Friday, September 30, 2011

Oct. 3 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Oct. 3 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Press Reports: Gov. Corbett To Unveil Marcellus Legislative Proposals Monday

Press reports indicate Gov. Corbett will announce all or part of his Marcellus Shale package on Monday, October 3, but no details are available.
Speculation on what will be in a Corbett Administration drilling fee proposal has intensified in recent weeks since the Governor told a Philadelphia radio audience in mid-September any fee proposal he supported would have to go to compensating communities for impacts near drilling, not to the state General Fund or statewide programs.
Speculation continued this week as Department of Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said revenue from a drilling fee could reduce the financial burden PennDOT has to repair roads.
The Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission did recommend a drilling fee in July, but one narrowly drawn to "mitigate the uncompensated impacts caused to communities by natural gas development. Any fee should recognize on‐going nature of certain impacts. Attributable impacts identified by the advisory commission include: Environmental remediation; Public health evaluation and emergency response; Increased demand on social services; Infrastructure improvements; and Natural resource agency administration and oversight." Click Here to read more…

DEP Now Accepting Applications For 2012 Environmental Education Grants

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for its 2012 Environmental Education Grants. Applications are due December 16 and awards are limited to $7,500. (formal notice)
The grants provide funding to public and private schools, colleges and universities, county conservation districts, nonprofit organizations and associations, conservation and education organizations and institutions, businesses, municipalities and municipal authorities to create or develop projects that support environmental education in this Commonwealth.
Grants will provide environmental education on timely and critically important topics, including the following:
-- Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Education: Organizations are encouraged to develop environmental education programs that promote the reduction of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrient and sediment loads. Projects may also include abandoned mine drainage and water conservation programs.
-- Air Quality: Organizations are encouraged to develop air quality education and outreach programs.
-- Brownfields: Organizations are encouraged to develop education and outreach programs for students, youth, educators, community members, community groups, developers, property owners and others that are interested in brownfield redevelopment and sustainable communities, along with developing green spaces.
-- Climate Change: Organizations are encouraged to develop education and outreach programs about climate change.
-- Geologic Resource Extraction: Organizations are encouraged to develop education and outreach programs related to geologic resource extraction. Programs should focus on impacts on communities, local and regional economies, risk management and natural resources. Potential target audiences include land owners, private well owners, municipal water suppliers or boards, local governments, land trusts and associations, watershed groups and conservancies and others.
-- Environmental Literacy Planning and Programing: Organizations are encouraged to engage educators and stakeholders in content standards and field-based environmental education.
-- Formal and Nonformal Environmental Education Certification: Organizations are encouraged to develop and implement institutionalized and community-based certification programs designed for teachers, naturalists and educators working in schools and environmental education facilities.
-- Curriculum Integration Projects: Articulation of the Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology into the K-12 curriculum for the entire school district, private school or charter school, using the model developed by the Department of Education's Office of Environment and Ecology.
-- Curriculum Revision Projects: Revise current or write new lesson plans or units to meet the changes identified in the Department of Education approved alignment to the Environment and Ecology Standards and provide a means for classroom assessment.
-- Outdoor Learning Resource Projects: Develop resources such as trails, agricultural demonstration areas, alternative energy demonstration areas, ponds, wetland areas, sheltered learning stations, and the like, as well as similar nearby community resources as a framework within which students can learn about natural systems and the interrelationship among natural and manmade communities.
-- Sustainable Energy: Organizations are encouraged to develop education and outreach programs about solar, wind, hydro, microhydro, biomass, geothermal, alternative transportation fuels and energy efficiency and conservation.
For more information and to grant guidelines and applications, visit the DEP Environmental Education Grants webpage.

Friday NewsClips

Portion Of Marcellus Royalties Should Go To Conservation Trust
Lawmakers Wrestle With Natural Gas Drilling Issues
4 Gas Wells In Utica Shale Report Strong Results
Utica Shale Wells' Gas Yield Called Phenomenal
2 Drilling Counties Lead Nation In Job Growth
Laser Gas Pipeline Company Pays Lobby Penalty
Editorial: Give Drilling Companies Credit Where It's Due
Clearfield Creek Watershed Group Looking At Cleanup Options
Export Officials Talking Mandatory Trash Collection
Throw Us A Bone PA Solar Power Industry Begs
Reactors Could Fail During An Earthquake, Maker Says
Rural PA Town Remembers Historic Flood
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Poll: 64 Percent Of Voters Support Tax On Drilling Companies

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday confirms again that voters support imposing a tax on Marcellus Shale drilling 64 to 27 percent, with 51 to 37 percent support among Republicans.
At the same time, Pennsylvania voters say by a margin of 62 to 30 percent the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale outweigh environmental concerns. Democrats back drilling 50 to 41 percent.
In another question asked by pollsters, the public opposed privatizing the operation of State Parks 64 to 28 percent.

