Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Franklin Institute Hosts Global Warming Demystified Presentation May 14 In Philadelphia

The Franklin Institute will host a Global Warming Demystified presentation on May 14 by Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, an Astrophysicist and educator, starting at 8:00 p.m. at the Institute located at 271 North 21st Street in Philadelphia.
Is human-induced global warming real or a hoax? Most people will express an opinion on this question, but relatively few can back their opinions with solid evidence.
This is true on both sides, as most “believers” are no better able to explain the scientific case for global warming than “skeptics” are able to make a case against it.
Many times we’ve even heard politicians and media pundits say “I am not a scientist” to avoid the issue altogether. But the truth is, the basic science is not that difficult.
In this presentation, Dr. Bennett will give you the foundation you need to speak intelligently about the science behind global warming, and show you why the solutions to this important problem are ones that people of all political persuasions can agree on.
If you have any questions or doubts about the reality of global warming or what we should do about it as a nation, you’re sure to come away enlightened. The level is suitable for anyone of middle school age and up.
The talk is based on Dr. Bennett's global warming primer.
Dr. Bennett’s presentation is part of the Night Skies programs on May 14 for adults and  families from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Click Here for more information and to purchase tickets.
For more information on programs and upcoming events, visit the Franklin Institute website.
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Agenda - House Environmental Committee May 1 Info Meeting On Erosion & Sedimentation Permits

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold an information meeting May 1 to learn about the permit review process for erosion and sedimentation control permits reviewed by DEP and county conservation districts.
Individuals expected to present comments are--
-- Brenda Shambaugh, PA Association of Conservation Districts
-- Vince McCollum, E&S Technician, Cumberland County Conservation District
-- Aneca Atkinson, DEP Acting Deputy for Water Programs
-- Ramez Ziadeh, DEP Executive Deputy For Programs
The meeting will be in Room B-31 of the Main Capitol starting at 8:30 a.m.  Click Here to watch online.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: dmetcalf@pahousegop.com. Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to: gvitali@pahouse.net.
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House Republicans Pass Bills To Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing, Waive Penalties, Provide Defenses To Violators

On April 30, House Republicans passed a series of bills adding new bureaucracy and cost to government by authorizing the House and Senate to kill a final regulation by doing nothing, take permit reviews away from state agencies and give them to 3rd parties, authorize the waiving of penalties and give violators defenses for their actions.
The bills would apply to all state agencies, but they are primarily aimed at agencies that protect the environment and public health.
The PA Environmental Council and the Environmental Defense Fund opposed this legislation saying, "This legislation will create greater uncertainty for regulations and permits, and unduly threaten public health and environmental protections by positioning politics ahead of science and law.
"While the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund welcome discussion on improving agency and regulatory performance, these bills fall well short of those considerations.
"The General Assembly already has ample authority to review and act on regulations, and has used that authority in prior sessions. In our view, the Commonwealth is better served by advancing inclusive, constructive dialogue on shared goals instead of legislation that will only foster further difficulty and disagreement."
Click Here for a copy of the PEC/EDF letter with comments on each bill.
The bills include--
-- Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing: House Bill 806 (Keefer-R-York) would authorize the General Assembly to kill an economically significant final regulation by doing nothing.  It would require all final regulations with an estimated economic impact of $1 million or more to be submitted to the General Assembly for a vote by concurrent resolution.  If the House and/or Senate fail to take action to approve the final regulation, the regulation is deemed not approved and the regulation shall not take effect. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)  The House voted 103 to 91 to pass the bill (Republicans supporting).  
-- Waiving Penalties/Providing Defenses To Violators: House Bill 762 (O’Neal-R- Washington) requires all state agencies to establish a new bureaucracy in the form of a Regulatory Compliance Officer with no oversight of any kind giving him the ability to issue an opinion on what any person’s obligations are under the laws administered by that state agency (within 20 business days) which can be used as a “complete defense” against any enforcement proceeding.  The Officer can also review any fine or penalty issued by the agency before it is imposed and set guidelines for waiving that penalty if the person being penalized “has taken or will take [steps] to remedy the violation.” DEP, on average, issues 31,000 permits and approvals a year-- surely 1 Compliance Officer can handle all those questions without delays. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)  The House passed the bill by a vote of 102 to 94 (Republicans supporting).
-- Require Third Party Permit Reviews: House Bill 509 (Rothman-R-Cumberland) requires all state agencies to establish a new bureaucracy in the form of third party permit review programs that delegate decision-making authority to persons other than the public agency with the legal authority to make those decisions with no conflict of interest or other protections for the public or applicants. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)  The bill passed the House by a vote of 109 to 86 (Republicans supporting).
-- Repeal Any Regulation At Any Time: House Bill 430 (Benninghoff-R-Mifflin) authorizes the General Assembly to repeal any regulation at any time by concurrent resolution, with review by the Governor. (House Fiscal Note and summary.)  The House voted 105 to 90 to pass the bill (Republicans supporting).
One bill in the package was voted down--
-- Office Of The Repealer/ Vote To Approve Regulations: House Bill 1055 (Klunk-R-York) establish the Office of the Repealer unaccountable to anyone, General Assembly must vote to approve economically significant regulations, repeal 2 regulations for every new one adopted, reauthorize repeal of any regulation by resolution. (House Fiscal Note and summary.) The bill was NOT passed by the House by a vote of 100 to 97 because it was not a constitutional majority (Republicans supporting).

