Thursday, November 30, 2017

PEC Applauds Pittsburgh’s Climate Vision, Presses For Action

The PA Environmental Council's Lindsay Baxter, Program Manager for Energy and Climate, presented these comments to the Pittsburgh City Council on Thursday on how the City can move forward on plans to fight climate change--
My name is Lindsay Baxter and I am the Program Manager for Energy and Climate at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, whose Pittsburgh office is located at 2124 Penn Avenue.
On behalf of the Environmental Council, I’d like to thank City Council for its thoughtful consideration of this plan. The climate action plan is near and dear to my heart as I was the lead author of the City’s first climate action plan, adopted in 2008, and subsequently had the honor of helping to implement that plan as the City’s Sustainability Coordinator.
I strongly encourage the City Council to adopt an updated climate action plan.
I believe the greatest value of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan to be establishing an overarching climate goal, to which the activities of not only municipal government but also businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, and community groups can contribute.
We have seen with the 1st and 2nd iterations of this plan that businesses and universities use the Plan’s goal to guide sustainability projects in their own buildings and operations.
However, I urge the City to make revisions to the draft that is currently available online dated September 26th 2017, prior to adoption by Council.
I have focused my comments on the Energy Generation and Distribution chapter, for which I participated in the stakeholder meetings.
I strongly encourage you to tighten the scope of this chapter to focus specifically on those activities that will result in the most significant reductions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from energy generation and distribution, and to establish clear and measurable actions that can be easily understood by not only energy practitioners but also members of the broader community.
I understand the desire to be as comprehensive as possible, but fear the number of unconnected activities listed distracts from the overall goal and can be confusing, particularly to community partners not well-versed in the technical content.
We believe the urgency of climate change necessitates a plan that leads to action, rather than one that establishes a vision only. A strong, defensible goal with actions that clearly contribute to its attainment will make this a useful, implementable plan.
Significant work has gone into the planning process to date, not only by City employees but also the nearly 150 entities who participated in the stakeholder processes, including businesses, nonprofits, universities, and government agencies at all levels.
The Energy Chapter in particular has benefitted from assistance from the National Academies, Science Ambassadors program, and University of Pittsburgh, in prioritizing potential actions.
This work is not well-reflected in the current draft, but I am optimistic that with limited effort the plan can be re-worked to be more strategic, implementable, and understandable.
In closing, I would like to reiterate my appreciation for the City’s leadership on this issue and to offer my assistance to the Office of Sustainability staff to support your continued efforts to revise and finalize this plan.
Click Here for PEC’s full comments on Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.

Keep PA Beautiful Encourages Communities To Join Adoption Programs To Keep Them Litter Free

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful invites communities, local residents, organizations, civic groups, and businesses to participate in KPB’s Adoption Program to keep municipal roads, communities, parks, neighborhood blocks, greenways, waterways and trails litter free.
There is no fee to participate and groups must agree to make safety a top priority, schedule two cleanups per year and report results to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful after each cleanup.  Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will seek support from the local property maintainer/owner before proceeding with an adoption.
The program was developed to mirror the Department of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway Program with the goal of reducing roadside litter on municipal roads, but the benefits go beyond esthetics. The volunteers have reported a sense of pride and community involvement, meeting new neighbors and helping the community.  
“It’s awesome to get out in the community and talk to neighbors along the way. It’s great just to give back!” explained John Beidler from USW Local 10-00086 Next Generation.
The union adopted South Broad Street, Sumneytown Pike, West Point Pike and Garfield Avenue in Montgomery County in 2014. West Point Pike is a County road; the other three belong to Upper Gwynedd Township. Both entities support the adoption.
“Many communities depend on volunteers to clean up litter. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful works hand in hand with local municipalities and counties to provide residents with the tools and resources they need to keep our communities clean and beautiful,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep PA Beautiful. “Our adoption program helps mitigate the costs associated with cleaning up and encourages partnerships between local residents and municipalities. It’s a win-win.”
According to Keep America Beautiful’s 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study, litter clean-up costs the U.S. more than an estimated $11.5 billion each year with municipalities spending more than $790 million and counties spending $185 million each year.  
Click Here for more information or contact Stephanie Larson by sending email to: or 724-836-4121 x104.
For information about adopting a state maintained road, visit the Department of Transportation Adopt a Highway Program webpage.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website. Click Here to become a member.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from KPB, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, Discover them on Pinterest and visit their YouTube Channel.
Also visit the Illegal Dump Free PA website for more ideas on how to clean up communities and keep them clean and KPB’s Electronics Waste website.

Western PA Conservancy Watershed Mini Grant Program Accepting Applications

The Western PA Conservancy is now accepting proposals for the Western PA Watershed Mini Grant Program which provides assistance to the region’s grassroots watershed groups and organizations.  The deadline for applications is December 29.
The grants can be used to cover expenses in three areas:
-- Water Quality Monitoring ($3,000 limit)
-- Organizational Promotion and Outreach ($2,000 limit)
-- Restoration Projects ($3,000 limit)
The program offers funding to watershed organizations in the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, Mercer, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Funding for the program is provided by the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.
For all the details, visit the WPC’s Western PA Watershed Mini Grant Program webpage.  Questions should be directed to Kelly Horrell at WPC's Watershed Conservation Office by sending email to: or call 724-471-7202 ext. 5100.
(Photo: Kettle Creek, Potter County.)

