Friday, March 31, 2023

Dept. Of Health Establishes Community-Based Health Resource Network To Provide Long-Term Assistance To Residents Impacted By Norfolk Southern Train Derailment

On March 31, the Department of Health announced the establishment of a health resource network that will directly connect Pennsylvania residents with local providers in response to Norfolk Southern’s train derailment. 

DOH is working with local health care providers in Beaver and Lawrence counties to meet the long-term needs of residents impacted by the Norfolk Southern train derailment that occurred February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. 

“Western Pennsylvania has a wealth of high-quality health care providers who are committed to providing a community-based health resource response – including primary and specialty care as needed for residents with health concerns following the derailment,” said Acting Health Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen.“We are fortunate to work with trusted local providers to ensure they have the resources they need to address residents’ derailment-related health concerns. This is a critical next step in Governor Shapiro’s commitment to supporting Pennsylvanians impacted by the derailment. With this resource network, the Shapiro Administration is helping to ensure all residents with health concerns following the train derailment have direct access to local health care providers and the specialized resources they need.” 

Starting next week, residents with derailment-related health concerns can call the Pennsylvania Department of Health hotline (877-PA-HEALTH) to request a check-up to help identify the root of their health concerns. 

The nurse will link them to the appropriate local health care services, including physical and behavioral health care providers from Allegheny Health Network, Heritage Valley Health System, UPMC and Primary Health Network; access to care is also open to people without insurance or transportation, the latter of which can be arranged with providers. 

If necessary, the health network will recommend any additional support individuals may need. DOH and the Pittsburgh Poison Center will further collaborate with local providers to ensure they have additional support to address any specific concerns related to short-term chemical exposure.  

Moving forward, this community-based health resource network will replace the Health Resource Center that has been operating at the Darlington Township Building, 3590 Darlington Rd., Darlington, PA 16115. 

The Center, which has served more than 570 people so far, where staff from the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection, and Health will be on site to talk with residents and connect them to available resources.

Additional staff will be available via video conferencing during that time.  

DOH staff are continuing to conduct the Assessment of Chemical Exposure survey among residents and first responders living near the derailment. The surveys help residents identify symptoms, experiences, and concerns about the impact of the train derailment on their lives. 

Additionally, the health network will work closely with DOH to identify symptom or clinical trends that could help to determine if they are related to exposure caused by the train derailment. 

The Shapiro Administration continues to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the impacts of their derailment on the lives of Pennsylvanians, and will ensure the company pays for the full cost of the Commonwealth’s response.  

Visit the PEMA’s Train Derailment Dashboard for more information about resources available to Pennsylvania residents. 


-- Post-Gazette - Ford Turner: PA Wants Norfolks Southern To Reimburse Farmers Who Lost Meat Sales After Train Derailment 

-- WESA/The Allegheny Front: Questions Remain About Testing, Cleanup Of Streams After Norfolk Southern Train Derailment

-- - Robert Swift: PA Budget Hearing On Health Dept. Covers Train Derailment, Post-COVID Landscape

-- Seven Weeks After Trail Derailment, Residents Struggle With The Unknown

-- TribLive: ‘Shell-Shocked’ East Palestine, Ohio Residents Seek Normalcy After Train Wreck

-- Courier Times: Delaware River Chemical Spill Includes Toxin Released In Norfolk Southern Train Derailment, The Latest On The Spill

-- Politics PA: Casey, Fetterman, Brown Introduce Rail Safety Legislation

-- Post-Gazette: EPA Waited Weeks After Train Derailment To Test For Dioxins, Residents, Advocates Demand More Transparency

-- CNN: CDC Team Studying Health Impacts Of Ohio Train Derailment Fell Ill For 24 Hours During Investigation Reporting Same Symptoms As Residents

-- WESA/The Allegheny Front: EPA Office Of Inspector General To Investigate Agency’s Response To Norfolk Southern Train Derailment 

-- AP: U.S. Justice Dept. Sues Norfolk Southern Over Train Derailment Environmental Damage

-- Politics PA: DOJ, EPA File Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern For Unlawful Discharge Of Pollutants And Hazardous Substances At Train Derailment Site

-- TribLive Editorial: Norfolk Southern Lawsuits Are Necessary Enforcement Of Railroad’s Promises

Related Article:

-- Shapiro Announces Norfolk Southern Repaid PA Fire Departments, First Responders $1 Million  [PaEN] 

[Posted: March 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Agriculture Announces Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program Grants Now Becoming Available Thru County Conservation Districts

On March 31, the Department of Agriculture announced county conservation districts are now accepting applications for the new $154 million
Agricultural Conservation Assistance Grant Program to help farmers build healthier soil, prevent nutrient and sediment runoff and improve farm viability.

The ACAP Program and new Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Fund were created with $220 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act in the FY 2022-23 state budget [Read more here], and funds conservation programs including ACAP, designed to share the costs to farmers for farm management practices that reduce sediment in waterways, keeping the nutrients out of waterways, and on the farm to build soil health.

