Monday, October 31, 2011

Opinion: Pennsylvania Farmers Need Your Help With Federal Farm Bill

By Matthew Ehrhart, PA Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Since 1965, Congress has re-evaluated federal farm programs every five years or so. Literally hundreds of billions of public tax dollars are at stake. The normal process involves multiple hearings, draft bills, open committee consideration, public debate by the House and Senate, dozens of amendments, and all the other elements of a full legislative process.
This year, things are different. By tomorrow, House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders will submit a “complete legislative package” to the Congressional “Supercommittee” for inclusion in whatever massive bill it must produce before Thanksgiving. The Supercommittee has extraordinary powers. Once it finishes its bill, the rest of Congress cannot amend it but can only decide to pass or reject it. If Congress passes the bill and the President signs it, it becomes the law of the land.
This abbreviated approach to the federal Farm Bill, while perhaps necessary in the current context, does short-circuit the detailed and thorough conversations that are typically part of the reauthorization process. It has become imperative that stakeholders, those with influence in conservation, agricultural commodities and insurance, and nutrition programs, are aware of the truncated process and weigh-in with Congressional representatives.
Given the very serious federal budget situation, it is clear that a significant amount of funding will be cut from a wide array of current programs. One budget item within the federal Farm Bill that must not be cut, and should perhaps be expanded, is conservation funding.
The Farm Bill, through its conservation programs, is one of the largest and most critical water quality improvement programs in the nation. Oddly enough, this water quality component is also among the smallest of the Farm Bill funding programs.
The conservation programs provide significant support to Pennsylvania farmers, not only for their daily on-farm operations, but also in enabling them to meet state and federal clean water standards.
Of the many conservation programs, it is The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) which are focused on water quality and agricultural improvements.
They are also in jeopardy of being cut beyond what is equitable and sensible; at the very time we need them the most.
Pennsylvania farmers manage the vast majority of non-forested land in the Commonwealth, and their day-to-day decisions about tilling, pasturing, and planting have a huge impact on our environment.
Most Pennsylvania farmers want to do their part to meet clean water goals, and to their credit, many farmers have made substantial improvements on their farms, and in so doing, better protect their soil, and our air and
water, while producing the food we eat. Many farmers have implemented some very visible on-farm improvements such as streambank fencing, soil erosion controls, barnyard improvements, and planting trees along streams. The Farm Bill’s conservation programs provide financial assistance to farmers who contribute their own time and money to improve their farm through these, and other conservation efforts.
Farmers in Pennsylvania and across the region are more under the gun for water quality improvements than ever as they face the same economic difficulties as the rest of the nation. Farmers must meet Pennsylvania’s numerous conservation requirements. Congress must not, at this critical time, undermine the progress that farmers have made to date and jeopardize our clean water by cutting the very programs that enable farmers to implement these very effective conservation improvements.
We are confident that the agricultural community will do its part if Congress does theirs. Year after year, farmers here consistently apply for more conservation funding than is available. As of last month, Commonwealth farmers applied for over $100 million in conservation funding. Too many were turned away, as the budget for these programs was capped at $35 million. Ending or significantly cutting these funding levels now would further discourage Pennsylvania farmers who are trying to do the right thing while making ends meet. It would also be a step in the wrong direction toward Pennsylvania’s ability to comply with environmental and water quality standards and the cleanup plan that the Commonwealth has put into place.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation commends Senator Casey and Congressman Holden for their past support of conservation funding in the Farm Bill and urges them to stand firm with Congressman Thompson when it comes to Pennsylvania farmers and preserving these vital programs.

Monday NewsClips

Zombies Warn Of Gas Drilling Effects In Dimock
Editorial: Marcellus Fracking Facts, Fictions
Op-Ed: Stand Up For State's Rights In National Forest
Op-Ed: Federal Funding For Farm Conservation Must Be Preserved
Op-Ed: PA Farmers Need Our Support
Conemaugh River Mine Drainage Plans Moving Forward
Power Line Plan Concerns Some
Reed Smith Opens Energy Group
Treats To Offer Energy Savings In Friendship
Murphy Critical Of Guarantees For Electric Car Maker
Snow Storm's Power Outages Top Hurricane Irene
Effort Secures Spinwall Marina Deal Along Allegheny River
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, October 28, 2011

Oct. 31 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Oct. 31 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Trout Unlimited, Fish Commission, DEP Celebrate West Branch Susquehanna Recovery

