Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gov.-Elect Corbett Names Transition Team

Gov-elect Tom Corbett today announced more than 400 members of his transition team. The transition team is made up of 17 different committees, each examining a specific area of state government.
The members of each of committee, who are volunteering their time, are tasked with reviewing the operations of the state government departments and agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction and will prepare a transition report for Gov.-elect Corbett.
“I’m honored that so many men and women have agreed to participate in my transition team,” said Corbett. “The work they are doing is essential as we build a new administration and prepare to lead Pennsylvania.”
Energy & Environment Committee
The Energy and Environment Team is responsible for developing transition reports for the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. It will also interact with related agencies such as Agriculture, the Public Utility Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Chair – David Kleppinger of McNees, Wallace & Nurick
Richard Allan, Principal, RJ Allan Consulting; Scott Baker, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC; Cynthia Carrow, VP, Government & Community Relations, Western PA Conservancy; Rosemary Chiavetta of the Public Utility Commission; Thomas Chiomento, Director of Government at Exelon Generation; Brian Clark, Shareholder, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC; Nick DeBenedictus, Chairman, Aqua America; George Ellis, President, PA Coal Association; Ellen Ferretti, VP, PA Environmental Council Josh First, President, Appalachian Land & Conservation Services Co., LLC; John Giordano, Chief Legal, Philadelphia Works; Pete Gleason, Partner, K&L Gates; Grant Gulibon, Regional Specialist, PA Builders Association; David Hess, Former Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection; John Hohenwarter, National Rifle Association; Charlie Kirkwood, President, Shawnee Insurance; Mike Krancer; John Oliver, Oliver Brothers; Stan Rapp, Senior Partner, Greenlee Partners; John Rich, Ultra Clean Fuels; Todd Rucci; Hasu Shah; John Skoutelas, VP of Governmental Affairs, Waste Management; Pat Solano; Glen Thomas, GT Power Group; Eric Thumma, Director of Institutional Relations, Iberdrola Renewables; Don Welsh, Former President, Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Pam Witmer, Energy & Environmental Practice Lead, Bravo Group; and PA State Senator Mary Jo White.
A complete list of all teams is available online.

Tuesday NewsClips

Judge Denies Driller's Motion To Dismiss Dimock Lawsuit
Mt. Pleasant Couple Sue Consol Over Gas Royalties
Family Sues Consol Over Gas Drilling Royalties
Initiative Hopes Votes Flow To Honor The Stonycreek
Editorial: Treatment Of Land And Water Our Responsibility
Old Fridge? PPL Will Pay You For It

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vote Now For PA River Of The Year!

Cast a vote for Pennsylvania’s River of the Year from six finalists – Clarion River, Conewango Creek, Delaware River, Kiskiminetas River, Pine Creek, and the Stonycreek River. Voting ends January 3.
Pennsylvania’s River of the Year is an honor bestowed upon a Commonwealth river to elevate public awareness about that resource and recognize important conservation needs and achievements.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the PA Organization for Watersheds and Rivers administer the River of the Year program, but local organizations submit nominations and, if selected, implement a year round slate of activities and events to celebrate the river, including a special extended paddling trip known as a Sojourn.
Invite all your friends and colleagues to vote, post to your Facebook page, email or Tweet to get the word out. Once votes are tallied, DCNR will announce the river of the year in January 2011!
Click here to vote.

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Would Create Thousands Of Jobs