ACAP funding is provided to county conservation districts who in-turn accept applications from farmers for grants.  Contact your local conservation district to apply for a grant.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited Matthew and Samantha Stahlnecker’s Lycoming County farm to announce the first funding rolling out under the new program.  

Also attending was Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, who sponsored the original legislation creating the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Grant Program.

Lycoming County is receiving $1.9 million in ACAP funds from the new PA Clean Streams Fund based on a formula that considers number of farms, number of livestock operations, and number of impaired stream miles. The Stahlneckers plan to apply for the program to boost conservation measures on their farm.

“As young farmers, the Stahlneckers have demonstrated their care for the water and land,” Secretary Redding said. “It’s our goal to honor their stewardship, and the stewardship of other PA farmers by investing ACAP funds in the future of their farm and the future of Pennsylvania."

Funding will help provide site design and engineering support for measures like concrete barnyards, heavy use area protection, manure storage, and expertise to institute agronomic or ecological practices like cover crops, planted streamside buffers, stream-bank fencing, and grazing systems – the best management practices, or “BMPs” proven to conserve water and soil resources and farm productivity.

ACAP funding, administered by the State Conservation Commission is part of a coordinated package of state conservation initiatives, grants, loans, and tax incentives that leverage Pennsylvania’s long-standing partnership with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and Conservation Districts.

Funds must be committed by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. In order to meet this aggressive timeline, the State Conservation Commission is partnering with Penn State University and USDA’s NRCS to create a technical assistance center that will provide necessary engineering and design support.

“The partnership between the SCC and Conservation Districts has existed for decades,” NRCS State Conservationist Denise Coleman said. “It has resulted in a significant amount of voluntary conservation practices applied on the Commonwealth’s landscapes. ACAP marks a new era in state-level conservation funding. NRCS looks forward to continuing its work in areas like technical training, quality assurance, and financial assistance program delivery.”

Visit Agriculture’s Agricultural Conservation Assistance Grants webpage for more information.  Contact your county conservation district to apply for funding.


-- Williamsport Sun: Sen. Yaw Touts New $154 Million Agriculture Conservation Program In Lycoming County

NewsClips - Watersheds:

-- Bay Journal - Ad Crable: $6 Million Game Commission/Ducks Unlimited Project Will Revive 1,600 Acres Of PA Wetlands 

-- Bradford Era:  Reminder: Fish & Boat Commission Accepting Applications For Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Thru April 28 

-- LebTown: Lebanon County Conservation District Seeks Volunteers To Help Plant 800+ Trees In Millcreek Twp. April 11-13

-- TribLive: Tree Planting Planned In Leetsdale, Allegheny County April 29, Volunteers Needed

-- TribLive: Fox Chapel To Host Planting Of 1,000 Tree Seedlings For Arbor Day Weekend In Allegheny County 

-- TribLive: Linn Run Trout Study Results To Be Unveiled In Westmoreland County

-- The Express: Clinton County Conservation District, Volunteers To Stock Kettle Creek With Trout

-- Utilizing Rainwater And Gravity: A Guide To Rain Gardens

-- Observer-Reporter: Sinkhole From Abandoned Coal Mine Swallowing Pike Run In Daisytown, Washington County 

Related Articles:

-- DEP Starts Accepting Growing Greener Plus, Section 319, SMCRA Mine Reclamation, Pipeline Penalty Projects, Stormwater Planning, Watershed Restoration Grant Applications April 21 [PaEN] 

-- Agriculture Announces Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program Grants Now Becoming Available Thru County Conservation Districts  [PaEN]

-- Registration Open! 2023 Watershed Forestry Summit In Altoona   [PaEN] 

-- DEP Sets May 3 Hearing On Proposed NPDES Stormwater Permit For Rutter's Store Next To Old Crow Mitigation Wetland In Huntingdon County  [PaEN] 

-- Western PA Conservancy, Hedin Environmental Seeking Oxic Limestone Beds To Demonstrate Cleaning Methods  [PaEN] 

-- Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition Newsletter Highlights Beavers At Jennings Environmental Center, Aultmans Watershed Trash Cleanup April 29  [PaEN] 

-- Ohio River Basin Alliance, ORSANCO Host Congressional Day On The Hill June 13 To Educate Members Of Congress On Needs Of Ohio River Basin   [PaEN]

-- Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy Lenape Challenge April 29, Premier Adventure Race Experience  [PaEN] 

-- Chesapeake Bay Journal - Ad Crable: Log Rafts And Raftsmen Once Ruled The Susquehanna River

[Posted: March 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

March 31 Take Five Fridays With Pam Now Available From PA Parks & Forests Foundation

March 31 Take Give Fridays With Pam is now available from the PA Parks & Forests Foundation featuring articles on--

-- 2023 Annual PPFF Awards Banquet Set For May 16 At Little Buffalo State Park

-- Say A Big Howdy To Wheelchair Warrior Nicholette Exploring The Great Outdoors!

