsylvania’s state budget, to help local communities deal with impacts of increased drilling, and to fund the regulatory and environmental clean-up efforts required to protect Pennsylvania’s health and safety.
The passage of a tax on drilling was part of a June deal between Governor Ed Rendell and legislative leaders to pass a gas tax by October 1. The funds from a tax are needed to fill $70 million of an estimated $280 million budget deficit.
Now that the bill has passed the House, it is up to the Senate to approve the amended bill.
Natural gas companies have contributed $359,827 to members of the House of Representatives, an average of $1755.25 per member. Current State Senators have accepted more than $407,440, an average of $8148.80 per Senator.
To find contributions to individual candidates, visit

Thursday NewsClips

House Passes High Natural Gas Tax
House Passes Shale Gas Production Tax
House Passes Marcellus Shale Gas Tax
House Votes For Tax On Shale Drilling
House Approves Severance Tax Bill
Natural Gas Tax Debate Heats Up As Deadline Nears
GOP Derides Gas Extraction Tax Passed By House
Scarnati: House Marcellus Shale Tax Bill Has Serious Flaws
Scarnati: House Marcellus Tax Proposal Too High, Deadline Not Met
Senate Leader Calls House Severance Tax Figure Ridiculous
Harper Amendment Helps Pass Marcellus Shale Tax Bill
Op-Ed: Marcellus Gas Tax Will Help Growing Greener Fund
Corbett Says Programs Could Be Cut To Reduce State Spending
Jack Wagner: Worst Fiscal Crisis In State History On Horizon
Dimock Water Announcement Still On Despite Cabot Protests
Public Water To Extend To Dimock
Cabot Drilling Company Accuses DEP Of Waging War Against Us
The Shale Game Part 3: Jobs
The Shale Game Part 4: Social Services
Expert: Protecting Water Vital In Shale Gas Projects
Cops Target Trucks Hauling Gas Drill Water
Warren To Treat Drilling Water?
Natural Gas Facility Gets OK In Fayette
Amendment Drafted In Murrysville To Regulate Gas Drilling
Op-Ed: Residency Restrictions For Marcellus Workers Not Right Move
PA Terrorism Bulletin Raises Ire
Rain Will Put A Quick End To Drought
Laws And Bans Cost Fisherman Their Livelihood On Lake Erie
Love Of Nature Chronicled In Colors Of The Wild
Renewed Point State Park Nearly Completed
Bright Fall Colors Expected Despite Dry Summer
Pike County Stormwater Plans Go Public
DRBC Commissioner Criticized For Letter To River Basin Commission
Delaware River Basin Commission Seeks Level Playing Field
Editorial: A Clear And Direct Threat From Drilling To Delaware
October Is Recycling Month In PA

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

House Passes Severance Tax 104 to 94

The House of Representatives just passed Senate Bill 1155 that includes the Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax by a vote of 104 to 94.
The House proposal as amended would distribute funds through this formula--
For FY 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 the first $75 million shall go to: $70 million General Fund, $5 million Department of Labor & Industry for job training and for contracting with community colleges and other institutions of higher education for job training programs.
After the above transfers, the money remaining is to be allocated as follows:
-- 40 percent to General Fund (the original House Democratic proposal was 60 percent);
-- 32 percent to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund (the original proposal was 12 percent);
-- 16 percent to the Local Government Services Account;
-- 1.6 percent to Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund;
-- 2.4 percent to Conservation District Fund;
-- 1.6 percent to Game Commission;
-- 1.4 percent to Fish & Boat Commission (the original proposal was 2.4 percent);
-- 1.6 percent to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
-- 1.6 percent to Oil and Gas Environmental Disaster Recovery Account;
-- 0.8 percent to DEP for dam removal, restoration and repair; and
-- New -- 1 percent for the operation and administration of the Environmental Hearing Board.
Over time, the funds generated would go to these areas--
(from the House Fiscal Note)
In a press conference today, Senate Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) threw cold water on the pending House Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax raising questions about the constitutionally of the vehicle used by the House, the size of the tax and the distribution of the revenue from the tax.
"This isn't about balancing the state budget, it's about addressing environmental and local government concerns," said Sen. Scarnati. "I think the House proposal will not pass the Senate without addressing the tax rate and distribution of funds."
Sen. Scarnati said the House "cleverly" used an unrelated bill and turned it into a tax bill which raises significant constitutional issues.
"It remains to be seen whether adults can come together for an agreement on this issue," said Sen. Scarnati. "The prospects of adding days to the Senate schedule are nil."
"We have said all along the refunding of Growing Greener is a priority for the Senate," said Sen. Scarnati. "We've said all along the major priority for a severance tax is local share and environmental programs."
Scarnati: House Marcellus Shale Tax Bill Has Serious Flaws
Scarnati: House Marcellus Shale Tax Too High, Deadline Not Met
Jack Wagner: Worst Fiscal Crisis In State History On Horizon

Wednesday NewsClips

Vote On Marcellus Shale Gas Tax Expected Wednesday
House Approves Severance Tax Amendment
House Amends Gas Drilling Tax Bill
Historic Severance Tax Goes Before House
House Divided Over Marcellus Shale Tax
House Breaks Off Debate On Taxing Marcellus Shale Gas
Blue Dog House Democrats Bark About Natural Gas Severance Tax
State Supreme Court Decision Proved Windfall For Shale Drillers
PA Gas Regulatory Program Given High Marks
Environmental Worries Shadow Natural Gas Expansion In PA
PR Campaign A First For Texas Driller
Cabot, DEP Clash Over Dimock Water Contamination
Course Begins Teaching Firefighters About Gas Well Emergencies
Philadelphia Council Looks At PA Gas Drilling Risks
Ridge: Philadelphia Council Marcellus Hearings A Positive
PGW: Banning Marcellus Gas Might Be Illegal
Op-Ed: Make A Choice To Put The Land First
McCandless Passes Drilling Ordinance
Northern Tier Agency Conducting Marcellus Housing Study
Additional PA State Forest Roads Open For Hunting Seasons
Rain Barely Dents Dry Conditions In Harrisburg