Thursday NewsClips

Op-Ed: Marcellus Fee Is In Our Future, Let's Get It Done Right
Editorial: Liquor, Natural Gas, Keep Issues Separate
Chesapeake Energy Declares Success In Utica Shale
Another Marcellus Shale Game-Changer: Oil
Proposed Drilling Ban Could Cost Peters Twp
Marcellus Shale Hearing By GOP Committee Set For Doylestown
Marcellus Industry Statement On New York's Proposed Fracking Regs
Hydroelectric Again Power Source For Lehighton
Panels Advised to Fix Transportation Problems First
EPA, Allegheny Health Sue West Elizabeth Facility
EPA: Merck To Pay $1.5 Million In Fines For PA Plants
Solar Energy Isn't As Green As It Used To Be
Drums From Middletown Wash To Chesapeake In Flood Waters
State Parks See Millions Of Dollars In Flood Damages
Sediment Building Up Behind Conowingo Dam
Luzerne Flood Damage Estimates At Record Level
Three Mile Island Erred On Flood Damage Potential
Editorial: Let Flood Tax Go Down Drain
Cost Of Runoff Studied In Pittsburgh
Jacobsburg EE Center Supervisor Honored By Conservancy
Students Learn To Identify PA Raptors
DCNR To Open Additional State Forest Roads For Hunting
Deer - Vehicle Collisions In PA Reaches 101,299
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DEP Citizens Advisory Council Sets Regional Meeting On Mining Issues Oct. 3-5

The Citizens Advisory Council to the Department of Environmental Protection is a nonpartisan group of 18 citizen volunteers legislatively charged with examining all environmental legislation, regulations and policies affecting the Commonwealth, and also reviewing the work of DEP and making recommendations.
Each year, the CAC holds a regional meeting in a different part of the state. The purpose of the meeting is to hear comments from citizens and groups on key environmental issues facing the region and the work of DEP. This year’s regional meeting will focus on the impacts of underground mining in southwestern Pennsylvania.
On October 3, 4 and 5 the CAC will conduct site visits and hold public meetings in the Washington, Pa area to hear from local residents and industry, particularly those in Washington and Greene counties. The CAC’s goal is to bring attention to public concerns, comment on how they might be addressed, and encourage their resolution.
On October 3, the CAC will hear presentations from DEP regarding its protection efforts pursuant to “Act 54”, which amended Pennsylvania’s Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act. The meeting will start at 7:00 p.m. at the Hampton Inn, 119 Murtland Ave., Washington, PA.
On October 4, the CAC will hold a public input session starting at 6:00 p.m. at Washington & Jefferson College, 60 S. Lincoln St., in The Commons Media Room, Washington, PA. Anyone seeking to provide input to the CAC must contact Sue Wilson, CAC Executive Director via email at or by calling 717-787-4527.
In addition, CAC members will tour a variety of sites related to underground mining and related surface impacts on both October 4 and 5.
The CAC was legislatively created Act 275 of 1971 in 1971. Its members are appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. CAC’s mandate is to review the work of DEP and make recommendations for improvement, study major environmental issues facing Pennsylvania, and promote sound environmental legislation. The CAC reports its recommendations to DEP, the Governor, the General Assembly, and the public.
John Walliser, a vice president of the PA Environmental Council, serves as Chair of the Council.
For more information, visit the DEP Citizens Advisory Council webpage.

Chesapeake Energy Starts Utica Shale Natural Gas Production In PA, Ohio

Chesapeake Energy Corporation Wednesday disclosed initial horizontal well drilling results in the wet gas and dry gas phases of the Utica Shale play in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania and also announced the achievement of certain corporate production milestones.
Chesapeake has drilled 12 horizontal wells in the discovery phase of its Utica Shale play and has achieved strong initial production success in the wet gas and dry gas phases of the play from this initial drilling. The company is early in the process of evaluating the oil phase of the play.
Results from the first four of the company’s completed horizontal wells in the wet gas and dry gas phases of the play are detailed below (the company’s other eight drilled horizontal wells are completing or waiting on completion):
-- The Thompson 3H in Beaver County, Pennsylvania was drilled to a lateral length of 4,322 feet and achieved a peak rate of 6.4 mmcf per day of dry natural gas.
-- The Buell 10-11-5 8H in Harrison County, Ohio was drilled to a lateral length of 6,418 feet and achieved a peak rate of 9.5 million cubic feet (mmcf) per day of natural gas and 1,425 barrels (bbls) per day of natural gas liquids and oil (liquids), or 3,010 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day;
-- The Mangun 22-15-5 8H in Carroll County, Ohio was drilled to a lateral length of 6,231 feet and achieved a peak rate of 3.1 mmcf per day of natural gas and 1,015 bbls per day of liquids, or 1,530 boe per day;
-- The Neider 10-14-5 3H in Carroll County, Ohio was drilled to a lateral length of 4,152 feet and achieved a peak rate of 3.8 mmcf per day of natural gas and 980 bbls per day of liquids, or 1,615 boe per day; and
The production rates listed above assume maximum ethane recovery. Chesapeake is processing the wet natural gas stream from the three Ohio wells at a nearby processing facility where ethane is currently being minimally recovered due to temporary market limitations. The company has multiple projects and initiatives underway to process and market future production of NGLs including ethane.
Additionally, Chesapeake has recently achieved key production milestones and set new corporate all-time production records. The company’s gross operated production has recently reached 6.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (bcfe) per day and its net production has exceeded 3.45 bcfe per day, including approximately 95,000 bbls per day of liquids.
By the end of 2012 and 2015 Chesapeake plans to increase its net liquids production by 50 percent and 150 percent to more than 150,000 bbls per day and more than 250,000 bbls per day, respectively, while maintaining its net natural gas production at current levels. As recently as in 2009, the company’s full-year liquids production averaged only 32,000 bbls per day.
Aubrey K. McClendon, Chesapeake’s Chief Executive Officer commented, “We are pleased to announce very strong initial drilling results from the wet gas and dry gas phases of our Utica Shale discovery. Chesapeake has built a commanding presence in the play with 1.25 million net acres of leasehold acquired to date, with our current primary leasing efforts focused in the wet gas phase of the play. We estimate the company’s leasehold covers approximately 40 percent of the potentially drillable acres in the core of the play.
"The company is targeting a development program with average drilling and completion costs of approximately $5.0 - $6.0 million per well. Chesapeake is currently drilling with five operated rigs in the Utica Shale play and plans to increase its operated rigs up to 10 rigs by year-end 2011, up to 20 rigs by year-end 2012 and up to 40 rigs by year-end 2014.
“I am proud to announce the achievement of these important production milestones and congratulate Chesapeake’s 12,000 employees for delivering this outstanding success.”

