Saturday, September 21, 2019

Rep. Toohil Introduces Bill To Name Regal Fritillary The State Butterfly To Honor Fallen Veterans At Fort Indiantown Gap

Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) has introduced  House Bill 1844 (Toohil-R-Luzerne) designating the Regal Fritillary butterfly as the official state butterfly of the Commonwealth (sponsor summary).
“It is well known that the butterfly has been a symbol of life and death for centuries. In Pennsylvania, the Regal Fritillary Butterfly can only be found at Fort Indiantown Gap [in Lebanon County] because of the unique habitat,” said Rep. Toohill. “Establishing this butterfly as the official butterfly of Pennsylvania would be a great way to honor our fallen heroes, as it can only be found in Pennsylvania at their place of rest.
“We are hopeful that we can get other state representatives to engage the youth in their community to learn the process of how a bill becomes a law, learn about the uniqueness of this particular butterfly and use the process as a way to honor our veterans,” added Rep. Toohil.
Background
219 acres of the Fort Indiantown Gap Training Areas and Ranges have been set aside at FIG to conduct research on Regal habitat. In addition over 75 acres of dispersal corridor (among research areas) has been created. 
All regal-occupied habitat is on an active or inactive military range.  Habitat is created and maintained by repeated, frequent soil disturbance (which can mean tanks), patchy fires, and stewardship efforts that create a diverse grassland dominated by native herbaceous vegetation.
The Gap has the largest population of this species remaining east of Indiana, a second population occurs at Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Virginia. It is also the largest documented population on a single landholding in North America.
The population of Regal Fritillary is around 1,000 adults and has been secure since monitoring started in 1998
A five-year (2002-2006) habitat management plan was initially prepared for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Fort Indiantown Gap Environmental Section by the Nature Conservancy of Pennsylvania and the Fort Indiantown Gap Office as part of the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan for the Gap.
In 2006, PA Chapter of The Nature Conservancy transferred the research and monitoring efforts to Pennsylvania State University.
One of the ongoing projects is repatriation of Regal Fritillary at the Gettysburg National Military Park and selected State Parks funded by Legacy Program of the U.S. Department of Defense and DCNR’s Wild Resource Conservation Program.
Click Here to watch a video story about the Regal Fritillary at Fort Indiantown Gap by StateImpact PA.
Click Here for a factsheet on the Regal Fritillary from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.  Click Here for more background from the PA Natural Heritage Program.
Visit the Fort Indiantown Gap Regal Fritillary Butterfly Habitat webpage for more information.
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Sunday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips 9.22.19

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Pike County Conservation District Annual Dinner Highlights Nature's Influence On Music Oct. 25

Nature has always inspired artists. This year, the Pike County Conservation District’s Annual Dinner on October 25 will feature a performance and presentation exploring how nature has influenced composers and musicians.
The event is a celebration of the natural resources of Pike County, and the great conservation work completed by Conservation District partners, its board of directors, and staff. 
Ryan Weber, Ph.D. will present “Art and Space, Art and Place: Creative Landscapes and Conservationism” followed by a performance of the Black Bear Jazz Ensemble led by Dieter Winterle on saxophone, with Robert Wilson on bass and Vince Marrone on guitar.
Dr. Weber is Executive Director and Founder of the Black Bear Conservatory of Music, in Hawley, PA. He also serves as Associate Professor of Musicology and Chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Misericordia University. He is a musicologist specializing in 19th and 20th century Europe and America.
Dr. Weber earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Connecticut and an MA and a BA from Queens College, The City University of New York. His research interests include critical disability studies, eugenics, the sociology of music, music and literature, Scandinavian studies, transatlanticism, and cosmopolitanism.
Winterle studied Music Education at Ithaca College and Jazz Performance at New York University. He has been a band director, and performs in small jazz combos, big bands, and wind ensembles in and around New York City.
The dinner is open to the public. It will be held in the Lakeview Dining Room at Woodloch Pines Resort. The event will include a social gathering (cash bar) from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, followed by dinner and the presentation.
Tickets are $35 per person. RSVPs are requested by October 18 to pikecd@pikepa.org or call 570-226-8220.
Visit the 2019 Annual Dinner webpage for more information.
For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and assistance to landowners, visit the Pike County Conservation District website.
(Photos: Dr. Ryan Weber, Dieter Winterle.)

Mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis Confirmed In Erie, Carbon, Monroe Counties; Both People & Animals Can Be Affected

On September 21, the departments of Agriculture and Health warned Pennsylvanians to take precautionary measures against mosquito bites for themselves and their animals--  specifically horses-- as the rare mosquito-transmitted viral infection Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in Erie, Carbon, and Monroe counties.
This disease can also be fatal-- three out of every ten people who get the disease die from it.
EEE is a virus carried by birds. If a mosquito bites an infected bird it can then transmit the potentially fatal virus to humans, horses, and other birds. 
Because of the high mortality rate in horses and humans, EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. 
Through mid-September, there have been 18 cases reported to the CDC from across the country in 2019, with the majority of the cases in the states of Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and North Carolina
Seven deaths have been reported making 2019 the worst year for EEE in the decade since the CDC has been keeping records.
People
The symptoms of EEE are: High fever (103º to 106ºF), Stiff neck, Headache, and Lack of energy.
These symptoms typically show up three to ten days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, can develop. The disease gets worse quickly, and some patients could end up in a coma within a week. 
Horses
In addition to taking precautions to eliminate standing water on their properties, horse owners are encouraged to proactively vaccinate against both EEE and West Nile Virus, keep animals indoors at night, and spray for mosquitoes. 
Vaccines for Eastern, Western, Venezuelan, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are available from veterinarians.
The onset of symptoms in horses starts with a fever that may reach as high as 106 º F for one to two days. Additional symptoms can include: Abnormal gait; Aimless wandering; Circling; Difficulty breathing; Drooping ears; Drowsiness; Head pressing; Hyperactivity; Inability to swallow; Paralysis; Restlessness; Sensitivity to sound; and Death.
Pennsylvania’s recently confirmed cases include a wild turkey, pheasants, and horses. Pennsylvanians are encouraged to take every precaution to protect against this rare, neurological disease and immediately contact their physician or veterinarian if symptoms present.
Precautions
When outdoors, people can avoid mosquito bites by properly and consistently using DEET-containing insect repellents and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing. To keep mosquitoes from entering a home, make sure window and door screens are in place and are in good condition.
Homeowners should take steps to eliminate standing water around their property to reduce mosquito populations. Here are some simple steps you can take:
-- Remove tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires or any object that could collect standing water. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
-- Have roof gutters cleaned annually, particularly if leaves from nearby trees have a tendency to clog the drains.
-- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
-- Do not let water stagnate in bird baths.
-- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
-- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and remove standing water from pool covers.
-- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
-- Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated with Bti products, which are sold at outdoor supply, home improvement, and other stores. Bti is a natural product that kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.
Click Here to read the Department of Health Eastern Equine Encephalitis factsheet.  

Wildlands Conservancy Highlights October Education Programs, Activities In Lehigh Valley

The Lehigh Valley-based Wildlands Conservancy recently highlighted the education programs and activities coming up in October, here’s a sampling--
-- October 13: Fall Foliage Paddle
-- October 20: Migration Hibernation
-- October 30: You & Me: Peek-A-Boo
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Wildlands Conservancy website. Like on Facebook, Follow on Twitter and Join on InstagramClick Here to support the Conservancy.

EPA Accepting Nominations For 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

On September 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now accepting nominations for the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for companies or institutions that have developed a new process or product that helps protect public health and the environment. Entries are due December 31.
“The Green Chemistry Challenge is an opportunity for EPA to recognize the latest and greatest in green chemistry innovations in chemical design, manufacture, and use,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “Innovations in green chemistry are an important component of pollution prevention efforts and keeping American businesses competitive in markets around the world. These innovations can turn waste materials into marketable commodities, reduce costs through material efficiency, and open new markets for products and services.”
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce both the generation and use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and people’s health. Nominations for innovative technologies featuring the design of greener chemicals and products, greener chemical syntheses and reactions, or greener chemical processes are due to the agency by December 31, 2019. 
EPA anticipates giving awards to outstanding green chemistry technologies in five categories next June--
-- Greener Synthetic Pathways
-- Greener Reaction Conditions
-- The Design of Greener Chemicals
-- Small Business (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a small business)
-- Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher
Since the inception of the awards more than two decades ago, EPA has received more than 1600 nominations and presented awards to 118 technologies, which reduced the use or generation of hundreds of millions of pounds of hazardous chemicals and saved billions of gallons of water and trillions of BTUs in energy.
An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute will formally judge the 2020 nominations and make recommendations to EPA for the 2020 winners.
For more information, visit EPA’s 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards webpage.