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

House Moves On Marcellus Shale Severance Tax Bill, Final Action Expected Tomorrow

After several previous tries and five hours of debate, the House tonight voted on legislation-- Senate Bill 1155 (Eichelberger-R-Blair)-- to enact a Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax which is expected to generate about $110 million in FY 2010-11 and about $316 million in FY 2011-12. As required by House rules, a final vote on the bill can take place no sooner than tomorrow at 8:30 p.m., unless members decide to suspend the rules.
Thanks to motions by Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), the House voted 154 to 45 on an amendment to more than double the monies going to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund from the Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax as originally proposed by some House Democrats.
The House proposal as amended would distribute funds through this formula--
For FY 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 the first $75 million shall go to: $70 million General Fund, $5 million Department of Labor & Industry for job training and for contracting with community colleges and other institutions of higher education for job training programs.
After the above transfers, the money remaining is to be allocated as follows:
-- 40 percent to General Fund (the original House Democratic proposal was 60 percent);
-- 32 percent to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund (the original proposal was 12 percent);
-- 16 percent to the Local Government Services Account;
-- 1.6 percent to Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund;
-- 2.4 percent to Conservation District Fund;
-- 1.6 percent to Game Commission;
-- 1.4 percent to Fish & Boat Commission (the original proposal was 2.4 percent);
-- 1.6 percent to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
-- 1.6 percent to Oil and Gas Environmental Disaster Recovery Account;
-- 0.8 percent to DEP for dam removal, restoration and repair; and
-- (New) 1 percent for the operation and administration of the Environmental Hearing Board.
Most House members expressed disappointment with the contents of the original proposal, but agreed to support the bill to move the process along and help comply with a budget agreement to pass Marcellus Shale severance tax legislation before October 1.

SRBC: 60 Of 133 Drilling Water Withdrawal Points Under Drought Restrictions

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission today said it has prohibited Marcellus Shale drilling water withdrawals from 60 of 133 approved water withdrawal points due to drought conditions in the watershed.
SRBC has approved a total of 133 drilling water withdrawal points, 81 of those have conditions that require the suspension of water withdrawals during severe drought conditions.
For more information visit SRBC's Drought Coordination Center and their Marcellus Shale Regulation webpages.

Coldwater Heritage Partnership Now Accepting Coldwater Grant Applications

The Coldwater Heritage Partnership this week announced the opening of the Coldwater Conservation Grants Program to protect and conserve the health of Pennsylvania’s coldwater ecosystems.
The deadline for applications is December 17. Two grant programs are available:

Coldwater Conservation Planning Grants: These grants are designed to help develop conservation plans that identify the values and threats to the health of our coldwater ecosystems that have naturally reproducing trout. The collected information can be used as a catalyst for more comprehensive planning or for development of watershed improvements projects.
The partnership will award grants averaging approximately $6,000 to organizations to outline strategies that best conserve and protect our coldwater fisheries. Additional details can be found in the attached grant application.

Coldwater Conservation Implementation Grants: These grants are designed to help implement the numerous projects identified in completed Coldwater Conservation Plans. Since 2003, sixty five Coldwater Conservation Plans have been funded. Many have identified important projects that will protect and conserve coldwater ecosystems.
Projects funded under this category must be identified in an already completed Coldwater Conservation Plan, and must enhance, conserve or protect the coldwater stream for which the plan was completed.
The partnership will award grants averaging approximately $7,000. Additional details about types of projects can be found in the attached grant application.
The CHP is a cooperative effort of Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Fish and Boat Commission and the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.

Applications, guidelines and more information are available at the Coldwater Heritage Partnership website or by contacting PATU Coldwater Resource Specialist Deborah Nardone at 814-359-5233 or by sending email to:

Tuesday NewsClips

The House is due to consider the Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax in Senate Bill 1155 today. The bill will not be subject to amendments unless the House suspends the rules and that happens rarely.
Bill To Tax Natural Gas Extraction Advances
House Panel OKs Marcellus Shale Tax
Natural Gas Taxation Bill Heads To House Vote Tuesday
Legislature Still Working On Marcellus Shale Drilling Tax
State Budget, Future Of Drilling At Stake Over Gas Taxation
Philadelphia Water Dept. Taking Measured Approach To Fracking
The Shale Game Part 2: Water
Marino Meets With Dimock Residents To Hear Drilling Woes
Range Resources Plans New Regional Headquarters
Coal Faces Competition From Natural Gas
State Police: Terror Bulletins Sent Them On Wild Goose Chases
Homeland Security Director Defends Security Documents
State Anti-Terror Chief Apologizes
Activism Group Files Federal Suit Over Terror List
Warwick Township To Receive Conservation Award
Wind Gap Woman Honored By PEC
Game Commission Considers New Rules For Tree Stands
Blight-Fighting Bill Targets Vacant Buildings
Editorial: Solar Amendment Makes Sense
Editorial: Curb Your Dog, Cut Your Power Bill

Monday, September 27, 2010

House Appropriations Committee Moves Marcellus Shale Severance Tax Proposal

Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, reported out yet another version of a Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax. It was adopted as an amendment to Senate Bill 1155 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) by a vote of 18 to 12 with only one negative Democratic vote.
The funds would be distributed through this formula--
For FY 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 the first $75 million shall go to: $70 million General Fund, $5 million Department of Labor & Industry for job training and for contracting with community colleges and other institutions of higher education for job training programs.
After the above transfers any money remaining shall be allocated as follows:
60 percent to General Fund;
12 percent to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund;
16 percent to the Local Government Services Account;
1.6 percent to Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund;
2.4 percent to Conservation District Fund;
1.6 percent to Game Commission;
2.4 percent to Fish & Boat Commission;
1.6 percent to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
1.6 percent to Oil and Gas Environmental Disaster Recovery Account; and
0.8 percent to DEP for dam removal, restoration and repair.
Click here to download amendment.