A new report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation examines the broad economic benefits of clean water in Pennsylvania and across the watershed and found that investing in clean water technologies creates jobs, generates economic activity and saves money in the long run.
For example, according to the Fish and Boat Commission, nearly 2 million people go fishing in Pennsylvania each year, contributing over $ 1.6 billion to the economy. Among the most popular species for anglers are smallmouth bass and coldwater species, such as brook trout.
Unfortunately due to the decline of the smallmouth bass population as a result of water quality problems, the PFBC recently passed a proposal that will mandate the catch-and-release of smallmouth bass in certain areas of the Susquehanna River.
In addition, degraded stream habitat has restricted brook trout to a mere fraction of its historical distribution.
“Studies show that people equate things like clean water, clean air, and open spaces with a healthy community, and thus a robust economy,” said CBF‟s Pennsylvania Executive Director Matt Ehrhart. "Threats to water quality, in particular, threaten our economy because people value clean water for drinking, recreation, tourism, and other uses.”
Other nature-based recreation, like wildlife watching and ecotourism, also make major contributions to local economies. In Pennsylvania, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report says that more than 3.6 million people engaged in wildlife-watching activities, and spent $1.4 billion on trip-related expenses and equipment in 2006.
Clean waterways also increase property values. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study indicated that clean water can increase the value of single family homes up to 4,000 feet from the water's edge by up to 25 percent.
Proactive efforts to lessen stormwater flows today reduce future public costs needed to maintain navigation channels, remediate pollution and hazard flooding, and repair infrastructure and property damage caused by excessive runoff.
Philadelphia estimates that over the course of installation, their green infrastructure will create more than $2 in benefits for every dollar invested, generating $500 million in economic benefits, $1.3 billion in social benefits, and $400 million in environmental benefits.
A recent study by the University of Virginia found that implementation of agricultural practices such as livestock stream exclusion, buffers, and cover crops would generate significant economic impacts.
Every $1 of state and/or federal funding invested in agricultural best management practices would generate $1.56 in economic activity in Virginia. Implementing agricultural practices in Virginia to the levels necessary to restore the Bay would create nearly 12,000 jobs of approximately one year’s duration.
A recent analysis of the value of investing in water and sewer infrastructure concluded that these investments typically yield greater returns than most other types of public infrastructure.
For example, $1 of water and sewer infra- structure investment increases private output (Gross Domestic Product) in the long-term by $6.35. Furthermore, adding a job in water and sewer creates 3.68 jobs to support that one.
“We could save significantly by taking steps to protect our clean water resources. For every $1 that we spend on pollution reduction efforts, we save $27 in drinking water treatment costs. That‟s money our communities could be using to rebuild local economies,” Ehrhart said.
A copy of the complete report is available online.
NewsClip: Report: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Would Spur Economy

Monday NewsClips

Transition Teams Beginning To Assemble Corbett Administration
Special Legislative Session Produces No Laws
Report: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Would Spur Economy
Copy Of CBF Report
Proposed Waterline In Dimock Pits Neighbor Against Neighbor
Drillers Not Demurred By Early Luzerne Results
Neighbor's Luck On Drilling May Spread To Columbia County
Team To Study Impact Of Green Buildings
Berks Mineshaft Rescue Effort One For The Books
Column: Casey Joins Effort To Protect Great Lakes
Editorial: Hunting A Significant Part Of Our Culture

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nov. 29 PA Environment Digest Now Available

November 29 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

No Severance Tax Causes $70 Million State Budget Shortfall, Pay Raises?

In August Gov. Rendell said he would use $70 million in revenue from a Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax to help make up for the $280 million shortfall caused by reduced federal appropriations for Medicaid Funding.
Since the severance tax did not pass, the state budget has a $70 million hole which needs to be made up by Gov. Rendell or Gov.-elect Tom Corbett when he takes office January 18.
The Department of Revenue reported state tax collections were down in October and there may be little hope the gap would be made up by increased revenues. Click here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Family Fights Driller For Law Co-Owners; Consent Not Sought
Hunters Advised To Be Careful Around Drilling Sites
Horticulture Students Build Rain Garden In New Stantion
Tires Inspire Yough River Cleanup
PEC Posts Green Financing Presentations
Twp. Will Review Solar Rules

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Foundation For PA Watersheds 2011 Grant Application Schedule

The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds today announced its schedule for accepting grant applications in 2011.
-- February 25 - Spring Grant Letters of Interest due; and
-- August 26 - Fall Grant Letters of Interest due.
For more information, visit the Apply for a Grant webpage.

