Thursday, June 30, 2022

PA Environmental Council: $3.7 Billion - The Value Of Clean Water In Just 3 Watersheds Of The Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape

By Marla Meyer Papernick,
PA Environmental Council

$3.7 billion: that is the value of clean water within three watersheds of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape - the Loyalhanna-Conemaugh and Youghiogheny River..

It’s hard to believe that this huge number represents the true value of water in just four counties. Imagine, it would take thirty years to count to one billion if you did so around the clock. 

So, how can water be so valuable? Because of Ecosystems Services Benefits — the flow of benefits from ecosystems to people over given extents of space and time.

Certainly, no dollar figure can reflect the full value of the natural resources that make the Laurel Highlands region such a unique place to live, work, and play. 

Ecosystem services benefits are about human welfare rather than nature for its own sake: physical and mental health, potable water, climate change mitigation, fishing, boating, swimming, beer and food production, just to name a few examples.

The valuable water resources of the region deserve protection and, in many cases, require restoration. 

The 2019 study, “Valuing Clean Water, Ecosystem Service Values in the Loyalhanna-Conemaugh and Youghiogheny River Watersheds of the Laurel Highlands Region,” is a thorough analysis of the ecosystem service benefits of water in the region through the lens of five major areas of impact: recreation, abandoned mine drainage, natural gas, agriculture and storm runoff, and sewage treatment.

The idea for this study came about in 2015 at a meeting of more than 15 people representing watershed associations, conservation districts, Trout Unlimited chapters, and others. 

It was completed by a steering committee of exceptionally committed and persistent individuals and managed by Mountain Watershed Association

Learn more about the importance of water resources by reading the Executive Summary.

Spread The Word!

Spread the word about the results of the Ecosystem Services study with these fact sheets designed to focus on key findings

Share them with decision-makers and stakeholders who want to better understand the importance of water to the region and the actions required to restore and protect it for the vitality of the region now and in the future.

Download Fact Sheet Examples & Templates.

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, PEC Bill/Regulation Tracker, 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.

(Reprinted from the PA Environmental Council website.)

Related Articles - Ecological Services:

-- The Economic Value Of Green Infrastructure: Calculating A Return On Investments In Parks, Watershed Restoration, Farmland BMPs, Open Spaces

 -- Study: Riparian Buffers Provide Over $10,000/Year/Acre In Benefits - Reducing Erosion, Flooding, Increased Water Purification, Habitat, Property Values, More

-- New Laurel Highlands Study Documents $3.7 Billion In Annual Economic, Environmental Benefits From Ecosystem Services; Public Meetings May 14, 15, 16

-- Chester County Return On Environment Study Puts A Dollar Value On Benefits From Protecting Open Space

-- Jan. 12 Presentation On New Report Detailing $500 Million In Annual Economic Benefits From Services Provided By The Environment In Lebanon County

[Posted: June 30, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

15th Coal Miner’s Heritage Festival July 10 At The No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum, Carbon County

15th Annual Coal Miner’s Heritage Festival will be held on Sunday, July 10 from 10:00 a.m.  to 5:00 p.m. on the grounds of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford, Carbon County, PA.  

This unique, fun and educational event celebrates northeastern Pennsylvania’s rich, Anthracite Coal region history, ethnic heritage, ethnic foods, folk music, hand crafts and customs.   

“The Annual Coal Miners Heritage Festival is presented by the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford and is our largest annual event” said Dale Freudenberger, Secretary at No. 9.  

Admission to the festival grounds and parking are free and the event is held rain or shine.  

A variety of crafters, artists, vendors and regional organizations spread out over the sprawling green grass field at No. 9 Mine will be offering a variety of amazing goods for sale.        

Visitors can take an underground tour of the No. 9 Coal Mine throughout the day for a nominal charge.   

The No. 9 Mine is the world’s oldest operating deep mine having been opened in 1855 by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company.  It was last mined in 1972 by the Lanscoal Company.  The guided underground mine tours are available throughout the day.  