Wednesday NewsClips

Marcellus Shale Royalties Cold Help Fund Road Repairs
PennDOT Secretary Says Funding Plan Still Under Discussion
Corbett Awaits Transportation Secretary's Proposal
Opponents Of Drilling Seek Help From EPA
Marcellus Shale Standards Focus Of EPA Hearing
Penn State Gets $2.5 Million For Marcellus Research
$4 Million Solar Plan Tabled By Panther Valley School
Action Of Congress On Flood Relief Awaited
Should PA Establish A State Disaster Program?
PA Weighs Own Disaster Aid
Op-Ed: Sustainable Living And Development Is Mainstream
Pending Closure Of ConocoPhillips Refinery In Delco
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sen. Scarnati Tells PA Press Club Fall Priorities Include Marcellus Shale Legislation

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) told a Pennsylvania Press Club audience Monday Senate Republican priorities for the fall legislative session include: reapportionment and redistricting, "rocks and roads"-- Marcellus Shale drilling fee and related environmental legislation and transportation infrastructure funding.
He noted the House and Gov. Corbett may have other priorities.
Sen. Scarnati said reapportionment was the only thing that absolutely had to get done this fall and thought they would meet the legal deadline. He said he supported Sen. Pileggi's (R-Delaware) electoral voting reform measure as a co-sponsor because it helped voters in "the T," Pennsylvania's Republican mid-section.
On the Marcellus Shale drilling fee, Sen. Scarnati said a proposal generating about $200 million a year was the "sweet spot" in the debate, noting some Democratic proposals would be equivalent to a moratorium on drilling.
But he added, "I am tired of being here, holding the bag, year after year, trying to get this done. October is the timeline I'd like to work in."
The Senator said he thought Gov. Corbett's recent comments accepting a drilling fee were a step in the right direction.
He said he felt the drilling fee and proposals to address safety and environmental concerns would move through the Senate as one package. He also opposed having off-setting reductions in other state taxes to compensate for a new drilling fee saying those tax revenues were needed to off-set impacts in other areas of the state.
Sen. Scarnati did say there was a need to address local zoning regulations on drilling operations and thought incentives for the conversion of school buses and other public transportation to natural gas made sense.
On transportation funding, Sen. Scarnati noted the Governor's Transportation Funding Commission made very specific recommendations on where to get more funding, which he said is particularly needed in rural parts of the state where a closed bridge could force a 30 minute detour. "We need real leaders to show Pennsylvanians Republicans can lead this state."
Sen. Scarnati said he was not opposed to leveraging liquor store privatization for a drilling fee or broadening Small Games of Chance to help fund transportation improvements, because that's the way businesses is done. He said he was not opposed to privatization, but said the public needs to understand what it really means.
On school vouchers, Sen. Scarnati said it would be a big lift to get a vouchers bill to the Governor's desk this fall, noting the Senate was due to pass some school reform legislation this week.

Monday NewsClips

Capitol Agenda Could Include Marcellus Shale Fees, Vouchers
Spin Overtaking Facts In Marcellus Shale Debate
Drillers Face Methane Concern
Curriculum Revised To Meet Demand In Shale Industry
Court Approves Allegheny National Forest Drilling
Op-Ed: Fracking Needs U.S. Oversight
Watershed Specialist Keeps Residential Water Wells In Check
Hazleton Mine Land Reclamation Moves Forward
Victims Of PA Flooding Decry DC Stalemate
Lawmaker: Use Liquor Flood Tax For Disasters
Alcohol Tax May Help Flood Victims
Cost Of Flood Insurance Going Up
Stormwater Woes Plague Greenfield
Corbett Continues To Review Transportation Recommendations
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sept. 26 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Sept. 26 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Growing Greener Coalition: Impact Fee Must Include Statewide Environmental Programs