Monday NewsClips

Eachus: Marcellus Shale Tax Vote Soon
Tax Level For Shale Drilling Sparks Debate
Op-Ed: Misguided Marcellus Shale Tax Would Cost PA
Op-Ed: PA's Marcellus Shale Windfall
The Shale Game Part 1- County vs. County
Luzerne County Group Welcomes Gas Drilling
PA Homeland Security Chief Says Tracking Was Error In Judgment
Senate Panel To Focus On Homeland Security Flap
Energy Conservation Agency Announces Expanded Program
Blight Fighting Bill Targets Vacant Buildings
5.8 Miles Of Western PA Trail Repairs To Be Unveiled
Ohiopyle Chief Juran Excited By Finding Mecca
Hot, Dry Weather Boosts West Nile Cases In Midstate
Editorial: Suspect Climate Science
Hurricane Gloria Devastated NE 25 Years Ago
Editorial: Attend Now To Pipeline Safety
Lehigh University Opens Environment Friendly Science Building

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Environmental Funding Last Priority For House Democrat Severance Tax Plan

A Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax proposal by House Democrats circulating this weekend would make funding for environmental programs the last priority of their plan to raise over $300 million in the coming fiscal year.
According to reporting by, House Democrats are proposing a $307 million plan for FY 2011-12 which would provide $139 million for the General Fund to balance the state budget, $75 million for additional property tax relief, $37 million for counties and municipalities, $28 million for the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund and $28 million split in seven different ways:
-- 1.6 percent for the state Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund;
-- 2.4 percent for conservation districts;
-- 1.6 percent for the State Game Commission;
-- 2.4 percent for the Fish and Boat Commission;
-- 1.6 percent for the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program;
-- 1.6 percent for a disaster relief fund; and
-- 0.8 percent to DEP for dams.
The House Democratic plan would divide future revenues using this formula: The first $75 million (50 percent for property tax reduction and the remainder for job-creation tax credit and job-training programs), and of the remaining revenues 60 percent would go to the General Fund and 40 percent divided 9 ways:
-- 16 percent to counties and municipalities;
-- 12 percent for the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund;
-- 1.6 percent for the state Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund;
-- 2.4 percent for conservation districts;
-- 1.6 percent for the State Game Commission;
-- 2.4 percent for the Fish and Boat Commission;
-- 1.6 percent for the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program;
-- 1.6 percent for a disaster relief fund; and
-- 0.8 percent to DEP for dams.
Again according to, the Senate Republicans are proposing a more modest program with a much lower tax rate to provide $153.5 million to the General Fund and $77 million split evenly between local governments and environmental programs.
The Senate Republican plan would divide future revenues by allocating 50 percent for the General Fund, 25 percent for local governments and 25 percent for environmental initiatives.

Saturday NewsClips

Lawmakers Break Without Taking On High-Profile Measures
Eachus Plans Shale Tax Vote Next Week
Eachus Readies Severance Tax Vote
Labor Unions Call For Gas Severance Tax, Jobs For PA
Lehigh County Eyes Share Of Marcellus Shale Tax
Editorial: Lobby Spending By Gas Industry Sounds An Alarm
Editorial: Where Is Public Debate On Marcellus Shale Pooling Law?
EPA Puts Chesapeake Bay States On Notice
PA's Private Terror Bulletins Assailed
Fire Danger Rising In Western PA
Northmont Flood Control Work In Sight

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 27 PA Environment Digest Now Available

September 27 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

EPA Says PA Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan Has Serious Deficiencies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week said Pennsylvania's plan to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution going to the Chesapeake Bay has "serious deficiencies" and failed to demonstrate an ability to actually fully deliver necessary and promised pollution reductions.
EPA said the plan lacks specific funding, policy and program commitments to fully comply with pollution reduction milestones. Click here to read more…

DEP Marcellus Shale Examiner Now Available

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

CBF: Legislature Must Pass Reasonable Severance Tax To Fund Disappearing Environmental Programs

Matthew Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, released this statement on the struggle to pass Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax.
“Our legislative leaders have only 7 days to meet their own commitment to pass a severance tax that is sensible, promotes environmental restoration, and provides a share for communities impacted by drilling like all other states with significant natural gas reserves. CBF calls on our General Assembly to not falter, but meet their commitment to Pennsylvania and pass a severance tax that makes sense.”
“Passing a severance tax will help restore funding that has disappeared over the last five years from the successful Growing Greener and other programs designed to meet Clean Water and other mandates. Growing Greener, in particular, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to restore our watersheds, reclaim abandoned mines, and plug abandoned gas wells, but is today all but gone. The severance tax is an opportunity to re-establish those funds, without which Pennsylvanians will be left to bear the burden of any environmental remediation.”
“It is our opinion that a more significant portion of the severance tax should be allocated for funding environmental programs that actually clean up our streams, rivers and land.”
“As a state, and as local communities, we must demand that citizens not be left with the burden of paying for big industry mistakes. 100 years later, Pennsylvania is still dealing with the left-over environmental damage from coal mining companies that extracted our natural resources and left us with the bill.”
“Today we have over 19,000 miles of streams that fail to meet Clean Water Act standards. Over 4,000 stream miles and thousands of acres of land scarred and barren, all thanks to mining. Not only is this an environmental tragedy, it’s an economic burden to the Commonwealth as well, as this kind of environmental damage is extremely expensive to repair. We must have safeguards in place to protect our environment and our communities.”

Foundation For PA Watersheds Offers Scholarships For Chesapeake Bay Program

The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watershed is offering eight scholarships to Pennsylvania organizations interested in participating in the Website Sprint being held by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
This special program is being held as part of the Alliance's annual conference in Shepherdstown, WV on November 12-14.
The Website Sprint gives groups an opportunity to work face-to-face with web and communications experts to upgrade or create a website for your organization.
Watershed associations, land trusts, waterkeepers, conservation districts, and related organizations from anywhere in Pennsylvania are eligible. The scholarships will be awarded to organizations that can come up with a $1,000 match for the Foundation's scholarship, and otherwise fit the Foundation's grantmaking criteria.
To learn more about the Website Sprint and see samples, click here.
The organizers will conduct a free, orientation webinar this coming October 4, at 3:00 p.m. To register, click here.