The average temperature in the mine is about 52 degrees so a light jacket or sweater are recommended.  

Visitors will ride into the mine in the safety of enclosed mine cars pulled by an original mine locomotive.  

The nearby No. 9 Coal Mining Museum, housed in the original 1912 brick miner’s wash shanty, houses one of the largest collections of anthracite coal mining artifacts, tools, photographs and memorabilia in the coal region. 

Many unique and rare items are on display.  

The festival is held on the large sprawling grounds surrounding the No.9 Mining Museum.  In keeping with the theme, the coal miner’s competition is always the most popular event.  

Anyone over the age of sixteen is invited to participate in the coal shoveling competition where competitors shovel a pile of coal in the shortest time.  In past years, this had been a very competitive event drawing participants from all over.  

Trophies will be awarded to the winners. The coal shoveling competition will begin at 2:00 and is free to enter. 

Many interesting and fun exhibits will highlight our Anthracite Coal region heritage and culture.   

The old time ‘Wash Day’ demonstrations will show the evolution and chore of washing clothes by hand in the coal patch towns. Children are encouraged to join in the fun!

 Other outdoor exhibits include local historical society exhibits, vintage coal region posters, a restored vintage mine lokie, an operating antique coal screen, a display of old time moonshine making equipment, the miners ‘bath day’ display, antique coal region beer trays exhibit, The Dorrance Mine Fan preservation project, and more!     

A variety of great music typically found in the coal region will be featured throughout the day.  It includes the WMGH Radio Polka Program live broadcast with Polka Joe Manjack.  

There will be singing and coal region storytelling by the popular “Breaker Boys”, Stu Richards and Tommy Symon.  

Acclaimed coal region Folk musician, balladeer, and clogger, Jay Smar will perform.  His grandfather actually worked as a coal miner at No. 9 Mine for many decades.  

Mountain music man, multi-instrumentalist and teacher, Dave Matsinko will do strolling performances, and DJ Shawn Frederickson will play recorded classic folk and heritage music during the day.  

Coal region historical re-enactors will stroll the grounds in their authentic coal patch town outfits and perform a skit.  

On display will be several early antique vehicles from the early 1900s, and a traditional home delivery hi-lift coal truck. There is no formal car show at this event.       

If you don’t come for anything else, come for the great combination of homemade, coal region ethnic foods as well as other popular summertime festival foods offered up by local organizations and food vendors.  

The many goodies include halupki (stuffed cabbages), homemade pierogies in butter and onions, halushki made with homemade noodles and cabbage, open pit smoked beef brisket sandwiches, pulled pork, bleenies (potato pancakes), ham and bean soup, hamburger barbecue, funnel cake, Italian ice, ice cream, milkshakes and sundaes, gyros, stuffed grape leaves, chicken tenders, homemade potato chips, homemade lemonade, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, deep fried pierogies, mozzarella sticks, fresh made mini donuts, tabbouleh salad, keg tapped Ben’s birch beer and cream soda, Zimmerman’s iced tea, soda and fruit drinks, baklava, and other baked goods!           

Plenty of children’s entertainment will be on hand including the popular old time coal sack races with prizes for the winners, a bounce house, kiddie train ride and other amusement rides, children’s games, and the popular “Buster the Clown” making balloon animals for kids.    

Become A Vendor!

It’s not too late to sign up as a vendor or crafter to participate in this year’s event on July 10.  To register, email Dale at  or call him at 610-597-6722 and leave a message.  

Questions about the festival should be directed to Dale Freudenberger at  or by phone at 610-597-6722 and leave a message. Emails are preferred.

Visit the 15th Annual Coal Miner’s Heritage Festival event Facebook page for more information.

[Posted: June 30, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

Evangelical Environmental Network: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of U.S. Supreme Court Decision On Regulating Carbon Pollution

On June 30, the York County-based
Evangelical Environmental Network issued this statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on regulating carbon pollution from power plants--

The Supreme Court decision in West Virginia vs. EPA to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon pollution is a significant blow to God’s children here in the United States and throughout creation.

