Friday, August 31, 2012

Sept. 3 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The Sept. 3 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Click Here to print the entire Digest.

DEP Citizens Advisory Council: DEP Update On Program Changes

Each month the Department of Environmental Protection provides a report policy initiatives and the status of program and regulation changes to the DEP Citizens Advisory Council for its information.  In the past this more than 20 page report has not been routinely made available to the public.
The report covers a variety of topics and their latest status.  Some information in the updates has not changed in a while because the information is the last status reported.  Other information is quite new.
Here’s a summary of the topics covered in the 22-page August Report prepared by DEP:
-- Water Management
-- Water Quality Standards Triennial Review
-- NPDES MS4 Permit (PAG-13)
-- NPDES Pesticide General Permit (PAG-15)
-- NPDES Large & Small Vessel General Permits (vGPs)
-- State Water Plan: Development of Critical Area Resource Plans
-- Water Resource Technical Assistance Center
-- Marcellus O&G Water Management Plan Activities
-- Chesapeake Bay TMDL/Watershed Implementation Plan
-- PA’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (Milestones, Nutrient Trading,
         Wastewater Plants, Agriculture Updates, Revisions to construction stormwater general
         permit (PAG-02), E&S Control Manual training
-- Stormwater Offsetting Workgroup
-- Riparian Buffer Waivers
-- E&S Control Pollution Manual
-- Safe Drinking Water Unregulated Contaminant Rule 3
-- Waste Management
-- Recycling Fund & Solid Waste Advisory Committee agenda
-- Municipal & Residual Waste Regulation Revisions
-- Land Recycling Program Technical Guidance Manual
-- Energy Initiatives: Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant, PA Energy Development Authority, PA Sunshine Program, Small Business Ombudsman, Federal Stimulus Funded Projects, ISO 50001 Workshops, Department of Corrections CHP Project, Energy Symposium.
-- Oil & Gas Issues
-- Latest on implementation of Act 13 Marcellus Shale provisions; White Paper on proposed Chapter 78 changes required by the law, Act 13 Roll-Out, draft Erosion and Sedimentation Control General Permit (ESCGP-2), policy on addressing spills and releases from oil and gas wells and related operations.
-- Oil and Gas Workload Report
-- Spud well report submitted to the PUC
-- Implementation of Act 9 of 2012 related to emergency response at well sites
-- Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board meeting summary
-- Mining/Reclamation/AMD Issues
-- Abandoned Mine Surface/ Bond Fund Discharge Treatment
-- Status of Proposed Coal Permit and Non-Coal Permit Fees
-- NPDES Permitting For Mine Sites
-- Act 54 Mine Subsidence Impact Report
-- Pending Policy Guidance Documents
-- PA Office of Homeland Security - requested list of contacts for trade associations
-- Environmental Education
-- Environmental Education Grants Program
-- EE Outreach, Workshops, Conferences, Board meetings, Upcoming Outreach Events
-- Green Schools
-- Falcon Outreach/Education
-- Office of Program Integration
-- Project Syllabus permit review improvement process
A copy of the report is available online.

Friday NewsClips

DEP Issues Draft Permit Review Process Policy
Overhauled DEP Permit Rules Would Streamline Reviews
Op-Ed: Romney Has Right Energy Policy - Corbett
Local Group Challenges New Rules For Drilling
Lycoming County Studies Impact Fee Uses
Drilling Fees To Midstate Counties Could Top $6.7 Million
PA Production Of Natural Gas Keeps Growing
Drilled Wells In PA By Watershed
Drillers Rattled As Ethane, Propane Prices Plunge
Equitable’s Plan To Use More Local Gas Challenged
Could Coal Gasification Breathe New Life Into Coal
Restarting Monessen Coke Plant Depends On Permits
Susquehanna Reservoirs Near Sediment Capacity
State Energy Savings Loan Program Makes 10,000th Loan
Cumberland Valley Rail Trail To Double In Length
Positive West Nile Samples Double
Op-Ed: Weather And West Nile
Panel Discussions Focus For 9/11
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alert! Air Quality Action Day Friday In Philadelphia

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partners have forecast a code Orange air quality action day for ozone for Friday, August 31, in the 5-county Philadelphia region.  Click Here for details.