Friday NewsClips

Corbett Is Opposed To Raising Taxes, Marcellus Shale Tax
Natural Gas Extraction Tax Urged
Labor Leaders Voice Support For Drilling Severance Tax
Activists Encourage Delay In Delaware Basin Shale Drilling
Feds Decline To Block Drilling In Delaware Basin
Bubbling Susquehanna River Drawing Attention
Marcellus Investment Operation Shut Down
Gastar Inks $70 Million Marcellus Deal With Korean Firm
Natural Gas Rate Offers Could Hold Traps
Editorial: Attend Now To Pipeline Safety
Emmaus Aims To Protect Drinking Water
Surveys Document Health Of Little Paint Creek Watershed
Export Flood Control Project A Go
FirstEnergy Wants Room For Nuke Waste At Beaver Valley
Op-Ed: Deregulated Electricity Market Helps Spur More Innovation
Progress From Trapped Miners In Chile

Thursday, September 23, 2010

PA Securities Commission Takes First Enforcement Action Involving Marcellus Shale

In its first enforcement action marking its increased scrutiny of investment activities involving natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation, the Pennsylvania Securities Commission today announced it has ordered a halt to the offer and sale of unregistered securities in Pennsylvania by a Gibsonia (Allegheny County) firm.
The Commission issued a Summary Order to Cease and Desist against McKelvey Gas Co. (MGC) as a company and Albert T. McKelvey as an individual, both with an address in Gibsonia. MGC was offering for sale investments in a Marcellus Shale gas well drilling project.
McKelvey was listed as the owner of MGC. The offer and assertions made to prospects by McKelvey represent violations of Pennsylvania securities law.
The Commission found that earlier this month, McKelvey placed an advertisement entitled "Investment Opportunity" in a Pittsburgh-area newspaper. The ad stated "Here is an opportunity to earn money from the Marcellus shale gas well drilling." The ad specified a minimum investment is $5,000; that "all investment notes are locked in for thirty-six months" and investors will earn 6 percent interest the first year, 6.5 percent interest the second year and 7 percent interest the third year. The ad further stated that interest was to be paid at the end of each twelve month period; and that "wells produce for 20 to 30 years."
A staff investigation revealed that at least one Pennsylvania resident observed the ad and telephoned McKelvey. McKelvey, according to Commission documents, told the resident that as an investor he would receive an "interest certificate" with a corporate seal; that the certificate would be an "official state document" and would be "just like having a U.S. Savings Bond paying interest"; and that as long as investors kept their money with MGC, they would receive a one-half percent increase in interest annually, without limitation.
McKelvey further stated, according to the PSC, that he is "bonded to do 500" wells and only needed eight to be able to repay investors; and that the prospect did not need to know anything about oil and gas as MGC would do everything.
MGC failed to make material information available to the prospective investor which also represents violations of Pennsylvania law including disclosure of-- the financial condition of MGC; the financial risks of the program; the identity and relevant background of the corporate officers of MGC; MGC's operating history; that the program is not registered in Pennsylvania; and that in or about April 2006, McKelvey was convicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania of impersonating a Marine Corps officer.
The Commission ordered McKelvey Gas Co. and Albert T. McKelvey to stop offering and selling the program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in violation of the 1972 Act.
According to the Commission, any further solicitations or sales made by MGC, McKelvey or their affiliates in Pennsylvania will constitute further violations of the 1972 Act.
The Commission issued a request for any person who is or was solicited by or has information about MGC or McKelvey to immediately notify the Pennsylvania Securities Commission by calling the toll-free line 800-600-0007 (PA only); in Harrisburg: 717-787-8061; in Pittsburgh: 412-565-5083; or, in Philadelphia: 215-560-2088.

Rendell Furloughs Stifle Process For Hearing Appeals Of DEP Actions

Joel Bolstein, an environmental attorney with Fox Rothschild, provided this analysis of the impact of state employee furloughs made by the Rendell Administration this week at the Environmental Hearing Board which hears appeals of actions by the Department of Environmental Protection--
When Governor Rendell announced that only 50 state employees would need to be eliminated as a result of this year's budget hole, most of us breathed a sigh of relief. That is, until we discovered that 3 of those 50 state employees being let go would come from the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB).
For those of you unfamiliar with the EHB, it is an administrative board that hears appeals of final agency decisions from the PADEP. So, for example, if one of your clients receives a permit with terms that you believe are inconsistent with the regulations, you can file an appeal with the EHB and seek to have those objectionable conditions removed. Moreover, if one of your clients is issued an Order from the Department or is the subject of an enforcement action, you can file an appeal with the EHB and object to that action on the basis that it is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion or contrary to law.
The EHB also provides an important forum for citizens and citizens groups to appeal permits that they consider objectionable. A significant body of law has been developed by the EHB which provides rules of the road for permittees, citizens and citizens groups, and the Department on a whole host of issues. I have several cases now pending before the PA EHB and I consider that a meaningful part of my practice.
How did I learn that the EHB was losing three staffers? I didn't read about it in the newspaper. I read about it in Dave Hess' blog just a couple days ago.
Since then, I've learned that the EHB has lost 5 out of 6 administrative staff as a result of the recent budget cuts. First, it lost two annuitants, which function as part-time legal assistants. Then it lost 3 more full time legal assistants. There are now only two law clerks left, one of which also serves as the Acting Secretary for the Board.
Apparently, all the staffers who worked on purchasing for the Board have been cut.
What do these cuts mean for you and me and others who go before the Board? These budget cuts and the loss of critical staffers endangers the core mission of the Board. It directly impacts the ability of the Board to hold trials and deliver speedy decisions on motions and adjudications.
Because of the cuts, the Board has significantly less money available to pay for court reporters, which run about $1,000 a day. The loss of funds will have a direct impact on the ability of a lawyer to fully represent their clients in proceedings before the Board.
In the past, if you needed 10 days to put on your case, the Board would give you 10 days. With its budget cut so severely, trials will undoubtedly need to be shortened, because the Board can ill afford to pay the administrative costs and there is no mechanism for them to charge the litigants for the court time.
I've asked myself why would the Governor single out the EHB for such severe cuts? Why take 3 employees from the already small staff of the EHB instead of just cutting 3 positions from a giant Department like PennDOT?
The truth is that I can not come up with an answer.
Maybe the people doing the cutting didn't spend any time analyzing the impact of the cuts before they made them. If they had, they would have realized that the EHB serves a vitally important function. That function will become even more evident as the Marcellus Shale market develops and more and more litigants head to the EHB to address issues with Marcellus Shale permits and enforcement actions.
A weakened EHB potentially jeopardizes the growth of that industry, in that timely and efficient permit appeals will be needed. The bottom line is it is in everyone's interest that cases before the EHB move quickly and efficiently toward a just resolution.
We've stocked the EHB with Judges that are among the best environmental lawyers in the Commonwealth. It makes no sense to treat the EHB as a second class institution. The Board serves a vitally important function. Those of us who practice before the Board recognize that it functions no differently than any other court.
We'd complain loudly if Congress tried to starve the judiciary of funds needed to run fair and impartial trials. We shouldn't sit idly by while the EHB is starved of resources it needs to do the same for environmental disputes in the Commonwealth.
In the lead up to the next budget, those who practice before the Board should make their legislators aware of the important function played by the Board and the need to restore its funding.

