Monday, January 31, 2022

Joel Burcat To Release Another Environmental Legal Thriller: Strange Fire

Joel Burcat, a novelist and environmental and energy lawyer, will release another environmental legal thriller called Strange Fire about a dangerous battle over fracking.

"The frackers have invaded Pennsylvania and round-the-clock operations conducted by Yukon Oil and Gas at their snake-ridden Campbell pad may have poisoned a residential well and threaten a town’s water supply. 

"Who is contaminating water wells in Bradford County, Pa.? Why are contractors disappearing? 

"Mike Jacobs, a 29-year old dedicated and impassioned environmental lawyer with Pennsylvania’s Dept. of Environmental Protection, is back in this romantically-charged environmental legal thriller about fracking and drilling for natural gas.

"DEP says the fracking did not cause the contamination. The neighbors have sued the agency and Mike must defend the state. Because of the unique nature of the case, Mike finds himself on what he considers the “wrong” side, defending DEP’s position in support of the gas company. 

"Mike begins to suspect the neighbors are right and must get to the truth of the matter before he becomes a victim, too.”

This is Joel Burcat’s third environmental legal thriller. 

Click Here for more informationStrange Fire will be released in February.

Visit the Joel Burcat website for information on his other books.

Related Article:

-- Environmental Lawyer Joel Burcat Now Writes Environmental Thrillers Featuring DEP Assistant Counsel As Main Character

[Posted: January 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

DEP Receives First $25 Million From Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law For Plugging Oil & Gas Wells Abandon By Conventional Drillers

On January 31, Gov. Wolf announced Pennsylvania was awarded its initial allocation of $25 million from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug oil and gas wells abandon by conventional well drillers.

DEP is expected to receive over $395 million in conventional well plugging funds over the next 15 years.

“Today’s announcement from the Biden Administration is welcome relief,​ and I’m pleased that the president shares my commitment to addressing this legacy issue,” said Gov. Wolf. “​Addressing Pennsylvania’s orphaned and abandoned gas and oil wells will not only support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it will create a cleaner local ecosystem at each well site and energize the economy of our entire Commonwealth.”

Pennsylvania is home to tens of thousands of orphaned and abandoned wells. These wells have the potential to pollute backyards, recreational areas, and public spaces, and frequently release methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 28 times that of carbon dioxide. 

This initial $25 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support plugging the wells to address environmental, health, and safety concerns.

The Wolf Administration looks forward to working with the Department of Interior to put the resources announced today to work to enhance the state’s well plugging program and immediately remediate high-priority wells.

Conventional oil and gas well drillers abandon between 200,000 and 300,000 wells that taxpayers have to clean up. Read more here.

To learn more, visit DEP’s Abandoned & Orphan Well Program webpage.

Doing More To Prevent More Abandoned Wells

There are more attempts every year by conventional oil and gas well drillers to abandoned wells without plugging them.

Conventional oil and gas well drillers tried to abandon wells without plugging them 813 times in 2019 and 2020.  Read more here.

DEP has only $15 per well in bonds on hand to deter future abandoned wells from existing oil and gas well owners.  Read more here.

There are rulemaking petitions now before the Environmental Quality Board to increase oil and gas well bonding amounts in-line with the taxpayer cost to plug them to deter future abandon wells.  Read more here.

It makes no sense to keep plugging wells at taxpayer expense when conventional oil and gas drillers attempt to abandon new wells without plugging them.