Trout Unlimited, the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization, the Fish and Boat Commission, and the Department of Environmental Protection celebrated improvements to the West Branch Susquehanna River and its many tributaries at an event Monday at Hyner View State Park.
A 2009 Trout Unlimited study shows that the overall health of the watershed is greatly improving compared to 25 years ago. Fish and insect populations have increased, and water quality and habitat have improved. Scientists collected data at 90 sites across the watershed to evaluate how abandoned mine restoration has affected the river and its tributaries.
“The West Branch Susquehanna River and many of its tributaries are showing amazing signs of recovery from severe pollution from mine drainage for nearly a century,” said Amy Wolfe, TU’s Eastern Abandoned Mine Program Director. “There is still an enormous amount of work that needs to be done to achieve full recovery, but these marked improvements prove that the investments of time and money have been well spent.”
Within the watershed, more than 1,200 stream miles are polluted with mine drainage from abandoned coal mines. TU’s study documents that in the past 25 years, the river’s acidity and level of toxic metals have significantly decreased - to levels deemed safe by the DEP - between Curwensville in Clearfield County to Renovo in Clinton County. Click Here to read more…

Photo: Parker Dam State Park Pumpkin Carving, PA Parks & Forests Foundation

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Sees Good Changes In Senate Bill 1100, Suggests Additions

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a statement Friday saying they were encouraged with the changes made to Senate Bill 1100 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) to better protect the environment and water quality from potential impacts by Marcellus Shale drilling and made several suggestions for strengthening the bill.
"(W)e are encouraged to see a number of important recommendations from the final Commission Report. Manifesting of wastewater, increased setbacks, increased bonding, expansion of notice requirements and plugging of abandoned wells are just a few of the notable changes to the Oil and Gas Act.
"However, at this time we would also like to offer a few areas we believe Senate Bill 1100 could be improved to ensure it addresses all necessary environmental, health and safety concerns
The changes recommended by CBF include:
-- Include a definition of best management practices to be incorporated into DEP standards and guidance;
-- Establish a definition of stream, spring or body of water consistent with other DEP programs;
-- Include a definition of "well site" to avoid confusion between a well pad and a well when measuring setback distances;
-- Include a definition of floodplain and flood fringe;
-- Include enhanced and inspection and monitoring requirements consistent with the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission report;
-- Require operators to give DEP advance notice of the state of key drilling and production activities;
-- Provide specific statutory language for water management plans;
-- Clarify that setbacks are measured from the edge of disturbance;
-- Increase the setback distance for wetlands to 300 feet for wetlands of an acre or greater;
-- Tighten up the language protecting sources of public drinking water as recommended by the Governor; and
-- Adopt a reasonable drilling fee or severance tax with a significant portion dedicated to addressing the cumulative impacts of drilling and to fund the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener).
A copy of CBF's recommendations is available online.

Friday NewsClips

Gas Drilling Boom At Center Of Environmental Awards
Conservancy, Watershed Groups Receive Environmental Awards
Private Well Survey, Databased Planned In PA In Response To Drilling
Senate Bill Would Allow State To Lease Out Mineral Rights
Senate Approves Mineral Leasing Bill
GOP Lawmaker Holds Shale Forum
Dimock Braces For Zombie Invasion
Amphitheater Buyers Willing To Forgo Oil, Gas Rights
Consol Energy Doubles 3rd Quarter Profit, Raises Dividend
EQT Increases Marcellus Drilling In Third Quarter
Editorial: Corbett Fails To Take Wheel On Transportation
Study: PA Leads In Deficient Bridges
Legislation Aims To Fund Road, Bridge Fixes
Transit Funding Proposals Take Backseat To Other Issues
Government, Private Sector Join Forces To Clean Air
Breathe Project Launches Clean Air Initiative
Personal Monitor Used to Check Out Pittsburgh's Air Quality
Opportunities For Green Jobs In Philadelphia
Solar Jobs, Rising Nationally, Decline In PA
Green Power Awards Honor Renewable Energy Efforts
Wild & Scenic Film Festival Coming To Pottsville
Insurance Department: November Peak Deer-Vehicle Crashes
Sunday Hunting Pros, Cons Debated At Hearing
House Bill To Permit Sunday Hunting Gets Hearing
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Thursday, October 27, 2011

EPA Now Accepting Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup Grant Applications

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now accepting applications for its 2012 Brownfields Grants to help eligible organizations redevelop former contaminated and abandoned sites. The deadline for applications is November 28.
The types of grants available include: Brownfields Assessment Grants (each funded up to $200,000 over three years; coalitions are funded up to $1,000,000 over three years); Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants (each funded up to $1,000,000 over five years); and Brownfields Cleanup Grants (each funded up to $200,000 over three years).
For more information, visit EPA's Brownfields Grants webpage.

