Tuesday, October 31, 2023

National Sea Grant College Program Now Accepting Applications For 2 Marine Debris Prevention & Removal Funding Opportunities

On October 31, the
National Sea Grant College Program has released two new funding opportunities supported by the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act related to marine debris prevention and removal.

The applications process involves the PA Sea Grant Program. The deadline for initial expression of interest is November 22.

The first, Marine Debris Community Action Coalitions, will support the creation of coalitions and partnerships among communities, groups, and localities, especially those that have been traditionally underserved, to address marine debris prevention and removal. 

The second, the Marine Debris Challenge Competition, will support original, innovative, and transformational marine debris prevention and removal research that pushes the boundaries of existing technologies and approaches, changes the current landscape of marine debris mitigation, and ties that research to tangible outputs. 

Click Here for a copy of the complete funding announcement.  Questions should be directed to PA Sea Grant's Research Director Dr. Sean Rafferty at srafferty@psu.edu or call 814-898-7082.

Visit the PA Sea Grant Program webpage for more information.

Related Article:

-- PA Sea Grant's Tom Cermak Recognized With Great Lakes Sea Grant Individual Achievement Award  [PaEN]

[Posted: October 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

PA Watershed Groups Engaged 8,000 Volunteers Contributing Over 44,500 Hours; 35,000+ People Involved In Projects, Education, Hikes, Other Events; Planted 30,000 Trees in 2022

On October 29, the
PA Organization for Watersheds and Rivers released its 2022 Watershed Organization Cumulative Impacts Report during its Statewide Watershed Conference in Altoona.

Pennsylvania is home to hundreds of Community Watershed Organizations. Most are small nonprofits with limited annual budgets and few or no professional staff, supported by active and passionate volunteers. 

They are active in a variety of activities that enhance and protect our natural resources, which is strengthened through partnerships.

 “Watershed organizations have played a key role in advancing DCNR’s mission of conserving and improving our Commonwealth’s rivers and watersheds, and expanding access to outdoor recreation,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “They care deeply about their local watershed, they help engage the public in addressing and solving problems, and throughout the Commonwealth they have implemented river conservation plans that have improved water quality and laid the foundation for phenomenal recreation opportunities.”

“Local community watershed organizations serve a crucial role in ensuring clean and accessible waters and public spaces," said Bevin Buchheister, DEP Deputy Secretary of the Office of Water Programs. "Their collaboration with county conservation districts, municipalities, and landowners helps improve, restore, and protect our streams and rivers."

The report provides a snapshot of CWO contributions last year. Data were compiled from impact surveys submitted by 47 CWOs located across the Commonwealth. 

The survey asked the organizations about the work they accomplished during 2022 related to (1) conservation and restoration; (2) education, outreach, and recreation events; and (3) funding and volunteering.

Conservation and Restoration

Trees planted along streams are critical to protecting and restoring water quality, preventing stream bank erosion and flooding. 

Accordingly, tree planting and maintenance were among the most common projects undertaken CWOs during 2022. 

Survey respondents reported planting about 30,000 trees, and working to maintain already established tree planting sites to ensure long-term survival.

Twenty CWOs helped restore streamside habitat for native plants by removing invasive species in 2022. 

Jacobs Creek Watershed Association, for example, cleared Ailanthus altissima and other invasive species from 22.4 acres in Westmoreland County. Ailanthus, also known as "tree of heaven," is a fast-growing invasive favored by spotted lanternflies.

About half of the CWOs engaged in water quality monitoring, tracking key indicators of stream health at 400 sites across the Commonwealth. 

Groups also worked to stabilize streambanks, improve habitat, and reconnect 23 stream miles through dam removal.

Seven of the CWOs who responded assisted with the installation of new acid mine drainage (AMD) treatment facilities, and six assisted with monitoring of existing AMD projects. 

Their work has contributed to long-term improvement in pH, alkalinity, and metal concentrations, allowing brook trout to return to native waters.

Education, Outreach, and Recreation Events

CWOs planned and hosted a variety of events to inform the public and get them excited about their local waterways. In total, more than 35,000 people engaged in events, such as photo contests, project planning meetings, and watershed tours and hikes. 

School outings were a major focus of the effort, reaching 13,000 students in Pennsylvania.

Some CWOs also hosted paddling sojourns or recreational activities on their watersheds’ streams, bringing 1,100 people to events on the water — many for the first time. 