Thursday NewsClips

Onorato Backs Drilling Tax, Strong DEP
GOP: Shale Plan Good Job Creator
Plan Would Help Create Natural Gas Jobs In PA
Casey Wary Of Feds' Oversight Of Pipelines In PA
PA Homeland Security Chief To Testify At Senate Hearing
Senate Panel Approves Subpoena Power In Terror List Probe
Editorial: Know Difference Between Protest And Terrorism?
Tamaqua Schools Look At Geothermal, Solar
Editorial: Do Your Part To Conserve Water
UGI, Citrus Sign Agreement On Marcellus Wells

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Labor Leaders, Non-Profit Coalition Support Adoption Of Equitable Severance Tax

Saying it is necessary for to preserve the environment and to ensure sustainable future budgets, labor leaders joined today with leaders from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition and the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition to call for passage of an equitable severance tax by the October 1st deadline.
"The natural resources of the Marcellus Shale belong to the people of Pennsylvania and over the next few days our legislature must pass an equitable severance tax that sets a reasonable tax rate, limits unnecessary exemptions and loopholes, and encourages the hiring of Pennsylvania workers" said Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.
The state budget passed in July includes a commitment to vote on a severance tax on removal of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale reserve in Pennsylvania by October 1st. The General Assembly is counting on $70 million in revenue from a Marcellus Shale tax.
"If the legislature does not pass a bill by the end of this session they will have to make a third round of budget cuts this year," said Kathy Jellison said, President of SEIU Local 668. "A fair tax is necessary to protect the environment, to compensate communities impacted by industry activity and to prevent additional cuts to early childhood education, libraries, state parks, services for seniors and care for people with disabilities."
Pennsylvania has been hit hard by the economic downturn. Since 2008 there have been $3 billion dollars in budget cuts impacting public safety, consumer protections and essential services across the commonwealth.
"Women Against Abuse was forced to deny 4,671 requests for shelter in 2009," said Molly Callahan, Legal Center Director for Women Against Abuse. "This is nearly triple the number of requests denied in 2008."
An equitable severance tax in Pennsylvania will generate significant revenue that will grow over time as new wells come into production. The severance tax is an important long term source of state revenue to support core services such as education, health care, early childhood education and it is necessary to pay for the environmental and infrastructure costs associated with increased drilling.
"Lawmakers must to do the right thing when developing this proposal and pass a strong natural gas severance tax – not one rife with tax breaks for industry," said Wendell Young, IV President of UFCW Local 1776.
For more information, visit the Clear Choices Coalition website.

Senate Committee Amends Pipeline Safety Bill To Increase Solar Energy Mandate

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee today amended House Bill 1128 (Preston-D-Allegheny) which increased penalties for gas pipeline safety violations to increase the solar energy mandate in Tier I of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to 1.5 percent.
The amendment, offered by Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware), also increased the Tier I AEPS standard to 9 percent by June 1, 2021. It was approved by a 7 to 6 vote in the Committee.
The bill now goes to the Senate floor for action and then should be referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

LBFC Recommends Marcellus Shale Funding Support For Fish and Boat Commission

In releasing its triennial performance audit of the Fish and Boat Commission today, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee recommended that the General Assembly “consider providing additional resources to the PFBC so it can continue to make efforts to protect water resources from potential degradation by Marcellus Shale drilling efforts.”
The LBFC audit specifically cited results from PFBC and state Department of Environmental Protection inspections which showed environmental and water quality problems. “These statistics suggest that, in all likelihood, Pennsylvania will continue to experience high rates of environmental, health, and safety violations at Marcellus Shale drilling sites,” the LBFC reported. “Given this new threat, we recommend the General Assembly take action…to ensure the PFBC…has sufficient resources to carry out its mission.”
PFBC Executive Director John Arway, testifying before the committee this morning, reminded lawmakers that the Commission relies almost entirely on fishing license sales, boat registration fees, and federal funding tied to fishing and boating to support everything it does.
“This includes trying to keep pace and stay ahead of the current and projected impacts of energy development to fishing and boating recreation and on the resources the PFBC is mandated to protect,” said Mr. Arway. “If the Commission received a portion of a severance tax, we would be in a much better position to work with industry and other agencies to ensure that aquatic resources are protected during the planning, development, and production of the Marcellus Shale natural gas field.”
Bringing attention to the ongoing debate in Harrisburg, Mr. Arway asked the legislature to take advantage of the “historic opportunity to allocate a portion of the proceeds to conservation and to dedicate a part of its revenues to the Commission to protect the future health of our aquatic resources and the fishing and boating recreation they provide.”
The Marcellus Shale drilling industry has come into Pennsylvania in full force and has substantially increased the responsibilities of conservation agencies like the PFBC. Since 2001, the PFBC has tripled the number of oil and gas well permit reviews it conducts each year, and Mr. Arway said his staff are struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing volume. Within the past year, PFBC staff also have conducted approximately 175 field views of gas well sites and have observed water quality degradation from a number of these facilities.
“This limited field presence is completely inadequate if we are expected to live up to the charge given to us by the General Assembly in 1909 to enforce water pollution laws and – just as importantly – to work with other agencies and the industry to try to prevent problems before they occur," Mr. Arway said.
Referring to the Commission’s formal response found in the appendix of the audit, PFBC Board of Commissioners President William Worobec explained that “we must diversify our funding streams if we are going to meet the growing expectations being placed on the Commission as we implement our mission on behalf of all Pennsylvanians, visiting anglers and boaters, and our fragile natural resources.”
A copy of the audit is available online. Visit the Fish and Boat Commission Marcellus Shale issue webpage for more information.

