Monday, July 31, 2023

Pitt Water Collaboratory, Women For A Healthy Environment Report On Allegheny County Drinking Water Systems Found Need For Improvement In One Or More Metrics; Aug. 2 Webinar

On July 26, the
University Of Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and Women For A Healthy Environment released a report on drinking water systems in Allegheny County that found the need for significant improvement in one or more metrics in each system surveyed-- Transparency, Affordability, Water Quality, 

The information and data in the report were distilled into report cards for 17 of the 36 individual community water systems in Allegheny County that responded to the survey used to generate the report. 

These ratings are based on 2022 information solicited directly from water systems who serve Allegheny County, as well as prior data collected in 2020 as part of Women for a Healthy Environment's "Somethings in the Water Report.” 

The report said, "Although the report found significant variations within the eight metrics examined across Allegheny County, each system displayed a need for improvement in one or more areas. 

“Almost all local systems can increase the transparency of their operations and governance, while creating mechanisms for community input in decision-making. Water systems also need the financial and technical resources to create, implement, and sustain effective affordability programs. 

“Lastly, the report highlights the need to not only allocate significant infrastructure resources at the state and federal level, but to ensure that access is equitable for all."

“The results of this report show the critical need to transform public water systems through investment and collaboration with community members. This is true not only for infrastructure maintenance such as removing lead pipes, which is essential, but also for other aspects of the sector that are equally important, such as transparent and public water governance,” said Dr. Marcela Gonzalez Rivas. 

“In light of rapidly increasing water costs across Allegheny County, our team wanted to create a way for residents, as well as water providers, to understand practices that can be used to ensure that residents have access to clean, affordable drinking water. The deep, collaborative nature of this academic-community partnership was key to analyzing a complex issue and creating meaningful tools to help communities and drive systemic change,” said Dr. Emily Elliott

“This collaboration was a natural extension of WHE's Something's in the Water report. The report cards that have been developed for each water system can now be utilized by both ratepayers and the systems' staff and board to improve affordability, transparency, and water quality. We encourage a regional conversation between Allegheny County water systems, ratepayers, and public health entities in order to develop sustainable solutions that will increase capacity and transparency of water systems and protect the health of community drinking water,” said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis

The research team for this report was composed of an interdisciplinary group of academics from sociology, policy, public health and environmental science, in partnership with the nonprofit Women for a Healthy Environment. 

The metrics developed for grading systems were based on global best practices and focused on the transparency of water system governance, the inclusion of community ratepayers, the presence of affordability programs and permanent shut-off moratoriums, adherence to drinking water standards, and the efficacy of lead service line replacement plans. 

Additionally, data collection from this effort allowed for comparison of water system and community characteristics, such as the ratio of employees to ratepayers and the percentage of each service area that falls within environmental justice geographies. 

Click Here for a storymap on the reportClick Here for a copy of the report.

August 2 Webinar

The groups will host an August 2 webinar on the report from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. 

Click Here to register and for more information.

For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the University Of Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and Women For A Healthy Environment websites.

[Posted: July 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Eureka Resources Extracted 97% Pure Lithium Carbonate Used In Making Lithium-ion Batteries From Oil & Gas Wastewater

On July 31, Lycoming County-based
Eureka Resources announced it successfully extracted 97% pure lithium carbonate from oil and gas wastewater with up to a 90% recovery rate. 

Lithium carbonate is a precursor to compounds used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and other purposes.

At the same time, Eureka said it would take up to two years to expand its three facilities-- two in Williamsport and one near Towanda-- to include the extraction of lithium carbonate.

The project was accomplished in partnership with SEP Salt & Evaporation Plants Ltd.

The company said this accomplishment was significant because it unlocks a domestic source of lithium for the U.S. market, reducing reliance on foreign sources of lithium from China and South America.

Eureka's patented, closed loop process involves a combination of physical and chemical treatment, concentration, and crystallization using existing industrial equipment. 

This process has been in operation for over ten years extracting commercial-grade sodium chloride and calcium chloride as well as clean water from oil and gas drilling and fracking wastewater.