The Renew Growing Greener Coalition Tuesday issued the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Heath in response to Gov. Corbett's announcement last week that he will support an impact fee on natural gas drilling.
"We are pleased that the Corbett administration has said it will back an impact fee on Marcellus Shale drilling and that the Governor has specifically referenced the need to fund "environmental cleanup."
"But the devil is in the details.
"Without doubt, production and distribution of natural gas causes immediate and long-term environmental damage. Water and air pollution from construction and operations impact the communities where drilling occurs, but they also have impacts well beyond the Marcellus region, as pollution does not respect county or municipal boundaries.
"Likewise the impacts of truck traffic and pipelines have statewide impacts. The loss of public access to large areas of public forest, the damage to wildlife habitat, the conversion of productive farmland and the impending harm to the scenic and recreational quality of our state parks hurt every Pennsylvanian.
"Therefore, the Coalition strongly urges the Governor and legislature to use a significant portion of the revenues to restore funding for the state's award-winning Growing Greener program to offset the conservation, recreation and environmental impacts that will be felt across the Commonwealth. Click Here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Use Drilling Fees, DCNR Royalties, Other Leasing To Fund Growing Greener
No Decision Made On Leasing More State Forests
DiGirolamo Sponsors Marcellus Shale Tax Bill
Chief Lawsuit Targets 3 Families Opposing Pipeline
Marcellus Drillers Face Chaos In Land Law Ruling
Someone Vandalizes Indiana County Marcellus Drill Site
PA Coal Faces Threats From Natural Gas, Clean Air Advocates
Startup Offers At-Home Natural Gas Fill-Ups
Central PA Counties Report Updated Flood Damage Tallies
Flooding Could Lead To Drinking Water Well Contamination
DEP Reminds Homeowners To Disinfect, Test Private Water Wells
College Students Whose Families Are Flood Victims Could Get More Aid
Western PA Conservancy Acquiring 400 Acres Along French Creek
Presque Isle Advisory Committee Celebrates Anniversary
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Thursday, September 22, 2011

DCNR Invites National Public Lands Day Participation September 24

Volunteers will have the opportunity to improve state parks by taking part in National Public Lands Day events across Pennsylvania on September 24, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said Thursday.
“Each year National Public Lands Day brings together more than 150,000 volunteers across the nation to refurbish and restore public places,” Allan said. “The number of our state parks participating has grown steadily as more volunteers -- a vital cornerstone in our park system -- don work gloves and boots and tackle an array of important projects.”
Marking its 17th year and billed as the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance public lands Americans enjoy, National Public Lands Day is offered by the National Environmental Education Foundation to encourage and salute public contributions in parks, forests and open lands across the nation.
“Whether it’s a planned trail and stream-bank restoration effort at Perry County’s Little Buffalo State Park, or rain garden plantings at Sinnemahoning State Park in Cameron County, National Public Lands Day gives each of us a chance to contribute to the betterment of our public lands for this and future generations of Americans,” said Allan.
“This Saturday, local volunteers will have a unique chance to give something back to their country, their community, and the state parks that serve them,” Allan said. “I encourage everyone to consider lending a helping hand.”
This year, 23 state parks and three environmental education centers will host volunteer groups in the national effort to improve and preserve habitat on public lands. Project details, registration and other information can be found online.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will oversee National Public Lands Day volunteer workdays at the following sites: Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County; Black Moshannon State Park, Centre County; Canoe Creek State Park, Blair County; Colonel Denning State Park, Cumberland County; Cook Forest State Park, Clarion County; Frances Slocum State Park, Luzerne County; Jennings Environmental Education Center, Butler County; Kings Gap Environmental Education and Training Center, Cumberland County; Laurel Hill State Park, Somerset County; Little Buffalo State Park, Perry County; Lyman Run, Potter County; Maurice K. Goddard, Mercer County; Nescopeck State Park, Luzerne County; Oil Creek, Venango County; Parker Dam State Park, Clearfield County; Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Cumberland County; Prince Gallitzin State Park, Beaver County; Promised Land State Park, Pike County; Raccoon Creek State Park, Beaver County; Ryerson Station, Greene County; Sinnemahoning and Sizerville, Cameron County; and Yellow Creek, Indiana County.
To participate at one of the other opportunities in a state park, contact that park’s offices before September 24, to pre-register and inquire about possible inclement weather, starting times, meetings places and other details.
Pennsylvania volunteers will join a workforce across the country that is committed to carrying on the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the “tree army” that exemplified land stewardship from 1933-1942 by preserving and protecting America's natural heritage.
The National Environmental Education Foundation, which has managed and coordinated the annual all-day effort from its start in 1994, estimates that the volunteers’ work, along with community contributions of food, tools and equipment, will result in improvements valued at more than $8 million.
National Public Lands Day is a public-private partnership involving DCNR and many other state, federal, and local land and conservation agencies. The National Environmental Education Foundation manages, coordinates and generates financial support for the program.
For information about volunteering in Pennsylvania’s State Parks and forestlands throughout the year, visit DCNR's Volunteering webpage. Visit the PA State Parks webpage to find a park near you.