PEC Encouraged By Initial Senate Steps On Marcellus Issues, More Changes Needed

In response to Senate action this week on Marcellus Shale legislation-- Senate Bill 1100 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson), the PA Environmental Council released a statement Thursday saying, "We are again encouraged by the actions of the Senate to enact greater environmental and public protections."
Acknowledging more work needs to be done, PEC recommended a series of additional changes to complete the package, along with the adoption of a drilling fee or severance tax.
In its statement circulated to members of the Senate, PEC said, "We are again encouraged by the actions of the Senate to enact greater environmental and public protections. We understand that yesterday’s amendment of Senate Bill 1100 (P.N. 1723) was an initial step in an ongoing, albeit concisely timed, process to refine comprehensive changes to environmental and community protection standards and the imposition of an impact fee or severance tax.
"If Senate Bill 1100 is the vehicle and will receive further amendment in the days and weeks to follow, the additional measures outlined in this response document must be included in the final package. They represent informed and reasonable protections that have been already endorsed by environmental, industry and agency interests through the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission or other forums.
"Pennsylvania must get this right, and it must enact the proper laws to do so now. Thank you for your consideration.
"PEC has been deeply involved in these precise issues – as a member of the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission; through our own specific policy and legislative proposals for amending state law and regulation; and through testimony and other discussions at both the state and federal level.
" We offer the following detailed comments on Senate Bill 1100 to advocate for additional necessary changes that are critical to “getting it right” for what will be a multi-generational activity in Pennsylvania. Our perspective is based upon established, open dialog with decision makers and public and private interests involved in shale gas development."
The changes recommended by PEC include:
-- Include a definition of best management practices to be incorporated into DEP standards and guidance;
-- Establish a definition of stream, spring or body of water consistent with other DEP programs;
-- Include explicit authority for DEP to require water management plans in the Ohio River Basin;
-- Include a definition of "well site" to avoid confusion between a well pad and a well when measuring setback distances;
-- Authorize DEP to establish a site assessment and review process to identify key surface features and hazards;
-- Include enhanced and inspection and monitoring requirements consistent with the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission report;
-- Require operators to give DEP advance notice of the state of key drilling and production activities;
-- Tighten up the language protecting sources of public drinking water as recommended by the Governor;
-- Include additional flexibility in well site restoration where there is an opportunity for a net reduction in surface or environmental impacts;
-- Recommend including an option to establish a Trust Fund by well operators to cover restoration requirements like the coal mining program does, in lieu of a blanket bond approach;
-- Adopt a reasonable drilling fee or severance tax with a significant portion dedicated to addressing the cumulative impacts of drilling and to fund the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener);
-- PEC opposes preemption of the ability of local governments to enact appropriate public protection for issues not directly addressed by the Oil and Gas Act and instead the state should provide help for local planning to support local governments.
A copy of PEC's recommendations is available online.

Thursday NewsClips

Senate Committee Wants To Triple Fines For Shale Drillers
Senate Panel OKs Marcellus Bill, Minus Impact Fee
Marcellus Bill Moves Forward, But Impact Fee Plan Unclear
Senate Panel Approves Marcellus Environmental Amendment
Study Looks At Water Quality In Private Wells Near Marcellus Drilling
Wilkes Institutes Issue Policy Brief On Governor's Marcellus Plan
Wilkes Report Sees Drilling Rules Questionable
New Penn State Website Explains Fracking Process
Professor Uses Marcellus Shale For Sculpting
Dallas Twp. Approves Amendment Regulating Gas Drilling
Newton Twp. Hires Consultant To Create Drilling Ordinance
Not In My Backyard, Fayette County Gas Pipeline
Gas Drilling Brings More Crime, Carousing
Cabot Oil 3rd Quarter Net Soars On Higher Production
Farmers Get Environmental Grants
Berks County Gets Loans For Nutrient Reduction Projects
Cedar Run Watershed Assessment, Stormwater Retrofit
UGI To Help Low Income Customers Apply For LIHEAP
Breathe Group Tackles Pittsburgh's Air Quality
Ligonier Trail Group Seeks Money Quickly To Span Creek
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Senate Committee Adds Marcellus Environmental Protection Measures To SB 1100, Fee Next Week