These experiences foster a sense of stewardship through the enjoyment and appreciation of natural resources.

CWOs like Briar Creek Association for Watershed Solutions serve as key “connectors" in their communities, fostering and forging partnerships. BCAWS collaborated with multiple watershed organizations, nonprofits, and municipalities to organize the first annual Susquehanna Valley Watershed Festival in Columbia County.

Funding and Volunteering

AMD remediation, tree plantings, and other such projects cost money, most of which comes from grants from agency partners. 

In 2022, the 47 CWOs spent $2.8 million, in addition to raising $989,000 in collective cash match and $540,000 in collective in-kind match.

Volunteers are the life force of CWOs. Over 8,000 volunteers contributed over 44,500 hours to support events and projects hosted by the 47 CWOs who responded. 

The work of CWO volunteers is worth an estimated $1.3 million, based on Independent Sector’s valuation of volunteer labor in Pennsylvania at $29.78 per hour — but no monetary value could measure the full impact of their work.

"Individually, community-based watershed organizations play an important role in efforts to restore and enhance local rivers and streams, and to connect residents and community members to those waterways through education and recreation," said Tali MacArthur, Program Manager for Watershed Outreach at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. "But the cumulative efforts of all of these organizations and their leaders and volunteers across Pennsylvania have truly tremendous impacts and results for water quality and for community quality of life and economic vitality. They deserve to be recognized, supported, and celebrated!"

Deputy Secretary Buchheister added that CWOs have a long history of stewardship and continue to support the DEP's Office of Water Programs.

"Throughout the years, these organizations have connected our Commonwealth residents with nature, and have remained passionate about ensuring clean water for generations to come," Buchheister said. "I am encouraged by the historic partnerships that DEP has supported and look forward to continuing to build upon the successes as we move into the future.”

Click Here for a copy of the report.

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and help available to community-based watershed organizations, visit the PA Organization for Watersheds and Rivers website.  Follow them on Facebook.


-- Chesapeake Bay Journal - Karl Blankenship: Farmers Question Whether Chesapeake Bay Model Reflects Reality

-- Chesapeake Bay Program: Protected Land In Bay Watershed Reaches 9.1 Million Acres; PA Leads With 3.6 Million Acres

-- TribLive: Little Bull Creek Sewer Project To Ease Overflows In Harrison

Related Articles:

-- PA Sea Grant's Tom Cermak Recognized With Great Lakes Sea Grant Individual Achievement Award  [PaEN]

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Watershed Renewal Project Accelerates Restoration Work In Halfmoon Creek, Centre County, Pequea Creek, Lancaster County  [PaEN] 

-- Quittapahilla Watershed Assn. Interns Present Stream Morphology Surveys On Lebanon County Streams   [PaEN]

-- Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition: Call For Submissions For Westminster College Student Symposium On The Environment Dec. 4 to 7  [PaEN]

-- Friends Of The Wissahickon Host Nov. 7 Climate Change In Our Watersheds Fall Valley Talk, In-Person, Online In Philadelphia  [PaEN]

-- Protecting Clean Water Together Series: Keeping The Gunk Out Of Your Water Supply - By Carol Hillestad for the Brodhead Watershed Association   [PaEN]

[Posted: October 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Keep PA Beautiful Seeking Nominations For Litter Hawk Youth Award Program To Recognize Students In Grades K To 6

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is now accepting nominations for the
Litter Hawk Youth Award Program, a recognition program for students in Kindergarten through 6th Grade.  The deadline for nominations is January 31. 

Students who complete a project specific to their grade level can participate individually or as part of a lesson initiated by schools, home-schools, scout troops, 4-H clubs, environmental clubs or other organized groups.

The Litter Hawk Youth Award Program is a way for kids to share their hope, optimism and concerns about litter and inspire others to care for their communities through art, words or video. 

In coordination of the release of the revision of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s popular Open your Eyes to Litter series of books for grades K through 6, the theme is: Open Your Eyes to Litter Show Us What You See. 

Projects include:

-- Grades Kindergarten through 4 - Poster 

-- Grades 5 – Essay 

-- Grade 6 – Video  

First and second place will be awarded prizes in each grade level. All participants will receive recognition of participation. 

Winners will be announced in May in coordination with a display of winning entries at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. 

