Saturday, September 30, 2017

Fish & Boat Commission Shares Financial Condition With Senate, House Urging Action On License Fee Bill

John Arway, Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission, wrote to members of the Senate and House Friday to share information about the fiscal health of his agency.  
He wrote in the wake of action by the Commission’s board earlier in the week to potentially close fish hatcheries and limit fish stocking if action is not taken on a license fee bill or another revenue stream.
The text of the letter follows--
Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commissioners took a bold step to ensure the future fiscal health of our agency.  While the media has widely reported the vote they took on Monday in Erie, some of the facts have been misinterpreted.      
The Board authorized me as Executive Director to make up to $2 million in cuts for the 2018-19 fiscal year if the agency does not receive additional revenues to help meet pension and health care obligations.  
There are no immediate plans to close hatcheries or cancel trout stockings, but the Board has entrusted me to make whatever cuts might be necessary if we enter the next fiscal year without a revenue increase.
My preference continues to be to keep all hatcheries open, stock the fish that our customers have come to expect, and address ailing infrastructure, but I am also prepared to make difficult decisions in the best long-term interests of the agency.  
If the House acts on Senate Bill 30 or another revenue stream this legislative session, we will be able to maintain the goods and services that drive Pennsylvania’s incredible fishing and boating heritage and countless local economies.             
The attached paper entitled Fiscal Responsibility succinctly explains our situation and the need for action.  I am sending it to all members of the House and Senate and to sportsmen’s groups across the Commonwealth to give everyone a common frame of reference.
If you have any questions about the attached paper, the Board’s decision, or our plans moving forward, I would welcome the chance to talk with you in person or over the phone at your convenience.
We continue to regard the legislature as a valuable partner in helping us fulfill our mission of protecting, conserving, and enhancing our Commonwealth's aquatic resources to provide fishing and boating recreational opportunities.  
This continues to be an important part of our Commonwealth's heritage as well as our economy.
Thank you for understanding the situation we are in and for any assistance or suggestions you could offer for helping to get out of it so we can continue to serve our common constituents.     
John A. Arway
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Click Here for a copy of the attachment referred to in this letter.
[Note: The House Game and Fisheries Committee had a meeting scheduled on the bill for Tuesday, but it was canceled.]
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Friday, September 29, 2017

Oct. 2 PA Environment Digest Now Available

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

The PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee heard a presentation Wednesday about new tools the federal Chesapeake Bay Program has available to help the state target cost-effective pollution reduction measures in the Bay Watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in partnership with Quantified Ventures and with support from The Kresge Foundation and other funders, is inviting municipalities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to participate in a pilot project to implement green infrastructure solutions that reduce urban/suburban runoff that damages local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Apply Now For Grants To Install Riparian Forested Buffers
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be accepting applications for grants to install riparian forest buffers from October 2 to December 20. (formal notice)

The Coldwater Heritage Partnership Wednesday announced it is now accepting applications for  the 2018 Coldwater Conservation Grants.  The deadline for applications is December 15.

On Friday, a bipartisan group of 11 Senators wrote to Senators Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), the Majority and Minority Chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging them to devote a portion of any natural gas production severance tax to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Wednesday announced it is installing green infrastructure (GI) at more than six locations around the city.

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday formally announced it will no longer accept applications for household hazardous waste education or municipal solid waste planning grants after September 30 because the General Assembly has failed to reauthorize the $2/ton Recycling Fee. (formal notice)

Pennsylvania’s Act 101 Recycling Program has resulted in developing a Recycling Marketplace in the state responsible for generating over 66,000 jobs directly involved in recycling or using recycled materials to make products that contributed $22.6 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy in 2015, according to a new economic impact study released by the PA Recycling Markets Center.

DCNR Now Accepting Nominations For 2018 Pennsylvania Trail Of The Year
DCNR’s Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Pennsylvania Trail of the Year.  The deadline for nominations is November 17.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be accepting applications for grants for acquisition, planning, development, rehabilitation or maintenance of snowmobile or ATV trails from October 2 to December 20. (formal notice)

To read the Digest, visit:  Click Here to view or print the entire Digest.

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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PJM Interconnection, Federal, State Officials Mark 90th Anniversary Of The Power Pool