"We are thrilled to announce this advancement in our mineral extraction capabilities," said Eureka Resources CEO Dan Ertel. "Our patented process for extracting lithium from brine wastes and other industrial wastewaters is not only environmentally friendly, but also provides a reliable domestic source of lithium for the U.S. market. This is a major step forward in our mission to create sustainable, domestic solutions for critical mineral recovery."

"Sending the first lithium carbonate crystals produced from Eureka’s concentrated brine filled us with great satisfaction. It is a validation of SEP’s vast experience in the salt and lithium crystallization area and of its laboratory testing capabilities assisting development of novel recovery processes for unconventional brine sources," said Jens-Holger Schmidt, CEO of SEP.

Click Here for the complete announcement.

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- DEP Investigates Conventional Oil Well Wastewater Leak As Possible Source Of Village Of Reno Water Supply Contamination In Venango County; Customers Under Do Not Consume Advisory For 2 Weeks+  [PaEN]

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - July 29 to August 4; More Abandoned, Leaking Wells, Reno Water Supply Contamination; Rager Mtn. Natural Gas Storage Area Spills  [PaEN] 

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - August 5  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posts 75 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In August 5 PA Bulletin  [PaEN] 

NewsClips This Week:

-- TribLive: Olympus Energy Submits Application To DEP For 5th Shale Gas Well Pad In Upper Burrell Twp

-- PUC: Columbia Gas To Pay $990,000 Penalty In Revised Settlement Involving Home Explosion In Washington County

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: PUC Approves $990,000 Penalty Settlement With Columbia Gas Over 2019 House Explosion In Washington County 

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: Negotiating Community Benefits, Like Those With Shell Petrochemical Plant Penalty Fund In Beaver County, Takes A Village; So Does Mitigating Harm

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Equitrans Gets FERC Approval For New Ohio Valley Connector Expansion Pipeline Project To Gulf Coast And Midwest

-- The Center Square: 14 State Attorneys General [Including PA] Want Action On ‘Plastic Pollution Crisis’

Related Articles This Week:

-- New Penn State Study: Brine Water Pumped From Played-Out Conventional Oil & Gas Wells And Used As Dust Suppressants, Winter Road Treatments Exceed Environmental, Health Standards, Just Like Conventional Oil & Gas Brine Water  [PaEN]

-- Guest Essay: Take A Deep Breath! Now Think What You Just Inhaled. If You Live Along A Dirt Road You Could Be Inhaling Oil & Gas Wastewater - By Siri Lawson, Warren County   [PaEN]

-- DEP Publishes Final Chapter 105 Environmental Assessment Alternatives Analysis Technical Guidance  [PaEN]

-- DEP Sets Sept. 19 Meeting/Hearing On Air Permit For Expansion Of Marcus Hook Terminal’s Ethane Chilling Capacity In Delaware County  [PaEN]

-- DEP Invites Comments On Section 401 Water Quality Certification For Equitrans To Replace Abandoned Natural Gas Storage Wells In Greene County Due To Coal Mining  [PaEN]

-- Environmental Health Project: Shale Gas Development And Cancer Fact Sheet

-- Eureka Resources Extracted 97% Pure Lithium Carbonate Used In Making Lithium-ion Batteries From Oil & Gas Wastewater [PaEN] 

-- PA Attorney General Henry Joins Coalition Calling For Stronger Federal Strategy To Fight Plastic Pollution Crisis  [PaEN]

[Posted: July 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Sustainable Pittsburgh Selected As One Of 20 Regional Green Jobs Centers To Train Individuals For Climate-Resilient Jobs

Sustainable Pittsburgh organization has been selected by Jobs for the Future as a Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge Member to train and prepare individuals for climate-resilient jobs. 

​Challenge members were selected from a pool of 101 applicants. 

“We are so pleased for Sustainable Pittsburgh and our region to be recognized for our work in connecting and strengthening our clean energy workforce ecosystem,” said Joylette Portlock, Ph.D., Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh. “This investment enables us to accelerate our ongoing progress by deepening our understanding of regional needs, risks, and opportunities at the intersection of climate change and workforce development.”