The Good 

The Supreme Court left the EPA’s overall ability to regulate greenhouse gases intact. It agreed with settled science that carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels is the major source of greenhouse gases, and that climate change is real.

The Bad

The Supreme Court has limited the EPA’s ability under the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gases, ruling it does not have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions across the entire energy sector but can only do so on a station-by-station basis.

It leaves in the hands of Congress the ability to make any decisions limiting emissions from the power sector that go beyond an individual plant, ruling that the Clean Air Act doesn’t provide EPA this authority.

This decision has the potential to slow down the defense of children’s health, putting more children at risk for brain damage, cardiopulmonary diseases, preterm birth, and even death. 

It leaves historic areas of high pollution especially at risk, including low-income communities and those forced to live in redlined neighborhoods. 

This ruling may also throttle growth of low-carbon and zero-emission energy sources, effectively slowing down the fastest growing source of jobs across the energy sector and hindering one of our strongest competitive worldwide advantages as a leader of clean energy technologies that can be exported throughout the world.

The Ugly

The West Virginia vs. EPA decision forces Congress to act and take responsibility for defining the future of our nation and defend the Biblical right for an abundant life. 

As our Declaration of Independence proclaims, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

The right to an abundant life is self-evident and should not be infringed upon.

Congress’s inability to work for the common good is indeed ugly. 

We need Congress to know it’s more important than ever that they come together and act now – to defend our health, our children, our economy, and the future of all Americans. 

Our children and the American people cannot afford to wait any longer.

We need bold action. 

A good start is the $555 billion in clean energy, health, and climate investments included in the reconciliation bill. 

However, to meet our carbon reduction goals and ensure a bright future for our children, Congress must also pass bipartisan carbon fee legislation that is not regressive on those of lower economic status. 

This, together with a carbon border adjustment, will accelerate American ingenuity and innovation, invest in the American worker, spur sustainable economic growth, and hold other high-emitting countries accountable to clean up their act.

Action Supported By 220,000+ Pro-Life Christians

Over 220,000 pro-life Christians supported the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (the subject of the Supreme Court Decision) at its inception in 2015. 

They believe strongly in the Bible, and the Bible is clear: the earth and everything in it belongs to the Lord (Psalm 24:1); that we are but tenants of the land charged to take good care of creation, to work for the redemption of the earth, and repair the damage humanity has inflicted on God’s handiwork (Romans 8:19-22).

The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land – Leviticus 25:23-24

Our community increasingly understands the harm that the climate crisis and fossil fuel pollution does to the heart, lungs, brains, and lives of our children – both here in the United States and around the world. 

They understand that “Climate change is the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century, but it is also the greatest opportunity to redefine the social and environmental determinants of health,” written by the Lancet Medical Journal. 

We know our Scripture is clear:  Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy - Psalm 82:3-4

It’s time for Congress to act on climate – just as the Bible tells us.

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Evangelical Environmental Network website.   ENN is based in New Freedom, York County.

The mission of ENN is to inspire, equip, educate, and mobilize evangelical Christians to love God and others by rediscovering and reclaiming the Biblical mandate to care for creation and working toward a stable climate and a healthy, pollution-free world.

Related Articles This Week:

-- U.S. Supreme Court Decision Did Not Affect EPA’s Ability To Regulate Carbon Dioxide As A Pollutant, Has No Impact On DEP's RGGI Power Plant Carbon Pollution Reduction Program  [PaEN]

-- Young Evangelicals For Climate Action Respond To U.S. Supreme Court Decision On Regulating Power Plant Carbon Pollution  [PaEN]

-- Evangelical Environmental Network Testifies In Congress On Need To Defend Our Children’s Health & Taxpayers By Fixing Oil & Gas Facility Methane Leaks, Require Real Well Plugging Bonding  [PaEN]

[Posted: June 30, 2022]   PA Environment Digest

Evangelical Environmental Network Testifies In Congress On Need To Defend Our Children’s Health & Taxpayers By Fixing Oil & Gas Facility Methane Leaks, Require Real Well Plugging Bonding

On June 24, Rev. Dr. Jessica Moerman, Vice President for Science & Policy from the York County-based
Evangelical Environmental Network presented testimony to the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on the health impacts from natural gas infrastructure and low-producing oil and gas wells and the burdens these facilities impose on taxpayers.