DEP Releases Draft Permit Review Policy For Comment Proposing A No Strikes Rule

The Department of Environmental Protection has submitted for publication in the September 1 PA  Bulletin drafts of its Permit Review Process and Decision Guarantee and Permit Coordination policies covering over 244 mining (coal and noncoal), oil and gas, air quality, waste, storage tank, drinking water, water quality, dam safety, erosion and sedimentation control and water obstruction and encroachment permits and approvals.
The policies are open for public comment until October 1.
The policies implement Gov. Corbett’s July 24 Permit Decision Guarantee Executive Order, outlining the process DEP will use to guarantee an efficient timeframe in which the agency will make a decision on complete permit applications and authorizations.
“Gov. Corbett promised to reform how government operates in Pennsylvania,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “Good government means the efficient delivery of services, and that includes DEP permitting decisions. This process asks everyone to do a better job: DEP, businesses, non-profit organizations, local governments and consultants who work for these groups.”
DEP studied applications and permit procedures and discovered that about 40 percent of permit applications submitted to DEP are deficient, meaning they lack full information needed for DEP’s permit reviewers to make a sound decision.
“That creates a waste of everyone’s time,” Krancer said.
[Editor: DEP’s study of the existing permit process mentioned in this release and in an op-ed piece last week has not been released to the public.]
Under the new process, if a permit application is deficient—requiring it to be returned twice—DEP may deny it.
“Setting the clear expectation that every permit application should be correct and complete the first time is the key to efficiency on both sides,” Krancer said. “We need to free our staff from what amounts to a merry-go-round of reviewing deficient applications; returning them to the applicants; and, essentially, doing applicants’ work to make the applications shipshape.”
An important feature of the Permit Review Process and Decision Guarantee is that it strongly encourages applicants to arrange pre-application meetings with DEP to discuss the agency’s expectations during the permitting process and learn their obligations as applicants. It also prioritizes the order in which permits are reviewed.
“The Permit Review Process and Decision Guarantee enables our staff to do their main job of concentrating on protecting the environment and making decisions. At the same time, it gives the regulated community a more predictable and efficient permit application review and decision process,” Krancer said. “We encourage the public and all stakeholders to review the draft policies and offer feedback to us.”
The companion Permit Coordination policy outlines how staff should coordinate projects that require multiple permits. DEP staff will review the policies’ effectiveness annually and make any necessary adjustments. The agency plans to develop electronic permitting tools to further improve the process.
Permit Review Priorities
The draft policy sets priorities for reviewing applications by DEP and would eliminate any “first-in-first-out” review policies unless required by law.  The proposed priorities include--
1. Applications for projects necessary for the protection of public health, safety and the
2. Applications for projects necessary for economic development;  
3. Applications within Permit Decision Guarantee;
4. Those applications that have been excluded from the Permit Decision Guarantee but are
necessary for economic development projects that create jobs and enhance communities;
5. Lastly, any remaining applications will be reviewed on a “first-in-first-out” basis.
No Strikes Rule
The draft policy says that only permit applications determined to be complete and without technical deficiencies will be covered by the permit decision guarantee.  If technical deficiencies are found in the permit application during the technical review, the deficiencies will void the permit decision guarantee.
Applicants will have one opportunity to correct the deficiencies DEP identifies in a deficiency letter and a deadline is established for responding to the deficiency letter.  If the applicant’s response corrects the deficiencies, the application will then be subject to what DEP calls an Elevated Review Process where DEP sets a new deadline for decisions.

DEP will host two web-based information sessions about the draft policies, with time for questions and answers, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on September 5, and September 10.
To register for the webinars, review the draft policies, read the Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet and executive order, visit DEP’s Permit Decision Guarantee webpage.

Thursday NewsClips

Drilling Zoning Ruling Will Be On Merits Senator Says
Chesapeake Energy’s PA Drilling Data Filled With Errors
Robinson Joins PA Townships Under PUC Marcellus Review
Fractivism Becomes A Full-Time Job For Retirees
WITF StateImpact PA Shale Play App Available
Shell’s Cracker Tax Break Means Lost Revenue For Beaver
Wall Street Journal Maps Local Fracking Bans In NY
Defense Logistics Agency Breaks Ground For Green Building
Over $1 Million In Federal Flood Repairs In Wyoming
Editorial: New Vehicle Fuel Standards Will Create Jobs
Gas Prices Make Biggest 1-Day Jump In 18 Months
Presque Islae State Park Named Top Fishing, Boating Park
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hawk Mountain Celebrates Vultures On September 1