Thursday NewsClips

Pike Conservation Officials Fed Up With Gas Pipeline Violations
Op-Ed: Consider Reality Of Shale Gas Industry Boom
Pike County Marcellus Task Force Meets October 19
Dallas Twp Residents Press For Gas Line Work Info
Susquehanna County Court: Is Shale A Mineral?
Allegheny County GOP Candidate Pushes For Natural Gas Buses
FEMA Opens Recovery Center In Tunkhannock
Disaster Recovery Center Set Up In Pine Grove
Buyout Of 51 Flood-Prone Properties Pending
PennDOT Secretary Weighs In On Flood Damage
Dauphin County Waives Fees For Disposal Of Flood Debris
Flood Recovery Creates Opportunity For Retired State Workers
Western PA Flood Problems Require Cooperation
Partnership Sought For Lake Cadjaw Dam Restoration
Delaware Dredging To Continue
Bethlehem Schools To Slow Down Solar Plans
Group: PA's Air Quality 6th Worst
A Glance Of PA Cities And Air Pollution In 2010
Transportation Funding: After You Gov. Corbett
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DEP Names Deputy Secretary For Oil And Gas, Other Officials

Scott Perry has been named the new Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management in the Department of Environmental Protection on heels of the announcement of a major agency reorganization on Tuesday.
Also named were Denise Brinley as the new Director of the Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields and Marcus Kohl as the Director of the new Office of Program Innovation. Both positions were created as a result of the restructuring of the department.
Perry, an 11 year veteran of the agency, previously served as Director of the Bureau of Oil and Gas Management and was a former assistant counsel for DEP.
Denise Brinley was the former Deputy Secretary for Community Revitalization and Local Government Services and has been with DEP for seven years.
Marcus Kohl served as Executive Assistant to the Executive Deputy for Programs and previously worked as an Environmental Justice Advocate in DEP's Southcentral Regional Office and in the Office of Water Management. He has been with DEP for 9 years.

DEP Secretary: Open Letter To Stakeholders On Reorganization

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer sent the following "open letter" email to agency stakeholders in connection with the announcement of a reorganization of DEP to more efficiently regulate Marcellus Shale drilling and return the agency to its core mission--

Dear Partners,

I am pleased to announce a reorganization and new face for the PA Department of Environmental Protection. This reorganization will boost our institutional ability and agility to fulfill the department’s mission of protecting Pennsylvania’s air, land and water, enforcing our environmental laws and providing for the health and safety of our citizens.
I brought some ideas to the department with me when I got here and since arriving, I have spent a lot of time talking with many of you and listening to your ideas, suggestions and concerns. After several months of planning and a thorough analysis of all our programs and daily operations, we are now well positioned to take the next steps as an agency.
As you are aware and as many of you have experienced, the Department over the past few years began, to some degree, to drift away from its core mission of environmental protection. I know that as a partner and stakeholder, you want to see the Department move back to essential environmental protection practices and permitting functions, or “back to basics.”
This reorganization will improve coordination among programs; enhance communication between program development and implementation staff; and ensure statewide consistency throughout the agency. We will also be refocusing our efforts toward the Department’s core mission and get us back to basics. In addition, we are focusing on policy initiatives that are important to the Governor and to me.
Here is the essence of the salient features of this DEP Reorganization:
-- New Oil and Gas Deputate. The Oil and Gas Bureau moves from Mineral Resources and becomes its own deputate as the Office of Oil and Gas Management. The Deputate, which will be headed by an Acting Deputy Secretary, will integrate and unify Harrisburg and Regional personnel in this program into one structure to provide for unified regulation of the oil and gas industry. This move is a reflection of the Governor’s and my recognition of the importance of proper, vigorous and unified oversight of this industry and the role it promises to fill in Pennsylvania for years to come. We will also be able to provide for consistent and robust enforcement of our rules and regulations. This deputate will be divided into a “strategic” arm and a “tactical” arm. The Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management will provide long-term strategic development. The District Oil and Gas Operations will be responsible for day-to-day implementation of regulatory operations and consistency of application of rules in the field. The District Oil and Gas Operations will be a single point of contact for permitting, compliance questions and regulatory interpretation questions.
-- New Office of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields. A new Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields will be established within the newly named Deputate for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation. This Bureau will bring under one roof and one Director all of our site remediation efforts and programs. This move is a reflection of the Governor’s and my belief in the importance of Brownfields development to Pennsylvania. Brownfields redevelopment is a “win-win” for everyone. We get community revitalization and new environmental protection both at the same time. Pennsylvania has the best and most agile site redevelopment program in the United States and this will help us focus our efforts in getting more sites redeveloped and attracting more capital to Pennsylvania to do so. The Office of Community Revitalization and Local Government Support is being disbanded. Obviously, its Community Revitalization functions are being significantly improved and taken up by the new Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields. Its local government support function has been being well served by our new Special Deputy for External Affairs since February.
-- New Bureau of Conservation and Reclamation (Acid Mine Drainage Program). The Bureau of Conservation and Reclamation will be formed and placed in the Water Management Deputate. This is our Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Program which had been grouped with our Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR). The AMD program’s focus is water; it does great work cleaning up water and waterways. It’s natural home is our Office of Water Management.
-- Programmatic Realignment, New Office of Program Integration. We are realigning our Harrisburg and Regional structures to match each other. We need to enforce the law in a consistent manner throughout the Commonwealth.
To put action behind the structural realignment, we are creating an Office of Program Integration headed by a Director whose job will be to develop and coordinate the implementation of initiatives and programs as well as to examine and improve program efficiency.
-- New Office of Pollution Prevention and Energy Assistance. We are creating an Office of Pollution Prevention and Energy Assistance which will be housed under the Special Deputy Secretary for External Affairs. This new Office will take over the role of the former Office of Energy Technology and Deployment. The Governor and I both believe in the importance of pollution prevention and compliance assistance and this Office will take the lead in those efforts, which involve outreach to all of you, our external stakeholders. Of course, the Commonwealth’s Energy Office will continue as it has been as a function within our Special Deputy for External Affairs.
These changes are in addition to earlier improvements in our organizational structure, including the creation of the Office of External Affairs and the placement of all environmental programs under the direction of an Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs. These changes and reorganization will not result in any layoffs.
As an agency, we are committed to working as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources through practices that balance economic growth with strong environmental stewardship. This reorganization will be the vehicle to achieve this balance through the uniform administration of the Department’s programs.
Please visit the Department’s website for more information and copies of the new organization chart.

