Thursday, August 31, 2017

DEP: Natural Gas Facility Methane Emissions Increase 4% With Increase In Gas Production, Number Of Facilities

On Thursday the Department of Environmental Protection reported 2015 methane emissions from unconventional natural gas operations increased slightly-- from 107,735 to 112,128 tons- 4 percent-- with more facilities and an increase in natural gas production from 4.1 to 4.6 trillion cubic feet between 2014 and 2015.
Air emissions from other pollutants including nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5) all saw decreases from 2014 emission levels.
Even though the total tons of methane reported increased due mainly to the increase in the number of sources, the average emission per facility has declined.  
The average methane reported from each mid-stream compressor station decreased from 106.9 tons in 2012 to 97.5 tons in 2015.
The average emission per well site was 8.3 tons in 2012 and 5.8 tons in 2015. Year to year changes in other emissions are related to a variety of factors, including where wells are drilled and types of equipment being used.
The inventory represents 2015 emissions from unconventional natural gas production and processing operations as well as compressor stations that receive gas from conventional and unconventional well sites and coal gas.
Air emissions from the industry are required to be reported to DEP under Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act.
“The inventory presents a mixed picture of emissions from the unconventional natural gas industry” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Certain pollutants are decreasing as best practices are implemented more widely through the industry, while others - including methane, a potent greenhouse gas -  continue to increase, underscoring the need to do more to detect and fix leaks in order to reduce emissions.”
“While methane emissions increased in 2015, other harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5) all saw decreases from 2014 emission levels,” said McDonnell.
Click Here for a table showing air emissions in each category from 2011 to 2015.
DEP has proposed changes to the general permits for new well sites and compressor stations that would reduce methane emissions from these sites and facilities. A comment period on the proposed changes closed on June 5, 2017.
More than 10,000 comments have been received on the proposed permits.
The proposed changes include increased leak detection and repair frequency, a specific methane emission threshold for the installation of additional control and added requirements for additional sources.
DEP began collecting emissions data from owners and operators of unconventional natural gas sources in 2011. In 2012, DEP expanded the data reporting requirement to include mid-stream compressor stations that support the conventional natural gas industry.
DEP again expanded the reporting requirements in 2013 to include data from mid-stream compressor stations that support coal-bed methane formations.  In 2015, DEP required pigging stations to be reported.
The figures presented are calculated based on the estimated emissions of the equipment on site, per manufacturer specifications.
In addition to compressor stations, other sources and activities of natural gas operations that DEP identified as part of the inventory include dehydration units; drill rigs; fugitive emission sources, such as connectors, flanges, pump lines, pump seals and valves; heaters; pneumatic controllers and pumps; stationary engines; tanks, pressurized vessels and impoundments; venting and blowdown systems; well heads and well completions.
Click Here for a copy of the report.

Pennsylvania’s AML Program Receives Top Honors In National Abandoned Mine Reclamation Awards

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Thursday announced it is honoring the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation with its highest national award for abandoned mine reclamation.
DEP won the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation National Award for its project in the Sproul State Forest in Clinton County.
The Huling Branch Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation/ATV Recreation and Watershed Improvement Project eliminated dangerous highwalls by backfilling with existing spoil while incorporating an alkaline addition to reduce acid mine drainage impacts on surface and groundwater.
The project also reestablished and expanded access for all-terrain vehicles in the Sproul State Forest, a popular outdoor recreation destination. The team also used the Forestry Reclamation Approach to reforest the land.
Click Here for a fact sheet on the project from the company that did the project.
"Pennsylvania faces the largest AML inventory in the nation. This 2017 National award shows once again that the Commonwealth is doing excellent work to address threats stemming from more than two hundred years of pre-law mining," said OSMRE Appalachian Regional Director Thomas Shope.
Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s top historical coal producers, is also among the most affected by abandoned mine lands. In FY 2017, Pennsylvania received $33.5 million in AML funding from OSMRE.
OSMRE will present its Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards during the 39th annual conference of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs in Lexington, Kentucky on September 25.
For more information, visit DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation webpage.
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PUC Seeks Comments On Proposals To Spur More Competition In PA’s Natural Gas Market