East Resources Receives IOGCC Award For Support Of SRBC Water Monitoring Network

On November 16, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission awarded East Resources, Inc. its 2010 Chairman's Stewardship Award for Environmental Partnership in recognition of its support for a Remote Water Quality Monitoring Network in the upper reaches of the Susquehanna River Basin.
East provided financial assistance to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to support the deployment of the monitoring network. The award was announced at the IOGCC's Annual Meeting in Tucson, AZ.
Environmental organizations and local watershed groups have expressed concerns over the potential impact of Marcellus Shale natural gas development on public water supplies and water quality in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin.
The network will routinely observe and record water quality conditions in smaller rivers and stream flowing through areas of the watershed where oil and gas producers are actively developing Marcellus Shale reserves.
"We recognize the importance of the natural gas industry to Pennsylvania and to the local communities and believe that this partnership with the SRBC would demonstrate that the development of the Marcellus Shale could be done in an environmentally safe manner," William Fustos, Chief Operating Officer, East Resources, Inc. said. "We are confident as a company and as an industry that there will be no detrimental effects due to our development and this project will go a long way toward showing that."
The Commission initiated the annual Chairman's Stewardship Awards in 2001 as its highest honor for exemplary efforts in environmental stewardship. The awards recognize organizations, companies and individuals nationwide that demonstrate innovation, dedication and passion for our environment.

Wednesday NewsClips

DEP Studying Leak At Lycoming Gas Well
DEP Admits It Has No Authority To Permit Drilling Water Withdrawals In Western PA
Free Furnace Program In Second Decade
Making The Case For Solar Panels In Northampton Schools
Conservancy Support Blooms With Bank's Help
Fort Pitt Tunnel Greenspace Saved
EPCAMR Organizes Tour Of Historial Mining For VISTA Workers
After Indictment, Musto Says I Want My Day In Court

Monday, November 22, 2010

DEP Investigating 13,000+ Gallon Frack Water Spill In Lycoming County

The Department of Environmental Protection is continuing to investigate a large hydraulic fracturing fluid spill at an XTO Energy natural gas well pad in Penn Township, Lycoming County, which was first discovered last week.
“This spill was initially estimated at more than 13,000 gallons by the company and has polluted an unnamed tributary to Sugar Run and a spring,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Nels Taber. “There are also two private drinking water wells in the vicinity that will be sampled for possible impacts.”
A DEP inspector discovered the spill while inspecting the well pad. The inspector found that the bottom valve on a 21,000-gallon fracking fluid tank was open and discharging fluid off the well pad. No one else was present at the pad, which has one producing Marcellus well.
The DEP inspector was able to close the valve and XTO Energy officials were immediately contacted about the spill. The company has not provided any explanation for the open valve.
XTO Energy hired cleanup contractor Minuteman Response, which has been on-site for several days vacuuming spilled fluids and mobilizing equipment to excavate soil. A fence also has been installed to prevent a neighbor’s cattle from grazing in the impacted area of the pasture.
DEP inspectors have collected samples of nearby soil samples and surface water. Initial field meter readings showed elevated levels of conductivity and salinity in the spring and unnamed tributary.
Conductivity measures water’s ability to carry an electric current, while salinity measures the dissolved salt content in water. Elevated levels of both are indications that spilled fracking fluid is present.
A notice of violation letter will be sent to XTO Energy this week and the company will be required to remediate the site properly.

Monday NewsClips

Editorial: Taxpayers Should Push For Marcellus Shale Fee
Gas Workers Get To Know The Drill
Op-Ed: Pittsburgh Closes Its Mind To Drilling
Letter: Disregard For Environment Will Haunt Us In Future
Slick Appears On Grapeville Property After Rain
War On Coal Pits Miners Against Environmentalists
PA Counts On Elk To Drive Tourism
Driller Offering Careers, Not Just Jobs
Gas Workers Get Training To Know The Drill
Despite Encana's Exit, Gas Jobs Remain In Luzerne
Beware Of Door-To-Door Electricity Sales

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nov. 22 PA Environment Digest Now Available

November 22 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Nature Conservancy Study Reveals Marcellus Shale, Wind Energy Impacts In PA