Wednesday NewsClips

Corbett Touts Reform Of DEP, Drilling Rules
Environmentalists Push Tax On Natural Gas Production
Legislators Failing To Make Headway On Marcellus Shale Tax
Severance Tax Supporters Frustrated By Lack Of Action
Groups Rally For Gas Drilling Restrictions
NE PA Anti-Drilling Activists Bring Passion To Capitol
Amid Protests, Gas Tax Talks Go On
The (Gas) Meter is Running
Bulletins Contradict Homeland Security Official's Claims
Frack Water Scrutinized In Drought Conditions
Natural Gas Use Pushed By House Republicans
P&G Drill Site Generates Gas To Spare
Cabot Says Dimock Water Contaminated Before Drilling
In PA, Natural Gas Industry Flexes Its Muscle
Op-Ed: In Praise Of Shale Gas
Editorial: Shale Worries, Loss Of Property Rights Could Be Next
Group Aims To Cut Down Pollutants In Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Closer Look At Christina Watershed Basin Restoration
200 Speak Their Minds At Hearing On Coal Residue
Proposal Would Restrict Disposal Of Coal Fly Ash
Landfill Donates 40 Acres To School District
Felbaum Becomes Ned Smith Center Interim Executive Director
Solar Advocates Eye Pipeline Bill
Editorial: Solar Fallacy

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PEC: General Assembly Must Meet Commitment To Pass Severance Tax for Environmental Funding

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council called on members of the House and Senate and Governor Rendell to follow through on their commitment to enact a Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax to support environmental and conservation programs that have run out of money or been cut severely over the last two years.
"The very successful Growing Greener Program supported now by three governors is all but out of money," said Don Welsh, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. "State agencies like the departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources had their General Fund budgets cut by 20 to 25 percent and more over the last two years.
"A Marcellus Shale production tax is a fair way to raise the funds needed to support these worthwhile environmental programs which are needed to meet federal Clean Water Act and other mandates not funded through oil and gas permit fees; and to restore the budgets of our critical environmental protection and natural resource agencies," said Welsh.
An independent study released last week by Penn State University demonstrated enacting a severance tax on natural gas would result in significant, overall economic benefits for the Commonwealth.
"In recent days, we have seen a shift in the position of some legislators to support using severance tax revenue to pay for roads and other infrastructure damaged or needed to drill wells and produce natural gas." said Welsh. "We think that is a mistake. State lawmakers and the Governor need to hold the natural gas industry responsible for directly paying for the impacts of their activities on the environment, communities and public infrastructure, not through a severance tax.
"We also believe linking enactment of a severance tax to complex property rights issues like pooling is a cause for concern," said Welsh. "While Pennsylvania's laws relating to the effective development of the Commonwealth's Marcellus Shale gas reserves need to be updated, members of the General Assembly do not have sufficient time in the remaining two weeks to openly evaluate any such changes."
Severance tax proposals under consideration could generate approximately $100 million or more per year in state revenues. It is estimated that as many as 35,000 to 50,000 new gas wells will be drilled in Pennsylvania over the next twenty years.
“The budgets of DEP and DCNR have taken budget cuts far out of proportion to other state operations, and funding levels must be returned to prior levels,” said Welsh, “This is particularly worrisome when the challenges of oversight of this rapidly growing industry, in addition to other pressing state and federal mandates, are before the agencies.”
PEC supports dedicating a significant portion of a natural gas severance tax to the state’s Environmental Stewardship Fund, which is the primary means of funding Growing Greener, the single-largest investment in environmental programs in Pennsylvania’s history.
Since 1999, Growing Greener has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to address some of the state’s most pressing environmental problems, spark new growth in core communities, and create new opportunities for citizens. It has successfully generated billions of dollars to the Pennsylvania economy in jobs, taxes, tourism, and other revenue. Renewing and refocusing funding for Growing Greener is an essential investment in the state’s long-term prosperity.
Earlier this year, PEC has released its own report, called “Developing the Marcellus Shale” to provide specific recommendations on updating Pennsylvania’s regulatory program in light of the rapid development of new, unconventional drilling activities across the Commonwealth. PEC considers these recommended changes to be vital to the successful development of natural gas resources.
“The General Assembly and Administration must undertake an open and concerted effort to ensure that Pennsylvania’s regulatory program reflects the escalating growth of unconventional shale gas extraction” said Welsh. “DEP and DCNR have provided tremendous leadership on new challenges, but we only have one chance to get this right and that chance is now.”

Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation Accepting Donations for Chilean Miners

The Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, and Somerset Trust Company, are now accepting donations to help the families of the 33 miners trapped since August 5 in an underground coal mine in Chile.
"Many visitors to the Quecreek Mine Rescue Site since the accident in Chile has asked how they can help the families of the trapped miners," said Bill Arnold, Director of the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation. "In response to those requests, we are working with several local partners in the Somerset community to accept donations and make sure they get directly to families of those 33 miners.
"No one except someone involved in a mine accident like we had here in Somerset can understand the worry and pain an accident like this can cause,” said Arnold. “We thought we could help in this small way to give back to another group of mine families going through the same thing. No doubt they offered their own prayers and support for our miners when they were trapped."
The Foundation will be working with the international Red Cross to guarantee the money goes directly to the families of the miners
Jeff Cook of Somerset Trust, "We are happy to help the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation in any way we can to give aid to the families of the trapped Chilean miners."
"This is another excellent example of how the Community of Somerset is again coming together for the good of the common man," said Mike Kane, Executive Director of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies,
To make a donation, stop by the Quecreek Mine Rescue site or send a donation to Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, 151 Haupt Road, Somerset, PA 15501. Please note on your check the donation is for the Chilean Miners. We will also be setting up a secure link on the Foundation website, to make donations directly to the Chilean Miners fund.
On July 24, 2002 miners broke through into an abandoned, water-filled mine flooding the Quecreek Mine with over 150 million gallons of water. Nine miners scrambled to safety, but nine were trapped in a pocket of air in the dark, cold, water filled mine. They were rescued four days later through the combined efforts of state and federal mine rescue agencies and hundreds of workers and volunteers.
Now more than 10,000 visitors a year visit the rescue site looking to learn more about the "Quecreek Miracle." The site became part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Historical Marker Program in 2006.
Contact the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation, or make a donation, by writing: 151 Haupt Road, Somerset, PA 15501, calling 814-445-4876 or by visiting

Tuesday NewsClips

Rendell Announces 50 State Layoffs
Rendell Lays Off 50 To Balance Budget
Furor Builds Over Anti-Terror Bulletins
Lawmakers Asks Why His Rallies Made Terror List
State Won't Pull Terror Warning Lists
Rep. Boback Returns Gas Donation
Oversized Drilling Trucks A Concern In Lehman
Columbia Gas Says It Will Leave Defective Pipes In Place
Gas Well Explodes, On Fire In West Virginia
CMU Professor Honored For Work Purifying Water
Utilities Square Off With Environmentalists Over Coal Ash
DEA Wants Your Drugs
Judge Puts Freeze On Pay To Dairy Farmers
Wayne County Fixes Waste Plan
Ashland Declares Drought Warning With Voluntary Restrictions

Monday, September 20, 2010

Corbett Releases Environmental Position

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett today announced his plan to protect Pennsylvania's environment. Corbett has worked aggressively throughout his career to protect the environment and his plan as governor is a continuation of his commitment.
Democratic candidate Dan Onorato released his plan some time ago.
Corbett said, "Protecting Pennsylvania's Environment with Leadership for the Future," details multiple steps to ensure that a clean environment will be sustained for future generations.
"Our environment plays an integral part in forging a new direction and a new era in Pennsylvania," said Corbett. "I will work to protect our air, land and water and I will enact policies that balance economic growth with strong environmental stewardship."
Corbett's plan contains the following key areas:
-- Getting the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection back to basics
-- Regulating the natural gas industry
-- Protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed;
-- Revitalizing Brownfield and Grayfield Properties; and
-- Promoting state parks and forests
"I will direct the Department of Environmental Protection to serve as a partner with Pennsylvania businesses, communities and local governments," said Corbett. "It should return to its core mission protecting the environment based on sound science."
Corbett will focus on six actions within the DEP to set the tone of getting back to basics:
-- Eliminate the permit backlog by directing the Secretary of DEP to review each of the permits on file to determine if they are still active and part of a job-creating economic development project.
-- Create the Permit Decision Guarantee Program to ensure timely permit decisions for each permit issued by the agency.
-- Establish a DEP Legacy Corps by enlisting retired DEP senior managers to voluntarily mentor future DEP managers.
-- Review DEP programs, regulations and guidance documents by directing the DEP Secretary to initiate a review of all DEP programs and offices within the first three months and issue a report outlining necessary legislative or regulatory changes as well as current staffing capabilities.
-- Administer DEP programs with uniformity by directing the Secretary of DEP to develop an initiative to ensure uniform administration of programs within the agency.
The emerging Marcellus Shale industry is something Corbett believes should be developed responsibly and in an environmentally sound manner. Corbett says we must make every effort to protect Pennsylvania's waterways and lands by strengthening existing drilling regulations and enacting new ones. Corbett will create a bipartisan Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Commission that will address issues regarding the industry and will reach out to local communities and address environmental concerns.
Corbett's environmental goals regarding the Marcellus Shale industry include:
-- Mandate Frac Chemical Disclosure by calling for mandatory disclosure of ALL additives used in the hydraulic fracing process for each well site;
-- Expand pre-drill water testing: Corbett will mandate expanding the radius for pre-drill water testing.
-- Increase the mandatory protections for water supplies;
-- Support DEP regulatory changes to protect water supplies;
-- Institute well cap inspections on a daily basis throughout Pennsylvania;
-- Increase bonding amounts to ensure that companies have adequate and appropriate financial and insurance resources to protect Pennsylvania's environment;
-- Tougher penalties for violations and ensuring that DEP properly trains inspectors to ensure that inspections are conducted thoughtfully and thoroughly;
-- Address issues related to gas migration by calling for tougher regulations and laws;
-- Direct interagency coordination of the Marcellus Shale by appointing and directing a new Energy Executive; and
-- Protect the groundwater, encourage recycling and coordinate permitting
Corbett recognizes that Pennsylvania's environment is one of our most precious resources. From our rivers and streams to our state parks and forests, any future protection and development must be carefully and thoughtfully considered.
"As Governor, I will work to strike the balance between protecting our environment and growing economic development opportunities and jobs." said Corbett. "Our environment plays an integral part in forging a new direction and a new era in Pennsylvania."

Governor's Office Announces State Worker Furloughs

The Governor's Office of Administration today announced they will furlough 50 employees and abolish 500 vacant positions in order to meet FY 2010-11 spending levels.
None of the reported furloughs cover the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources or Environmental Protection, however, there are more furloughs for the Department of Agriculture-- 4-- and the Environmental Hearing Board-- 3 (25 percent of the Board's compliment).
There is no break down at this time on which agencies will have their overall compliment reduced by the elimination of vacancies. There is no doubt vacancies will be abolished in most agencies and with the freeze in hiring new employees still in place, it will mean a further reduction in staff agencies have available to do their work. Click here for a copy of today's announcement.