Public Utility Commission Thursday requested comments on proposed regulatory changes designed to enhance competition and encourage greater customer participation in the Commonwealth’s retail natural gas market.
The Commission voted 4-0 to solicit comments on proposed revisions to Title 52 of PA Code Chapter 62 (relating to Natural Gas Supply Customer Choice), regulations which address the release, assignment and transfer of capacity among natural gas distribution companies (NGDCs) and natural gas suppliers (NGSs).  
The newly proposed rules seek to bring greater transparency, consistency and equity to the market while maintaining system integrity and improving reliability.  
The proposed rules also seek to create uniform capacity cost allocations, provide more tools and market pricing to handle daily balancing within the market, and give market participants real-time information to enhance system operations.
The proposed regulatory changes are influenced by information obtained during the Commission’s Investigation of Pennsylvania’s Retail Natural Gas Supply Market being spearheaded by the PUC’s Office of Competitive Market Oversight and including input from key industry and consumer stakeholders.
Click Here for a copy of the proposed regulatory changes.
Interested parties have 45 days from the publication of the Order in the PA Bulletin to provide written comments to the Public Utility Commission, Attn: Secretary, P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA  17105-3265.  Comments may also be filed electronically through the Commission’s e-File system.  Docket No.: L-2017-2619223

DCNR Launches New Redesigned Website, Good Natured Blog

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Thursday launched a redesigned website  as part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s efforts to make government more accessible for citizens.  
“Just in time for visitors looking for information on where to get outdoors for the upcoming holiday weekend, the newly-refreshed website is designed to help our customers find the information they are looking for quickly, and in a format that works well on phones and other mobile devices,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We are providing a survey for visitors that will stay up for about a year to get some insights and feedback on the new format.”
Some new features on the site include:
-- New pages for outdoor recreation activities that combine information for state parks and forests all in one place, and offer connections to events for that activity and other tips, such as how to stay safe;
-- A blog called Good Natured that will highlight the feature article from the resource newsletter and allow the homepage to continuously feature new content; and
-- Photo galleries on the landing page for each state forest and park that give a taste of the places to visit and beautiful views on DCNR lands.
In addition to recreation, the four additional tabs that organize information are:
-- Conservation – providing information on the steps DCNR is taking to conserve natural resources, and simple steps we can take collectively;
-- Communities – information to assist communities and partners with maintaining and improving natural, recreational and cultural amenities;
-- Business – partner information on topics including infrastructure, concessions, timber for forest products, and licenses for water well drillers; and
-- Education – conservation and education programs and opportunities for people of all ages to improve understanding about the environment, conservation, and recreation in Pennsylvania.
Icons on the homepage help customers quickly get to information about: Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks and 20 state forest districts; State park reservations; Trails; DCNR grants and events; Local parks; and Geologic resources.
In addition to the website, customers can interact with DCNR on Facebook @padcnr, on Twitter @DCNRnews, and on Instagram at padcnr.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Delco Brothers, Philadelphia School Teacher Honored By EPA In Presidential Environmental Ed Awards Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Monday honored winners of the Presidential Innovation Award For Environmental Educators and the President’s Environmental Youth Award Program during events in Washington, D.C.
Presidential Youth Awards
Devin and Roldan Kramer from Ardmore, Delaware/ Montgomery counties will receive the 2016 President’s Environmental Youth Award for grade levels K-5 for their work to save frogs and toads.
The national award is presented each year to exceptional students who demonstrate creativity, innovation, and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges.
“Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”
The brothers’ interest in the topic was sparked by discussions about the number of mosquitos in their area, and the decline of predators like bats, frogs and toads, which feed on mosquitos.
The brothers learned that each April, the swimming pool at their local park drains the water and ends up killing tadpoles living in the pool before they can mature.
To increase the population of native frogs and toads, Devin and Roldan took approximately 2,000 tadpoles from the pool in April and raised them to the frog and toad stage in an aquarium system and collected fruit flies from a compost bin to feed them.
Over the course of their project, the brothers observed their aquarium closely, protected the tadpoles from predators, and transferred the tadpoles to a larger aquarium as they grew legs.
As a result of their project, Devin and Roldan have observed not only an increase in frog and toad populations, but improvement in the overall ecosystem, with a decrease in the number of mosquitoes, and a growing number of native animals, such as snakes, fish, and birds.
Environmental Educators
PIAEE honorable mention was awarded to Joseph Bentz, a middle school teacher at Albert M. Greenfield Elementary in Philadelphia.  
Bentz was recognized for his teaching that extends beyond his Greenfield students to families, community members and other teachers in the Philadelphia School District.  
He reaches out to students, parents and residents to discuss environmental issues and green solutions to topics such as stormwater management for their inner city neighborhood.
(Photo: Joseph Bentz, EPA Deputy Administrator Mike Flynn; Devin and Roldan Kramer and their father Kenneth Kramer with Flynn.)