Joint Conservation Committee: Pentagon Report Concludes Climate Factors Are A National Security Concern

By Tony Guerrieri, Executive Director

A report by the U.S. Department of Defense outlines how climate change is already threatening military installations around the country. 
In the decades ahead, the Pentagon expects the problems to only get worse, warning that rising seas could inundate coastal bases and drought-fueled wildfires could endanger those that are inland.
The assessment, Report on the Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense, was mandated under a 2016 directive requiring the DoD to incorporate climate considerations in its planning for operations and infrastructure. 
It looks at 79 major military installations around the country, assessing both the current and future risks of severe weather including recurrent flooding, drought, wildfires, desertification and thawing permafrost.
The findings paint a pessimistic picture: two-thirds (or 53) of the facilities are vulnerable now or will face flooding in the years ahead, and more than half (43 bases) will likely face drought. Wildfires are a concern for 36, including the threat of mudslides and erosion from rains after the blazes.
The installations break down by organization as follows: Air Force: 35; Army: 20; Navy: 19; Defense Logistics Agency: 2; Defense Financing & Accounting Services: 1; NGIA: 1; and Washington Headquarters Service: 1.
U.S. military facilities are already encountering some of the effects, according to the report, noting that Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia has experienced 14 inches of sea-level rise since 1930. 
And Navy Base Coronado in California already is subject to flooding during tropical storms as well as recent fires in 2017 and 2018 that encompassed parts of the Vandenberg Air Force Base.
In the Washington, D.C. area, several DoD sites-- including Joint Base Andrews, home of Air Force One--  are experiencing drought conditions that have been severe in the past 16 years, the report says. Those conditions can lead to ruptured utility lines and cracked roads, the Pentagon warns, as moisture disappears from the soil.
Which states have the most bases at risk? 
Virginia has nine; California and Florida have six; Colorado has five; Maryland has four; and Arkansas, Washington D.C., Georgia, Hawaii and Ohio all have three.
The report mentions only one Pennsylvania installation facing problems-- the Defense Distribution Depot (Defense Logistics Agency) in Central Pennsylvania is at risk for worsening floods. It isn’t currently threatened by drought, but is vulnerable to it in the future.
It is relevant to point out that “future” in this analysis means only 20 years in the future, according to the report. 
It adds, projected changes will likely be more pronounced at the mid-century mark and vulnerability analyses to mid- and late-century would likely reveal an uptick in vulnerabilities if adaptation strategies are not implemented.
To address these concerns, the report recommends the DoD increase installation resiliency and expand research grants through its Strategic Research and Development Program and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program. 
Yet the report notes that more cooperation is needed with U.S. allies to further enhance the resiliency and sustainability of U.S. military and humanitarian operations abroad.
[For more very recent reports and publications from the U.S. Department of Defense on climate and security issues, visit the Center for Climate and Security’s Defense webpage.]
For more information on Committee activities, visit the Joint Conservation Committee website, Like them on Facebook or Follow them on TwitterClick Here to sign up for regular updates from the Committee.
Tony Guerrieri serves as Executive Director of the Joint House-Senate Legislative Air & Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee.
(Photo: Damage to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida from 2018 hurricane, Military Times.)
(Reprinted from the September JLCC Newsletter.)
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Bipartisan Group Of 30 House Members Urge Wolf To Take Action On Regs To Reduce Methane Emissions From Oil & Gas Operations

On September 20, a bipartisan group of over 30 Pennsylvania state House members sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to take immediate action on regulations which would reduce methane leakage from natural gas wells in Pennsylvania.
[A similar request was made to Gov. Wolf by another group of bipartisan Senate and House members September 17.]
The regulations which were part of a methane reduction strategy Wolf announced in January 2016 would apply to the approximately 11,000 unconventional wells drilled in Pennsylvania since 2004. 
These regulations are already more than two years behind schedule according to Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Minority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, who coordinated the joint letter. 
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and is responsible for approximately 25 percent of current global warming.
“Methane is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide,” Rep. Vitali said. “As the second-largest natural gas producing state, Pennsylvania’s methane emissions have a significant impact on global climate change. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is leaking from these wells and into the atmosphere at well pads, storage tanks, compressor stations, processing facilities, and along pipelines. The Wolf administration must demonstrate a sense of urgency by devoting enough staff and modifying these rules to regulate methane directly in order to quickly present them to the Environmental Quality Board for consideration. It’s time that we considered our environment a top priority.”
“Our communities are counting on us to ensure that we meet the commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rep. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester). “Now is the time for Pennsylvania to stand as a leader. It is imperative that we act now. Our children are our future and we need to do all we can to protect them from the dangerous impacts of climate change.”
The request asks the Wolf administration to bring the proposed VOC-Methane emissions regulations before the Environmental Quality Board as soon as possible, but no later than the board’s November 19 meeting.
Visit DEP’s Methane Reductions and Climate Change webpages for more on Pennsylvania’s methane and climate initiatives.
(Photo: Rep. Greg Vitali.)
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Joint Conservation Committee: Pentagon Report Concludes Climate Factors Are A National Security Concern

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