Monday NewsClips

A Gush Of Lobbying Over Marcellus Shale Production Tax
John Baer: In PA, Tax On Rock Could Be A Gas
Site Tracks Marcellus Shale Industry Campaign Spending
Drilling Industry Emphasizes Jobs Created
Expert: Online Intelligence Bulletins Increases Risk
Firm Wants Terror Alerts Off The Internet
PA American Water Position On Marcellus Shale Drilling
No Cheap Skates At Penn State, Thanks To Shale Donor
Op-Ed: Pass Chesapeake Clean Water Act To Help Region
Op-Ed: Holden Has Best Approach To Chesapeake Bay
Editorial: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup, Let's Get Moving
Economic Downturn Drains Dairy Farmers
Editorial: Use Rowhome To Save Some Green This Winter
Editorial: DDT
Conservancy To Host Legislative Candidates Tuesday
Middle Creek To Host National Hunting And Fishing Day Celebration
At Lafayette, A Rind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
More Than Taxes At Stake In Gas Extraction Issue
Landowners Concerned Over Gas Companies
Liberty Property Green Building Achievement
PA American Asks Customers To Reduce Water Use
DRBC: Drilling Tests Allowed At 4 Sites In Wayne
SRBC Has Own System For Determining Low Water Levels

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 20 PA Environment Digest Now Available

September 20 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

PA Plan To Reduce Pollution Going To Chesapeake Bay Does Not Meet EPA Requirements

Matthew Ehrhart, Executive Director of Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania office, released this statement after completing a preliminary review of the Department of Environmental Protection’s draft Watershed Implementation Plan designed to reduce nutrients and sediment in Pennsylvania streams going to the Chesapeake Bay. Click here to read more…

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Photos From R.A.V.E. Now Being Exhibited

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in cooperation with the International League of Conservation Photographers, is now hosting "The Chesapeake Bay... Something To R.A.V.E. About" as an online and in-person exhibit of photographs.
These extraordinary, never before seen photographs depict the beauty and challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, including two-thirds of Pennsylvania.
Photo is of a Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling site in Susquehanna County taken by Garth Lenz.
Visit the online gallery or view the public exhibit in Washington, D.C. at the Russell Senate Office Building. For more information, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation website.

Friday NewsClips

DCNR Secretary: We Must Have A Marcellus Shale Tax
Battle Lines Drawn Over Delaware Watershed Drilling
DEP To Spend $10.5 Million For New Dimock Water Supply
Wells Near Gas Drilling Found Tainted
Socioeconomic Analysis Examines Gas Industry Views
Unions Say They Are Left Out Of Marcellus Shale Jobs
Senate Demands Info On Intelligence Reports
Lawmakers Press For Probe On Terror Tracking Firm
Editorial: State Office Shills For Gas Drillers
Editorial: Spy-Guy Gaffe Is Goofy
Settlement Would Give Pipeline Companies Condemnation Powers
Lycoming County To Monitor Conservation Practices
Southeast Under Drought Warning
PA Drought Warning
Mon River's Unsafe Levels Of Bromide Prompt Probe
Asian Carp Director Positive Step In Lake Erie
Grant Helps Protect Lake Erie Shoreline
Trip To Fish Hatchery May Cost More Than Fish Food
Commissioners Applaud Central Dauphin High's Green Power Club
Low Natural Gas Prices Eroding Market For Coal
Burn Ban Goes Into Effect In Lebanon County
Caucuses Lack Common Ground On Gas Pooling Legislation
Monroe, Pike Under Drought Warning, Wayne On Watch
Another Gas Pipeline Project Proposed In PA
DEP Emergency Line Breakdown In Damascus

Thursday, September 16, 2010

DEP Declares Statewide Drought Warning In 24 Counties, Watch In 43 Counties

The Department of Environmental Protection today issued a drought warning for 24 Pennsylvania counties and a drought watch for the remaining 43 counties as precipitation deficits continued to build statewide according to Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger.
“The hot, dry conditions over the summer months have led to steadily-declining ground and surface water levels, particularly in the southwest and east-central portions of the state,” Secretary Hanger said. “Pennsylvania’s Drought Task Force has concurred with DEP’s recommendation that drought watches and warnings be issued for all 67 counties to alert water suppliers, industry and the public of the need to begin conserving water.”
A drought watch declaration is the first level — and least severe — of the state’s three drought classifications. It calls for a voluntary 5 percent reduction in non-essential water use, and puts large water consumers on notice to begin planning for the possibility of reduced water supplies.
A drought warning asks residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 10-15 percent.
The 24 counties under a Drought Warning are: Allegheny, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Somerset, and Washington.
The 43 counties under a Drought Watch are: Adams, Armstrong, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Erie, Forest, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York.
Precipitation deficits over the past 90-day period are currently as great as 5.6 inches below normal in Somerset County and 5.5 inches below normal in Bucks County.
DEP is sending letters to all water suppliers statewide, notifying them of the need to monitor their supplies and update their drought contingency plans as necessary.
DEP monitors a network of groundwater wells and stream gages across the state that provide comprehensive data to the state drought coordinator. In addition to precipitation, groundwater and streamflow levels, DEP monitors soil moisture and water supply storage, and shares this data with other state and federal agencies.
DEP offers the following tips for conserving water around the home:
-- In the bathroom: Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets; Check for household leaks – a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day; Take short showers instead of baths.
-- Kitchen/laundry areas: Replace older appliances with high efficiency, front loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy; Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads; Keep water in the refrigerator to avoid running water from a faucet until it is cold.
The department also offers water conservation recommendations for commercial and industrial users such as food processors, hotels and motels, schools and colleges, as well as water audit procedures for large water customers.
For more information, visit the DEP Drought webpage. For current surface and groundwater conditions, visit the USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center webpage.

DEP Marcellus Shale Examiner Now Available

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

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