The Senate Appropriations Committee this afternoon added Amendment A05826 to Senate Bill 1100 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) which inserts a variety of requirements designed to better protect the environment from the impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling.
The amendment does not have drilling fee language nor does it represent any final agreement on the issue of preempting local ordinances from regulating drilling operations. These issues are expected to be taken up next week before the Senate adjourns for its election break.
Here is a quick summary of the provisions included in the amendment--
-- Removes entire fee structure and distribution from the bill.
-- The increased environmental safeguards impact unconventional wells and do not impact the
shallow gas industry.
-- Increases setbacks from occupied structures and water wells from 200 feet to 500 feet and public
drinking water sources to 1,000 feet.
-- Increases the setback distance from an unconventional well and a spring or body of water
identified on the most current 7 1⁄2 minute topographic map from 100 feet to 300 feet.
-- Provides additional notice of permit applications to adjacent landowners, affected municipalities,
water supply purveyors, severed mineral rights owners from 1,000 feet to 3,000 feet.
-- Requires PEMA and the department to adopt emergency regulations directing the operators of unconventional wells to implement a unique GPS coordinate address for each well at the access road entrance and well pad site, as well as developing an emergency response plan.
-- Substantially increases well bonding requirements
-- Requires operators to use containment methods on well pad sites to be designed and constructed
to prevent spills to the ground surface or spills off the well pad area.
-- Clarifies the authority of DEP to revoke/deny permits to bad actors
-- Authorizing DEP to establish additional protective measures for chemicals or hazardous material located on drilling site.
-- Enhances water quality and quantity replacement standards to meet applicable water quality standards consistent with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
-- Expanding distance and duration of rebuttable presumption to better protect public and private water supplies from 1,000 feet/6 months to 3,000 feet/12 months
-- Requiring disclosure of hydraulic fracturing components.
-- Requires the department to adopt regulations regarding the transportation of wastewater.
-- Increased well completion report data collection and transparency
-- Ensuring qualifications of oil and gas wastewater treatment facility operators
-- Posting inspection reports and cleanup activities online
-- Increases the civil fine for unconventional wells from $25,000 plus $1,000 for each continuing day of violation to $75,000 plus $5,000.
-- Retains language from Senate Bill 1100 regarding a model zoning ordinance.
Click Here for a copy of the amendment. Click Here for a summary.

Wednesday NewsClips

Editorial: Enough Excuses, Marcellus Issues Must Be Addressed
Report Issued On Impact Of Marcellus Shale Drilling On Water Wells
Study Finds Little Evidence Of Water Contamination From Fracking
Study Finds Bromide, But No Fracking Impacts In Water Wells
Sen. Yaw Encouraged By Study Of Rural Drinking Water/Drilling
A Look At Drilling And Traffic
Drilling Boom Brings Surge In Crime To Small Towns
Tunkhannock Man Charged In Frackwater Drinking Incident
Forest Service Denies Drillers' Claim Of Contempt
More Property Owners Could Pay Luzerne Levee Fee
Buyout Process To Start For Flood-Ravaged Properties
King Tide Could Cause Flooding In Delaware Estuary
Op-Ed: Pittsburghers Create New Jobs, Clean The Air
Editorial: College Energy Fund Great Model
PPL Hosts Open House On Power Line Project
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Advocates Concerned About PA Funds In New Federal Farm Bill

As a new national farm bill is considered in Congress, there is concern that Pennsylvania farms and municipalities could lose vital funding.
The bill is reworked every five years, usually with hearings and public input, but this year, it's being rolled into the budget duties being taken on by the so-called "Super Committee."
Doug Siglin, federal affairs director with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the new process could jeopardize farm bill funding for vital conservation programs, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative, which helps control runoff and other pollution that starts upstream and ends up in the Bay.
"We're concerned that program might get dropped and that Pennsylvanians might not even get the opportunity to say very much to their representatives about how important that program is to them."
He says most farms, and cities and towns for that matter, need all the federal help they can get when it comes to Bay pollution reduction.
"Municipalities, townships are going to have to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants and their urban runoff, and farmers are going to have to get their fertilizer under control, and they're being asked to lay out capital to do all those things."
It appears Pennsylvania does have some factors in its favor. Republican Senator Pat Toomey sits on the Super Comittee, and there are three other Capitol Hill lawmakers from Pennsylvania who are close to the issue.
"That's Senator Bob Casey and then Tim Holden and Glen Thompson. Presumably, they're going to be looking out for Pennsylvania's interests and going to be pushing the Super Committee to include things that are in Pennsylvania's interests."
Siglin says that even as it stands now the CBWI doesn't have enough funding on hand to help farmers who want to manage their runoff. He says ending the program would cripple efforts to improve water quality in Chesapeake Bay.
Click Here for more background and to take action.