DEP Restructures To Focus More Attention On Marcellus Shale, Improve Efficiency

The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday announced the biggest change to the agency's organizational structure in 16 years due in part on the need to more effectively regulate Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
Another major goal of the reorganization is to refocus the agency on its core mission-- to protect Pennsylvania's air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of the public.
Over the last few years, the announcement said, the agency has strayed from that mission to take on responsibilities which took staff and funding away from inspections, permit reviews and taking compliance actions in basic pollution control programs.
“These organizational changes will enhance the department’s ability to protect Pennsylvania’s air, water and land, and also will result in a consistent and predictable regulatory system,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said.
Krancer said DEP will make decisions based on facts and sound science by providing enhanced, unified oversight to the natural gas industry; emphasizing the revitalization of brownfields; providing consistent, predictable decision-making; and delivering compliance assistance and pollution prevention education.
“This is an installment of delivering what Governor Corbett promised during the campaign; and I, along with the governor, am committed to protecting the environment and public health for the future of all Pennsylvanians by strictly and vigorously enforcing our environmental laws,” he added. “Our commitment to protecting our state’s environment remains as strong as ever.”
“I am directing agency management to analyze their operations and practices, so we can move to improve in that area, too,” Krancer said.
Summary Of Changes
A new Deputy Secretary of Oil and Gas Management will be created to manage Marcellus Shale drilling activities modeled in large part on the successful surface mining regulatory structure.
The change would mean permitting, inspection and compliance activities would still take place in field offices, but would be managed by a Bureau of District Oil and Gas Operations in Harrisburg rather than reporting to one of DEP's six Regional Directors just like mining. A separate Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management reporting to the new Deputy would develop the policy and regulations needed to manage regulatory activities.
The existing Deputy for Mineral Resources Management would be renamed the Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations and refocused on regulating active surface and deep coal mines, industrial mineral mines and land restoration of abandoned mines as well as managing the Deep Mine Safety Program.
Activities related to the treatment of acid mine drainage from abandoned mines would be transfered to the Deputy Secretary for Water Management so activities related to the restoration of watersheds would be housed under one roof.
To make room for the new Deputy for Oil and Gas Management, the positions of Deputy Secretary for Community Revitalization and Local Government Support and the Deputy Secretary for Energy and Technology Development would be eliminated and their responsibilities assigned to other parts of the agency.
The primary responsibility for brownfields redevelopment from the Deputy for Community Revitalization as well as the Storage Tank Cleanup Program will be moved to a new Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields under a slightly renamed Deputy for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation.
Under the prior organization, cleaning up waste sites under the state Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, the federal Superfund Program and the Storage Tank Program were artificially separated from brownfields cleanup in two different offices. This change consolidates similar programs in the same office to improve efficiency.
Other programs assigned to the Deputy for Energy and Technology Development and some from the Deputy for Community Revitalization will now be supervised by the Special Deputy Secretary for External Affairs.
These programs include those for the State Energy Office, the Office of Environmental Advocate, the Office of Local Government Liaison, the Small Business Ombudsman and the Environmental Education Programs. The Special Deputy will be the point of contact for DEP's Citizens Advisory Council.
The Special Deputy will also be responsible for a refocused Office of Pollution Prevention and Energy Assistance supervising programs promoting pollution prevention, energy efficiency and compliance assistance.
The Climate Change Programs authorized by Act 70 of 2009 will be assigned to the Bureau of Air Quality since that office is charged with regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the federal program.
To help improve program coordination and consistency throughout DEP, a new Office of Program Integration will be created under the Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs. The new Office will be responsible for evaluating statewide program implementation, effectiveness and efficiency, developing metrics to measure progress and to provide oversight for special projects with department-wide significance.
Also to improve coordination between the current Deputy for Field Operations and DEP's six major regional offices, the reorganization will require central office programs to designate specific staff to answer questions and clarify policy for the regions so there is one consistent interpretation of programs across the state.
In addition to these changes, the Black Fly and West Nile Virus Control Programs will be moved to the Deputy for Water Management. They are now housed with the Deputy for Field Operations.
DEP said the reorganization will not involve any staff layoffs, unlike during the Rendell Administration when budget cuts forced DEP to eliminate 147 positions, including layoffs, and during the 1990-91 budget problems in the Casey Administration.
Coping With Budget Cuts
One of the unstated goals of the reorganization is to cope with the overwhelming $1.5 billion in cuts to environmental programs generally and the loss of over 600 positions in DEP specifically during the eight years of the Rendell Administration.
In addition to the cuts, about 100 DEP Air, Waste and Water Quality staff were required to used all or part of their time as managers for renewable energy project grants taking time away from permit reviews, inspections and compliance activities.
A DEP Reorganization webpage with a fact sheet on the reorganization and a new organizational chart are available online. A video interview with Secretary Krancer is also available.