The hearing was entitled-- Cutting Methane Pollution: Safeguarding Health, Creating Jobs, and Protecting Our Climate.

Dr. Moerman said, “It’s time to defend our children’s health and future by reducing methane leaks, stop wasting taxpayer money by cleaning up the fossil fuels legacy, and supply real bonding and royalty reform.”

The text of the testimony follows--

Dear Chair Castor and Ranking Member Graves,

Thank you for your service to our nation. We thank you for your leadership and common commitment to making America’s energy the cleanest in the world – a goal that every American can be proud of and that is indispensable for giving our children and grandchildren the bright and healthy future they deserve. 

Compared to other global energy producers, American energy has made incredible strides in this area, but when it comes to ensuring every child – including the unborn – have a chance at a thriving, fulfilling life, there is still much work to do. 

That is why we are grateful for the Committee’s hearing on the benefits of cutting methane pollution, including sealing methane leaks that waste our nation’s precious natural resources at a time when families cannot afford any wasted drop.

Impacts On Unborn

As pro-life evangelicals, we have a special concern for the unborn.  We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution even before they take their first breath. 

The medical community has long known pollution and other environmental impacts harm our unborn children, and we know that fossil fuel combustion is the leading environmental threat to children’s health worldwide.[1] 

It was once thought expectant mothers supply a shield of protection to their developing unborn child by filtering out pollutants – medical research repeatedly shows that this is untrue.

Studies show that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb and that living close to oil and gas infrastructure poses a significant threat to unborn life--

-- Dr. Lisa M. McKenzie with the Colorado School of Public Health published peer-reviewed research linking birth defects to methane production.[2] 

-- Casey J.A., et al further find that simply living within a half-mile radius of natural gas development leads to increased brain, spine, or spinal cord birth defects in children.[3]

-- Research by Dr. Shaina L. Stacy and others at the University of Pittsburgh shows that in Butler County, PA babies born to families living closer to unconventional gas wells have lower birth weights.[4] Babies with low birthweight are at higher risk for breathing problems, neurologic problems, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and have harder time eating, gaining weight, and fighting infection because their tiny bodies are simply not strong enough.

Not A Small Or Isolated Problem

This isn’t a small or isolated problem: 3.2 million children attend 12,445 schools located within with 0.5 miles of an oil/gas facility and 17.32 million Americans of all ages live within that same radius.[5]  

Over 85% of the medical studies[6] that have studied the gas industry’s impact on health find that that emissions from oil and gas facilities and infrastructure is highly detrimental to the health of both children and adults – this includes heart failure,[7] asthma,[8] and the exposure to known carcinogens.[9]

Not only are these leaks spewing methane, benzene, other VOC’s, and toxins that threaten our children’s right to an abundant life, methane is greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than CO2 in the first twenty years – making fugitive and leaking methane as an imperative for any hope in keeping temperature below 1.5o C. by 2050 or sooner. 

Methane is responsible for at least one-quarter of the climate warming we are experiencing today.[10] Warmer temperatures produce more smog, increasing asthma, another serious health concern.

Methane Leaks Grossly Underestimated

The level of emissions from leaks from these facilities is grossly underestimated, with research showing it is very likely to be 60% greater than current EPA estimates.[11] 

Reducing methane emissions by least 65% below 2012 levels – either through Congressional Legislation or regulation – is necessary to sufficiently safeguard our children’s health from pollution and the growing threats of climate change. 