Tuesday NewsClips

Editorial: Growing Greener Needs Funding
More Protections From Drilling For Water Wells Advised
Governor's Proposed Shale Drilling Regulations Not Enough
Activist Group Offers Marcellus Policy Recommendations
Peters Twp Officials Beg Voters To Oppose Drilling Ban
Gas Development Welcomed In Dallas Twp
Editorial: Energy Jobs Go Beyond Gas
NJ Governor Has Personal Investment In Fracking Technology
Chesapeake Bay Advocates Concerned About PA Funds In New Farm Bill
Clear Win For Water, Brandywine Conservancy
Penn State: Bottled Vs. Tap Water, Which Is Better?
Washington Blvd. To Get Flood Gates
Flood Insurance Means A Deluge Of Details
King Tide Along Delaware A Forecast Of Tides To Come?
DEP Issues Permit For Tires-To-Energy Plant In Erie
Lower Macungie Eyes Alternative Energy Law
Editorial: Kings Gap Expansion Improves Local Gem
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Monday, October 24, 2011

Senate Appropriations Scheduled To Consider Drilling Fee Bill Wednesday

The Senate Appropriations Committee has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday, October 26 to consider Senate Bill 1100 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) which establishes a Marcellus Shale drilling fee. The meeting will be held off the floor in the Rules Committee Room at the rear of the Senate Chamber.

ECOvanta Opens Electronics Recycling Facility In Philadelphia

Covanta Energy Corporation, a world leader in the development and operation of Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities and other renewable energy projects, Monday announced the launch of a new business to responsibly recycle and dispose of electronic waste (e-waste).
ECOvanta, located on 58th Street in West Philadelphia, is a state-of-the-art recycling facility that properly recycles electronic waste such as computers, monitors, mobile phones, printers and televisions.
The facility safely manages end-of-life electronics using a combination of manual disassembly and an automated shredding system to separate materials into commodities for recycling.
E-waste is the fastest growing segment of the municipal waste stream in the U.S. with over three million tons of electronics generated each year of which only 14 percent is recovered for recycling. The rest typically ends up in landfills. Electronics should not be disposed of in the trash because most contain heavy metals such as lead (avg. monitor contains 4-7 lbs. of lead), mercury and cadmium.
“It's important to properly recycle electronic waste to ensure we protect our environment from potential harm. I’m happy to see that new businesses like ECOvanta are coming to Philadelphia. They are not only providing a solution to this issue, but they are also creating new investment in our community,” said Carlton Williams, deputy commissioner of sanitation, City of Philadelphia, Streets Department.
ECOvanta has successfully passed audits and has been recommended to receive the R2 and ISO 14001:2004 certifications. These rigorous third-party certifications ensure that e-waste is being recycled responsibly and sustainably. Everything that comes through the ECOvanta facility is sold or recycled as a processed commodity according to R2 standards. ECOvanta also audits all downstream vendors to ensure that they too are recycling correctly.
“We are excited to be launching this new venture into e-waste recycling. It is a growing market and we see a great opportunity to a provide proper, responsible way to recycle and dispose of these materials as more and more people become aware of its importance,” said Seth Myones, Covanta Americas president.
ECOvanta also offers secure destruction services for customers who require assured and certified destruction of their electronic equipment. Customers can follow the secure chain of custody process to track and identify material as it moves through the system.
The process eliminates risks to information integrity by completely sanitizing hard drives or other storage media using a leading software program that meets all regulated destruction standards prior to manual disassembly and shredding.
The facility serves customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic, New York/New Jersey and New England.
ECOvanta is a new electronic waste (“e-waste”) recycling business owned by Covanta Energy Corporation, an internationally recognized owner and operator of Energy-from-Waste and renewable energy projects.
Located in Philadelphia, PA ECOvanta provides a one source solution for responsible and sustainable e-waste recycling and secure destruction services. ECOvanta has recently been recommended for Responsible Recycling (R2) and ISO 14001:2004 certifications after completing a third party auditing process.

WPC, Dominion Resources Seek Watershed Mini-Grant In Western PAProposals

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is now accepting proposals for the 2011-2012 Watershed Mini Grant Program, which provides assistance to the region’s grassroots watershed groups. Funding for the program is provided by Dominion. Proposals are due December 16.
The Watershed Mini Grant Program supports operating costs, organizational promotion and outreach, and/or watershed restoration projects. Grants of up to $1,000 may be awarded for operating expenses. Up to $2,500 is available for promotion and outreach or restoration projects. A cash or non-cash match is preferred but not required.
The program offers funding to watershed organizations in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Bradford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Cumberland, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Perry, Potter, Somerset, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
The grant application and proposal guidelines are available online. Please contact the Conservancy to have an application mailed to your organization or to ask questions regarding the application and its required information.
Applications should be mailed to: Western PA Conservancy, c/o Stephanie Jellison, 1067 Philadelphia Street, Suite 101, Indiana, PA 15701 call 724-471-7202 x 5109 or send email to:

