Thursday, January 26, 2023

House Republicans Name Advocate For Conventional Oil & Gas Industry Rep. Martin Causer Chair Of House Environmental Committee

On January 26, House Republican leader Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) announced the
appointment of Republican Committee Chairs-- Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron) was named Republican Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

Rep. Causer was prime sponsor of House Bill 2644 that Gov. Wolf allowed to become law last year blocking any increase in conventional oil and gas well plugging bond amounts for 10 years and that continued the total exemption from bonding for wells drilled before April of 1985 (which is most of them) making taxpayers liable for over $5.1 billion in well plugging and cleanup costs.  Read more here.

Rep. Causer was also prime sponsor of House Bill 1144 from last year that would have rolled back environmental protection standards for conventional oil and gas well drilling to the 1980s.  Read more here.

The legislation also legalized the practice of disposing of untreated conventional drilling wastewater by dumping it on dirt and gravel roads. Read more here.

The legislation was opposed by the PA Council of Trout Unlimited and a variety of environmental groups.

Gov. Wolf vetoed similar legislation in 2020.  Read more here.

Report On Conventional Oil & Gas Compliance

On December 29, the Department of Environmental Protection released the first-ever assessment of how well conventional oil and gas drillers comply with state environmental laws and concluded, “(the) conventional oil and gas industry’s recent record of compliance with Pennsylvania law is simply not good, particularly with regard to improper abandonment of wells.”  Read more here.

“A significant change in the culture of non-compliance as an acceptable norm in the conventional oil and gas industry will need to occur before meaningful improvement can happen.”

“This record of non-compliance will require DEP to further develop and refine its techniques for deterring violations and encouraging compliance with relevant statutory and regulatory provisions.

The report said conventional oil and gas drillers were issued 3,123 notices of violations for new well abandonments and 217 violations for failure to plug a well to stop the vertical flow of fluids or gas out of the well.  Read more here.

Wells abandoned by conventional operators must all be plugged at taxpayer expense.  Conventional operators don’t contribute a dime.  By some estimates taxpayers are now on the hook for over $5.1 billion in conventional well plugging costs.  Read more here.

The report made a series of recommendations on how to prevent new well abandonments.  Read more here.

PA DEP Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Jan. 14  to 20  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - Jan. 21  [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Compliance Reports:

-- DEP Report Finds: Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Routinely Abandon Wells; Fail To Report How Millions Of Gallons Of Waste Is Disposed; And Non-Compliance Is An ‘Acceptable Norm’  [PaEN]

-- DEP 2021 Oil & Gas Program Annual Report Shows Conventional Oil & Gas Operators Received A Record 610 Notices Of Violation For Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them  [PaEN]

-- DEP Releases 2 More Bid Solicitations To Plug 43 Abandoned Conventional Gas Wells In Clarion County All At Taxpayer Expense, Industry Doesn’t Pay A Dime [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industry Has Record Year: Cost, Criminal Convictions Up; $3.1 Million In Penalties Collected; Record Number Of Violations Issued; Major Compliance Issues Uncovered; Evidence Of Health Impacts Mounts  [PaEN]

-- Feature: 60 Years Of Fracking, 20 Years Of Shale Gas: Pennsylvania’s Oil & Gas Infrastructure Is Hiding In Plain Sight  [PaEN]

NewsClips This Week:

-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: PA Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Abandoned Thousands Of Natural Gas Wells Over 5 Years, Ignored State Law, DEP Report Says 

-- Center For Coalfield Justice Blog: DEP Reports Conventional Oil & Gas Industry Has A Culture Of Noncompliance Not Likely To Change Soon, More Resources, Updated Regulations Needed

-- Environmental Health News: What Happens If The Largest Owner Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wells In The U.S. [Diversified Energy]  Goes Bankrupt? 

Related Articles This Week:

-- DCED’s Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Advisory Council Meets Feb. 16  [PaEN]

-- Natural Gas Industry, Senate Republicans Launch Effort To Unleash The Industry, Reduce Regulation, Call For Automatic Approval Of Permits, Limit Public Comments  [PaEN] 

-- What Can We Expect From Gov. Shapiro, Lt. Gov. Davis On Environmental, Energy Issues? [PaEN] 

[Posted: January 26, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Keep PA Beautiful, PalmettoPride Present Multi-State Litter Law Enforcement Study

On January 26,
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and PalmettoPride announced a comprehensive joint study on the efficacy of state litter statutes and enforcement practices and procedures. This multi-state study is the first of its kind in the country and can serve as a benchmark to measure litter control enforcement efforts across the country. 