EPA Waives Low RVP Gasoline Requirement In PA, 37 Other States And DC

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday issued a waiver from the requirement to meet reformulated and low volatility gasoline requirements for 38 states and the District of Columbia, including the Pittsburgh Region in Pennsylvania, due to gasoline supply disruptions by now tropical depression Harvey.
The waiver is in effect through September 15 which is the end of the ozone season and the end of the period during which low-RVP gasoline is required in Western Pennsylvania under DEP regulations.
The low-RVP requirement affects Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Click Here for a copy of the waiver.
Harvey Shuts Down Colonial Pipeline Supplying Fuel To East Coast

Report: Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Threatens Progress Cleaning Up Lake Erie

Proposed cuts to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean water programs would halt progress on addressing industrial waste, sewage runoff, and agricultural pollution in Lake Erie, according to a new report released Thursday by the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center.  
With a deadline for Congress to approve a federal budget fast approaching, Rep. Pat Harkins, County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper joined PennEnvironment in calling for full funding of EPA to protect Lake Erie and other Pennsylvania waterways.
“With recent progress in cleaning up Lake Erie, Pennsylvanians have just enjoyed a summer of fishing and swimming,” said Zachary Barber, Western Pennsylvania Field Organizer with PennEnvironment. “Cutting EPA’s clean water programs would put that progress at risk.”
Rough Waters Ahead: The Impact of the Trump Administration’s EPA Budget Cuts on The Great Lakes, issued by PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center, examined the impacts of the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to EPA water programs on Lake Erie.  
More specifically, the report found that the proposed budget would eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has been responsible for preventing the spread of invasive species and eliminating pollution from PCBs, a known carcinogen and reproductive toxin.
"For many years, we have worked hard to clean up the Great Lakes, especially our own Bay here in Erie,” said Rep. Harkins. “We worked hard and, with funding from the EPA, we were able to clean up the many problems that contributed to poor water quality. The eleventh-annual 'Swim Across the Bay' event this June shows just how far we've come," he continued. "The lake, the bay, and our waterfront are our shining stars, which is why we need to do all we can to protect the Great Lakes."
In addition to the cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the report reviewed what EPA programs have meant for Lake Erie in terms of research to identify emerging threats and discover practical solutions.
For example, EPA funded research showed farmers how to cut the pollution responsible for the algal blooms while increasing crop yields.
Under the Trump administration’s current budget proposal, these programs that show us a path to a better tomorrow would be eliminated.
“Lake Erie and its watershed are invaluable resources here in Erie County, as they enhance the quality of life of our residents and boost our economy,” said County Executive Dahlkemper. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding through the EPA has allowed us to ensure that our beaches and waterways are safe, whether from E. coli contamination, harmful algal blooms or hazardous spills. Cuts to this vital EPA funding would pose a threat to the vibrancy of our shores and, most importantly, to the health of hundreds of thousands of Erie County residents and visitors.”
The report comes as Congress has roughly one month to approve the federal budget to avoid a government shutdown.  While House appropriations bills have rejected some of the most extreme EPA budget cuts, the process begins anew in the Senate, which returns next week.
Click Here for a copy of the report.
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Working Together: Conversations & Collaboration Watershed Celebration Sept. 29 In Monroe County

Brodhead Watershed Association’s Members & Friends Celebration, a popular annual gathering of local environment-minded people, will be held September 29 at Pocono Manor in Monroe County.
This year, with the theme “Working Together: Conversations and Collaboration,” the event honors the Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited for its work in preservation, conservation and protection of clean water.
“Their efforts in the Pocono, Cherry, and McMichael creeks are improving habitat and ensuring healthy ecosystems for future generations,” said BWA Executive Director Bob Heil. “We are also celebrating the achievements of BWA and contributions of so many members who assist in our mission of protecting the waters of our area.”
Joining in that honor as both a BWA supporter and River Patron of the celebration is Camelback Mountain Resort.
Stream Sponsor contributions from The Farda Foundation and Michael Baxter & Associates Commercial Real Estate will help make the evening a success.
“The evening will truly be a celebration,” said Heil.
Seamus McGraw, an award-winning author and journalist from East Stroudsburg, will be keynote speaker, talking about how environmentalists must keep the lines of communication open – especially at the watershed level.
BWA was formed in 1989 as a group of individuals and business owners dedicated to ensuring clean water in Monroe County. For more than a quarter of a century, BWA’s volunteer Streamwatchers have been testing water quality in the Brodhead, Cherry, Marshalls, McMichael, Paradise and Pocono creeks and their tributaries.
More event sponsors are needed. If you would like to contribute, please send email to: or call 570-839-1120.
The public is invited to attend. Tickets cost $45 for BWA members, $50 for nonmembers. This includes a dinner buffet, silent auction and cash bar.
For information and to make your reservation, visit the Members & Friends Celebration webpage.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Brodhead Watershed Association website.

