Friday, November 29, 2013

Dec. 2 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The Dec. 2 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Click Here to print entire Digest.

Senate Committee To Consider Nominations Of Ferretti At DCNR, Abruzzo At DEP Dec. 4

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to meet on December 4 to consider the nominations of Ellen Ferretti as Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources and Chris Abruzzo as Secretary of Environmental Protection.
Gov. Corbett’s nominees for DEP and DCNR were announced September 20, but the 25 legislative days the Senate has to consider nominations officially began on October 20 with both nominations because that’s when the paperwork got to the Senate.
Both nominations are now on day 16.
The Senate is scheduled to return to voting session December 3 and will be in session a total of five days in December.
If the nominations are not acted on in December, the Governor will have to re-submit the nomination paperwork in January, including new financial disclosure statements, and the Senate will have 10 additional legislative days to consider the nominations.
The meeting will be held in Hearing Room 1 North Office Building starting at 10:00 a.m.

Vote Now For Pennsylvania’s 2014 River Of The Year

The public is invited to vote online for the 2014 Pennsylvania River of the Year now through December 27, choosing from among five waterways nominated across the state: the  Schuylkill in eastern Pennsylvania; Kiskiminetas- Conemaugh rivers in the southwest; Ohio in the west; Brodhead Creek Watershed in the northeast; and West Branch of the Susquehanna in the northcentral section of the state.
“So many unique natural resources and recreational opportunities are showcased individually in these nominations,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary Ellen Ferretti. “Collectively, these rivers and streams demonstrate just how blessed Pennsylvania is with its wealth of major waterways.”
Nominations were based on each waterway’s conservation needs and successes, as well as celebration plans should the nominee be voted 2014 River of the Year.
In cooperation with DCNR, selection of public voting choices was overseen by the PA Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR), an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
“As it enters its fourth year, we have seen the online public selection process become increasingly popular,” Ferretti said. “We also know this spirit of good-natured competition rallies community support around our waterways and puts deserving rivers and streams in the limelight.”
Voting will be managed through Woobox, an online contest application that restricts voting to one vote per email address.
POWR administers the River of the Year program with funding from DCNR. Presented annually since 1983, this year’s designation was awarded to the Monongahela River in southwest Pennsylvania.
"The River of the Year contest allows all Pennsylvanians to highlight the many fabulous waterways they enjoy, whether by boating, fishing, walking, eating, or shopping along the river trails,” said Paul King, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “While we formally recognize only one river with this award, we acknowledge the unique value of all rivers and their contribution to the overall environmental quality of Pennsylvania and the quality of life to all who enjoy them."
After a waterway is chosen for the annual honor, local groups implement a year-round slate of activities and events to celebrate the river, including a paddling trip, or sojourn. The organization nominating the winning river will receive a $10,000 leadership grant to help fund their River of the Year activities.
The River of the Year sojourn is just one of many paddling trips supported by DCNR and POWR each year. The independent Pennsylvania Sojourn Program is a unique series of a dozen such trips on the state’s rivers. These water-based journeys for canoeists, kayakers and others raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers.
POWR and DCNR also work with local organizations to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the River of the Year.
To learn more, visit the Pennsylvania River of the Year website, the DCNR’s Rivers Conservation Program webpage and the PA Organization for Watersheds and Rivers website.

Friday NewsClips

Decision On Hauling Coal Ash By Barge Could Be Fast Track
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewClips

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PUC Urges Consumers To Add Shopping For Electricity, Natural Gas To Holiday List