Click Here to read the entire Take Five.

Visit the PA Parks & Forests Foundation’s Events webpage and DCNR’s Calendar of Events for activities happening near you.

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 48 chapters mobilize 65,000 volunteers annually to steward YOUR state parks and forests.

(Photo: Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming and neighboring counties by Tom Myers.)


-- PennLive - Charles Thompson: Mountain Wildfire On Cumberland/York County Line Has Been Extinguished

-- York Daily Record: See Hanover Trolley Trail Expansion Photos In York County

-- Williamsport Sun: Lycoming County, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership Announce Trail System Wayfinding Survey

-- Scranton Times Editorial: Playgrounds More Than Recreation

Related Articles:

-- PA Director Of Outdoor Recreation Highlights Recreation Job Opportunities; 7 Regional Stakeholder Meetings Coming Up  [PaEN]

-- DCNR: State Park Campgrounds, Overnight Lodging Open For 2023 Trout Season

-- DCNR Names Cody Miller New Park Manager For Chapman State Park

-- Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy Lenape Challenge April 29, Premier Adventure Race Experience  [PaEN]

[Posted: March 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

22 Groups Express Concerns With Pennsylvania’s Carbon Storage Plans, Capacity To Regulate Injection Wells

On March 31, twenty-two Pennsylvania-based and national groups expressed serious concerns in a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection regarding their interest in assuming primary management, or primacy, over the EPA’s Class VI Program, which regulates wells used for longterm, underground storage of carbon dioxide in deep rock formations.

“This primacy effort is an accelerant to the burden shouldered by Pennsylvanians of a deficient permitting system that favors polluters over community health and safety. For the DEP to so casually pursue something of this scope without talking to the communities likely to deal with its impacts sets the wrong tone for Pennsylvania’s decarbonization strategy,” said Sarah Martik of Center for Coalfield Justice.

"Assuming primacy over the EPA's Class VI Program to fast-track the development of carbon capture and sequestration is a risk to communities and the climate. However, industry proponents positioned to capitalize on the proliferation of carbon capture and sequestration and the projects that depend on it are aggressively pursuing its development despite wide-ranging risks and diminishing returns,” said Sarah Carballo of FracTracker Alliance.

"Our regulators should not engage in ushering in the next generation of fossil fuel development. Blue hydrogen's feedstock is methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas. Carbon Capture and Storage is added to the production process to capture and sequester CO2 that is emitted, but is an unproven, dangerous process," said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition. "If our regulators will not advocate in our best interest over the process as a whole, why should we give them primary authority over any part of it?"

"The DEP has struggled with staffing for years. The EPA and state should not add to DEP's burdens and overworked staff a major, new, untested program that has such serious consequences for residents of the Commonwealth," stated Matthew Mehalik, Executive Director of the Breathe Project. "We have seen major problems with DEP's permitting in other areas involving other classes of wells over the last decade because of DEP cutbacks. This rushed effort is misguided."

Industry groups, including the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, have identified delays with permitting of Class VI wells by the EPA as a barrier to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) development, including the development of fossil fuel-based blue hydrogen hubs, like Pennsylvania’s Decarbonization Network of Appalachia. 

Primacy over the Class VI program has been suggested as a potential solution by CCS proponents.

However, the complexity of these projects pose serious concerns for Pennsylvanians, including:

-- The potential for an increase in the pace and volume of reviews, which could result in a reduction in the quality and thoroughness of permit reviews and limit the ability of the public to review and provide feedback to these projects;

-- Insufficient protections and considerations for environmental justice communities in the Class V program;

-- Gaps in technical expertise and lack of administrative capacity to regulate these complex projects due to underinvestment in the Department and the lack of familiarity with carbon dioxide pipelines, of which there are only about 5,000 miles in the U.S.; 

-- Increased health and safety risks due to the unique potential for pipeline failures and corrosion when transporting carbon dioxide and accidental releases of CO2, as seen in Satartia, MS when a carbon dioxide pipeline ruptured, resulting in dozens of hospitalizations and hundreds of evacuations; and 

-- Significant gaps in regulations regarding carbon dioxide pipelines.

North Dakota and Wyoming are the only states that have primacy over the Class VI program. However, seven states are in the process of applying for primacy — including Ohio and West Virginia, sponsors of the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub — and several others have expressed interest. 

Ohio and West Virginia have primacy over the Class I, II, III, IV, and V programs in their respective states but the EPA remains the primary enforcement authority for the entire Underground Injection Control program in Pennsylvania.

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

Related Articles:

-- DEP To Submit Letter Of Intent To EPA As Early As This Week For Primacy To Regulate Underground Injection Wells

-- PA Business Groups Urge EPA To Speed Up Approval Of State Primacy Applications For Injection Well Regulation

-- PA Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Fund Express Concerns About Legislation Requiring DEP To Apply For Injection Well Primary For Carbon Dioxide Storage

[Posted: March 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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