Hawk Mountain will join conservationists worldwide to celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day on September 1 in Kempton, Berks County.
The event at the world-famous sanctuary will include a live vulture presentation at noon by Red Creek Environmental Center, a children’s monitoring project at the lookouts, an “Eating like a Vulture” activity, vulture-themed information and merchandise in the Visitor Center, and information about the Sanctuary’s own far-ranging scientific studies.
Hawk Mountain educators hope to illustrate the amazing adaptations of the winged scavengers, including their incredible sense of smell, the ability to soar for hours without flapping, and guts of sheer steel that allow them to digest and destroy disease agents such as cholera and even anthrax. Other carrion-eaters such as rats and dogs would spread contamination whereas the much-maligned vulture reduces or eliminates it. In essence, the birds are nature’s greatest clean-up crew.
At the lookout, children may use a complimentary monitoring card to track the number of black and turkey vultures, and staff and volunteers that day will help to point out the large soaring birds. Everyone on the lookout that day also will be encouraged to watch for wing-tagged vultures, locally-tagged birds that are part of the Sanctuary’s long-term study. Children who participate and turn in their data collection card will be eligible to win a plush vulture.
International Vulture Awareness Day was launched two years ago to draw attention to one of the greatest wildlife catastrophes of recent time: the sudden and massive drop in the tens of millions of vultures that once soared across south Asia and India.
Today, three vulture species in India have seen precipitous declines—one as high as 99 percent—caused by toxins in the environment. In Africa, too, vultures are in decline due to deliberate poisoning, loss of habitat and their use in traditional medicines.
In short, Old World vultures (those outside the Americas) are in big trouble, and in response, Hawk Mountain biologists in 2007 launched its own study to build critically-needed baseline data on the winged scavengers.
Today, Hawk Mountain is working with partners across the United States and Canada, Central and South America, and in Europe and East Africa to build a better snapshot of vulture biology and movement. The work will allow Sanctuary scientists to recognize similar drops in species numbers should one ever occur here or elsewhere.
The latest research will begin this year on the hooded vulture, the most widespread species of vulture in Africa. Here the Sanctuary hopes to take the first steps in stopping declines on the African continent by providing information on vulture movements, behaviors and habitat needs. The work will take place in four countries across the species range: Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Perhaps the biggest goal of International Vulture Awareness Day is to simply increase appreciation for the birds’ grace, importance, and interesting social behaviors. For example, vultures keep the landscape free of carcasses, which in turn reduces the spread of disease such as anthrax and botulism.
Their ability to efficiently remove waste helps to control populations of rats, feral dogs, coyotes and hyenas, which in turn reduces even more disease. For example, when vulture numbers dropped in South Asia and India, the number of wild dogs, cases of rabies and death from rabies increased proportionally.
For more information, visit the International Vulture Awareness Day webpage or  the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary website. Here, too, visitors may read updates from researchers in the field on the Sanctuary’s blog, The Vulture Chronicles, and track near-real-time satellite tracking images of our tagged vultures.

Tuesday NewsClips

DEP Proposes Stronger Rules To Regulate Drilling
Hopewell Watches Drilling Cycle As State’s Most-Drilled Twp
NY To Rule On Fracking, Could Affect Delaware Basin
Homer City Power Plant Upgrade OK’d
Luzerne Man Dies From West Nile Virus
Issac, Refinery Fire Expected To Affect Gasoline Prices
REAP Farm Conservation Tax Credit Now Due
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Monday, August 27, 2012

Applications Now Being Accepted For REAP Farm Conservation Tax Credits

Pennsylvania farmers can take advantage of nearly $7 million in tax credits to purchase on-farm conservation equipment or install facilities meeting best management practice standards through the Resource Enhancement and Protection Farm Conservation Tax Credit, or the REAP program.
Producers with proposed or completed projects can submit applications immediately. The projects will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
REAP is a tax incentive program for agricultural producers who enlist private support to reduce erosion and sedimentation that impacts Pennsylvania’s watersheds.
The program, administered by the State Conservation Commission, helps producers with the purchase of conservation equipment and materials to help protect the environment.
“REAP helps producers farm for the future without compromising the needs of the present,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “This program has helped producers improve their operation while advancing the health of our watersheds.”
Private investors often provide capital to producers as a project is approved in return for tax credits. Any individual or business subject to taxation under Personal Income Tax, Corporate Net Income Tax, Bank Shares Tax and others, is eligible to participate in REAP.
The program began in 2007 and since then 2,609 projects worth more than $39.5 million have been approved. The public and private investment made to implement these projects is $68.7 million.
REAP has helped reduce more than 11 million pounds of nitrogen, 859,485 pounds of phosphorus and 877,059 pounds of sediment through 2010.  
Farmers can receive tax credits of up to $150,000 per agricultural operation for 50 or 75 percent of the total project cost. The most common projects approved are for no-till planting equipment, materials for waste storage facilities, manure management plans and protecting heavy animal use areas like barnyards.
Applications for the 2012-2013 REAP program are available on Agriculture’s REAP webpage or by calling 717-787-8821.