Whether braving the crowds on Black Friday or surfing the web for deals on Cyber Monday, the Public Utility Commission Wednesday reminded consumers to add shopping for electricity or natural gas to the list.
“This weekend has become synonymous with shopping for bargains and we encourage consumers to extend that idea to their electric and natural gas utilities,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. “Now is the perfect time to take a look at your electric and natural gas bills. and puts all of the information you need to shop at your fingertips. If you are one of the more than 2.1 million Pennsylvanians already using a competitive supplier, it is a good time to re-evaluate your contract terms and price.”
Since 1997 consumers have been able to select the company that provides their electric generation. Local electric distribution companies will still operate the lines that provide electricity to homes, but consumers are able to select the company that sells the electric power or generation that is delivered over those distribution lines.
Through these shopping websites, the PUC is working to make sure consumers have the tools at their fingertips to make an informed decision about switching electric and natural gas providers. Consumers have the power to switch to a competing supplier who may offer a lower price, or provide a specific service such as energy renewables.
Shopping for an electric or natural gas supplier is a zip. Just click and enter your zip code. Review the prices, products, terms and incentives from suppliers making offers in your area.
“While price is a motivator for many while shopping, you also can take advantage of other offers when choosing an electric or natural gas supplier,” Chairman Powelson said. “Shoppers can pair pricing with innovative product offerings such as free power days, frequent flier miles or help with energy efficiency improvements that further reduce their costs. They also can choose a supplier offering green energy choices.”
Consumers who are interested in learning more about changing energy providers can either go to or for information on switching to a competitive supplier.

Join The Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trail

If you are a fine artist or craft artisan living in the Pennsylvania Wilds region you are encourage to apply to be part of the PA Wilds Artisan Trail.  
Likewise, shops, restaurants, lodges, galleries, visitor centers and other retailers in the region who currently sell or are interested in selling handcrafted items by PA Wilds Juried Artisans and promoting their business utilizing the PA Wilds brand, should apply to become a trail partner. Jury sessions are held twice a year – in the fall and spring.  
Applications currently being accepted until December 13.
With nearly one hundred artists and over thirty trail partners, this program continues to grow and raise visibility and profitability of artisans and arts-related businesses in the PA Wilds. PA Wilds does this by helping arts related businesses increase sales and command higher pricing through the use of the “Proudly Made in the Pennsylvania Wilds” brand and getting more of these items to market through retail partners in our region.
A key benefit to joining the PA Wilds Artisan Trail is the ability to advertise under the PA Wilds Artisan Trail brand, and benefit from its strong online and social media presence as well as print materials to help artisans more easily market their products to residents, visitors, design professionals and the like.
Visual artists, craft artisans, jewelry designers, furniture, glass and metal designers are all welcome to apply.  
This is a great time to join this program, as we are currently working on a series of upgrades that will increase its reach even further. Some of these upgrades include a mobile app and new website.
For more information, visit the PA Wilds Artisan Trail website, visit find them on facebook/pawildsartisans or send email to:

DCNR Issues New Guidelines To Help With Trail Planning, Building

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resource Wednesday announced the release of just issued “Pennsylvania Trail Design and Development Issues: Guidelines for Sustainable, Non-motorized Trails.”
This 254-page manual will help communities and organizations with planning, design, construction and management of trails.
The document is a compilation of best practices and guidelines, but also includes ideas for developing trails that will provide desirable and enjoyable experiences for users as well as utilizing sustainable design elements. Creating these guidelines was a recommendation in DCNR’s nationally-recognized statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan.
Click Here to download your copy. (Reprinted from the November 27 issue of DCNR’s Resource online newsletter.)

