Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Game Commission Land Acquisitions, Energy Deals Highlight Board Meeting

Pennsylvania’s system of state game lands would grow by more than 50 acres, thanks to two land donations approved Tuesday by the Board of Game Commissioners.
One tract – located in West Finley Township, Washington County, near State Game Lands 245 – was offered by Dr. David A. Celko.
Celko would retain the oil, gas and mineral rights associated with the 29.4-acre tract, which is mostly forested with mixed hardwoods, is traversed by Blockhouse Run and has a 5-acre scrub-shrub wetland complex.
The other land donation – two tracts totaling 34 acres adjoining State Game Lands 43 in Warwick Township, Chester County – was offered by Natural Lands Trust.
The forested tracts lie within the Hopewell Big Woods Important Mammal Area and the Hay Creek-French Creek Forest Block Important Bird Area. Access from the east is from a private drive off Pine Swamp Road, and from Laurel Road to the west.
New Natural Gas Deals
Energy-development agreements approved the Board of Game Commissioners are expected to result in nearly $1.5 million in bonus payments, which will be added to the Game Fund.
Energy Corporation of America (ECA) has agreed to develop natural gas under approximately 370 acres beneath State Game Lands 223 in Greene and Cumberland townships, Greene County.
The five-year agreement will not result in any surface disturbance to the game lands, and ECA will pay the Game Commission 18 percent royalty for all oil, gas and other liquids or condensates produced and sold from the tract.
Additionally, ECA has agreed to pay a $4,000 per acre bonus payment, which will add about $1,482,400 to the Game Fund.
The board also approved an agreement to develop the gas rights beneath 0.36 acres of the Mount Wheeler Tower Site in Washington County, which was acquired by the Game Commission in 2008.
Range Resources has agreed to a five-year lease that will result in no surface disturbance to the site. The company has agreed to pay the Game Commission 20 percent royalty for all oil, gas and other liquids or condensates produced and sold from the tract, as well as a $2,000 bonus payment.
Oil and gas development at each site will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s oil and gas regulations and the Commission’s Standard Non-Surface Use Oil and Gas Cooperative Agreement.
Additional Game Lands Tracts
PennDOT cleared to reserve 50-acre parcel to replace game lands disturbed by projects.
A 50-acre tract completely surrounded by State Game Lands 330 in Piney Township, Clarion County, has been cleared for eventual transfer to the Game Commission.
The Board of Game Commissioners approved the transfer from the state Department of Transportation.
The land will be transferred to the Game Commission at some time in the future.
When game lands are affected by transportation projects, PennDOT is required to compensate the Game Commission for the affected acreage by providing replacement lands. For projects affecting less than five acres, the acreage is placed in reserve rather than provided in small pieces. In this case, when the total in reserve reaches 50 acres, the parcel will be transferred.
About half of the Piney Township tract has been deemed a critical and unique habitat for state-endangered short-eared owl, upland sandpiper and dickcissel, as well as the state-threatened northern harrier. The tract also has been the site of documented breeding and nesting by Henslow’s sparrow, a species of special concern.
Access to the property is from Mount Zion Road, which bisects the property to north.
Mine Reclamation
The reclamation of refuse coal beneath about 23 acres of State Game Lands 332 in Indiana County could generate an estimated $1 million for the Game Commission, based on an agreement approved by the Board.
Robindale Energy Services Inc., of Armagh, has agreed to remove an estimated 1.8 million tons of recoverable coal refuse material beneath the game lands. The six-year deal permits the company to occupy an additional 41 acres, as well.
Mining will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s Mining Regulations and the Commission’s Standard Coal Refuse Reclamation Agreement.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Game Commission website.