“We are excited to see how Pennsylvania students feel and think about litter in their neighborhoods, school and other favorite places. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful believes that engaging youth in protecting the environment not only creates a direct impact on changing behaviors and attitudes, but also influences their friends and families,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “We are all responsible for keeping our communities clean and beautiful. This program provides a fun and easy way for students to illustrate respect for the environment and their community.”

The Litter Hawk Youth Award Program was created with funding provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. 

For more information, downloadable promotional posters and an entry form, visit the KPB Litter Hawk Youth Award Program webpage.

Questions can be answered by Stephanie Larson at slarson@keeppabeautiful.org or 724-836-4121 ext. 104.

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from KPB, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, visit their YouTube Channel.

The 2023 Pick Up Pennsylvania Initiative will be held thru November 30.  Questions should be directed to Michelle Dunn at 1-877-772-3673 Ext. 113 or send email to: mdunn@keeppabeautiful.org.

Keep PA Beautiful helps mobilize over 100,000 volunteers a year to pick up litter, clean up illegal dumping and beautify Pennsylvania.

Related Article:

-- Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Announces Litter Hawk Youth Award Program Poster, Video, Essay Winners  [PaEN]

[Posted: October 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

University Of Pittsburgh Studies Of Shale Gas Development Health Impacts To Be Discussed At Nov. 14 Joint Meeting Of DEP Citizens Advisory Council, Environmental Justice Advisory Board

On November 14, DEP’s
Citizens Advisory Council and Environmental Justice Advisory Board will hear a presentation from the state Department of Health on studies released in August from the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health on the health impacts of shale gas development.

The Council and Board will also hear a report from Interim Acting DEP Secretary Jessica Shirley.

Dr. Sharon Watkins, Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and State Epidemiologist, will lead the discussion.

The studies were designed to answer this study question: “Does living near unconventional gas development activities or other environmental hazards in Southwestern Pennsylvania increase the risk for specific health issues?”

The study area includes these counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania--  Allegheny (excluding the City of Pittsburgh), Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The studies found shale gas wells--

-- Can Make Asthma Worse: “We learned that there was a strong link between the production phase of unconventional natural gas development and severe exacerbations, emergency department visits and hospitalizations for asthma in people living within 10 miles of one or more wells producing natural gas.

“Specifically, people with asthma have a 4 to 5 times greater chance of having an asthma attack if they live near unconventional natural gas development wells during the production phase.

"We did not find such a link during the well preparation, drilling, or hydraulic fracturing phases.”

-- Lymphoma More Likely In Children: “Results indicated that children who lived within 1 mile of one or more wells had approximately 5 to 7 times the chance of developing lymphoma, a relatively rare type of cancer, compared to children who lived in an area without wells within 5 miles.

“Data suggest that those who lived closer to greater intensity of unconventional natural gas development activities had the highest risk.

“For perspective, the incidence of lymphoma is, on average, 0.0012% in US children under 20 years of age.  [This study] estimates that rate would be 0.006% to 0.0084% for children living within 1 mile of a well.”

-- No Link To Childhood Leukemia, Certain Cancers: “There were no associations between unconventional natural gas development activities and childhood leukemia, brain and bone cancers, including Ewing’s family of tumors.”

-- Slightly Lower Birth Weights: “We learned that babies were about 1 ounce smaller at birth-- something that, in most cases, poses little health risk-- when born to mothers who lived near active wells during the production phase, or compressor stations or facilities accepting oil and gas waste.

“We also found that mothers who lived near active wells were more likely to have babies who were small for gestational age.

“Finally, the chance of being born prematurely was not specifically associated with unconventional natural gas development, but high levels of particulate air pollution from any source were associated with being born prematurely, consistent with previous studies from other researchers.”

Click Here to learn more.

Public Comment Period

Individuals interested in providing public comment during the joint meeting must sign up in advance of the meeting by contacting Ian Irvin, Executive Director of the CAC,  at iirvin@pa.gov

Join The Meeting

The joint meeting will be held in Room 105 Rachel Carson Building starting at 12:30 p.m.  Click Here for options for joining the meeting remotely.

For more information and available handouts, visit the DEP Citizens Advisory Council webpage.   Visit the Council webpage for options to join the meeting remotely.  Questions should be directed to Ian Irvin, Executive Director, by sending email to iirvin@pa.gov or call 717-787-8771.

For more information on Environmental Justice, visit DEP’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board webpage.  Questions should be directed to RA-EPOEJ@pa.gov or 717-772-5633.