State Forest Districts Opening Additional Roads To Hunters

When a new season begins Monday for Pennsylvania deer hunters, new hunting grounds will be available to them through additional state forest roads in 18 of the 20 state forest districts.
"When hunters seeking white-tailed deer head out for the opening of the state's traditional season they will find more than 90 percent of all state forestland is now within one-half mile of an open road," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary Ellen Ferretti. "Since early October, we've opened more than 400 additional miles of state forest roads that are normally gated."
Through the state's archery season, which closed Nov. 16, and the state's other deer hunting seasons, running into January 2014, hunters will find more than 3,000 miles of roadway open to them in state forestlands.
"Selective, temporary opening of state forest roads enables our forestry experts to channel deer hunting pressure where they think it is needed to benefit forest regeneration," said Ferretti. "We're also offering hunters, who we view as invaluable tools in both wildlife management and forest stewardship, access to sometimes remote areas."
Ferretti noted some of these additional roads will be open only during deer season and at the discretion of the district forester. Others only will be opened for the second week of the traditional rifle season because they cannot withstand the expected heavy traffic of the first week. Two-or three-month long openings will be in effect only where there is minimal threat of damage or deterioration to road surfaces or forest surroundings.
Many state parks, especially those in the 12-county Pennsylvania Wilds region, offer inexpensive camping and access to top-quality hunting in nearby public forestlands.
Primitive camping on state forestlands also is an option, giving hunters a backcountry camping or hunting experience. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, will be required when camping on state forestlands.
Many of these campsites are close to state parks and forest lands enrolled in the Game Commission's Deer Management Assistance Program, permitting hunters to take one antlerless deer or more when properly licensed. Hunters are advised to check with state forests district headquarters or state park offices about availability.
Hunters traveling to northcentral areas of the state are reminded some hunting areas and travel routes may be impacted by Marcellus Shale-related activities. Some state forest roads may be temporarily closed during drilling operations or other peak periods of heavy use to reduce potential safety hazards.
To avoid potential conflicts on state forest roads during times of high public use, DCNR will attempt to limit or restrict truck traffic at the outset of major hunting and fishing seasons.
Also, hunters in Sproul State Forest are reminded a large-scale acid mine remediation project is underway near Renovo with heavy truck traffic. A 1.5-mile section of Boyer Road, a state forest road, will be closed. In addition, Two Mile Road, a public road, is closed from the Huling Branch Parking Lot to Robbins Farm Road. Access into that area will be from Route 144 on either Big Basin or Quarter Mile roads.
Huling Branch, Whiskey Springs and Middle Branch roads in the state forest will be opened for hunter access.  Due to project safety concerns, barricades will allow only partial access to Huling Branch and Boyer roads.
More information and a detailed map of the 100-acre Huling Branch reclamation project can be found on DCNR’s State Forest Roads and Trails Advisories webpage.
A complete listing of open roads, effective dates and district office telephone numbers can be obtained on DCNR’s Hunting On State Forest Lands webpage.
Marcellus Shale information can be found on DCNR’s Natural Gas Drilling on State Forests webpage. Camping opportunities and details can be found on DCNR’s Choose An Activity webpage.

PA Parks And Forests Foundation Joins The National Giving Tuesday Movement

Those looking for an alternative to Black Friday shopping this year have a new way to channel the holiday spirit to the Pennsylvania state parks and forests they love.  The PA Parks and Forests Foundation has joined “Giving Tuesday,” a first of its kind effort to transform how people participate in the giving season.
Taking place on December 3—the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—Giving Tuesday hopes to tap the reach of social media to create a national movement around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days synonymous with holiday shopping,
“Giving Tuesday is an easy way to remember your favorite non-profits during the Thanksgiving holiday. Investing in non-profits not only makes you feel good, it does good,” said PPFF President Marci Mowery.
The PA Parks and Forests Foundation is committed to conservation, education and enhancing Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests through a large network of volunteer chapters working in parks across the state.
The Foundation is actively working to increase accessible recreation opportunities for disabled Pennsylvanians, helping to build accessible playgrounds in the parks, supporting staff training sessions, and fundraising for EZ-Dock ADA accessible boat ramps at several parks, including the newest at Point State Park in Pittsburgh.
PPFF has also launched a new annual event for wounded service members to try out activities ranging from adaptive kayaking and handcycling to fishing and nature photography at Gifford Pinchot State Park.
Find more information about ways to support Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests through PPFF at the Giving Tuesday website.