This must include addressing leaks across the complete supply chain from production to transportation and distribution for all existing wells and new production.

Low Producing Wells

Reducing emissions from low producing wells represents a great opportunity for high return on investment.  

According to a recent report published in Nature, the oil and gas industry’s lowest producing wells turn out to be the largest source of leaked methane. 

While they are only 6% of total US methane and oil production, these low-producing wells release 50% of all methane emissions.[12] 

As an example, out of a total of 81,500 total wells in all of Appalachia, there are over 70,000 low-producing wells alone in the state of Pennsylvania where EEN is based – making Pennsylvania based oil and gas companies the region’s primary offenders.

Nationally these porous wells spew enough methane to supply over 3.6 million homes in the US every year. That’s $1.3 billion in wasted energy. 

Put another way, this leakage amounts to more than 10% of the gas these wells produce. 

And this wasted methane does not disappear harmlessly into the wind. It drifts up to our atmosphere where it worsens climate change, and it settles into the lungs, hearts, and brains of our children and grandkids. 

With industry representatives and politicians now demanding more drilling in the name of “energy security,” it seems smarter to capture this wasted gas first before sinking fortunes into drilling new wells that will only continue to harm our children and contaminate God’s amazing creation.

This Is Fixable

Here’s the good news: these leaks sprout from fixable sources. With the advances of technology and new monitoring techniques, we have the tools at hand to stop methane gas leaks. 

Better routine maintenance, innovative new equipment, and regular site monitoring could capture this wasted methane and could even pay for the repairs since more methane will make it to market.

And we are not alone when it comes to calling for robust controls on methane gas leaks.  

We collected over 135,000 comments from pro-life Christians in 2022 in support of a new EPA rulemaking on methane asking for regular inspection and repair at these low-production wells.

In addition to the Evangelical community, leading oil/gas corporations and organizations like Shell, Equinor, BP, EQT, Jonah Energy, Equitrans Midstream, and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America all support methane leak standards. 

Industry actually stands to increase their bottom lines by plugging wasteful methane leaks and recapturing fugitive methane emissions, making cutting methane pollution is a win-win-win.

Yet many in the oil and gas industry have so far refused to address this critical health risk, and our children suffer the consequences.

Congress Has Critical Role

With little or no willingness from these industry players to do the right (and economical) thing, Congress has a critical role to play in encouraging wise stewardship of the American economy, our precious natural resources, and protection of our children’s health and future. 

Before allowing more methane drilling or further funding for methane expansion into hydrogen, plastics, or other potential uses, Congress must secure a commitment from industry to reduce this leakage problem.

Proper Bonding Needed To Protect Children’s Health, Taxpayers

In addition to defending our children and their future, this is also a matter of fairness for the American People who foot the added tax burdens (not to mention the health care costs) that we already pay to clean up the messes of oil/gas industry. 

Today’s bonding structure and royalty fees to access resources owned by the American People is unjust and needs an overhaul.

Our common book, the Bible, is clear on fairness, justice, and righteous as the Hebrew Bible prophet Amos 5:24 (NIV) states, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided $4.5 for the remediation of orphaned oil/gas wells. These billions in taxpayer dollars that will only cover part of the problem of orphaned wells[13] that companies have left to us. 

This is a problem that would not exist if proper bonding requirements were in place from the start or had been updated since the 1950s.[14]  

Without adequate bonding requirements, we are doomed to repeat these mistakes yet again and saddle the next generation with despoiled land, water, and air and a billion-dollar price tag for a mess they didn’t make.

We urge the Committee to defend our children’s health and the American Taxpayer by demanding that new bonding requirements that fully cover real remediation. This includes actual third-party bonding per permit – not self or blanket bonding. 