The two states engaged with Carson Consulting to review existing state litter laws and interview key stakeholders to evaluate the strength of the states’ current litter enforcement tools and systems. 

Carson Consulting conducted a mixed-methods study examining five years of data from 2016 – 2020 and conducted interviews with representatives of law enforcement and judicial officers to gain on-the-ground insight. 

A primary focus of the research included examining Pennsylvania and South Carolina statutes regarding penalties and reviewing the attitudes, behaviors, and influences that emerge by comparing case disposition with interviews. 

Four key takeaways from the study reveal--

-- Enforcement is considered necessary to stopping littering and illegal dumping, but that activity is low; 

-- Officers or judges do not favor high fines; 

-- There is a high rate of guilty convictions; and 

-- Community service requirements are considered effective in sentencing.

“Enforcing litter laws is crucial to changing behaviors that create litter,” said Sarah Lyles, Executive Director of PalmettoPride, “but those laws need to be enforceable from ticketing to adjudication. This study helps to support and identify what is most effective from a law enforcement and judicial perspective.”

The Litter Law Studies in each state are part of larger initiatives dealing with litter prevention. Pennsylvania released the Litter Action Plan in 2021. 

The goal of Pennsylvania’s Litter Action Plan is to prevent littering through the development and implementation of a research-based plan of recommended actions that can be used statewide to change littering behavior over time. 

PalmettoPride, South Carolina’s anti-litter organization, will release a litter study in 2023. 

“Pennsylvania’s 2021 Litter Action Plan called for litter law enhancements, including but not limited to the following action items: evaluate and update littering and illegal dumping fines, mandate litter pick-up, and link community service to litter clean-ups. This research, which details the efficacy of the state’s thirteen litter and illegal dumping laws, is the first step in this process,” explains Shannon Reiter, President Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

Litter is not a problem unique to any area, state, or county. Population density, individual attitudes, and infrastructure are just some factors that impact how well we deal with the amount of waste produced. 

“Our society’s overall attitude towards consumerism does not lend itself to low amounts of trash,” said Lyles. “Globally, we are playing catch up to a decades-old system.”

Carson Consulting is a global consulting company specializing in litter, illegal dumping, and waste management issues. Dr. Carson and the team conducts research on these issues to determine the effectiveness and efficacy of related programs and provides a unique blend of analytical and operational expertise in addressing littering behavior and identifying innovative solutions. 

Carson Consulting is working with several other states on similar litter studies, providing hope for change for Reiter and Lyles, who are both state leaders for Keep America Beautiful.

“Systematic change takes time. Understanding the scope of the problem and the efficacy of existing tools in the toolbox are critical. As more and more states turn their attention to addressing litter and illegal dumping, our hope is that lessons learned in Pennsylvania can not only add value, but also move those discussions forward,” Reiter said.

This study was funded in part by the Department of Environmental Protection. 

Click Here to read the comprehensive report.

For more information, please contact Shannon Reiter by sending email to: sreiter@keeppabeautiful.org

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

The 2023 Pick Up Pennsylvania Initiative will be held March 1 thru May 31.  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 PA Beautiful Wants You To Fight Dirty! Register Now For Pick Up Pennsylvania Litter Cleanup

[Posted: January 26, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

Thursday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips - 1.26.23

Are You Telling Your Story?

Senate returns to voting session Feb. 27, 28, March 1, 6, 7, 8

     -- Committee Schedule

-- March 7-- Governor’s Budget Address

House returns to voting session ??????