Energy development in Pennsylvania over the next 20 years could transform the Commonwealth’s iconic forests and impact several hundred thousand acres of key habitat for songbirds, salamanders and trout, according to a new study released this week by The Nature Conservancy. Click here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Panel OKs New Gas Drilling Safeguards
Gas Well Regulation Clears Final Hurdle
New State Drilling Regulations On The Way
Tougher Gas Drilling Rules OK'd
Gas Drilling Did Not Impact Water Well Official Said
DEP Chief: Support For Well Controls Doubted
Gas Driller Builds Dorms For Workers In Northern PA
Encana Backs Away From Gas Drilling In Luzerne
Encana Pulls Operations Out Of Luzerne County
Drilling Near Westmoreland Reservoir Safe, Residents Told
Whitehall Approves Ordinance Governing Drilling
Williams Partners To Buy Some Cabot Marcellus Assets For $150 M
Williams Partners To Expand MidStream Presence In Marcellus Shale
Editorial: Coal Mines Still Yield Energy
Stream Bank Restoration Project Begins In Jacob's Creek
Flood Insurance Appeals Begin In Luzerne
Dauphin County Deeds Land For Swatara Greenway Project
Presque Isle Committee Discusses Demographics, Deer
Nature Conservancy Aims To Change State's Drilling Permit Process
Man Blames Salty Well Water On Marcellus Drilling
Big Oil Jumps On Shale Gas Bandwagon
Philadelphia Eagles Are Getting Greener
Stroudsburg Schools Go Solar
Pike County OKs $23K For Land Preservation
Delaware Judge OKs Delaware River Dredging
St. Rose Of Lima Students Learn About Recycling

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nature Conservancy Study Reveals Marcellus Shale, Wind Energy Development Impacts

Energy development in Pennsylvania over the next 20 years could transform the Commonwealth’s iconic forests and impact several hundred thousand acres of key habitat for songbirds, salamanders and trout, according to a new study released today by The Nature Conservancy which focuses on the likely impacts of energy development on the state’s most ecologically important areas.
“We can no longer protect nature without thinking about energy development,” said Nels Johnson, Deputy Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Chapter and lead author of the energy analysis. With the report released today, energy developers, government agencies, and conservation groups will now have information about where development is most likely to pose risks to Pennsylvania’s most important natural areas – and be able to take steps to avoid them.
About 3,500 acres of forest have been cleared and an estimated 8,500 additional acres of habitat degraded because of the energy development that has spread through Pennsylvania’s forests in recent years, according to a Conservancy analysis of aerial photographs. Without action to improve planning for energy development, many times that amount could be lost, Johnson said.
“If energy companies, regulators, and the conservation community don’t take this information into account, some of the special places that we’re working so hard to protect may not long exist,” Johnson said. “Pennsylvanians have the tools to make a difference, but if we don’t act soon, there are going to be serious conflicts between energy and habitat conservation, and conservation is likely to lose.”
The study considers the types of energy development most likely to alter Pennsylvania’s landscape – natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation, wind energy, energy from wood biomass and electric and gas transmission – and uses innovative GIS mapping techniques to analyze the impacts of existing development and to model the likely location and intensity of future development. The report then documents the possible impacts on areas of high conservation value.
The Conservancy today released findings focused on Marcellus gas and wind energy:
About 1,800 Marcellus natural gas wells have already been drilled in Pennsylvania, and as many as 60,000 more could be developed by 2030 if development trends continue.
By the end of this year, 500 wind turbines will be generating energy on Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Front and Appalachian ridges, and between 750 and 2,900 more could be built by 2030, depending on the state’s renewable energy goals.
In early 2011, The Nature Conservancy will release additional findings focused on wood biomass and electric and gas transmission, but already, the cumulative impacts of new energy development in Pennsylvania are alarmingly clear:
Because of the scale of Marcellus development, about 40 percent of the state’s largest and most ecologically valuable forest areas in Pennsylvania could see serious impacts from energy development.
These impacts could include degradation of Pennsylvania breeding habitat for vulnerable species such as northern goshawk, wood thrush and Northern flying squirrel, as well as development within most of the watersheds of the state’s remaining healthy brook trout streams.
Wind energy development will not have the extensive footprint associated with the Marcellus fields, but in certain local situations, wind development may impact critical habitats.
For every acre of development in Pennsylvania’s forests, several additional acres of habitat for plants and animals are lost to the noise, light, invasive species and other ecological changes that can accompany remote developments. Forests can be fragmented by roads, gas well pads and turbines, creating more of the forest edges where these impacts occur.
That potential risk to habitat led Audubon Pennsylvania to provide data and staff time to help The Nature Conservancy produce this report, said Audubon Executive Director Phil Wallis.
“Pennsylvania’s deep forests provide breeding habitat for many songbirds that depend upon the health of Penn’s Woods, including the scarlet tanager, wood thrush and black-throated blue warbler,” Wallis said. “This analysis gives us a glimpse of how substantial the loss of our forests may be as a result of new energy development activities. We need to actively work to maintain the resilience and health of our wild forests at the same time that we find new energy solutions for our nation.”
The state’s multi-million-dollar outdoor recreation and timber industries are also dependent on the health of these forests, while impacts to headwater streams as a result of development could extend many miles downstream. Healthy forests provide invaluable protection for drinking water and keep our rivers safe for fishing, boating and swimming.
“Every type of energy development has an impact on the land,” said Bill Kunze, Executive Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Chapter. “But with the new data about cumulative impacts on nature that this analysis provides, energy companies will be able to minimize impacts to important habitats as energy development advances.”
In the coming months, Nature Conservancy staff members will be sharing their findings with industry leaders, policymakers, community organizations, and landowners with the intent of collaborating to green Pennsylvania’s energy future.
“It’s not too late,” Kunze said. “But we have to act now.”