Related Articles:

-- DEP Outlines 2022 Priorities: Make Up Deficit In Oil & Gas Funding; Get Resources Needed To Invest New Federal Mine Reclamation, Oil & Gas Well Plugging Funds

-- In 2021 Initiatives By The Biden Administration, Congress Make Historic Investments In Cleaning Up PA’s Environment; How To Invest $11 Billion Remains Up In The Air

[Posted: January 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

DEP Announces $4.7 Million In Growing Greener Watershed Restoration Grants In Southcentral PA

On January 31, the Department of Environmental Protection announced 13 projects in eight Southcentral Pennsylvania counties, aimed at watershed restoration and protection, have been awarded more than $4.7 million in funding through this year’s
Growing Greener Grants

“Growing Greener is the single largest investment of state funds that goes directly towards addressing critical environmental concerns of the 21st century,” said DEP Southcentral Regional Director Rod Nesmith. “Now in its third decade, DEP’s Growing Greener continues to play an essential role in restoring and protecting the health of streams and rivers in communities across Pennsylvania. The grant program provides necessary funding for a variety of projects focused on creating a cleaner environment for all Pennsylvanians.”

Growing Greener grants are awarded for projects in three categories: watershed restoration and protection; abandoned mine reclamation; and abandoned oil and gas well plugging projects. 

Statewide, this year’s awards exceed $18 million and will fund projects focused on design, construction, education, and outreach. 

The funds are distributed to non-profit organizations, watershed groups and county and municipal governments to address local and regional water quality issues. Grantees have up to three years to implement their projects from the award date.

Three other agencies also received funds to distribute for appropriate projects:  the Department of Agriculture to administer farmland preservation projects, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for state park renovations and improvements, and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority for water and sewer system upgrades.

Approved projects include: 

Berks County

-- Berks County Conservation District: Little Cacoosing Creek Restoration, $374,128

-- Fleetwood Borough: Willow Creek Streambank Restoration Phase 1, $145,438 

Blair County

-- Altoona Water Authority: Kittanning Run Restoration Plan Assessment, $50,537

Dauphin County

-- Capital Area Greenbelt Association: Spring Creek Ivey Apartments Site Streambank Restoration Project, $230,150 

-- Borough of Penbrook: Penbrook Borough Stormwater Management Basin, $280,000 

Franklin County

-- Franklin County Conservation District: West Branch Conococheague Tributary Floodplain Restoration—Design and Permitting, $117,500 

Huntingdon County

-- The Trust for Tomorrow: Tuscarora Creek Bank Stabilization Project, $88,510 

Lancaster County

-- Little Conestoga Creek Foundation: Little Conestoga Blue-Green Corridor Floodplain Restoration, $2,246,580 

-- Little Conestoga Watershed Alliance: Jackson and River Drive Floodplain Restoration Project, $113,000

Lebanon County

-- South Londonderry Township: Killinger Creek Stream Stabilization and Riparian Forest Buffer, $260,000

-- North Cornwall Township, Cleona Borough: Quittapahilla Creek Floodplain Restoration, $110,500

York County

-- York County Rail Trail Authority: Oil Creek Floodplain Restoration—Design and Permitting, $135,000

-- York County Conservation District: West Branch Codorus Creek Stream Restoration Phase 2, $563,365

For more information on this program, visit DEP’s Growing Greener Grants webpage.

Upcoming Grant Opportunities

-- Commonwealth Financing Authority Act 13 Drilling Impact Fee Funded Grants Opens February 1

-- February 1: Foundation For PA Watersheds Grants

-- February 14: Applications Now Being Accepted For 2022 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund; Land Transaction Assistance Grants

-- February 18: Lancaster Clean Water Partners Grant Deadline Reminder

-- March 4: Coldwater Heritage Partnership Conservation Grants

-- April 6: DCNR Community Conservation Partnership Grants

-- April 6: DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Grants

-- April 13: NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Grants

-- April 15:  Fish & Boat Commission Lancaster, York Habitat Grants

-- WeConservePA: Conservation Easement Transaction Assistance Grants Now Available 

-- August 12--  Foundation For PA Watersheds Grants

Visit the PA Environment Digest Grants & Awards webpage for more environmental and energy grant opportunities.

[Posted: January 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

Monday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips 1.31.22

Is Your Story Being Told?