     -- Committee Schedule

TODAY’s Calendar Of Events 


TODAY Noon & 7:00:  Better Path Coalition Hosts Virtual Brown Bag Briefing On Environmental Impacts From Development Of Unconventional Shale Gas & Oil Reserves 


-- DCNR: Susquehanna River North Branch Named 2023 Pennsylvania River Of The Year  [PaEN]


-- Scranton Times: Susquehanna River’s North Branch Named 2023 River Of The Year


-- Wilkes-Barre Times: North Branch Susquehanna River Takes Top Honors In Statewide Vote


-- DEP Chesapeake Bay Update: Results Of PA In The Balance Ag Conference; Leadership Change At DEP, State Conservation Commission; Grants Announced; Much More  [PaEN]


-- EPA Proposes To Deny Permission For Continued Operation Of 6 Coal Ash Disposal Areas, Including The Conemaugh Generating Station In Westmoreland County  [PaEN]


-- PA Capital-Star: EPA Ruling On Coal Ash Disposal Area Could Shutter Conemaugh Coal Power Plant Ahead Of Schedule


-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Environmental Health Project Panel Warns Against Using Natural Gas For Hydrogen Hubs


-- PennFuture Blog: What We Learned During Christmas Deep Freeze - You Can’t Rely On Natural Gas To Generate Electric Power When It’s Cold - By Rob Altenburg


-- UGI Urges Natural Gas Customers To Recognize Signs Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Fuel-Burning Appliances During Heating Season


-- AP: PA Passes PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ Drinking Water Limit


-- WHYY: Philly Water Rates Could Soon Rise Under City Proposal


-- DEP Blog: DEP Explains - Environmental Complaints And Emergencies


-- The Allegheny Front: National Weather Service Pittsburgh Seeks Volunteers For Monitoring Ice Jams


-- NextPittsburgh: Pittsburgh Ranks 8th Among America’s Best Cities For Outdoor Enthusiasts


-- Scranton Times: Area Bike Shops See Strong Demand


-- Erie Times: Erie County’s Lyme Disease Cases Decline In 2022 After Record-High Year


-- BucksCo.Today: Fish & Boat Commission Authorizes Grant To Remove Spring Garden Dam On Neshaminy Creek


-- Game Commission: Watch Bears, Eagles, Snow Geese Around The Clock From Home Via Livestreams  [PaEN]


-- DCNR Blog: A Landscape Approach To Conservation, Creating Economic Opportunity; New Video Released  [PaEN]


-- DCNR Video: Pennsylvania’s Landscape Conservation Program


-- Brandywine Conservancy Ends Year Celebrating New Conservation Milestones, Including  70,000 Acres Permanently Preserved  [PaEN]


-- DailyLocal.com: Brandywine Conservancy Celebrates 70,000 Acres Permanently Preserved


-- Natural Lands: New Garden Golf Course To Become Public Park In Chester County [PaEN]


-- Open Space Institute Support Secures More Than 1,000 Acres In Eastern PA For Clean Water, Carbon Storage


-- Delaware Highlands Conservancy Hosts March 9 Online Program About Protecting Your Land With A Conservation Easement.  5:15 to 6:15 p.m.


-- Philly Voice: Greening Vacant Lots In Philly Raised Surrounding Property Values By 4.3% In First Year, Wharton Business School Study Finds


-- TribLive: Pittsburgh Looks To Spend $2.6 Million On Playground Projects In Schenley Park, Lincoln Place


-- Help Wanted: PA Resources Council Recycling Operations Coordinator


6th Oil/Natural Gas Spike: True Energy Independence Means Renewables

[There Is No Limit To What Oil/Natural Gas Industry Can Make You Pay]


-- AAA Gasoline Prices: National - $3.50, Pennsylvania - $3.76


-- Marcellus Drilling News: Expert Says Price Of Natural Gas Will Soar Again When Freeport, Texas LNG Export Plant Restarts


-- Bloomberg: U.S. Natural Gas Price Falls Below $3 For First Time Since May 2021


-- Bloomberg: European Natural Gas Prices Rebound After Slump With Asia Demand In Focus


-- Bloomberg: Big Oil/Natural Gas Face Headwinds After Record $199 Billion Profit Haul


-- Financial Times: Big Oil/Natural Gas Profit Juggernaut On Pace To Slow But Not Stop


PA Politics - Everything Is Connected

-- Spotlight PA - Stephen Caruso: Hopes Of Bipartisan Cooperation Give Way To Complete Deadlock In PA House

-- PA Capital-Star: Looking To Solve A Harrisburg Problem, House Speaker Turns To Pittsburgh For Advice

-- City & State PA: Bipartisan Election Law Advisory Board Issues New Report On Mail-In Ballot Rules

-- PennLive - John Baer: Politics In Harrisburg, Washington Off To A Head-Shaking Start

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[Posted: January 26, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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