Senate Performance-Based Budgeting Bill Reported From Committee

The Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday amended and reported out Senate Bill 181 (Mensch-R-Montgomery) establishing a Performance-Based Budget Board and requiring state agencies to justify their budget requests for all existing and proposed programs every year.
The legislation, however, does not cover the expenditures of the General Assembly ($365.1 million) or the Judiciary ($355.5 million) or $720.6 million of the General Fund budget.  It only covers the agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction.
The Budget Board is required to review the performance-based budget plans of state agencies and make recommendations on how each agency’s programs may be made more transparent, effective, and efficient.
The Budget Board is made up of the Majority and Minority Chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the Governor’s Budget Secretary.  
The agency budget plans approved by the Board are to be “considered” by the Governor and the General Assembly in developing the Commonwealth’s annual budget.
The bill was amended in Committee to require the Independent Fiscal Office to do a review tax credit programs.
When the bill was introduced in January, Sen. Mensch said, “The traditional method of budget development relies upon incremental adjustments to expenditures made in the previous financial period.
“New and changing demands for public services are met through excessive budget growth rather than by pruning obsolete programs and redirecting existing funds.  We need to ensure that the budget is driven by clear and defensible purposes rather than inertia. We want government spending to be transparent, effective, and efficient for our taxpayers.”
Senate Bill 181 is now on the Senate Floor for action.

January Runoff Rundown Available From Center For Watershed Protection

The January edition of Runoff Rundown is now available from the Center for Watershed Protection featuring articles on--
-- The Role of Urban Trees in Stormwater Management
-- New Chesapeake Bay Credit Approved for Redirecting Runoff from Impervious Areas
-- Training Services Available from the Center on Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy.  Click Here for past issues.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Center for Watershed Protection website.

Green Building Alliance: 8 Inspiring Speakers Will Make You Love Sustainability Feb. 9

The Green Building Alliance in Pittsburgh is hosting another of its Inspire Speakers Series on February 9 featuring 8 speakers that will help you fall in love… with sustainability.
For the second year in a row, the GBA will present stories via their Inspire Speaker Series meant to engage listeners in conversations about ways they can improve their communities.
Under the theme Loving Your Place, the evening will feature seven local speakers telling short, five- to seven-minute long stories about working to create a healthy, vibrant, and just Pittsburgh region.
Jenna Cramer, GBA’s vice president of community and transformation, says the event was inspired by The Moth, a popular program that showcases storytelling with live shows, competitions and a podcast.
“When we first did the event, it was this idea of how do we get people to fall in love with the idea of sustainability again,” says Cramer. “A lot of people don’t get excited by the numbers or research around sustainability, but if you tell someone a story they’re more likely to be inspired by it or look at things in a different way.”
The latest lineup boasts storytellers representing areas such as activism, education, business and more.
Among those presenting are Celeste Smith of the socially conscious hip-hop collective 1HoodMedia, Zero Six Eight founder Daniel Bull, Chatham University professor Héctor Sáez and a South Fayette School District teacher Charles Herring .
Also included are speakers working on environmentally-related causes, including Millvale sustainability coordinator Zaheen Hussain, green architect Laura Nettleton, Dave Moore, executive director of Pittsburgh urban Christian School and Kendra Strobel who created a meeting place for teenage girls as a Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program participant.
Cramer adds that they chose storytellers from a diverse array of causes in order to “redefine what sustainability means.”
“It’s not just about the environment,” she adds. “It’s also about social equity and impact and economic vitality. It’s so broad and interconnected.”
The event will also feature poetry readings by GBA development director Ryan Walsh and students from the Environmental Charter School.
The second annual Storytelling Inspire Speakers Series event takes place on February 9 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Hill House Association. A Q&A session with the storytellers will follow.
Guests are also welcome to attend a pre-show networking reception with food and drinks beginning at 4:30 p.m. Registration costs between $5 and $20.
For more information and to register, visit the GBA Inspire Speakers Series webpage.
More information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events is available by visiting the Green Building Alliance website.