DEP Releases Draft Final General Permits For Controlling Methane Emissions From Natural Gas Operations

The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday released what it called draft final language for GP-5 and new GP-5A general permits that control methane emissions for new unconventional natural gas operations.
DEP said the draft final general permit language and concepts for proposed regulations limiting methane emissions from existing natural gas operations will be discussed with the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee on December 14.
On the general permit language, DEP said it is not issuing the final language immediately, but will take the next few months to make sure the language is clear and can be implemented.  Final issuance would come in the first quarter of 2018.
“These permits are the first in the nation to establish a threshold to control methane emissions at unconventional well sites and midstream and natural gas transmission facilities,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “These permits are one part of fulfilling Gov. Wolf’s methane reduction strategy, which aims to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, affect human health, and waste Pennsylvania’s valuable natural resources.”
The updated GP-5 is applicable to midstream and natural gas transmission facilities, and GP-5A is for unconventional well sites and pigging stations. Both general permits incorporate the most current state and federal requirements.
“These permits will implement common-sense measures to reduce emissions of methane and other air pollutants from natural gas infrastructure, and they require regular leak detection and repair for unconventional gas operations,” said McDonnell.
McDonnell underlined DEP’s position that controlling  air emissions using general permits is a tool authorized by the state Air Pollution Control Act and has been used frequently in the past for a variety of air pollution sources to comply with federal Clean Air Act emission limits.
Advisory Committee Meeting
DEP will discuss the proposed changes to the GP-5 and new GP-5A general permits in more detail at the December 14 meeting of the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.  
Also available are copies of draft-final permit applications and instructions, concepts to be discussed in new regulations covering existing natural gas operations.
Proposed Fee Increases
The Committee will also discuss proposed concepts for increasing Air Quality fees to support the air pollution control regulatory program.
The meeting will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building starting at 9:15.  
For copies of the draft final general permits and a copy of a webinar introducing the changes, visit DEP’s Framework of Actions For Methane Reductions From The Oil And Gas Sector webpage.
The Environmental Defense Fund issued this statement on DEP’s plans to finalize new permits that require natural gas companies to reduce methane and other harmful pollutants from new facilities and equipment--
“Pennsylvania is the nation’s second largest gas producing state. Recent research shows operators are emitting large amounts of methane – the primary component of natural gas and a powerful climate pollutant - from facilities around the state. Pennsylvanians are rightly concerned about the excessive waste of an important domestic energy resource as well as the climate and health impacts of industry’s emissions.
“DEP’s new general permits, once implemented, will help control the industry’s methane emissions by requiring that all operators regularly check for and fix leaks at new unconventional gas wells, transmission stations and gas pipelines. These requirements are a critical piece of the administration’s methane reduction strategy, which aims to limit methane emitted at both active and newly built oil and gas facilities.
“By addressing methane pollution from new natural gas facilities, Gov. Wolf is demonstrating real leadership in mitigating the environmental and health impacts of drilling. There is much more work to be done, including finalizing these permit requirements and moving quickly to address pollution from the tens of thousands of existing oil and gas facilities in Pennsylvania. But today is a big step in the right direction," said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “Pennsylvanians want and expect basic safeguards from the pollution from drilling happening around them – today’s action will help deliver the clean air protections all Pennsylvanians deserve.”
Joseph Otis Minott, Esq, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the Clean Air Council issued this statements on DEP's action-- “After nine long months of waiting, I’m glad to see the Wolf Administration move forward with a final draft of a permit program for reducing methane pollution on new natural gas operations. However, these permit requirements  will be meaningless until companies are required to come into compliance.
“Once these permits go into effect, DEP must then take the critical next step of proposing similar requirements that would cover existing natural gas facilities that already impact public health.”
“As a mother of two young boys attending school next to a gas well pad, I am concerned about the health of my children and all children who are impacted by harmful air pollution from the oil and gas industry,” said Patrice Tomcik, Field Consultant with Moms Clean Air Force living in Butler County. “Each year 30,000 Pennsylvania children suffer asthma attacks due to ozone smog resulting from oil and gas sites. Let’s finalize these protections for future gas facilities and move on to the next step: stopping the pollution that’s harming our children now!”
“Swift finalization of these general permits is crucial to setting-up a framework for Governor Wolf’s critical next step, proposing comprehensive standards that will address the hundreds of thousands of existing sources of natural gas methane pollution,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director for Clean Water Action. “This next step is the only way to address the problem Pennsylvanians are experiencing today, especially as President Trump pursues delays and rollbacks to federal methane controls.”
“Gov. Wolf and DEP often say they want Pennsylvania to be a leader in reducing oil and gas pollution, and today they joined other states in this important work,” says Leann Leiter, PA-OH field advocate with Earthworks. “These general permits for new operations are necessary–and also set the stage for developing common sense standards to control pollution from the over 100,000 existing wells and facilities that are already harming health and the climate today.”
David Jenkins, President of Conservatives For Responsible Stewardship, said this about DEP's announcement--
“Action to cut methane has broad support from across the political spectrum. Today’s announcement by the Wolf administration is key to cleaning up Pennsylvania’s air and reducing energy waste from future oil and gas production. When final, the permits will mark an important first step towards honoring the commitments Governor Wolf made to cut methane and protect the citizens of Pennsylvania from what President Reagan called ‘the destructive trespass of pollution.’ It is also important to recognize that such standards are vital to ensuring the long-term health and viability of the natural gas industry.
“This action is long overdue, and Gov. Wolf must continue this leadership by proposing a comprehensive rule to tackle the thousands of oil and gas facilities operating today.”
Patrick Von Bargen, Executive Director, Center for Methane Emission Solutions, said in a statement--
“When final, the new permit drafts released by Governor Wolf’s administration are a good step towards reducing natural gas waste and cutting methane emissions.  Our members have the technology and stand ready to help ensure their clients can meet the new general permit requirements.
“Gov. Wolf should continue this leadership by finalizing the permits and moving quickly to propose a regulatory framework for existing natural gas operations that will cut methane waste, create a more efficient energy industry, and create jobs for Pennsylvanians.”
Garett Reppenhagen, Organizing Director, Vet Voice Foundation, said, “With today’s announcement, Gov. Wolf has taken an important step toward securing Pennsylvania’s energy security and cleaning up the air for all Pennsylvanians. Today, Gov. Wolf’s administration has outlined forward-thinking policies that reduce methane and cut natural gas waste. Gov. Wolf must ensure that these permits are adopted as quickly as possible.
“Now is also the time for Gov. Wolf to lead and address the problem facing Pennsylvania today – methane emissions from natural gas drilling that is already underway.”
Legere: DEP Releases Final Methane Permits For Shale Gas Sites

Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape Focus Of Visit By DCNR, Local Officials

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Thursday joined Lancaster County Conservancy and other regional officials at the Pinnacle Overlook in Martic Township to highlight the Wolf Administration’s continued focus on conservation landscapes.
“Conservation landscapes are an approach to protect and improve natural features and opportunities for outdoor fun in a region, and promote them to draw visitors to stay and explore an area’s unique cultural and natural attractions,” Dunn said.
The 80-acre Pinnacle Overlook was part of a land transfer from PPL’s Holtwood hydroelectric plant that supports the regional initiative to conserve a greenway corridor of river lands, known as the Susquehanna Riverlands, along the Lower Susquehanna River.
The overlook is owned by LCC, and managed by DCNR as part of Susquehannock State Park. Environmental education staff from the park have been assisting with programming at the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center-- a gateway for land and water trails in the Susquehanna Riverlands.
Pinnacle Overlook offers some of the best views of the Susquehanna River; is a great place to picnic and see a sunset or bald eagles; and is a starting point for a number of hikes including the Kellys Run Trail System of the Lancaster County Conservancy and the Conestoga Trail System maintained by the Lancaster Hiking Club.
Visitors also can enjoy the nearby Indian Steps Museum, and camping at Muddy Run Park.  
Recent accomplishments for the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape include:
-- Columbia Crossings and Susquehanna Heritage held the first “familiarization tours” for desk staff of hotels in Lancaster and York counties to help them become more familiar with all the attractions and amenities in the river corridor.
-- Lancaster County Conservancy added 44 acres to the Steinman Run Nature Preserve in Martic Township, Lancaster County, in part with a grant from DCNR.   The property includes two springs and seeps, and a tributary to Steinman Run, which ultimately flows to the Chesapeake Bay.
The visit to the overlook was one of several stops in the landscape today during an annual meeting of statewide partners involved in the landscape approach.  There are seven landscapes total across Pennsylvania included in the effort.
More information is available on the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape webpage.
For more information about the landscape initiative, visit DCNR’s Conservation Landscapes webpage.
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.
(Photo: Pinnacle Overlook, Susquehannock State Park.)
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Pocono Heritage Land Trust Names New Executive Director, 4 New Board Members

The Pocono Heritage Land Trust in Monroe County Thursday named Cindy Miano its new Executive Director and announced four new members of its Board.
The new Board members include--
-- Kathleen Flynn of Paradise Falls, founder of TDE Marketing.
-- Rita Lacey of Kunkletown, founder of Close the Loop Company.
-- Bill McGlone of Bangor, owner\operator of the grocery store Main Street Market in Bangor, PA and Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officer
--  Ray Molina of Stroudsburg, retired physician.
Cindy Miano is an educator and the former Executive Director of the Shawnee Institute, an educational/environmentally based nonprofit in the Poconos.
In that role Cindy developed Road Scholar Lifelong Learning Programs and created a model for multi-level Appalachian Trail hikes that Road Scholar has adapted and utilizes for hundreds of their domestic and international hiking programs.
She is a wilderness survival guide, avid cyclist, yoga instructor and currently completing certification for International Mountain Guide with the American Hiking Guides Association.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Pocono Heritage Land Trust website.  Click Here to support their work.

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