Brodhead Watershed Assn. Bug’s Eye View Of Twilight Children’s Program Sept. 16 In Monroe County

Bring your kids for a pre-bedtime, twilight exploration of Skywood Park during Brodhead Watershed Association’s special Bug’s-eye View of Twilight Program to be held 6 to 7:30 p.m. on September 16.
“At a time of day when kids are usually coming indoors, all kinds of cool things are happening outside,” says Roger Spotts of Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center. “Skywood Park at dusk is beautiful and full of life – a great place to explore for kids and adults.”
Elementary-age children and their grownups will enjoy roaming this 40-acre park with a Kettle Creek educator. Learn surprising things about your drinking water, find out how fallen leaves underfoot protect water, and perhaps see migrating hawks.
Look for woolly-bear caterpillars getting ready for cold days ahead. Do they really predict how bad the winter will be? Do they really freeze solid? Listen for crickets and katydids. Turn over rocks and logs to find worms, bugs, fungus and decaying leaves.
Look for signs of raccoons, deer, squirrels, and other creatures. Are hawks flying by? Learn why trees are changing color, and how trees “recycle” rainwater. Find out how what happens here affects Paradise Creek and the water we drink.
“Everything we see in the forest affects the water in the creek,” Spotts says. “Having fun outdoors at twilight is one terrific way to learn.”
Families are welcome to bring a picnic supper at 5:30 and enjoy views over the Delaware River watershed to Delaware Water Gap. This conserved land protects the pure, safe waters of Cranberry and Paradise creeks.
The program will be held at Skywood Park off Route 191 North, Paradise Valley in Monroe County.
Registration is required as space is limited. To register, call 570-839-1120 or 570-629-2727 or send email to:
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Brodhead Watershed Association website.

KEEA: Nearly 70,000 Clean Energy Jobs In Pennsylvania In 2016

Nearly 70,000 people work in Pennsylvania’s clean energy sector, according to the 2017 Clean Jobs Pennsylvania report unveiled Thursday by the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) and local partner Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA).
The report shows a nearly 6-percent growth rate in clean energy jobs over the previous year’s report, far outpacing the state’s general employment growth rate.
Once again, clean energy jobs far outpace fossil fuel jobs in the state-- by about two-to-one this year-- while energy efficiency remains the dominant sector with about 55,000 jobs.
“Clean energy isn’t a niche industry anymore, it’s a viable addition to our diverse energy portfolio,” said Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), whose district in the Poconos is home to about 900 clean energy jobs. “We have the best fabrication, engineering, manufacturing and distribution networks in the country. The clean energy sector offers communities – both rural and urban – the opportunity to retool, reposition and modernize our economy to attract 21st-century jobs. We’ve had a great start, and in my district we have gone from 775 clean energy jobs last year to 900 jobs this year. We must continue this momentum.”
The report highlights several state and federal policies important to continued clean energy job growth, including:
-- Increasing Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) so the state can diversify its energy supply and stay competitive in the country’s booming renewable energy industry;
-- Defending the state’s energy efficiency law (Act 129) from attacks while also further strengthening it; and
-- Blocking unpopular and innovation-crushing cuts to the U.S. Department of Energy that could halt programs like the energy efficiency work being done at Pittsburgh’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
“Pennsylvania's energy efficiency industry plays an increasingly crucial role in our state’s evolving energy economy,” said Matt Elliott, KEEA’s executive director. “When lawmakers strengthen clean energy policies, more residents and businesses save energy and save money, and more Pennsylvanians can get to work in this growing industry.”
The report shows there are clean energy jobs in every state legislative and congressional district in Pennsylvania, offering the latest evidence that clean energy is a bipartisan issue that benefits both urban and rural Pennsylvanians.
The report also ranks the top 10 counties in Pennsylvania for clean energy jobs, including: Allegheny, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Westmoreland and York.
The top 5 metro areas for clean energy jobs are: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pittsburgh, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg-Carlisle.
The report includes case studies of energy efficiency companies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Members of the media are invited to a live, in-person availability of E2 representatives, Pennsylvania clean energy business leaders and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at a Pittsburgh event at Huckestein Mechanical Services Inc., 1505 Metropolitan Street, on Pittsburgh’s North Side, on September 6, at 10:30 a.m.
“As we all celebrate Labor Day this weekend, we should remember that more clean energy means more jobs,” said Sharon Pillar, E2’s Pittsburgh-based consultant.
Click Here for a copy of the report and other background information.  Click Here for an interactive map of more than 2,500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in Pennsylvania.
To speak with E2 members and other clean energy business leaders in Pennsylvania, please contact Alex Frank at 703-276-3255 or send email to:

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