Tuesday NewsClips

Gas Rush Prompts DEP Shuffle
DEP Plans Back To Basics Department Reordering
Major Changes Coming To PA Oil And Gas Oversight
Two Former DEP Secretaries Weigh In On Reported DEP Shakeup
Senators Introduce Flood Recovery Package
Senators Tout Bills In Response To Lee Flooding
Senators Tout Bills In Response To Lee Flooding
Senators Propose Additional Relief For Flood Damage
Disaster Center Opens In Susquehanna County
FEMA Center Is Open At Lebanon Valley Mall
Flooding Affects Some PPL Recreation Areas, Nature Programs
Battered Levee Gets Checkup
Lt. Governor Not Specific On Flat Gas Well Fee
Editorial: Gas Impact Fee Would Be Better Than Nothing
Gas Industry Group Sues Western PA Community
CEO Leadership Conference Zeros In On Marcellus Shale
Observer-Reporter Joins PG In Drilling Lawsuit
SRBC Calls On Congress To Restore Funds For River Forecasting
Allentown Looks To Create Revitalized Lehigh Riverfront
Chrin Landfill Drops Appeal, Pays DEP Fine
Coalition Gathering Support Of Increase Transportation Fees
Blog: Corman Puts Transportation At Top Of Fall To-Do List
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Monday, September 19, 2011

Senators Unveil Bipartisan $250 Million Flood Relief Package

In response to the heavy flooding caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee earlier this month, five senators Monday announced they will introduce a comprehensive, bipartisan legislative package aimed at bringing relief to those affected by the disaster.
Senators John Gordner (R-Columbia), Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Gene Yaw (R-Bradford), John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) and John Blake (D-Lackawanna) unveiled the seven-piece package at a news conference at the state capitol that combines financial assistance, infrastructure funding and tax breaks for affected areas.
"Our goal is to provide financial assistance to communities affected by flooding and provide the resources to ensure that the recovery effort will take place as quickly as possible" said Sen. Gordner. "We've all toured our flooded communities and we have seen how hard-hit they have been by these storms."
Sen. Baker, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said she is also planning to conduct several committee hearings on issues ranging from creating a state disaster assistance fund to the utilities' response to prolonged power outages after Hurricane Irene.
"We have a bipartisan commitment to helping our residents and local officials get back on their feet," Sen. Baker said. "There is widespread damage so we need to have a good plan in place to jumpstart our recovery effort."
Among the bills announced today are measures to:
-- Establish a restricted account in the State Treasury to provide additional state grant monies to individuals and families based on income eligibility and damage losses.
-- Authorize $250 million for the state share of flood-related highway and bridge rehabilitation projects.
-- Allow local taxing bodies to abate real estate taxes for properties substantially affected by the flood.
-- Authorize a county-by-county list of highway, bridge, flood control and hazard mitigation projects that need rehabilitation.
-- Give the Secretary of Education the authority to waive certain requirements for public and non-public schools that were substantially affected by the flood.
The Senators said the cost of the individual assistance programs would be paid for with the state's current budget surplus and the cost of repairing infrastructure would be funded through the issuance of state bonds under existing authority.
"People in my district have lost their homes, their livelihoods and in one instance their life, as a result of this catastrophic flood," said Sen. Yaw. "This legislative package is a lifeline for those individuals, families, business owners and municipal governments who are in dire need of assistance."
"Regardless of political party or municipal boundaries, the flood victims in northeastern and central Pennsylvania desperately need our help," Sen. Yudichak said. "This package of bills begins the process for Pennsylvania to supplement the aid provided by the federal government and will provide valuable resources to those heavily impacted by the flooding."
"The amount of damage caused and the number of lives affected by this catastrophe is really disheartening," Sen. Blake said, who serves as the Democratic chair of the Senate Local Government Committee. "I knew, and my colleagues knew, that we needed to step up for those families and businesses that lost so much in this flooding event."
A fact sheet on the proposal is available online.