Monday NewsClips

PA Air Quality Rule Stirs Gas Well Debate
Ohio Drillers Awash In Concern Over Fracking Waste From PA
South Fayette Focus Of Big Marcellus Shale Controversy
Driller's Lawsuit Against Dallas Twp Resident Moves Forward
Change Allowing Gas Projects Opposed
Editorial: Uniform Drilling Guidelines Needed
Editorial: Marcellus-Related Industries Can Help Boost Economy
Heating Oil Customers Burned By High Prices
Great Lakes Conference Coming To Erie
Municipalities Get Hired Help In Seeking Flood Funding
PA Losing Solar Jobs With End Of Subsidy
Biofuels Plant Wants To set Up Shop In Slate Belt
Cleanup Crew Pulls Exotic Reptile From Creek
Work to Begin On Two Montour Trail Bridges
Op-Ed: Wilderness Legacy Too Precious To Destroy
Nature's Way: Seed-Saving Work Bears Fruit
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, October 21, 2011

Oct. 24 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Oct. 24 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Study: 3,000 Foot Presumption Of Water Well Pollution Liability Needed Around Gas Wells

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Friday released the findings of an unbiased and large scale study of water quality in private water wells in rural Pennsylvania before and after the drilling of nearby Marcellus Shale gas wells, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford), Center Chair.
One significant finding in the report recommends increasing the zone of presumptive liability and private water well testing from 1,000 to 3,000 feet from Marcellus Shale gas wells due to increased levels of bromide, sediment and metals found by the study.
The Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended increasing the liability zone to 2,500 feet from public water supply wells.
The study is entitled, "The Impact of Marcellus Gas Drilling on Rural Drinking Water Supplies," was a Center-sponsored research project conducted by Dr. Elizabeth W. Boyer, Bryan R. Swistock, James Clark, Mark Madden, and Dana E. Rizzo of Pennsylvania State University.
One research recommendation is for additional setback requirements for natural gas drilling companies between the location of gas wells and nearby private water wells for presumed liability and certified mail notification.
"The research found that bromide levels in some water wells increased after drilling and/or fracking. These increases may suggest more subtle impacts to groundwater and the need for more research. Bromide increases appeared to be mostly related to the drilling process. A small number of water wells also appeared to be affected by disturbances due to drilling as evidenced by sediment and/or metals increases that were noticeable to the water supply owner and confirmed by water testing results.
"Increased bromide concentrations in water wells along with sporadic sediment and metals increases were observed within 3,000 feet of Marcellus gas well sites in this study. These results suggest that a 3,000 foot distance between the location of gas wells and nearby private water wells is a more reasonable distance for both presumed responsibility and certified mail notification related to Marcellus gas well drilling than the 1,000 feet that is currently required."
Click Here to read more…

DEP Accepting Applications For Storm Relief Energy Efficiency, Pollution Prevention Grants

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for emergency Storm Relief Grant Funding of 50 percent up to $9,500 from the Commonwealth's Advantage Grant Program for small business pollution prevention.
The Department will continue accepting applications until December 31 or until funds are exhausted, whichever occurs first. (formal notice)
Small Business Storm Relief Advantage is a grant program which may enable a small business to implement pollution prevention project, must prevent or mitigate an imminent threat to public health or safety and can help small businesses cut costs and reduce the risk of potential regulatory problems. Costs incurred after August 26, 2011, and before December 31, 2011, are eligible for grant consideration.
An eligible applicant must be a for-profit small business owner whose business or facility is located within this Commonwealth. All Commonwealth small businesses are eligible, including, but not limited to, manufacturers, retailers, service providers, mining businesses and agricultural concerns. The project to which the grant will apply must be located within the applicant's Commonwealth facility.
A copy of the application and eligibility requirements will be available online at DEP's website using keyword "sradvantage" or by contacting Rhonda Brown, Office of the Small Business Ombudsman by calling 717-772-8909. To ask a specific question concerning a project type, send email to: before submitting an application.

Still Time For Nominations For 2012 River Of The Year

The PA Organization of Watersheds and Rivers and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is accepting nominations for the 2012 River Of The Year until October 27, but if you can't meet that deadline just send Josh Karns, POWR, an email:
A Questions and Answers fact sheet about the nomination process is available online. Nominations are also being accepted online.

Friday NewsClips

October 21 Deadline For 2012 River Of The Year Nominations
Marcellus Drillers Say EPA Wastewater Proposal Is Moot
EPA To Set Standards For Wastewater From Gas Well
A Guide To Dimock's Water Problems & Drilling
South Fayette Manager May Take Gas Drilling Job
Rush To Drill For Gas Creates Conflicts With Mortgages
UGI To Invest $150 Million In Marcellus Gas Gathering System
Trade Group Agrees To List Chemicals Used In Fracking
Youth Group Markets Shale Jobs To Peers
Lawmakers Rally Around Flood Bills
Signs Of Stress In Solebury Water Supply
Pittsburgh Sculpture Inspired By Steelmakers, Sustainability
Central PA Greenovation Green-Product Contest Going National
Corbett Administration Shifting Focus Of Clean Energy Grants
DEP To Clean Up Former Jeannette Glass Property
Underground Oil Tanks Can Hold Staggering Costs
State Funds Still Available For Tree Planting In York
DCNR Says Kings Gap Park To Be Expanded
Obituary: State Park Project Engineer Donald Perrego
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sen. Corman Proposes Transportation Funding Legislation