A key partner for Sustainable Pittsburgh is Partner4Work, a $25+ million integrated workforce development organization dedicated to strengthening Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. 

Through collaboration with more than 100 partners, Partner4Work connects thousands of adults and young adults to training and employment opportunities every year. 

“We have a vested interest in the provision of quality workforce development services for residents in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County,” shared Robert Cherry, Partner4Work CEO. “We are pleased to join Sustainable Pittsburgh to expand our connections and share resources to meet the growing needs for skilled workers in our region’s clean energy industries –  and provide quality jobs to all residents.”

Workforce Talent Hub

The City of Pittsburgh Office of Mayor Ed Gainey recently announced Partner4Work’s selection as the anchor institution for the White House Workforce Talent Hub Initiative

Pittsburgh is among five hubs across the county where resources will be directed to expand apprenticeship and career and technical education programs.

“The level of collaboration and partnership we see with groups like Sustainable Pittsburgh and Partner4Work underscore the reasons Pittsburgh is on the national radar for workforce development,” remarked Mayor Ed Gainey, City of Pittsburgh. “Sustainable Pittsburgh’s membership in the Quality Green Jobs Challenge means further investment in helping to connect our residents, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or disadvantaged, with jobs that provide a living wage, stability, and equitable economic advancement.”  

Green Jobs Challenge

The Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge is part of an initiative by Climate-Resilient Employees for a Sustainable Tomorrow (CREST), a career preparation and reskilling initiative of the Ares Charitable Foundation, which JFF is partnering with to address climate risk and equity to build a green, resilient, and inclusive economy for all.​ 

While it is critical that a response to climate change and its impact on the American workforce is coordinated at a national level, regions are leading their own on-the-ground efforts to strengthen regional economies and address the escalating climate crisis.

In Southwestern Pennsylvania, where economic growth has significantly depended on extractive industry, the impending growth of clean energy jobs presents a vital and historic opportunity to build an inclusive economy that meets multiple sustainability goals. 

According to sources like the 2022 U.S. Energy & Employment Jobs Report, 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report, and 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Industry Workforce Development Needs Assessment & Gap Analysis, clean energy industries are poised for massive expansion and job creation. 

Yet people identifying as Black or African American represent less than 10% of Pennsylvania’s clean energy workforce, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. 

Key findings from the 2022 E2 Clean Jobs Pennsylvania report confirm that more than half of the clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania are in traditional industries like construction, manufacturing, and repair services; however, 87% of employers are struggling to meet the need for a trained workforce. 

Additionally, almost half of clean energy jobs are outside of the two major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, emphasizing the compelling need for broad connections across the region.

Through its work with partners to build a connected regional ecosystem that promotes equitable workforce development, Sustainable Pittsburgh is helping position the region to meet the demands for clean energy workers with a diverse and appropriately trained workforce, and put all residents on the path to prosperity. 

Serving as a member of the Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge is a win-win-win for workers, employers, and the planet.

For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Sustainable Pittsburgh website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates. Like them on Facebook, Follow them on TwitterClick Here to support their work.

To learn more about green innovation in the Pittsburgh Region, visit the Pittsburgh Green Story website.


-- AP: Gov. Shapiro Says Millions Will Go To Help Train Workers For Infrastructure Projects

Related Articles:

-- DEP Releases PA Clean Energy Industry Workforce Development Gap Analysis Showing How Best To Support Continued Job Growth

-- PA Awards $2 Million In Clean Energy Workforce Development Grants

[Posted: July 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Guest Essay: 2023 Federal Farm Bill Unique Opportunity To Direct Vital Federal Resources To PA Farms

By Kristen Heberling Hoke,
Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA

Growing up on a dairy farm in Cumberland County has given me fond memories of feeding calves, wandering in the pastures, the rhythm of agriculture, and watching my father work with nature and against it because we couldn’t control the weather.