Student Leader Involved In Passing Hellbender Recognition Says: We're Not Done

Student members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation PA Student Leadership Council were recently successful in getting the Eastern Hellbender recognized as Pennsylvania's state amphibian and clean water ambassador.  Here's a letter from Emma Stone, President of the Council, saying they aren't done yet--
On April 23, I sat next to Gov. Tom Wolf as he signed into law Senate Bill 9, officially designating the Eastern hellbender salamander as Pennsylvania’s first state amphibian. It was a moment of immense pride and hope.
For more than two years, my fellow students on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Student Leadership Council led the charge to focus public attention on the hellbender and water quality issues across the Commonwealth.
We worked countless hours with scientists at Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute to learn more about the hellbender, and countless more hours learning the intricacies of the legislative process.
The signing of Senate Bill 9 – legislation that we crafted – was a huge win.
But we’re not done yet.
Streams and rivers throughout Pennsylvania are vulnerable to pollution because they lack streamside trees to protect them from runoff. This is bad news for the hellbender, which requires clean and cool water to survive.
But it’s also bad news for the rest of us, who depend on clean water for drinking, fishing, and swimming.
As I finish my senior year at Carlisle High School, I am determined to build on our progress and do more for clean water. My hope is that other student leaders across the Commonwealth will be inspired by our work and encouraged that they, too, can make a difference.
Emma Stone
Mt. Holly Springs, Cumberland County
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

Audubon Society Of Western PA Native Plant Nursery Opens May 4 In Pittsburgh

On May 4, the Audubon Society of Western PA will open their Native Plant Nursery at the Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, 614 Dorseyville Road, in Pittsburgh.  
The Nursery is one of Western Pennsylvania's largest providers of native perennial plants.
Plants are grown from hand-collected seed, using chemical free practices. Over 100 species with high wildlife value are grown annually with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
Get discounts on plants that attract birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects to your yard. Bundles of plants for Monarchs and Hummingbirds will be available.
The nursery is open for sales through October during Audubon Nature Store hours at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve (Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 – 5 p.m.).
For more information about the native plant nursery and how you can help birds, pollinators, and wildlife by gardening with native plants, visit the Audubon Society of Western PA website or call 412-963-6100.
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Pollinator/Native Plant Resources
There are lots of resources available to help property owners landscape with native plants, and now is the best time to start planning for Spring projects.  Here are just of a few of the resources available--
-- Brandywine Conservancy: Forested Riparian Buffer Planting Guide
-- National Audubon: Native Plants Database
-- Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan - Learn Why Pollinators Are At Risk In PA
You can also check with land trusts, watershed groups, PA Audubon and Trout Unlimited Chapters, county conservation districts or other groups near you to see how they can help.
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Game Commission Board To Study Saturday Deer Hunting Opener Ahead Of 2020 Season