Pennsylvania must act now to repair its crumbling transportation network, according to Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who Wednesday announced he will introduce legislation that encompasses many of the funding recommendations of a state commission appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett.
“Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of structurally deficient bridges, and more than 8,000 miles of highway need to be repaired or replaced,” Sen. Corman said. “At this point, the Commonwealth is losing ground in simply maintaining our current transportation network, let alone improving infrastructure, adding capacity where necessary, or modernizing to the needs of state travelers.”
Sen. Corman’s multi-bill legislative package is based largely on recommendations included in the report issued by the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, which Gov. Corbett created in April to find solutions to the transportation funding crisis facing the state.
“The state will have to invest at least an additional $2 billion annually to meet our transportation infrastructure needs, and the cost to repair our infrastructure grows with each passing year,” stated Sen. Corman. “We can’t continue to ignore these pressing challenges, which are directly related to public safety and economic development. “Now is the time to act -- the evidence is overwhelming and the need is there. The only thing holding us back is political fear.”
The TFAC report urged PennDOT to consider a number of measures including adjusting outdated vehicle driver fees for inflation, increasing fines, uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax over five years and modernizing many PennDOT services for cost savings.
The Corman bill package incorporates most of the Commission’s recommendations, providing a fair, strategic plan for addressing the transportation funding needs of Pennsylvania. All revenue generated will be dedicated specifically to transportation projects, which means the money will stay in Pennsylvania, creating jobs and boosting the economy.
Sen. Corman added, “Drivers are already paying for an underfunded transportation system. Factoring in vehicle damage, time loss due to a degraded or overcrowded roadways, and reduced options to effectively and efficiently move products, motorists continue to pay more and get nothing in return for an overstressed transportation system.”
Sen. Corman said funding is badly needed, noting that the state currently has 50 closed bridges and 650 weight-restricted or posted bridges – many in rural parts of the state where drivers must make long detours. Urban and suburban areas are seeing greater road congestion because money is not available to keep up with traffic needs.
“A safe and reliable transportation network is a core function of state government and necessary to a strong economy – we have to find a way to fund our roads and bridges even in these tough fiscal times,” Sen. Corman said. “This package provides commonsense, well-thought-out funding mechanisms that are fair and reasonable. And most important, it will allow us to start investing in our transportation system now – rather than putting off much-needed maintenance and construction.”
State Transportation Funding Package Proposed

Wednesday NewsClips

County Commissioners Shift Stance On Corbett Drilling Fee
Drill Fee Proposed For Pennsylvania
Centre Commissioners Back Growing Greener Program
Cabot Drilling Released From Providing Drinking Water In Dimock
Gas Driller Asks To Resume Drilling In Dimock
Cabot Argues To Resume Drilling In Dimock
Chesapeake Claims Spill Caused No Long-Term Damage
Drilling Foes Blocked From Seeking Donors At Two Websites
Marcellus Gas Drilling Jobs Increase In PA
Report: Marcellus Jobs See Increase
Marcellus Gas Drilling Jobs Increasing
Pitts: Leave Natural Gas Drilling Regs To States
Range Resources Provides Quarterly Update
Lessons From Storms, State Reviews Disaster Management
Hearing Focuses On Utility Diaster Lessons
Editorial: Make Flood Insurance Mandatory In Flood Zones
Editorial: Getting Right Help On Stormwater Management
Two From Luzerne County Honored For Environmental Work
DEP Issues Permit For Pickle Liquor Recycling Operation
Cleanup At Armstrong Nuclear Waste Site Halted
Valley View Schools Benefit From Energy Efficiency
Dead Bat Scales Back Cambria County Wind Farm's Production
Montour Trail Bridge Construction To Begin In Cecil
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