Anyone Working To Restore Flood Damaged Streams Should Contact DEP First

Citing experience with 1972’s Hurricane Agnes, the Fish and Boat Commission is urging municipalities and residents impacted by the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee to contact the Department of Environmental Protection before conducting any work to reconstruct damaged stream channels.
“Hurricane Agnes in 1972 arguably caused the greatest flood-related destruction in recent memory state-wide, and the widespread damage sparked massive cleanup efforts across the state,” said Dave Spotts, chief of the PFBC Division of Environmental Services. “In that era, government regulatory agencies attempted to issue emergency permits that allowed municipalities and residents to clear debris and reconstruct stream channels in and around some of Pennsylvania’s streams.”
“Unknowingly, well-intentioned restoration efforts often were unpermitted, ill-defined or excessive, which hindered the natural recovery of these waters,” he added. “However, it is important to remember that these sensitive aquatic ecosystems also have to recover from the wrath of Mother Nature, much like Pennsylvania’s residents.”
Prior to conducting any work within stream channels, individuals must first contact a DEP regional office. Depending upon the scope and size of the proposed stream restoration project, as well as what kind of equipment is needed to be used in the stream, DEP will direct the applicant to acquire one of several waterway encroachment permits. The permits are classified as emergency, general, or a PA/Federal Joint. DEP often seeks input from various resource agencies, such as the Fish and Boat Commission, to incorporate plans to help a stream recover.
DEP recently released a fact sheet called “Permitting Options for Flood-Damaged Bridges and Other Water Obstructions and Encroachments.” To find your nearest DEP regional office, choose “Regional Resources” on the DEP's home page.
“History has shown that large-scale flood events can dramatically change the landscape,” said Spotts. “During these events, it is difficult for a Pennsylvania resident to stand by and watch flood waters destroy property and possessions without taking action. When prioritizing a recovery plan for your property, we urge you to consult with DEP to obtain guidance in the recovery process.”

Monday NewsClips

Drilling Impact Fee, School Choice Top Fall Priorities
Op-Ed: We Can Agree On The Gas Drilling Fee, Rep. Quinn
DRBC Poised To Enact New Gas Drilling Rules
Flooding Poses Threat To Chesapeake Bay Area
Susquehanna Slammed Businesses Along Its Path
Editorial: Rising Tide
Sustainability Conference Begins Thursday In Pittsburgh
Editorial: Wind(less) Power
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept. 19 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Sept. 19 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Harrisburg: What They Didn't Do On Their Summer Vacation

With the Senate returning to voting session September 19 and the House September 26, it will be back to business on a whole range of issues that didn't get done before the summer break. Here's a sampling of what's in store for the Fall--

-- Marcellus Shale: With the July 22 report of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission now on the books, complete with recommendations for 30 or more changes in state law and at least a dozen impact fee or severance tax proposals from both Republicans and Democrats still waiting, the General Assembly will have its work cut out for it.
Gov. Corbett has not yet said which recommendations he agrees with from the report, but has said that forced pooling to require landowners without natural gas leases to allow their resources to be taken with compensation but without a lease is a non-starter.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Corbett said he would have his own version of a drilling impact fee ready in a week or two, but the focus of the fee would be to compensate communities for damage to roads, bridges and other negative impacts from drilling. The funds may also be used by the PA Emergency Management Agency for environmental cleanup from drilling.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) have both said regulatory changes will be a priority in the Fall. They also said they hope to work with the Governor to pass a version of an impact fee proposal he will sign into law.
After drilling for Marcellus Shale natural gas for eight years, will the General Assembly now decide to update the 1984 Oil and Gas Act? Stay tuned. Click Here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Agencies Start Compiling List Of Flood Damage
Flood Damage For Dauphin County Nears $150 Million
NE PA Senators To Address Disaster Issues
Senators Will Announce Flood Aid Package
Chesapeake Energy Pitches In With Flood Cleanup
Waterways Polluted With Debris, Raw Sewage
Recovery: Loans Available To Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Corbett Outlines Possible Drilling Impact Fee
Corbett: Drilling Fee Should Aid Locals, Cleanups
Column: Rendell Angers Drillers At Marcellus Conference
Floods Didn't Affect Marcellus Shale Drilling DEP Says
Drillers Weren't Required To Tell DEP They Shut Down During Flooding
First EPA Hearing On Fracking In Pittsburgh
Dozens Of Volunteers Brighten West Reading Borough Block
Group: Industry Could Block Anti-Pollution Efforts Here
How Businesses Are Making Pittsburgh Greener (Video)
Land Preservation Or A Pig In A Poke?
UnCork York Wine Trail- Mason-Dixon Wine Trail
Point State Park's New Cafe Lunch On The Lawn
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DEP Announces Weekend Hours For Offices In Flooded Regions

The Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday that beginning Saturday, September 17, its regional offices in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County; Williamsport, Lycoming County; Harrisburg, Dauphin County; and Norristown, Montgomery County, will open for weekend shifts.
The offices will be open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. until demand for services has ceased. As of now, they are slated to be open through Sunday, October 9.
During the weekend hours, residents who need water test kits to ensure the safety of their private water supplies will be able to pick up the kits and drop off the samples for testing. Additionally, samples can be dropped off each Friday until 4 p.m.
In Williamsport, staff will also be on-hand to issue emergency permits for work in stream channels, such as debris removal.
The offices are located at 2 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre; 208 W. 3rd St., Suite 101, Williamsport; 909 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg; and 2 E. Main St., Norristown.
For directions, visit the DEP Regional Resources webpage.

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