10,000 Friends Of PA Salutes New Transportation Funding Bill

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania issued the following statement on the passage and signing into law of the transportation funding bill this week.--
“10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania commends the Republican and Democratic leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly for reaching a reasonable compromise and passing the transportation bill, House Bill 1060 (Pyle-R-Armstrong). We applaud Gov. Corbett for signing the bill into law, as Act 89, while traveling the Commonwealth Monday.
“With the signing of Act 89, critically needed funding can now begin to flow to key transportation and transit projects throughout the Commonwealth.  
“Roughly 23 percent of all funding in this bill - $2.2 billion over the next five years - goes to much-needed transit projects. In addition, the bill makes a large commitment of approximately $700 million over the next five years in a first-ever Multi-Modal Fund.
“10,000 Friends is very pleased to see several of our top priorities included in the new law. We strongly advocated that at least 25 percent of all new funding go to transit - to improve service for those who rely on transit to get to work or school or the doctor's office.  
“It is sound public policy to encourage greater use of public transit, as our transit systems efficiently meet the mobility needs of thousands daily, while conserving energy and providing the best means of reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.
“And paying for these transit investments at least in part through an additional dedicated slice of the state Sales & Use tax, another 10,000 Friends priority, has also become law in Act 89 - with a minimum amount of $450 million annually beginning in year 2022-2023.
“We were an early advocate and supporter of creating a new Multi-Modal Fund, building on both the legacy of the Community Transportation pilot we created and championed as well as on our vision of promoting better land use, and we are tremendously gratified that a first-ever Multi-Modal Fund has been established.  
“Insisting that the new Multi-Modal Fund be adequately funded to make robust investments, we led in singularly pressing House and Senate leaders for increased Multi-Modal Funding - and indeed the Fund has grown from the $60 million annually first proposed to $151 million provided annually when Act 89 is fully implemented.  
This increased funding will result in many more bicycling and pedestrian projects than previously possible - along with streetscape and main street improvements, and opportunities to build new trail networks, safer crosswalks, and safe routes to schools.  
“In a state where 12 percent of traffic fatalities involve pedestrian and bicyclists, especially senior citizens, this funding will make our streets, highways, and neighborhoods safer while creating more vibrant, connected, healthier communities.
“Thus this compromise law is a major step towards making the long term investments needed in our transit systems and other community-based transportation options for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Act 89 is an enormous improvement over the bill that stalled in the House at the end of June.  As a direct result of our advocacy, an additional $285 million in funding for the Multi-Modal Fund (over five years) was secured that did not exist in the June version of the bill.  
“We also strongly supported, with our close partners, the strategy that resulted in more than a $1.2 billion increase (over five years) in additional funding for transit not included in the June version of the bill.  These increases represent a real victory for those of us who argued that it was worth fighting for - and negotiating - a better bill.
“No one wants to pay more in gas taxes or vehicle registration fees. But access to a world-class transportation system is not an entitlement-it costs money. We should regard paying for our transportation network like we already accept paying for all the other networks and utilities essential to connecting us to modern life, including telephone, cell phone, internet access, cable television,  electricity, water, and waste disposal services.  
“Since the revenue produced by gas taxes at previous rates was not sufficient even to pay for the repair and maintenance of existing roads and bridges that previous generations had paid to build, increased investment was necessary.
“This is not a perfect law by any means.  We wish it included more funding for community transportation, more explicitly prioritized road and bridge maintenance, and explicitly linked project investments with sound land-use and land-planning principles. But it is an important step forward.
“For 10,000 Friends and those committed to building a prosperous and healthy Pennsylvania, this act is a hopeful sign that despite our much too polarized politics, it is possible to secure the resources needed to build a vision of a better future for Pennsylvanians-a safe, well-maintained, well-connected multi-modal transportation system that provides all Pennsylvanians with more choices and better access to jobs, shops, schools, recreation, and other valued destinations and creates a more prosperous, vibrant, healthy Pennsylvania with the infrastructure needed to take advantage of new opportunities in the 21st Century.”
For more information, visit the 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania website.