Monday NewsClips

Corbett Sharpens Budget Ax
Marcellus Gas Industry Could Take Business Away From Pittsburgh
Dimock Residents Discuss Gas Boom On 60 Minutes
TV Report Focuses On Gas Drilling
Marywood U. Use Of Mine Water For Energy A Model
Can Anyone Own The Wind?
New Threat To Bald Eagles
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District Wins Recycling Award

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nov. 15 PA Environment Digest Now Available

November 15 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Rank-And-File House Democrats Rebel, Speaker McCall Calls Voting Day

Out-going House Speaker Keith McCall (D-Carbon) relented this week and called a one-day voting session on November 15 in the face of a rebellion by rank-and-file Democratic members.
"While the Senate has flatly refused to return to session to address legislation passed by the House that awaits their action, after speaking to many House members who are concerned about key issues such as pension reform, I’ve decided to bring the House back for voting session Monday," Speaker McCall said. "We anticipate debate on multiple pieces of legislation sent to us by the Senate in an effort to get many of those bills passed and sent on to the governor to be signed into law." Click here to read more…

Photo: PA Audubon Waggoner's Gap Hawk Watch

Friday NewsClips

Corbett Less Likely To Hand Out Capital Grants
GOP Victory Could Boost Natural Gas Drilling
Op-Ed: Make Sure Marcellus Shale Is Developed Correctly, Gov. Ridge
Dimock, Gas Driller On CBS News Show
Vets Find A Buddy In Gas Industry
Editorial: Mideast Visitors Eye Marcellus, Pittsburgh
Communities Fighting Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Mandates
Clean Water Bill Might Get Shot Down, Chesapeake Bay
Pinecreek Watershed Plan Puts Flooding, Erosion In Crosshairs
Feds' Home Energy Score Targets Allegheny County
Deer Making More Of An Impact On Erie Roads
Consultant To Advise Harrisburg On Short, Long Term Goals
Editorial: Bring In The A Team For Harrisburg
The Great Natural Gas Divide, New York, PA
Delaware River Flows, Gas Woes
DEP Releases Video Of Dimock Gas Well Leaks
Southwest Energy Opens Tunkhannock Office
Editorial: True Energy Independence And Marcellus Gas
Taylor Faces Budget Shortfall Due To Landfill Changes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Gifts - Clean Creek Pottery

Looking for a holiday gift that will please the most discriminating taste and help the environment? Consider pottery products from Clean Creek.
Clean Creek Products, a division of Stream Restoration Inc. (nonprofit), was formed to market the metals recovered in treating abandoned mine drainage. One of the uses for these metals is in ceramic pottery glazing.
Every product you purchase from Clean Creek will not only support the artists that create them, but also helps support watershed groups doing local projects to help restore Pennsylvania's 19,000 miles of polluted waterways.
Click here to see a new video on Clean Creek pottery.