These issues are correctly and thoroughly discussed in an outstanding white paper entitled Broken Promises by Conservatives For Responsible Stewardship[15]

EEN President, The Rev. Mitch Hescox, knows firsthand of our government’s failure to ensure proper land restoration after energy and mineral extraction. His childhood playground was left blighted and barren by un-reclaimed strip mines less than 100 yards from his Cambria County, PA backdoor. 

Even today acid mine drainage erodes his family’s traditional hunting area.

Another opportunity for fiscal responsibility and wise stewardship of our resources is securing fair payment for lost, leaked, or vented methane and associated gases. 

A methane fee guarantees that just and fair royalties are paid to mineral-rights owners – whether they be an individual landowner or the Federal Government. 

Putting a fiscal incentive to encourage good practices and adequate maintenance reinforces good stewardship of our precious natural resources and benefits all of us. 

It is simply wrong not to demand proper accounting for the all the valued product extracted.

Royalty Rates On Federal Land

Another failure in stewardship for the American people has been not increasing the royalty rate for commodities extracted on Federal lands. 

Royalty rates have not changed for Federal Leases for over 100 years, since before the Great Depression and the presidency of Harding.  

According to the Government Accountability Office, our failure to increase royalties adequately and properly has cost the American people up to $300 million dollars per year by 2025 with a maximum 2% decrease in Federal production.[16]

Failure to increase royalties still is just another example of putting the oil/gas industry before the health of our children. This amounts to another handout to one of the most subsidized industries in the US.

Even with today’s high energy prices, analysis shows that changing bonding, instituting a methane fee, and increasing royalties will not increase costs for Americans but is necessary to hold industry accountable.[17]

Our past and current tax system incentivizes profits for the fossil fuels industry while the costs have been borne in the hearts, lungs, minds, and even lives of our children and passed along as tax burden to the American people.

It is time to incentivize the well-being of our children and the American taxpayer instead of the fossil fuel industry. 

It’s past time for the American People to stop paying to clean-up the fossil fuels industries’ messes. 

Our children’s health and the American economy cannot afford for us to repeat the mistakes of the past. 

We cannot levy the same burdens upon the next generation that earlier generations have levied upon us.

Now is the time to exercise sound fiscal responsibility through good economic and environmental stewardship. 

It’s time to defend our children’s health and future by reducing methane leaks, stop wasting taxpayer money by cleaning up the fossil fuels legacy, and supply real bonding and royalty reform.

Click Here for the complete testimony with footnotesClick Here for a video and other written testimony from the hearing.

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Evangelical Environmental Network website.   ENN is based in New Freedom, York County.

The mission of ENN is to inspire, equip, educate, and mobilize evangelical Christians to love God and others by rediscovering and reclaiming the Biblical mandate to care for creation and working toward a stable climate and a healthy, pollution-free world.

Related Articles:

-- Republicans On PA Senate Committee Report Out Bill Exempting Conventional Oil & Gas Wells From Plugging Bonds Sticking Taxpayers With $5.1 Billion In Cleanup Liability  [PaEN]

-- New Abandoned Wells: DEP Records Show Abandoning Oil & Gas Wells Without Plugging Them Is Pervasive In Conventional Drilling Industry; Who Is Protecting Taxpayers? 

-- Bay Journal: Penn State Study: Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Spread On Pennsylvania Roads Bad For Health, Land - By Ad Crable, Chesapeake Bay Journal  [PaEN]

-- On-Site Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Waste Disposal Plans Making Hundreds Of Drilling Sites Waste Dumps 

Related Articles This Week:

-- U.S. Supreme Court Decision Did Not Affect EPA’s Ability To Regulate Carbon Dioxide As A Pollutant, Has No Impact On DEP's RGGI Power Plant Carbon Pollution Reduction Program  [PaEN]

-- Evangelical Environmental Network: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of U.S. Supreme Court Decision On Regulating Carbon Pollution [PaEN]

-- Young Evangelicals For Climate Action Respond To U.S. Supreme Court Decision On Regulating Power Plant Carbon Pollution  [PaEN]

[Posted: June 30, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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