Lehigh Valley Greenways Now Accepting Applications For 2017 Mini-Grant Program

Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is preparing to disburse $75,000 as part of the 2017 Lehigh Valley Greenways Mini-Grant Program. The deadline for applications is March 3.
Lehigh Valley Greenways mini-grants are intended to inspire collaboration to carry out ready-to-go, single-year projects that protect and promote the natural resources of the Lehigh Valley and advance the goals of Lehigh Valley Greenways.  
Land conservation & restoration, outdoor recreation & trail connections, community revitalization, and local education & outreach are among Greenway goals.
Priorities for the 2017 are:
-- Promote the region’s natural areas and land/water trails through programming and informational signage in order to increase appreciation of natural and cultural resources and improve public health;
-- Advance land conservation of the Lehigh Valley’s critical landscapes;
-- Implement ecological restoration projects (ex. stream habitat improvements, riparian buffers, native grass/wildflower meadows, rain gardens, no-mow areas along streams and in public parks);
-- Host educational events, trainings and workshops to advance the goals of Lehigh Valley Greenways; and
-- (Municipalities) Adopt model ordinances and/or an official map to protect natural resources and improve bicycle/pedestrian connections.
Eligible applicants include municipalities, municipal agencies, county conservation districts, educational institutions (colleges, universities, school districts), and nonprofit organizations with both tax-exempt 501c3 status and registered with PA Bureau of Charitable Organizations.
Projects must be located within Lehigh or Northampton County.
Please note that projects along the D&L Trail in Carbon and Luzerne Counties should apply to Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape for mini-grant funding.
The current application cycle will be awarded in April 2017 for single-year projects to start and end between May 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018.
Grant requests should be a minimum of $1,000 and maximum of $10,000 with total project costs at least double the grant request. Mini-grants must be matched with cash and/or eligible in-kind contributions at a minimum 1:1 ratio.
Pre-Application Meeting Feb. 17
All applicants are requested to send a representative to the pre-application meeting on February 17 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, 400 Belfast Road, Nazareth, PA.
The grant awards are part of Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape program and funded by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Environmental Stewardship Fund. Lehigh Valley Greenways mini-grant funds may not be used to match other DCNR funded grant projects.
Lehigh Valley Greenways is one of seven Conservation Landscapes supported by DCNR and includes more than 25 organizations and municipal partners in Lehigh and Northampton Counties dedicated to the conservation of and connection to our natural resources.
Interested applicants can review full mini grant guidelines and fill out the online application by visiting the Lehigh Valley Greenways Mini-Grant Program webpage.
For more information on Lehigh Valley Greenways and the mini-grant program, please contact Claire Sadler at 610-923-3548 x226 or send email to: Claire@delawareandlehigh.org.
More information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, is available by visiting the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape website.
(Photo: Trexler Environmental Center, Trexler Nature Preserve, Schnecksville, Lehigh County.)

DCNR Invites Students To Apply For Environmental Careers Camp In Luzerne County

Young Pennsylvanians interested in pursuing environmental careers are invited to apply by April 15 for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ summer residential camp, DCNR Secretary Cynthia Adams Dunn said Tuesday.
“Exploring Careers Outdoors Camp has become one of DCNR’s strongest success stories since beginning 16 years ago,” said Dunn. “The camp is designed to tap into interest in natural resources at a young age and enhance and develop it. We’ve successfully worked with hundreds of young people to hone their awareness of the natural world and the variety of related careers available to them.”
The six-day camp begins July 9, at Camp Kresge, White Haven, Luzerne County. The camp is near Nescopeck State Park and about 10 miles north of White Haven.
The camp will introduce 20 students in grades 10-12 to conservation and environmental careers, and encourage their pursuit. From wildlife conservation projects and stream sampling of aquatic life, to forestry skills, daily activities will offer students a hands-on, team-building learning experience in an outdoor setting.
“Past campers have come from small towns and large cities, forming a unique pool of intelligence, spirit, and commitment to environmental improvement,” Dunn said. “In addition, many DCNR employees have supported this camp effort, some coming back year after year.”
Participants explore a wide range of career experiences, including water quality assessments, geology field studies, and overnight camping experiences. They will also meet conservation professionals to learn about career opportunities.   
Offered free of charge; instruction and daily activities are overseen by specialists and officials from DCNR’s bureaus of State Parks and Forestry. After the camp, attendees will have a chance to seek internships, job-shadowing and other career-related opportunities through the camp’s mentor program.
For more details and applications, visit DCNR’s ECO Camp webpage; email to: ECO_Camp@pa.gov;  write to ECO Camp Coordinator, Bureau of State Parks, Outdoor Programming Services Division, P.O. Box 8551, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8551, or call 717-425-5330.
For more information, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Click Here to be part of DCNR’s Online Community,  Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Senators Unveil Bill To Encourage Energy Efficiency Thru Local Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs

Senators John Blake (D-Lackawanna) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny) Tuesday joined a diverse group of stakeholders from the business, labor and environmental communities to unveil their bipartisan legislation that would generate significant economic development, create jobs and enhance Pennsylvania’s clean energy portfolio.
Senate Bill 234 (not online yet) would establish Pennsylvania’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program which is a financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades to commercial or industrial properties.
“The Property Assessed Clean Energy program is a proven-successful economic development tool that enhances property values and employment opportunities; lowers the cost of doing business; and expands the use of energy saving technologies,” Sen. Blake said. “Our legislation would give Pennsylvania businesses an opportunity to make costly energy-saving upgrades with a creative, market-driven funding mechanism that does not spend a dime of taxpayer money.”
Under Senate Bill 234, PACE financing – which can be used to purchase new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps and insulation – would be repaid in the form of a voluntary property tax assessment on the specific, improved building.
“PACE is a commonsense, voluntary program, that doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny. PACE increases the use of energy-saving and environmentally-conscious technology, saves businesses money, and will create family-sustaining jobs throughout the commonwealth because of sales and installations,” Sen. Reschenthaler added. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and the dozens of organizations that support the proposed PACE legislation.”
A local government would be able to choose to participate in or develop a PACE financing program.
PACE financing would not require any public funds; participating local communities would be tasked with collecting the assessment on the improved building and remit it for payment on the debt incurred from the building’s energy-efficiency and clean energy technology upgrades.
“Commercial PACE programs advance energy conservation and clean energy projects that reduce pollution and promote clean air. Support for the programs is broad and bipartisan, for good reason,” David Masur, PennEnvironment Executive Director, said. “Through Senate Bill 234, Pennsylvania can join the growing ranks of states where successful Commercial PACE programs are helping to protect the environment and build healthier communities.”
Currently, 33 states plus the District of Columbia authorize PACE financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Some of the states utilizing the PACE program include Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas.
“Commercial PACE is expanding across the country because it makes good business sense. Enabling commercial properties to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy will produce long-term energy savings and create local jobs,” Matt Elliot, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance executive director, said. “We applaud Senator Blake and Senator Reschenthaler for their legislation to help Pennsylvania communities leverage the potential of commercial PACE.”
The legislation was introduced by Sen. Blake in the prior legislative session as Senate Bill 1069, but it did not move from the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee.
Senators Blake and Reschenthaler, both members of the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee in the current legislative session, are confident that the bill will receive full Senate consideration in the current session.
"We applaud the efforts of Senator Blake and Senator Reschenthaler to reduce energy use in Pennsylvania's commercial and industrial buildings,” Dewitt Walton, Special Assistant to the International President of the United Steelworkers, added. “PACE will create good jobs with family supporting wages and benefits, provide a boost for areas of the state that have faced economic challenges and help workers seeking careers in new and emerging industries."
For more information on the PACE initiative nationally, visit the PACENation website.
Related Story:
PEC Opposes Reschenthaler Bill Not Allowing PA To Set Its Own Limits On Methane Emissions

January Environmental Synopsis Now Available From Joint Conservation Committee

The January edition of the Environmental Synopsis newsletter is now available from the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee featuring articles on--
-- Invasive Species - Palmer Amaranth
-- PA’s Energy Efficiency Economy
-- Auditor General Questions Act 13 Impact Fee Spending
-- Great Lakes Burdened By Plastics Migration
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy.
Environmental Issues Forum
The next Environmental Issues Forum will be held on March 20 to hear a presentation from representatives of the Anthracite Region Independent Power Plant Association.  The hearing will be held in Room 8E-A East Wing starting at Noon.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Joint Conservation Committee.
For more information, visit the Joint Conservation Committee website, Like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter.   regular updates from the Committee.

PRC, Allegheny CleanWays Bring Wild & Scenic Film Festival To Pittsburgh March 9

On March 9, the PA Resources Council and Allegheny CleanWays will host an evening of engaging and eye-opening films that address pressing global issues such as climate change, species extinction and environmental justice at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.
The Festival will be held at the Eddy Theater at Chatham University’s Shadyside campus.  Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Purchase “early bird” tickets by February 10 and pay just $10/person by visiting PRC’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival webpage or calling PRC at 412-488-7490 x105.  Tickets purchased after February 10 and at the door on March 9 will be $15/person.  
All proceeds will benefit PRC and Allegheny CleanWays.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Resources Council website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates, follow PRC on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.  Click Here for PRC’s Events Calendar.

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