SRBC Orders J-W Operating Drilling Company To Cease Operations In Cameron County

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission today ordered J-W Operating, LLC, a natural gas drilling company based in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, to immediately cease all water-related activities at a drilling pad site in the Marcellus shale formation in Shippen Township, Cameron County, Pennsylvania.
The company began water-related activities at two wells without prior approval from SRBC at the pad known as Pardee & Curtin Lumber Company C Pad.
Natural gas drillers must have SRBC approval before any drilling activity occurs or any water-related facilities are constructed. The SRBC order also prohibits J-W Operating, LLC from continuing to drill or withdraw water for use at that drilling pad site.
“Commission staff became aware of this violation during field inspections, the most recent one being yesterday November 9,” said SRBC Executive Director Paul Swartz. “At present, the Commission has been informed by the company that it set conductor pipe on November 3, 2010, which resulted in the violation. The exact timeframe will be determined and appropriate actions will be taken by the Commission.”
Swartz said, “Since the company had not begun withdrawing, transporting or using any water, the Commission did not find any water resource impacts at this drilling pad.”
J-W Operating, LLC has 30 days to submit an application to SRBC for water withdrawal and consumptive use, as well as the construction activities it has already completed. The company is prohibited from any further water-related actions until SRBC reviews and acts on the application.
For information, visit SRBC’s Natural Gas Well Development webpage.

Maurice Goddard Documentary To Air Nov. 10 & 28 On WITF

A one-hour documentary on the life of Maurice Goddard will air tonight on WITF-TV in Central PA at 8 p.m. and again on November 28 at noon.
Maurice K. Goddard was a man who committed his life to the conservation and environmental concerns of Pennsylvania and the nation. His legacy includes numerous endeavors which helped shape Pennsylvania’s status as a national leader for environmental conservation, among them, a State Park within 25 miles of every Pennsylvanian.
The one hour documentary will follow the chronology of Goddard’s life touching on the various accomplishments and challenges he faced. A series of interviews with friends and colleagues tell Goddard’s story in conjunction with a narration connecting the historical context of his career. Click here to watch a trailer.

Wednesday NewsClips

Corbett To Announce Transition Team Leadership At 2:00 Today
GOP Picks Smith, Turzai As New House Leaders
Sen. Pileggi Podcast Previews 2011 Issues
Rank-And-File Dems Angry But Powerless To Revive Session
State Police Cite 1,000 Drilling Water Trucks For Violations
Most Stopped Marcellus Shale Trucks Cited
Chevron To Buy Atlas Energy In $4.3 Billion Deal
$4 Billion Deal Will Give Chevron PA Marcellus Stake
Range Resources, EQT, Ultra May Be Targets After Chevron Deal
200+ Attend S. Fayette Hearing On Drilling Ordinance
Pittsburgh Council Favors Ban On Gas Drilling In City
Board Approves Water Line Connection Of Dimock Homes
PennVEST Uses Public Money For Dimock Waterline
State OKs $11.6 Million For Water Line In Dimock
Agency Votes To Aid Owners Of Contaminated Wells In Dimock
Funding For Scranton About $3 Million Less Than Sought
Lake Twp. Gas Well Progresses In Luzerne
Grants Awarded To Conserve Chesapeake Bay
Editorial: EPA Unrealistic About Chesapeake Bay Clean Up
PACD Meaningful Watershed Education Experience Grants Due Nov. 15
DuBois Forms Committee To Protect City's Watershed
Delco Buys Mineral Hill, Adding To Open Space Tract
EPA Final Reports Released On Air Toxics Near Two PA Schools
Program Debuts To Cut Biz, Home Energy Bills