There was always energy around the farm, especially during hay season, knowing that if rain was coming, we had a short window of time to get the crop harvested. 

My brother-in-law now manages the acres as our third-generation farmer.

Farm life connected me to nature and stewardship and is the foundation for my job as a restoration specialist working with farmers in Cumberland and Franklin counties, leveraging federal dollars so they can install more pollution reduction practices on their lands.

I’ve seen first-hand that farmers are willing to invest their time, land, limited funds, and effort to clean and protect local rivers and streams. 

But they cannot do it alone. It will take greater and long-term investments of financial and technical resources at the state and federal levels to reach the amount of pollution reductions needed from agriculture.

The 2023 federal Farm Bill provides a unique opportunity to direct vital federal resources to farms in Pennsylvania to help achieve water quality goals and provide economic benefits on and beyond the farm.

In Pennsylvania all farms are required to have erosion and sediment control plans for tilling acreage, and a manure management plan if they have animals. 

Some farmers have trouble keeping up with those requirements because there aren’t enough technical service providers to help update the plans or make sure they are accurate and being followed. 

So, developing/writing those plans can be delayed and implementation may never happen.

Another barrier is that, since the pandemic, construction costs have remained high and many farmers have had to cancel contracts or alter what they were planning to do because they could not afford to complete their projects. 

Construction costs could still be 30 percent higher than they were pre-pandemic.

In many cases, out of concern for the resource, applications from farms with streams often get higher priority for funding through the [federal] Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and others. This often creates waiting lists.

When farmers install a riparian buffer through the [federal] Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), we can offer them additional funding to offset the cost of other practices like manure storage and fencing to keep animals out of a stream which can keep livestock healthier in addition to protecting water quality.

Improving soil health is another important priority for many farmers. 

In the next Farm Bill, it would help if Congress increased support for practices that help sequester carbon, improve soil health and its capability to retain moisture, and the planting of more trees.

 It could do this by changing existing programs like EQIP, Federal Crop Insurance Program, and Conservation Stewardship Program, to increase incentives and technical assistance for regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture includes growing compatible crops together, planting cover crops, rotating where crops grow and animals feed, and others that help build the health of the soil and surrounding waterways.

In the next Farm Bill, Congress should also reinvigorate CREP by removing barriers to enrollment, allowing states like Pennsylvania to easily take advantage of legislative improvements, and improving incentives for landowners. 

Land eligible for CREP should be expanded to include cropland, marginal pastureland, grasslands, and other rural lands that have a positive impact on water quality and have a riparian buffer.

The new Farm Bill should also expand a successful third-party pilot program under CREP that simplifies the process of designing, installing and maintaining riparian forest buffers.

Consideration should also be given to improving the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, increasing support for historically underserved farmers, and developing and maintaining a qualified and diverse community of conservation professionals.

As part of a farming family and working with farmers, I know that investments in the family farm can improve the bottom line, protect herd health, and reduce polluted runoff that harms local waters.

[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.

[Also visit the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to learn how you can help clean water grow on trees.

[CBF has over 275,000 members in Bay Watershed.

[Visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed webpage to learn more about cleaning up rivers and streams in Pennsylvania's portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates on Pennsylvania’s progress.

[How Clean Is Your Stream?

[Check DEP’s 2022 Water Quality Report to find out how clean streams are near you.]

Kristen Heberlig Hoke is a Chesapeake Bay Foundation restoration specialist in Southcentral Pennsylvania. She lives in Cumberland County.

Resource Links:

-- Dept. Of Agriculture: Reminder To Apply For $13 Million In First-Come, First-Serve Farm Conservation Tax Credits

-- Farm Bill, Agricultural Policy Focus Of Penn State Ag Progress Days Events Aug. 8-10

-- Ag Progress Days Highlights Biodiversity, Climate-Smart Ag, Spotted Lanternfly Aug. 8-10

Related Articles:

-- Bay Journal: Legacy Sediment Behind Old Mill Dams Could Help Heal Abandoned Mine Land - By Ad Crable, Chesapeake Bay Journal

[Posted: July 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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