County Commissioners Drop Reservations About Corbett's Drilling Fee Proposal

The County Commissioners Association of PA Tuesday announced its support for Gov. Corbett’s shale gas impact fee proposal, which implements numerous recommendations of his Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.
The group had initially expressed support for the proposal following its October 3 announcement by the Governor, but with reservations concerning the mechanism by which counties would levy the impact fee.
The Association’s expression of full support follows several discussions with Lt. Governor Jim Cawley, who chaired the Advisory Commission, and Energy Executive Patrick Henderson, along with internal review by the Association’s policy committees.
While several technical matters remain under review with the Administration, the Association expressed confidence that there was clear understanding of the issues and that they would be resolved as the legislation progressed.
The Association stressed that the remaining issues do not represent a qualification of the Association’s support, nor do they constitute a reason for delay in introduction and consideration of the legislation.
The Association continued to express its strong support for the 75 percent allocation to impacted communities, noting that counties and municipalities do not currently receive direct revenues from Marcellus and other shale gas producers, as they do from other mineral operations, based on a 2002 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that exempted oil and gas from local property taxes.
Yet counties do provide services and incur costs based on gas development, including highway and bridge infrastructure, emergency management planning and response, human services, record keeping and others.
The Governor’s proposal directs the impact fee proceeds to these types of services, and CCAP notes that the list of allowable expenditures, and the formulas for distribution of the funds among the municipalities in the county, mirror proposals offered to the Governor’s Commission by it and the other local government groups.
CCAP also reiterated its prior support for the Governor’s proposals to strengthen or address environmental, public safety, and pipeline concerns among others.
The Association expressed its appreciation to Lt. Gov. Cawley and to Energy Executive Henderson for their leadership in discussions with the Association’s policy committees and staff.
Under Gov. Corbett's proposal, counties with shale gas would be authorized to levy an impact fee on active wells, at a maximum rate of $40,000 per well for its first year of production ($30,000 in the second year, $20,000 in the third, and $10,000 per year through the tenth year).
Seventy-five percent of the proceeds would stay with the impacted county and its municipalities, and the remaining 25 percent would be forwarded to the commonwealth for allocation among several shale gas-specific funds.

Tuesday NewsClips

Editorial: No Tax Pledges Put Lawmakers In Bind
Allegheny Front Examines Drilling's Impact On Forests
River Symposium Focused On Effects Of Drilling
North East Twp OK Restrictions On Natural Gas Drilling
Riverkeeper Launches Ads Against Gas Industry
Pittsburgh Mayor Pushes For Trash Trucks Running On Natural Gas
Pipeline Company Purchase Creates Mega-Network
Pipelline Deal To Solidify Energy Giant As No. !
Lawmakers Introduce Disaster Relief Bills
PA Disaster Plan Would Fill Gap
NE House Members To Introduce Disaster Assistance Package
New Bills Seek To Speed Flood Aid
Editorial: Flood Policies Should Be Mandatory
New Stream Cleanup Model In Lancaster County?
PA Energy Consortium Saves Members Over $2 Million
Company Plans Biodiesel Plant In Schuylkill
DEP Plans Hearing On Violations At Ex-Glass Plant
Armstrong County Nuclear Waste Dump Cleanup Delayed
Tight Economy Puts Strain On Nature Conservancies
Beautification Design Workshop Set For Cambria City Oct. 20
Five Reservoirs Open For Fishing In NE PA
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oct. 17 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Oct. 17 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Western PA Conservancy Watershed Conservation Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy started a program to provide technical assistance to watershed groups around the region. Nick Pinizzotto was the lone employee of what was then known as the Watershed Assistance Center.
This “one-stop shop” was designed to help groups with a variety of water conservation needs-- from learning how to prepare grant proposals to accessing technical resources and planning tools.
(Photo: Watershed staff installs a multilog vane deflector in Tubmill Creek, used for erosion control and creation of fish habitat. Click Here for other photos.)
Pinizzotto finished that first year realizing just how important such a center was for Western Pennsylvania. With its mission and scope of work rapidly expanding, the program and its six full-time employees soon moved to a new office in Blairsville that could accommodate the increasing demands.
The program’s growth continued through what Pinizzotto describes as, “calculated risk-taking that made good business and conservation sense.” Click Here to read more…

Clean Diesel Grant Applications Now Being Accepted By DEP

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for the State Clean Diesel Grant Program until December 15. (formal notice)
The Department is seeking applications for projects that will replace, repower or retrofit fleet diesel-powered school or transit buses. Funding is available for public and private entities that operate diesel-powered fleets throughout this Commonwealth.
These entities may include school districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, other State agencies, nonprofit entities, corporations, limited liability companies or partnerships incorporated or registered in this Commonwealth.
Projects must use technologies certified or verified by the EPA or the California Air Resources Board to lower diesel emissions. The technology may be a single technology or a combination of available technologies.
The majority of the fleet's annual operation time must occur within this Commonwealth.
The Department will not reimburse grant recipients for project costs incurred prior to the grant performance period set forth in the applicable grant agreement.
The application package including guidance, instructions and application forms will be available online on DEP's Diesel Retrofit Information webpage or under keyword "Clean Diesel" or by contacting Martin T. Felion, Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Air Quality, Air Resource Management Division, 12th Floor, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101, 717-787-9702.

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