Upcoming Events

-- Shell Accountability Campaign Hosts Nov. 2 Shell Petrochemical Plant Town Hall Meeting On Emergency Response Plans In Beaver County  [PaEN]

-- PA League Of Women Voters, University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health Nov. 14 Shale Gas & Public Health Conference  [PaEN]

Articles Related To The Agenda:

-- University Of Pittsburgh School Of Public Health Studies Find Shale Gas Wells Can Make Asthma Worse; Children Have An Increased Chance Of Developing Lymphoma Cancer; Slightly Lower Birth Weights  [PaEN] 

-- State Dept. Of Health Apologizes For Not Listening To Communities Suffering Health Impacts From Shale Gas Development; New Health Study Results ‘Just The Tip Of The Iceberg’  [PaEN] 

-- State Dept. Of Health Invites Citizens To File Environmental Health Complaints Related To Natural Gas Development; Health Will Also Review Environmental Test Results [PaEN] 

-- Between The Lines Podcast: Pediatrician Dr. Ned Ketyer Explains The Results Of New Studies Of The Health Impacts Of Natural Gas Development On Children And Adults  [PaEN] 

-- 9th Compendium Of Studies On Health & Environmental Harms From Natural Gas Development Released - ‘The Rapidly Expanding Body Of Evidence Compiled Here Is Massive, Troubling And Cries Out For Decisive Action’  [PaEN] 

-- House Environmental Committee To Hold Oct. 30 Hearing On Bill Increasing Setback Safety Zones From Shale Natural Gas Drilling Sites, Infrastructure Based On Latest Science, Grand Jury Report  [PaEN]

-- Gov. Shapiro: We Need Stronger Laws To Deal With The ‘Corporate Greed’ That Let Oil & Gas Operators Get Away With Abandoning Wells For Far Too Long  [PaEN]

More Environmental & Health Impact Articles:

-- Click Here for more articles on oil and gas infrastructure impacts on health and the environment.

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Oct. 28 to Nov. 3 - Fire At PA General Energy Shale Gas Well Pad; 5 More Abandoned Conventional Wells; Replugging Shale Gas Well  [PaEN] 

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - November 4  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 57 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In Nov. 4 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

-- Gov. Shapiro, CNX Natural Gas Company Sign Statement Of Mutual Interests To Monitor Air Emissions At Drill Sites, Extend Safety Setbacks While Data Is Being Collected; DEP To Move Ahead With Some Reg Changes  [PaEN]

-- Evangelical Environmental Network Thanks Gov. Shapiro For Defending Children's Health Thru An Agreement With CNX Natural Gas; Believes In Repenting Of Sins, 2nd Chances  [PaEN]

-- Attorney General Henry Announces Criminal Charges Against Equitrans For 2018 Natural Gas Explosion That Destroyed Home In Greene County  [PaEN]

-- House Committee Hearing On Increasing Safety Setbacks Zones Around Natural Gas Facilities Heard About First-Hand Citizen Experiences On Health Impacts, From Physicians On Health Studies And The Gas Industry On Job Impacts  [PaEN]

-- Sen. Yaw, Republican Chair Of Senate Environmental Committee, Calls Bill To Reduce Shale Gas Industry Impacts On Health, Environment ‘Stupid’  [PaEN] 

-- University Of Pittsburgh Studies Of Shale Gas Development Health Impacts To Be Discussed At Nov. 14 Joint Meeting Of DEP Citizens Advisory Council, Environmental Justice Advisory Board  [PaEN]

-- PA League Of Women Voters, University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health Nov. 14 Shale Gas & Public Health Conference  [PaEN] 

-- Marcellus Drilling News: Mariner East 2X Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline Being Repaired After Dent Discovered In Chester County During Maintenance Check  [PaEN]

-- PUC Issues Emergency Order To PA American Water To Operate Troubled East Dunkard Water Authority In Greene County; Lawsuit Filed Alleging Water Tainted By Mine Drainage, Shale Gas Operations  [PaEN]

-- Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force Issues Report On The Best Ways To Increase Exports Of PA's Natural Gas; Minority Report Rebuts Need For LNG Facility, Outlines Impacts  [PaEN]

-- Protect PT Holds Nov. 11 Workshop On Living Near Shale Gas In Westmoreland County  [PaEN] 

[Posted: October 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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