The PJM Interconnection Friday celebrated its 90th anniversary with Congressman Ryan Costello, industry leaders and state and federal regulators, including Commissioner Robert Powelson of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, joining in to observe the historic milestone.
Notable among the crowd were the current CEOs of the three pioneering electric companies that laid the foundation for PJM.
"In September 1927, PECO, PPL and PSE&G collaborated to bring to life an ingenious idea – a power pool," said PJM CEO and President Andrew L. Ott. "This is a historic day for PJM. Today, we honor our employees, our history, our members and most importantly the tremendous responsibility we share with members to keep the lights on for 65 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia."
A 1925 cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Pennsylvania-New Jersey Interconnection predicted the magnitude of benefits, saying, "The economies of the interconnection would be considerable and the advantages many." At the time, the estimated annual net savings of operating collaboratively were $3 million.
"Today, PJM's regional coordination saves people about $3 billion annually," Ott said. "To think we began in the basement of the PECO building and have grown to 700 employees and more than 1,000 members is incredible and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our employees."
The current CEOs of the founding companies made remarks on their shared history and the value PJM brings to the industry and to consumers.
Denis O'Brien, senior executive vice president of Exelon Corp. and CEO of Exelon Utilities, presented PJM with a photo of the Philadelphia skyline with a message that scrolled in lights at the top of the PECO building: "Congratulations PJM Interconnection, Working to Perfect the Flow of Electricity for 90 years!"
O'Brien was joined by William Spence, chairman, president and CEO of PPL Corp., and Ralph Izzo, chairman, president and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group.
PJM received other recognitions for the anniversary, including a congratulatory message from
Gov. Tom Wolf and special recognitions on the floor of the U.S. Senate from Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Bob Casey (D), who could not attend in person. Rep. Costello presented a proclamation read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"The work of PJM employees is critical to ensuring homes and businesses have a reliable and efficient source of power," Costello said. "Overseeing the largest power grid in North America, PJM has been a vital part of our national energy infrastructure for the past 90 years. And PJM continues to do an outstanding job keeping the lights on for approximately 65 million people by demonstrating extraordinary leadership and embracing innovation in the constantly evolving utility industry."
Richard Mroz, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Gladys Brown, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; and FERC Commissioner Robert Powelson also made remarks on PJM's contribution to the industry.
"Since its inception in 1927, PJM has played a critical role in managing our bulk power system. From withstanding catastrophic weather events to maintaining grid security, PJM continues to bring value and reliability to consumers across the 13-state compact that it serves," said Powelson. "Congratulations to PJM for keeping the lights on and 'doing the boring well' for the past 90 years."
The event also recognized the 20th anniversary of PJM becoming a federally recognized transmission grid operator and creating its competitive wholesale power market.
The market, now the model used around the world, leverages competition to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and foster innovation in the electric industry.
The PJM Interconnection was founded in 1927 and helps ensure the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system serving 65 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
(Photo: William Spence, Chairman, President and CEO, PPL Corp; Gladys Brown, Chairman PA Public Utility Commission; Denis O’Brien, Senior Executive Vice President, Exelon Corp, CEO, Exelon Utilities; Andrew L. Ott, President and CEO, PJM Interconnection; Robert Powelson, Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Congressman Ryan Costello; Richard Mroz, President, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO, PSEG.)

Day 94 Without A Complete State Budget; House Fails To Get Enough Votes For A Severance Tax

Senate and House leaders and Gov. Wolf continue their now 94-day marathon discussions (as of Monday) on how to fill the $2.2 billion budget hole, but a final agreement last week was elusive.
As a first possible step in an overall budget plan, House Republicans leadership said they would allow a vote on a natural gas production severance tax bill through a little-used mechanism of forcing the bill-- House Bill 113 (Harper-R-Montgomery)-- out of Committee.
The bill is now not really a severance tax after it was amended in Committee to simply rename the Act 13 drilling impact fee “severance tax,” and it has to be amended, after getting it out of Committee, with a real severance tax.
Attempts to gather enough Republican and Democratic votes Monday and Tuesday to take the first step-- getting it out of Committee-- failed and the House went home early on Wednesday.
Discussions continued through the week and no doubt the weekend to try and find a combination of recurring revenue, borrowing, one-time transfers from special funds, gaming expansion and possibly liquor expansion that would get enough votes to pass and put something on the Governor’s desk.
October 1 Deadline
Gov. Wolf said the previous week he could “stave off” any further delays in payments or funding cuts until about October 1.  The further into October without a revenue plan, the dicer it gets on whether the state can pay its bills.
We may see in the next week or so if the Governor intends to delay payments on some big ticket items to avoid a zero balance in the state’s checkbook and which items they will be.
On September 15 Gov. Wolf delayed over $1.7 billion in payments to avoid going into the red.
No Loans Until There’s A Budget
Speaking at the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday, State Treasurer Joe Torsella repeated his position he will not loan the state General Fund any more money to avoid a zero balance it its account before there is a revenue plan.
"Is it prudent to make an unprecedented loan to a borrower that doesn't yet have a plan in place to bring revenues and expenditures into balance? The simple answer is no," Torsella said.
House Republicans have been critical of his position saying such short-term loans were done in the past.
September Revenue Numbers
Monday the Department of Revenue should release September revenue numbers which should indicate whether the state is making up any ground or falling further behind.
What’s Next?
The Senate announced Thursday it was coming back to Harrisburg early for a voting session October 2, 3 and 4 presumably to bring more pressure to bear on getting a budget solution.  They had not been scheduled to come back until October 16.
The House was scheduled to come back October 2, but at this point there is no clear strategy and everything remains on the table.
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