Senate returns to session Feb. 7, 8, 9

     -- Committee Schedule

House returns to session Feb. 7, 8, 9

     -- Committee Schedule

TODAY’s Calendar Of Events


TODAY 1:00: DEP To Announce $4.7 Million In Growing Greener Grants In Southcentral PA


-- January 31 PA Environment Digest Now Available  [PaEN]

-- This Week’s Examples Of Going The WRONG WAY On Environmental, Energy Issues [PaEN]


-- SEEDS, Northern Poconos Chamber Name Highlights Foundation 2022 Green Business Of The Year In NE PA  [PaEN]

-- Chesapeake Bay Magazine: Donegal Trout Unlimited Chapter, Lancaster County, Wins Award For Stream Cleanup Efforts

-- Chesapeake Bay Journal - Ad Crable: Doc Fritchey Chapter Trout Unlimited’s Limestone Dosing Keeps Fish Habitat Livable For 36 Years

-- The Express: Clinton Conservation District To Hold Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Workshop

-- PG - Salena Zito: From Philly To Fayette, Water Woes Cross Geographic And Racial Lines 

-- WHYY: The Average Water Main In Philadelphia Is 76 Years Old, January Sees An Average Of More Than 175 Breaks  

-- Inquirer: 130-Year-Old Philly Water Main Broke In July, Businesses Owners Still Waiting For Repairs And Repayment

-- ScrantonT: PA American Water Crews Continue To Look For Water Main Break In Old Forge Since Thursday

-- ErieT: Wabtec Lands Largest Order Yet For New Battery-Electric Locomotives From Union Pacific Railroad

-- Guest Essay: Environmentalists Say 'No' To Nacero Natural Gas To Gasoline Refinery [PaEN]

-- WHYY: As Hilco Tears Down Fmr Philadelphia Refinery, Questions Remain About The Site’s Future

-- WESA/The Allegheny Front: How Waste Coal Is Fueling Bitcoin In Pennsylvania

-- PG: Saving The Planet By Looking At What’s On The Plate At College Campus Like Slippery Rock

-- Manada Conservancy Names Anita Pritchett Interim Executive Director [PaEN]

-- Gant News: Game Warden Provides Lessons In Technology, Law Enforcement For DuBois Wildlife Tech Students

-- PennLive - Marcus Schneck: Everything You Need To Know About Groundhogs For Groundhog Day

-- LancasterOnline - Erin Negley: 59 Plant And Garden Activities To Try In February, Including Maple Sugaring


American Rescue Plan Funding


-- TribLive Editorial: Nursing Shortage Can Use American Rescue Plan Funds


-- $11 Billion In Federal American Rescue Plan Funding To PA State Government, Local Governments Has Yet To Be Invested.  What’s Your Community Doing?


Bipartisan Federal Infrastructure Law


-- WHYY: General Assembly Diverts $4.2 Billion In State Funding Meant To Pay For Highways & Bridges To Pay State Police Instead [2019]  [Is There A Pattern Here?]

PA Politics - Everything Is Connected

-- TODAY 9:30: WITF Smart Talk: PA Republicans Gaining In Voter Registrations, Partisan Identification

-- ScrantonT Editorial: Barbara Hafer’s PAC Illuminates Absurd Law

-- ReadingE Editorial: Constitutional Amendment On Alcohol Sales Concerning

-- WHYY: General Assembly Diverts $4.2 Billion In State Funding Meant To Pay For Highways & Bridges To Pay State Police Instead [2019]  [Is There A Pattern Here?]

-- PennLive - Jan Murphy: COVID Policies At The Capitol In Harrisburg Are All Over The Map

-- TribLive Editorial: Nursing Shortage Can Use American Rescue Plan Funds

-- Inquirer: Restaurant Workers Are Quitting In Droves, Here’s How They’re Being Lured Back

-- WHYY: Philly To Pilot A Guaranteed Income Experiment, Giving Cash To Some Needy Residents

-- Inquirer Guest Essay: Rental Assistance Is A Lifeline For Philadelphia Families, Don’t Let It Disappear

-- ScrantonT Editorial: Horse Racing Reforms Long Overdue

-- PA Cap-Star: On The Job In D.C.: ‘You Have To Do The Work’: PA’s Rachel Levine Says

