Thursday, December 31, 2020

DCNR Acquires 18 Acres Of Land Adjoining Presque Isle State Park, Tom Ridge Environmental Center In Erie

On December 31, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the acquisition of the 18.45-acre BAC Inc. property in Millcreek Township, Erie County. 

The property adjoins Presque Isle State Park and the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

"The efforts over nearly 20 years to acquire the BAC property were extraordinary," said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "Acquisitions like this take hard work, dedication, and cooperation among many of our partners in Erie. To that end, the department appreciates the support and efforts of our external partners in this lengthy process. Presque Isle State Park is one of the most visited parks in the system; this acquisition will help conserve the Scott Run corridor as well as enhance the visitor experience."

Since 2002, DCNR shared a vision of a Greenway along the eastern side of Peninsula Drive from West Sixth Street to Presque Isle State Park. 

This project will advance plans to restore the property to a natural environment, and as an appropriate "gateway" to Presque Isle State Park. 

Additionally, important greenway development, visitor connections, and environmental issue mitigation will be attained and made through this acquisition.

"I'm pleased to see this tremendous property come to state parks," said Bureau of State Parks Director John Hallas. "The patience of BAC and the assistance of our partners cleared the way for this important project to finally come to fruition. Much work remains ahead of us as we plan for a new and welcoming gateway to the peninsula. But once complete, we envision a plan that will enhance the recreational and conservational value of the park, as well as advance the comprehensive plan of Millcreek Township -- creating a gateway to the Presque Isle State Park, Millcreek Township's Scott Run Park, and to the City of Erie.

"What's more, the conservation of the Scott Run corridor will help ensure long-term conservation of Presque Isle Bay and the park. The work ahead of us is exciting, to say the least."

The project is also viewed as an important green link for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail system -- a 518-mile scenic driving route that follows the shores of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in New York and Pennsylvania.

From a resource standpoint, the property will allow the department to address the partial restoration and stabilization of Scott Run, a tributary to Presque Isle Bay that traverses this property.

 Scott Run is included in the DEP list of impaired waters whose deeply-cut banks erode further with each rain event, washing thousands of pounds of sediment each year into Presque Isle Bay and harming its fisheries.

BAC has always been supportive of efforts to preserve and promote Presque Isle State Park and supports a transaction that will ensure the local community benefits from this parcel of land in perpetuity.

For more information on the park and Center, visit the Presque Isle State Park and the Tom Ridge Environmental Center webpages.

  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: Tom Ridge Environmental Center.)

Related Articles:

-- Walking Thru Old-Growth Forest At The Alan Seeger Natural Area In Huntingdon County

-- Nominations For PA Parks & Forests Foundation 2021 Annual Awards To Recognize COVID Champions Now Due Jan. 12

[Posted: December 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

DEP Sets Jan. 13 Virtual Hearing On Chapt. 102/105 Permits For Phase I PennEast Pipeline Project

On December 31, the Department of Environmental Protection announced it will hold a virtual hearing January 13 on the Chapter 102 and 105 Erosion and Sedimentation and Waterways Management permit applications for Phase I of the
PennEast Pipeline Project from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.. (PA Bulletin, page 7107)

The PennEast pipeline will cross four counties in the northeast: Carbon, Luzerne, Monroe and Northampton. Phase 1 will primarily entail the construction of approximately 68 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline from Dallas Township in Luzerne County through Carbon and Monroe counties and into Bethlehem Township in Northampton County. 

The southern terminus of Phase 1 will be at the Church Road Interconnects with Columbia Transmission and Adelphia Gateway in Northampton County. The total length of the pipeline will encompass 116 miles in northeast and southeast Pennsylvania.

“The department understands that this pipeline project will have a significant impact on the communities that it will pass through, so it is important that we hear from residents,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to adjust and shift to remote hearings, but the testimony of residents will still carry the same weight as in-person testimony.”

The permit applications were originally received by the department in December of 2018 and then, in September of 2019, the department received updated applications to reflect the phased-in approach of the pipeline project.

DEP’s notice said it will schedule a hearing for Phase 2 of the project extending between Northampton and Bucks counties at a later date.

Individuals who wish to observe or present testimony at the formal virtual public hearing must contact Colleen Connolly at 570-826-2035 or,  a minimum of 24 hours in advance of the hearing to reserve time to present testimony.

The WebEx information for the virtual public hearing will be available through the Public Participation tab on DEP’s website.

All comments, whether delivered orally during the virtual hearing or submitted in writing to carry equal weight and consideration with DEP. Written comments will be accepted until close of business on January 20.

Read the entire PA Bulletin notice for more information (PA Bulletin, page 7107).

For more information, visit DEP’s PennEast Pipeline Project webpage.

[Posted: December 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Op-Ed: We Must Cut Carbon Emissions From Fossil Fuels To Zero By 2050 To Prevent Passing A Point From Which We Cannot Adapt

Richard Whiteford, Independent Journalist & Climate Change Educator

The United Nations recently released the “Fossil Fuel Production Gap Report”, saying, “To follow a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6 percent per year between 2020 and 2030. Countries are instead planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2 percent, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit.”

In the 2015 COP-21 Paris Climate Summit the world’s climate scientists concluded that we must keep Earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above 1990 levels to prevent us from passing a point from which we cannot adapt. 

To achieve that, we must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to zero by 2050. That is a formidable feat! 

Why quibble over a half-degree you may ask. A half-degree difference may not sound like much but according to the United Nations, a half degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without. Coral reefs provide food and coastal protection for half a billion people.

The Earth has already warmed 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the beginning of the industrial revolution. 

The average land temperature in the northern hemisphere north of 60 degrees latitude, as measured from October 2019 through September 2020, was 1.9 degrees Celsius, or 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above the baseline average for 1981-2010 and the second highest in more than a century of record-keeping. 

The National Snow & Ice Data Center reported a loss of 3.47 million square miles of summer ice in 2020.

Given the visible evidence of a warming planet from record-breaking wildfire seasons, hurricane seasons, droughts, heatwaves, and given that climate-related events have cost the US over $500 billion one would think we would be in a hurry to save our life support system. 

The fact that the fossil industry plans to increase fossil fuel production despite this evidence is like refusing to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the denial seems to be the misguided perception, fueled by politicians and the fossil industry that climate change is a hoax like many said about COVID-19 and that they were hoaxes perpetrated by elites to kill jobs and gain more political, social, and economic power. 

In both cases, those like-minded people refuse to acknowledge the COVID death rate or the environmental destruction and defiantly refuse to wear a mask and stop burning fossil fuels.    

Both climate change and COVID-19 are equalizers. They don’t respond to human desires, political affiliations, or ideologies and both will eventually kill you. 

The only way to save humanity from climate change is to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050.

There is no shortage of solutions to lessen the impact of climate change, many of which will jumpstart our economy, proposed in the UN report, the Green New Deal, and here in Pennsylvania, joining RGGI, so what are we waiting for?

Oh, by the way, COVID-19 didn’t “magically vanish” right after the election, nor will climate change. 

[Visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage to learn more about the proposal.  Public comments on the proposal are due January 14. Read more here.]

Richard Whiteford is an internationally acclaimed public speaker, climate change expert, writer, and environmental activist based in Chester County.


-- Rachel McDevitt: PA’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Goals Set To Flatline Next Year, Unless Legislature Acts

-- Rachel McDevitt: Top Energy/Environment Story Of 2020: The Fight Over RGGI

-- Allegheny Front: State Program Is Helping Boroughs, Towns Plan For Climate Change

Related Articles This Week:

-- Better Path Coalition Asks For Removal Of Rep. Metcalfe As Chair Of House Environmental Committee After He Calls Veterans Fighting Climate Change Traitors

-- Op-Ed: Climate Change Is Affecting Us All In Pennsylvania, Especially In Philadelphia - By Joseph Otis Minott, Clean Air Council

-- Op-Ed: RGGI - A More Mindful Approach To PA Agriculture And Climate Change - By Michael Kovach, PA Farmers Union

Related Articles - Climate:

-- PA Will Experience 42% More Days Of Extremely Heavy Precipitation By 2050 Due To Climate Change

-- Clean Power PA Coalition: 95% Of Commenters At EQB Hearing On Proposed Power Plant Carbon Pollution Reduction Regulation Hearings Supported The Proposal

-- Sen. Costa Introduces Bill To Reduce Carbon Pollution From Power Plants, Protect Communities, Workers Already Affected By Changing Energy Economy

-- Report: Clean Energy Is A Leading Creator Of New Quality Jobs In Pennsylvania

-- DEP Senate Budget Hearing: Coal-Fired Power Plants Are Closing Without RGGI, We Have To Confront This Issue, Help Workers, Communities

-- Op-Ed: Keep Pennsylvania’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative On Track - Rep. Greg Vitali 

-- Op-Ed: DEP Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Is Not About Climate Change - Sen. Langerholc & Rep. Rigby

-- Op-Ed: PA Needs More Jobs, RGGI Will Create Them By Investing In Energy Efficiency - Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance

[Posted: December 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

DEP Posts 44 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In January 2 PA Bulletin

The Department of Environmental Protection published 44 pages of public notices related to proposed and final permit and approval/ disapproval actions in the January 2 PA Bulletin -
pages 35 to 79.
Sign Up For DEP’s eNotice: Did you know DEP can send you email notices of permit applications submitted in your community?  Notice of new technical guidance documents and regulations?  All through its eNotice system.  Click Here to sign up.
For more information on environmental programs in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s website, Click Here to sign up for DEP’s newsletter, sign up for DEP Connects events, sign up for DEP’s eNotice, visit DEP’s BlogLike DEP on Facebook, Follow DEP on Twitter and visit DEP’s YouTube Channel.
Related Article:
[Posted: December 31, 2020] PA Environment Digest

DEP Sets Feb. 3 Virtual Public Hearing On Mine Reclamation Project In Westmoreland County

The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the January 2 PA Bulletin of a February 3 public hearing on the Soberdash Mining Reclamation Project in South Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County starting at 10:00 a.m..
(PA Bulletin, page 79).

Robindale Energy Services, Inc. has applied for an NPDES General Permit for a Government Financed Construction Contract to reclaim abandoned mine land in the township.

A Government Financed Construction Contract is a contract between a reclamation contractor and DEP to reclaim abandoned mine lands. 

Reclamation projects that involve coal removal as a necessary and incidental consequence of the reclamation may be exempt from the permitting requirements of the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act. Read more here.

This proposed GFCC 65-19-01 consists of reclamation of abandoned mine land, including screening approximately 350,000 tons of coal refuse currently covering 12 acres, transporting an estimated 297,500 tons of refuse from the site, and reclamation of 17 acres of land to a vegetated level pad with soiled out-slopes for industrial land use. 

Operational controls and non-discharging erosion and sedimentation controls requested in the NPDES General Permit are proposed to minimize impact to Sewickley Creek from reclamation activities.

Virtual Hearing

Individuals who wish to observe or speak at the virtual public meeting must contact DEP Community Relations Coordinator Lauren Fraley at or 412-442-4203 a minimum of 24 hours in advance of the event to reserve a time to ask questions. 

Individuals who register for the event will receive the link and instructions on how to join via email or phone. Video demonstrations and screen sharing will not be permitted.

Read the entire PA Bulletin notice for more information (PA Bulletin, page 79).

[Posted: December 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Nominations For PA Parks & Forests Foundation 2021 Annual Awards To Recognize COVID Champions Now Due Jan. 12

PA Parks and Forests Foundation is now accepting nominations through January 12 for their 2021 Annual Awards to recognize outstanding service, programs, and people to remind everyone of the exemplary work happening in our state parks and forests.

The foundation plans to distribute 50 awards across the Commonwealth are open to individuals of all ages, groups, organizations, businesses or companies who have worked especially hard to provide safe outdoor recreation areas for mental health and physical release during the COVID pandemic. 

The number of awards pays tribute to the 50th anniversary (May 18th) of the Environmental Rights Amendment added to the Pennsylvania constitution in 1971. The amendment states that: 

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

Pennsylvania state parks and forests provide a safe space to improve our physical, mental, and emotional health. 

Our parks and forests also support local economies through visitations, consumer purchases of outdoor recreation equipment, and through projects and services at parks and forests.

The words of the ERA were never more evident than they were during 2020. Pennsylvanians instinctively knew that their right to clean air; pure water; and the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of their environment would see them through these difficult times. 

The PA Parks and Forests Foundation plans to celebrate both the anniversary of the ERA and the contributions of the people who made staying healthy during the pandemic possible with the COVID Champions.

Nominations are encouraged for awards to volunteers, Friends Groups, organizations, parks/forests staff members, business owners, medical providers, or elected or appointed officials who:

-- Went above and beyond to improve the visitor experience and create a welcoming environment;

 -- Created or continued an innovative program or project for user comfort, safety, or enjoyment; 

-- Worked to highlight the ongoing needs of our parks and forests even before the onset of the pandemic and the overwhelming use it brought to our public spaces; or 

-- Showed unusual leadership or creativity in support of their park or forest, or the outdoors in general.

“Spending time in the outdoors has long been recognized as a means for improving human health,” said Marci Mowery, President of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. “With the COVID Champions award program we look to recognize the innovative spirit, the commitment, and the tenacity of staff, volunteers, decision makers, and businesses who saw to it that our parks and forests remained safe and welcoming environments for all users.”

“Never has the value of our state parks and state forests shined brighter than during these most difficult times when we see unprecedented numbers seeking the needed solace and escape of the unspoiled outdoors,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Our facilities never could meet that need without the invaluable services, programs and people recognized in these annual awards. We salute all and all that they do!” 

Click Here to submit a nomination or for more information.

For more information on programs, initiatives, special events and how you can get involved, visit the PA Parks & Forests Foundation website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Foundation,  Like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter or tune in to their YouTube ChannelClick Here to become a member of the Foundation.

The Foundation and their 46 chapters mobilize 65,000 volunteers annually to steward YOUR state parks and forests.

Related Article This Week:

-- Walking Thru Old-Growth Forest At The Alan Seeger Natural Area In Huntingdon County

Related Articles:

-- State Parks Continue To Break Visitor Records In September: 4.7 Million Visitors, Up 31 percent Over Last Year

-- State, Regional, Local Outdoor Recreation ‘Through The Roof’ Across Pennsylvania

-- Op-Ed: Now Is The Time To Invest In Parks, Not Cut Them

-- 90% Of PA Voters Want Senate, House To Provide More Funding For Critical Environmental, Conservation Programs; That Didn’t Happen In 2020

-- $201,977,000 Diverted From Environment, Energy Funds To Balance FY 2020-21 State Budget

-- New Poll Shows 90% Of PA Voters Want Senate, House Members To Address Environmental, Conservation Priorities, Provide More Funding For Critical Programs

[Posted: December 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

PUC: Energy Efficiency & Conservation Programs Submitted By Electric Utilities

Public Utility Commission published notice in the January 2 PA Bulletin the following electric distribution utilities have submitted Phase IV Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program Plans--

-- Duquesne Light Company at Doc. No. M-2020-3020818

-- Metropolitan Edison Company at Doc. No. M-2020-3020820

-- PECO Energy Company at Doc. No. M-2020-3020830

-- Pennsylvania Electric Company at Doc. No. M-2020-3020821

-- Pennsylvania Power Company at Doc. No. M-2020-3020822

-- PPL Electric Utilities Corporation at Doc. No. M-2020-3020824

-- West Penn Power Company at Doc. No. M-2020-3020823

The Plans are required by Act 129 and in accordance with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program Implementation Order, entered on June 18, 2020, at Doc. No. M-2020-3015228.

For more information, visit the PUC’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program webpage.

[Posted: December 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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