Help Wanted: Appalachian Trail Conservancy Environmental Planner

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is seeking candidates to fill a full-time Environmental Planner position.  The deadline for applying is September 10.  Click Here for details.

DCNR: Explore South Mountain Region For Labor Day Weekend

A wide array of free events will take place Labor Day weekend at more than 30 participating sites in the South Mountain region of southcentral Pennsylvania, showcasing the area’s best outdoor recreational opportunities.
South Mountain Outdoors, now in its second year, will launch on September 1, marking the start of two days of biking, hiking, kayaking, fishing, history tours and cultural festivals across Cumberland, Adams and Franklin counties.
“South Mountain Outdoors is for anyone interested in getting outside, whether you hike, paddle, fish, or are interested in conservation,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said. “It gives adults and kids the opportunity to meet people who work in conservation and outdoor recreation and learn more about the amazing resources and recreational opportunities this region offers.”
The guide to the weekend’s events is the South Mountain Outdoors Passport that can be downloaded online or picked up at participating locations.  
Participants can leave the passport at any of the noted locations to be eligible for a random drawing of prizes donated by participating South Mountain region sites.
Featured events on September 1 and 2 include: Bigfoot Boot Camp at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center; guided bike rides by the Harrisburg Bicycle Club and along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail; a walking tour of the Dickinson College Farm; an Appalachian Trail hike followed by sticky buns at Allenberry Resort Inn; backyard beekeeping hike at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve; specials along the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail; and more.
Labor Day also marks one of two days out of the year on which anyone can fish in Pennsylvania without a fishing license. Those looking to try their hand at fishing, but don’t have gear, can visit Pine Grove Furnace State Park, located at the mid-point of the Appalachian Trail, for free loaner equipment on September 3.
South Mountain Outdoors is sponsored by the South Mountain Partnership, made up of private citizens, businesses, nonprofit organizations and government representatives in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, working to protect and enhance the region’s landscape.
The partnership was sparked by DCNR’s Conservation Landscape Initiative, an effort to engage communities, local partners, state agencies and funding opportunities to conserve the high-quality natural and cultural resources while enhancing the region’s economic viability.
For full details, visit the South Mountain Outdoors Blog or call the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 717-258-5771.

DCNR's 2012-13 Calendar Commemorates Civilian Conservation Corps

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is pleased to offer a new 2012-2013 16-month special edition calendar commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  
The calendar salutes the hardworking CCC boys who dedicated years of their life in the construction of many of Pennsylvania’s emerald jewels.  
The calendar features historic images of the CCC in Pennsylvania, along with information to highlight the important role the Corps played.    
The 2012–2013 calendars is $8.49 plus tax and $1.95 for shipping and handling.   The proceeds benefit Pennsylvania’s State Parks.
You may purchase a calendar by calling the PA State Park Reservation Center at 1-888-PA-PARKS (727-2757), Monday through Saturday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.  
The calendar is also available for sale in the PA State Parks.

Monday NewsClips

Officials To Tour Abandoned Mines In Lackawanna, Luzerne
How Allentown Water, Sewer Lease Would Affect Suburbs
Column: Who Pays Tax For Natural Gas Cars?
Towns Struggle One Year After Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene Among Worst PA Storms
Piecing Together An Ambitious Trail
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 27 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The August 27 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Click Here to print entire Digest.

Have You Registered For Ohio River Watershed Celebration Sept. 27?

It’s that time of year again to register for the Ohio River Watershed Celebration to be held on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh on September 27.
This year the main cruise will feature presentations by Michael Krancer, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, and John Arway, Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission.
Join the fun as hundreds of people interested in protecting and restoring the watersheds around Western Pennsylvania come together to network, learn new skills, share their success stories and enjoy a cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet leaving from Station Square in Pittsburgh.
Online registration is available.
Poster Contest/Cash Prizes
As in the past years, the organizers of the Celebration would like to recognize the positive efforts and impacts of small local organizations on their watershed by offering cash prizes of $500.00 and $250.00 for winning displays in each of four categories-- Community Outreach and Education, Most Innovative, Best Example of Partnership and Best Overall Display.  
These awards are for formal or informal associations, alliances, environmental groups or like-minded organization in the Ohio River Watershed.  (They do not include local, state or federal agencies or private businesses.)
The theme this year is “Our Rivers – Get to the Point” and we would like you to try to incorporate this somewhere in your display.  Tell us how you “got to the point” with your project!
If your organization would like to participate in the contest this year register for the event, check off Poster Option when you register online.
Please send an email to Sylvia Danehy at: and confirm that you want to enter the poster contest and then your display will be placed on the list to be judged.

Friday NewsClips

Green Stormwater Management Balances Environment, Cost
DEP Secretary Defends Expedited Permit Reviews
Earthquakes And Fracking One Year Later
Romney: Give State Power To Extract Energy
Gas Drilling Record Becomes Focus Of Corbett Kayak Tour
Protesters Make Waves At Corbett’s Kayak Tour
9 Bidders Interested In Allentown’s Water, Sewer Business
Twp Weighing Septic Tank Cleanout Rule
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alert! August 24 Air Quality Action Day In 9 PA Regions

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast a code Orange air quality action day for ozone for Friday, August 24, in the Lehigh Valley, Liberty-Clairton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Susquehanna Valley Regions and in Centre, Erie, Indiana, Mercer counties.  Click Here for details.

Opinion: DEP Is Fine-Tuning Environmental Permit Process

By Mike Krancer, Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection

Gov. Tom Corbett promised to bring reform to the way government operates in Pennsylvania. Good government means the efficient delivery of government services, which includes permitting decisions by the Department of Environmental Protection.

There is no question that DEP and the public we serve saw room for improvement. Our own review confirmed it.
We have to start with insisting upon top-quality permit applications from businesses, nonprofit organizations, local governments and these groups’ consultants. That is an important basis and starting point of the governor’s recently signed executive order, upon which DEP will build the permit guarantee process.
It is an important point that much commentary on the [decision guarantee] executive order has missed. Our study of applications and permit procedures revealed that about 40 percent of permit applications submitted to DEP are deficient, meaning information important to making a decision was missing.
In addition, a former DEP secretary reported that of about 125,000 permits or authorizations issued from 1995 to 2002, less than two dozen “money-back guarantee” refunds were issued [Editor: under the 1995 Money-Back Guarantee Permit Review Program].
So permits were being issued, eventually, but only after months or years of the merry-go-round of taking applications “off the clock” and then back “on the clock” and then back “off the clock” — until finally, they were ready for a decision to be made.  [Editor’s Note: The Rendell Administration ignored and gamed the Money-Back Permit Guarantee Program established under the Ridge Administration.  In addition, the Rendell Administration cut hundreds of positions from DEP.]
Often, DEP permit review personnel spent much time doing the work for applicants to get their applications to the “complete” stage. That process caused frustration internally and externally and, importantly, wastes the time of DEP personnel and the public we serve.
The draft permit decision guarantee policy document that will be published for public comment is being developed by DEP personnel at all levels who have done permitting work for years.
The new process will free DEP personnel from the merry-go-round and allow them to spend more of their time reviewing quality, complete permit applications and concentrate on protecting the environment. The system will work better, and the environment will be better protected.
At the same time, the process will deliver to the regulated community a more predictable and efficient manner of permit application review and decision. The draft policy, which comes from the executive order, will be built upon four core principles:
-- Complete and quality permit applications are crucial to DEP’s ability to guarantee a timely decision;
-- Every full and complete permit application will receive a thorough review in an efficient manner;
-- DEP will not issue any permit that does not meet all legal and statutory requirements to protect the environment and public health and safety; and
-- DEP will make decisions based on the law, facts and sound science.
We encourage the public and all stakeholders to give it a fair and open-minded review and offer feedback to us once it is published for public comment. 

Thursday NewsClips

DEP: Chespeake Energy Data Rife With Errors
Report: Gas From PA Shale Wells Doubles Over Last Year
DEP Investigating Susquehanna Well Pad Fire
Study Suggests How Manufacturers Can Tap Shale Power
Flood Disaster Aid Bill Aims To Close Gaps
Op-Ed: DEP Is Fine-Tuning Permit Process
Allegheny Panel Recommends Against Air Toxics Rules
Allegheny Air Advisers Ignored By Rule Developers
Clean Air? Not In Lancaster
Editorial: Slapping The EPA, Rogue & Lawless
Op-Ed: We Should Embrace Higher Fuel Standards
PPL Lowers Default Rate For Residential Customers
New Green Initiative Being Tested At Temple
TMI Steam Release Causes Noise, No Radiation Detected
Soybean Plant Gest Twp Approval In Lancaster
Lancaster Solid Waste Authority Extended 25 Years
CDC: West Nile Outbreak One Of Largest In U.S.
Column: Elizabethown Bike Path Paving Bold New Route?
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

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