American Farmland Trust: As You Give Thanks, Tell Congress To Protect Farmland

Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of the American Farmland Trust, issued the following statement on the status of negotiations in Congress on the federal Farm Bill as Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving dinners--
“Congressional negotiators are working on the final phase of the 2013 Farm Bill, and everything is on the negotiating table.
“The American Farmland Trust has been working to protect funding for farmland conservation programs, but we need your help.
“Thanks to the efforts of thousands of concerned citizens, American Farmland Trust successfully delivered over 25,000 messages to Congress earlier this year demanding that they get to work on a final Farm Bill.
“And they got results. The Farm Bill conference committee was named within weeks of that outpouring of support. Now, more help is needed to produce final results for farmland protection.
“Farm Bill negotiators will return to Washington D.C. in December to try to finish this important legislation and they need to hear from concerned citizens.
“Send a message to your members of Congress today, telling them funding is important for farmland protection!
“As a nation, we have so much to be thankful for, including our highly productive farmland. The Farm Bill provides the single largest federal investment in farmland conservation. Nearly 1.1 million acres of farmland have been permanently protected, ensuring that vital resource remains in agriculture for generations to come.
“There is an exciting new program to build on these efforts called the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program or ACEP, but to make sure it is effective we need to ensure agricultural land easements are provided the highest possible funding level.
“More than ever, we need a new, comprehensive Farm Bill that reinvests in farmland conservation, that provides sound conservation practices and that helps farmers stay on the land. We have come too far and there is too much at stake for Congress to not finish the job.
“As you celebrate the bounty our farmland provides, please take a few minutes during this busy holiday time to lend your voice to protecting America’s farmland.
“Thank you for all that you do to support farmland conservation in your community and across the nation.”
“A sample message to members of Congress follows--
Dear Decision Maker:
“I write in support of strong conservation programs as part of a final farm bill conference report. Funding for conservation is vital for continued protection of farmland and natural resources across the country.
“Farmland protection is a critical component of this bill. A final farm bill should retain the 40 percent funding floor for agricultural land easements (ALE) within the newly combined Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) as provided for in the House-passed bill. It should also retaining funding for the ACEP as provided for in the Senate-passed bill at $2.2 billion.
“By including these provisions, adequate resources would be provided for the combined function of the program so that our productive farmlands, our pristine grasslands and our valuable wetlands can continue to be protected under conservation easements. Providing these resources will help further reduce the threat to these lands that sustain us with food, wildlife and clean water.
“Farmland is at the heart of America’s land conservation and our ability to produce nutritious and affordable local food. I appreciate you considering my views and thank you for your important work to protect our nation’s farmland.”
Find your member of Congress:  House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.
For more information on the policies and programs of the American Farmland Trust, visit, follow us on Facebook at or Twitter

Wednesday NewsClips

PennDOT Says Drivers Unlikely To Be Pinched At Pump
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Senate Committee To Consider Nominations Of Ferretti, Abruzzo Dec. 4

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to meet on December 4 to consider the nominations of Ellen Ferretti as Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources and Chris Abruzzo as Secretary of Environmental Protection.
Gov. Corbett’s nominees for DEP and DCNR were announced September 20, but the 25 legislative days the Senate has to consider nominations officially began on October 20 with both nominations because that’s when the paperwork got to the Senate.
Both nominations are now on day 16.
The Senate is scheduled to return to voting session December 3 and will be in session a total of five days in December.
If the nominations are not acted on in December, the Governor will have to re-submit the nomination paperwork in January, including new financial disclosure statements, and the Senate will have 10 additional legislative days to consider the nominations.
The meeting will be held in Hearing Room 1 North Office Building starting at 10:00 a.m.

Growing Greener Coalition Celebrates Marcellus Legacy Fund Grants

The PA Growing Greener Coalition Tuesday celebrated the approval of more than $28 million in Marcellus Legacy Fund grants to support recreation and critical land and water protection efforts throughout the state.
“The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition is pleased that funds from the Marcellus Legacy Fund will be used to support vital recreation and land and water protection efforts,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition.  “These grants will have a lasting impact on the Commonwealth by supporting projects that provide numerous benefits including protecting watersheds, mitigating risk of flooding, building and maintaining recreational trails and treating former mining sites.”
A result of Act 13, which was signed into law in 2012, the ‘impact fee’ collects fees on natural gas drilling.  To date, the state’s impact fee has collected more than $400 million.  Forty percent of the fees collected are allocated to the Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund.  
A portion of the Fund is administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority to support statewide conservation and recreation efforts.  This initial round of grants distributed more than $28 million in grants.
The Coalition was instrumental in ensuring that funds collected through the Marcellus Legacy Fund be made available for statewide conservation and recreation projects.
A breakdown of the grants distributed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority is as follows:
-- $5.6 million to restore streams impaired by polluted runoff in 18 counties;
-- $16 million to support 116 greenway, trail and recreation projects throughout the state;
-- $5.2 million to support 12 abandoned mine drainage abatement and treatment projects statewide;
-- $700,000 to support flood mitigation projects in Blair, Bucks, Lackawanna and Northumberland counties; and
-- $225,000 to plug orphaned and abandoned wells in Allegheny and Washington counties.
“The Marcellus Legacy Fund was created to help support important environmental protection efforts statewide and in local communities, and we’re glad to see that its impact is starting to be felt,” Heath said.  “This first round of grant awards will go a long way to improving environmental outcomes and upholding Pennsylvania’s status as a great place to live and work.”  
Established in 2008, the PA Growing Greener Coalition comprises local, regional and statewide conservation, recreation and preservation groups. It is the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth.

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner