Saturday, October 31, 2015

$2,000 College Scholarships Offered By National Assn. Of Abandoned Mine Land Programs

The National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs is offering $2,000 scholarships to assist students who intend to work as scientists, engineers or technicians in the field of mine land reclamation.  Applications are due by May 31, 2016.
Three scholarships will be given: 1) to a student enrolled in a school in the eastern geographic area of the United States (generally those states within or near the Appalachian Region of the OSMRE); 2) to a student enrolled in a school in the Mid-Continent of the United States (generally those states within or near the Mid-Continent Region of the OSMRE); and 3) to a student enrolled in a school in the Western Region of the United States (generally those states within or near the Western Region of the OSMRE).
Click Here to download the application and instructions.

Luzerne County Offers Funding For Recreation, Conservation Projects, Apply By Nov. 20

Luzerne County has set aside $65,000 from its Act 13 Marcellus Shale Legacy funds to support recreation and conservation projects in the county.  The deadline for applications is November 20 by 3:00 p.m.
There is a mandatory pre-application meeting on November 5 at the PA Environmental Council office, 175 Main Street, Luzerne, PA at 10:00 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.  RSVP to Sharon Lawrence, Clerk of the Luzerne County Council, by calling 570-825-1634 or send email to:
Click Here for a copy of the application and instructions.

Saturday PA Environmental NewsClips

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Friday, October 30, 2015

November 2 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The November 2 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

On Tuesday the five voting members of DEP’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board adopted a motion to move DEP’s Chapter 78 (Conventional)  and 78A (Unconventional) drilling regulations to the Environmental Quality Board for final consideration, with industry comments.

The voting members of DEP’s Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee Thursday adopted a resolution urging DEP to restart the rulemaking process for the Chapter 78 and 78a drilling regulations that have been under development since the Act 13 drilling law was adopted in 2012.

Last Monday, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council wrote to all members of the Pennsylvania Senate expressing its objections to House Bill 965 (Godshall-R-Montgomery) that would make it much easier for the General Assembly to block state agency regulations and statements of policy.

More than two dozen commenters participated in the fourth meeting of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force Wednesday held at DEP's Southcentral Regional Office in Harrisburg.  
Recommendations by members of the 11 workgroups are due November 2.  A draft report will be available for public comment on November 6.  The group’s final report is due to Gov. Wolf by February 2016.

The Penn State Master Well Owner Network had another successful year of education for private water system owners across Pennsylvania.  MWON is a volunteer program dedicated to providing unbiased, research-based education for the millions of private water well owners in Pennsylvania.

By Harry Campbell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA Office Director
As you find time to put away deck furniture, winterize gardens, and give the lawn its last good mowing, consider adding native plants to the landscaping. They can pay dividends for years to come.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Wednesday announced there was a 50 percent reduction in cigarette litter at the facilities of the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority in Erie County as a result of implementing a Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.

The PA Waste Industries Association and the PA Recycling Markets Center will host the 2015 PA Recycling Industries Congress in the Capitol Building Harrisburg on November 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

As part of its 13th year of “Prepare Now” education efforts, the Public Utility Commission Thursday urged utilities to take extra steps to help consumers – especially those on limited and fixed incomes – to prepare for winter heating costs.

(Budget Pumpkin: Eric Heisler, WHTM-TV photojournalist.)

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PA Environment Digest is edited by David E. Hess, former Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and is published as a service of Crisci Associates.

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DEP Environmental Justice Advisory Board Meeting Location Moved For Nov. 5

The November 5 meeting of DEP’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board will now be held at DEP’s Southeast Regional Office, Delaware Room, 2 East Main Street in Norristown starting at 9:00.
DEP will now also webcast this meeting.  Click Here to register.
The agenda for the meeting includes introducing the new Environmental Justice Director Carl E. Jones, Jr., discussion of EJAB comments on the EPA Clean Power Climate Plan, Legislative and Policy updates and other items.
Click Here for available handouts.

DEP’s Last Listening Session On EPA’s Clean Power Climate Plan Nov. 4 In Williamsport

The last in the series of 14 listening sessions DEP is holding on the federal Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants will be held on November 4 in Williamsport, Lycoming County, at Penn College, Mountain Laurel Room, One College Avenue from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
DEP is soliciting comments on the Clean Energy Incentive Program component of the CPP and on the EPA-proposed federal plan that serves as a model rule for states developing their state plans.
Here are just a few of the comments submitted so far--
The deadline for all public comments is November 12. Comments on the Clean Power Plan can be submitted online.  Click Here to see comments submitted by others so far.
For more background, visit DEP’s Climate Change webpage.

U.S. Army Announces Claims Process For Damages Sustained In Runaway Blimp Incident

The PA Emergency Management Agency announced Friday the U.S. Army has established a process for filing claims by citizens who sustained damages or losses related to the runaway JLENS blimp incident over Eastern Pennsylvania on October 28.
Inquiries regarding the claims process can be directed by email to:, or call 410-278-9849 or write: Commander, US Army Garrison Aberdeen Proving Ground, ATTN: AMCLC-APG-JAL, 4305 Susquehanna Avenue, 3rd Floor, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005.
Instructions for filing a claim can be found on the U.S. Army’s Potential JLENS/Blimp Claims webpage.

Western PA Chapter Society For Conservation Biology Annual Conference Nov. 7 In Clarion

The Western PA Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology will hold its annual conference at Clarion University in Clarion on November 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The conference theme, "Crossing Borders: Conservation through Interdisciplinary Science," will focus on white-tailed deer.
Thomas Simmons, professor of biology at Indiana State University, will present his research on ticks and Lyme disease as the keynote speaker.
In its third year, the event brings together conservationists from the region and challenge them to think more broadly about the difficulties faced in modern conservation efforts.
Click Here for more information.

StateImpact: PA Supreme Court To Hear More Arguments On Act 13 Drilling Law

StateImpact PA reported Friday the PA Supreme Court Tuesday issued an order saying it will hear challenges to the Act 13 drilling law related to doctor access to fracking chemical information, eminent domain for natural gas storage facilities and certain exclusions from notification of spills for owners and residents relying on private water sources.
These three issues were remanded by the Supreme Court back to Commonwealth Court for rehearing after the December 2013 decision which invalidated limits on local regulation of drilling through zoning.
At the rehearing, Commonwealth Court decided against environmental interests on all three issues and they appealed the decision.
The Supreme Court also agreed to hear arguments related to an appeal by the Public Utility Commission on its role in denying drilling impact fee payments to municipalities that enact local ordinances restricting drilling.
StateImpact said the Supreme Court will not revisit its 2013 interpretation of the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment as invalidating Act 13’s limits on regulating oil and gas activities through local zoning.
PA Supreme Court To Hear More Arguments On Act 13 Drilling Law

PA Recycling Industries Congress Nov. 17 In Harrisburg

The PA Waste Industries Association and the PA Recycling Markets Center will host the 2015 PA Recycling Industries Congress in the Capitol Building Harrisburg on November 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Exhibitors will be in the East Wing Rotunda of the Capitol to showcase innovative Pennsylvania products made from recyclable materials.
There will be a breakout session from Noon until 1:00 p.m. on Electronics Recycling: Realities of the Pennsylvania Marketplace in Room 14 East Wing of the Capitol.
For more information, contact the PA Recycling Markets Center by calling 717-948-6660 or contact Robert Bylone, Executive Director of the PRMC, by sending email to:
Related Stories:
Analysis: Electronics Recycling Effort Shrinking In PA, The Law Needs To Be Fixed

PA Environmental Educators Extend Deadline For Submitting Presentation Proposals For Conference

The PA Association of Environmental Educators have extend the deadline for submitting proposals for presentations at the 2016 annual conference on March 14-16 in Pocono Manor, Monroe County.  The new deadline is November 20.
Areas of focus include: Best practices in EE programs, e.g. Nature journaling; water sampling; Natural history & ecology, e.g. The story of the American Chestnut; and Organizational management, e.g. Social media & fundraising.
At the 2015 conference, over 150 educators, naturalists, school teachers, principals, early childhood educators, and students from across Pennsylvania attended the conference that focused on building connections between students, educators and nature.
Click Here to download the Conference Presenters form.  Please submit completed forms by email to: with the subject line “workshop proposal.”
For more information on programs and activities, visit the PA Association of Environmental Educators website.

Nov. 16 Joint Conservation Committee Environmental Forum On Sustainable Forestry

The next Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee Environmental Forum will be held on November 16 and will feature a presentation by Chuck Coup, Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
Currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, the PA SFI is an organization committed to promoting sustainable forest management and responsible forestry practices throughout the Commonwealth.
One of their most acclaimed initiatives is the Professional Timber Harvester Training Program which to date has trained over 7,000 loggers in sustainable tree harvesting techniques.
The organization also conducts extensive work with private landowners who comprise over 70 percent of the state’s total forest ownership base.
The Forum will be held in Hearing Room 8E-A of the East Wing Capitol Building starting at noon.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Joint Committee.

Day 125 Without A State Budget, But The State Still Spent $27 Billion Since July 1

The State Treasurer confirmed Monday state government has spent about $27 billion since July 1, even without an official state budget.  That number is almost equal to the entire General Fund budget in an average year.
The $27 billion includes payroll, certain welfare expenses, special fund expenditures like the state lottery, property tax relief from casino taxes and federal funds.
Senate Republicans Fail In Veto Override
Responding to growing pleas from schools and community groups to release overdue state funding, Senate Republicans Wednesday led an effort to override Gov. Wolf’s veto of an emergency budget passed last month by the General Assembly, but fell 3 votes short.
“Gov. Wolf’s veto of our Emergency Funding Budget last month showed his refusal to put the needs of our schools and social service organizations first,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).  “Our schools and human service organizations are in critical need of funding to keep their doors open and should not be held hostage during this budget impasse.  As legislators, we have a duty to help our communities and today’s veto override vote of the Emergency Funding legislation took a necessary step to provide vital support while a final budget is negotiated.  As we continue to move forward, we remain committed to ensuring that the final 2015-16 budget respects taxpayers and hardworking families across Pennsylvania.”    
Hours before the vote, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told members of the Senate Democrat Policy Committee that the lack of state funding is having a devastating financial impact on schools throughout Pennsylvania.  
School districts have already borrowed nearly a half-billion dollars – plus interest payments of $15 million – because of the budget impasse, and that number may double by Thanksgiving.
“This hardship is completely unnecessary – the money is there and the state hasn’t stopped collecting taxes,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre).  “Gov. Wolf is holding schools, food banks, rape crisis centers and other social service agencies hostage to his plan for huge tax increases that simply have no support.  We are all frustrated. The reality is that budget issues are going to take additional time to resolve. This is about getting money to the schools and those in our communities who need it. ”
“Pennsylvania cannot afford the Governor’s massive tax hikes and record high spending levels,” Senate Appropriations Committee Majority Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) said. “However, school districts, nonprofits and agencies should not be punished while a final budget agreement continues to be negotiated. We have a responsibility to fund these vital services and this vote today on an emergency budget would have ensured that we meet those obligations to provide for the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
The vote marks the fifth time since June 30th Republican legislators have attempted to have a fiscally responsible budget enacted and keep money flowing to schools and organizations.
House D Tries Tabling All Bills But Budget
Meanwhile in the House Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) made a motion to table all non-budget related legislation until a state budget is put before the House.  It failed.
Gov. Wolf
On a Pittsburgh radio program Thursday, Gov. Wolf said, It’s not time for partisanship.  We really need to recognize the things we have in common-- which is a good Pennsylvania-- and come to some agreement on what we need to do to move Pennsylvania forward.”
Wolf said he was waiting for the General Assembly to come forward with another budget plan.
Next Steps
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said Wednesday following the failure of the veto override, he and other Republicans are working on a two-year budget plan.
Republicans said they are putting together another FY 2015-16 budget they intend to vote on when both the Senate and House return to session during the week of November 16.
The package is likely to include a budget with some limited “revenue enhancements,” along with another pension and liquor privatization proposal.
The intent is to put the package again on the Governor’s desk to see what he will do.
Who’s To Blame?
A Franklin & Marshall poll released Thursday had voters putting the blame for the budget impasse on the Legislature-- 51 percent-- and Gov. Wolf-- 32 percent.  Fully 62 percent of those survey said Pennsylvania was heading in the wrong direction.
Session Schedule
Both the Senate and House do not have voting session next week due to the November 3 election.
The Senate recessed until November 16.  It now has only six more voting days scheduled for this calendar year, although more can be added if needed-- November 16, 17, 18 and December 7, 8, 9.
The House is scheduled to come back to voting session on November 9 and 10.  It is scheduled to be in voting session November 17, 18, 23, 24 and December 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16.
(Budget Pumpkin: Eric Heisler, WHTM-TV photojournalist.)

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