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[Posted: January 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

Guest Essay: Environmentalists Say 'No' To Nacero Natural Gas To Gasoline Refinery

By Karen Elias, Lock Haven

This letter first appeared in the Lock Haven Express on January 29, 2022--

A coalition of environmental groups from across Pennsylvania is raising warning flags about a huge industrial refinery being planned for Luzerne County.  [Read more here]

The company behind the $6 billion refinery, Nacero, which is based in Texas, has not yet succeeded in constructing any of the nine plants it has set out to build. In addition, it intends to use as-yet-unproven technology in its production of gasoline.

The Clean Air Council, a member of the coalition, has obtained air permit documents for Nacero’s similarly proposed facility in Texas. Based on these documents, the council states that the Luzerne County refinery would become the third-worst climate pollution emitter in the state. 

It would also be among the top emitters of other harmful pollutants.

Plans for the refinery place it in a residential area close to an elementary school.

We see happening here many of the same tactics being used in other parts of Pennsylvania to try to “sell” industries requiring the continued use of fossil fuels to unsuspecting rural communities. 

Touting jobs and economic revitalization, these industries move into areas that are struggling economically, bringing with them industrial blight, noise, harmful air pollution, health problems (including rising costs), possible water contamination, reduced property values, and degradation of quality of life.

These companies often work closely with legislators to obtain behind-the-scenes financing — as has been the case with Nacero — putting in place needed support without soliciting public input or engagement. Before the community has had an opportunity to weigh possible benefits against probable harms, the project is presented after the fact as a nearly-foregone conclusion.

The Express recently featured two articles on its climate page. One was titled “Earth Hits 6th Warmest Year on Record,” and the other “Deadly Extreme Weather Year for U.S. as Carbon Emissions Soar.”

At a time when the world’s top scientists, as well as regional, national and international agencies, are warning that we cannot continue doing business as usual if we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the fossil fuel industry is doubling down. 

The industry is currently spending billions of dollars on greenwashing PR to convince us that their products are environmentally friendly, offering false climate solutions in an effort to keep themselves in business.

Nacero’s plan to use what it calls “renewable natural gas” to produce gasoline is the latest of these greenwashing ploys. In fact, both its process and its product will require the burning of gases (primarily methane) that will delay our transition to electric vehicles and hurt our climate by releasing harmful pollutants into the air.

Pennsylvania’s environmental community is rightly concerned that the proposed Nacero refinery in Luzerne County is next in an aggressive wave of new proposals for fracked gas-related projects marketed as “good for the climate,” projects that ultimately turn out to be anything but.

I stand with other environmentalists in asking for safe, long-term, good-paying jobs for Pennsylvania’s workers that will protect the health and safety of our communities and our environment.

We shouldn’t have to make a choice between our lives and our livelihoods.

Karen Elias can be contacted by sending email to:

Related Articles:

-- Local, State Environmental Groups Express Opposition To Proposed Nacero Natural Gas To Gasoline Refinery In Luzerne County

-- Nacero To Build A Natural Gas - Renewable Natural Gas To Gasoline Production Plant in Luzerne County

[Posted: January 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

Manada Conservancy Names Anita Pritchett Interim Executive Director

Dauphin County-based
Manada Conservancy has named Anita Pritchett interim Executive Director after an extensive external recruitment process.

As a former Board member (among other roles), Anita has been an integral part of our strategic planning over the last 5 years.  She also brings a wealth of experience guiding both Federal agency programs and small non-profits through times of change.

In a statement, the Conservancy said--

“This is an exciting period of growth and transformation for Manada Conservancy. Over the next six months we will be finalizing implementation plans for our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, updating our governance structure, hiring a full-time Land Protection Director, and creating a Strategic Development Plan.

“We’re thrilled to have Anita at the helm through this next chapter of making our conservation efforts even more effective and sustainable.”

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Manada Conservancy website.  Follow them on Facebook and TwitterClick Here to support their work.

[Posted: January 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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