On April 30, the members of the Board of the Game Commission announced that last week commissioners last week with House Game and Fisheries Committee Majority Chairman Keith Gillespie (R-York) and Minority Chairman Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny) to discuss the Saturday opener to Pennsylvania’s firearms deer season, which the board adopted earlier this month when it set seasons and bag limits for the 2019-20 license year.
Since 1963, Pennsylvania’s firearms deer season consistently has opened the Monday after Thanksgiving, and hunters clearly were split in their support of the change to a Saturday opener.
Some who have been unable to hunt on opening day due to work or school commitments strongly supported the change. Some who travel considerable distances to their hunting spots, and now must do so earlier in the holiday weekend, strongly opposed it.
Hunter concerns over moving to a Saturday opener prompted Representatives Gillespie and Kortz to meet this week with Tim Layton, the president of the Board of Game Commissioners, and some other board members.
While the 2019 deer season will open on Saturday, November 30 this year, Layton assured the Committee chairmen the Board of Commissioners in the coming year will be looking very closely at the potential benefits and drawbacks of a Saturday opener.
The commissioners will be looking to see if there’s evidence the Saturday opener increased hunting license sales and hunter success, and looking to gauge the opinions of hunters who will have taken part in the state’s first Saturday opener in decades.
Layton also said that when the Board of Commissioners selects an opening day for the 2020 firearms deer season, it will take all of these findings into consideration to arrive at a decision that clearly provides the most benefit.
“Acting in the interest of the state’s hunters and the future of hunting in Pennsylvania, always are important components to decisions by the Board of Game Commissioners,” Layton said. “The board gave these factors careful consideration before voting to move the opening day of the firearms deer season to Saturday, and in the coming year, we’ll be drilling even deeper to make sure we understand what the majority of hunters want.”
Visit the Game Commission website for more information on deer hunting and other game seasons.

May 2 Harrisburg University Data Analytics Summit To Feature Partnership With Susquehanna River Basin Commission

Harrisburg University’s Data Analytics Summit V on May 2 will feature two projects developed by the University’s Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy (E3) in partnership with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.
The projects will demonstrate the power of data science to augment decision making and support stewardship of natural resources by environmental agencies.
The sessions will be introduced by Andrew Dehoff, P.E. Executive Director of SRBC:
-- Extracting Signal from the Noisy Environment of the Pine Creek Watershed: SRBC needs to manage multiple stakeholder requirements while sustaining a complex socio-environmental system. The project objective was to identify significant events or “signal” from among complex network of environmental sensors producing numerous water quality measurements.
The goal of HU’s analytics team was to utilize machine learning to identify which environmental indicators have significant influences on the Susquehanna River watershed, and to determine the effects of environmental indicators on the biotic community.
-- Deep Learning-based Dashboard to Help Protect Susquehanna River Basin: Streamlined access to data makes forecasting, monitoring, and timely actions much easier for any organization. It can mean the difference between achieving and not achieving a central goal.
For the SRBC, data is key to the commission’s core mission of enhancing public welfare through comprehensive planning, water supply allocation, and management of the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin.
River basin management involves multiple stakeholders and scientific management requires significant forecasting capabilities.
The HU team is working to combine data mining, deep learning techniques and visualization to identify relationships between various environmental parameters and indicators, build suitable predictive models, and present them in a digital dashboard to facilitate better, informed, pragmatic and more effective decisions.
Questions should be directed to Gene Veno, SRBC, 717-238-0423 ext. 1331 or by email to: gveno@srbc.net or John Quigley, Director of the Center for Environment, Energy and Economy, 717-901-5100 ext. 1659 or by email to: JQuigley@HarrisburgU.edu.
For more information, visit the Harrisburg University’s Data Analytics Summit V webpage.

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