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Scott Roberts, Deputy For Mineral Resources At DEP, To Retire

J. Scott Roberts, Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management at the Department of Environmental Protection, announced he was leaving the agency this week effective December 3.
Scott was appointed to this position in February 2002. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, he served as Director of DEP’s Bureau of Mining and Reclamation for two years where he developed and revised Pennsylvania’s mining regulations, oversaw federal grants, administered operator assistance programs and served as chairman of the board for Pennsylvania’s Mine Subsidence Insurance program. Prior to that, he was the Chief of the Permits and Technical Division in the Greensburg Office of District Mining Operations.
A native of Johnstown, Cambria County, Scott once served as curator of the Johnstown Flood Museum. He is a Registered Professional Geologist, with degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and California University of Pennsylvania.
As Deputy, he oversaw five program areas, encompassing 555 employees, with an annual operating budget of $110 million. Mineral Resources is responsible for developing and implementing Pennsylvania's policies and programs for surface and underground coal and industrial mineral mining, oil and gas exploration and production, mine safety and the reclamation of abandoned mines and wells. The direct economic impact of these programs in Pennsylvania exceeds $2 billion annually.
Among many other accomplishments, Scott was instrumental in guiding DEP's efforts to rescue nine miners trapped in the Quecreek Mine in 2002.

Public Funding For Drilling-Affected Water Supplies OK'd For Dimock

The PA Infrastructure Investment Authority today approved funding a $11.7 million drinking water project to replace water supplies affected by Marcellus Shale drilling in Dimock, Susquehanna County.
The financing package would give an $11.5 million grant and a $172,000 loan to Pennsylvania American Water to install 5.4 miles of transmission line and 7 miles of distribution line to provide the option of public water to 18 homes with wells affected by drilling. The grant is one of the largest ever given by PennVEST for a single project.
A motion to table the proposal by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) was defeated at the meeting.
NewsClip: Board Approves Water Line Connection Of Dimock Homes
Link: Scarce Infrastructure Dollars Proposed To Fund Replace Drilling-Affected Water Supplies

Chevron Buys Atlas Energy Natural Gas In $4.3 Billion Deal

Chevron Corporation and Atlas Energy, Inc. announced today Chevron would acquire Atlas Energy for cash of $3.2 billion and assumed pro forma net debt of approximately $1.1 billion. The acquisition will provide Chevron with an attractive natural gas resource position primarily located in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. The acquisition is subject to certain Atlas Energy restructuring transactions, approval by Atlas Energy shareholders and regulatory clearance.
NewsClip: Chevron To Buy Atlas Energy In $4.3 Billion Deal
DEP Fines Atlas For Violations At 13 Well Sites In Fayette, Washington, Greene Counties
Atlas, Reliance To Buy 42,344 More Acres Of Marcellus Shale For $192 Million

Tuesday NewsClips

Op-Ed: Corbett Needs To Get Facts Straight On Marcellus Shale
Marcellus Shale Protest Walk Marches Through Honesdale
PA Board To Vote On Water Pipe In Drilling Area
Study Could Lead To Green Boulevard Along Allegheny
TNC: Pennsylvania Becoming World Leader in Forest Research
Insect Returns To Infest Firewood
Lower Macungie Will Appeal Stormwater Lawsuit
Solar Panels Get A Drubbing

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Applications Now Being Accepted For Trout Unlimited Youth Fishing Camp

Applications are now being accepted for the 17th annual Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp being held June 19-24, 2011 at the Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, Cumberland County. The purpose of the camp is to educate students in the importance of coldwater conservation.
The classes include principles of ecology, geology, aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate sampling, riparian buffers, hydrology, trout behavior, trout stream entomology, the biology of pollution and the politics of conservation.
The camp also provides hands-on classes in fly tying, fly casting, streamside ethics, the evolution of an angler, wader safety and survival, and streamside botany. The students will also participate in a watershed project to repair stream habitat. Plenty of time is set aside for the students to fish the world famous Yellow Breeches Creek.
The camp faculty includes professional people from various environmental fields and state agencies such as the Fish & Boat Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Dr. Robert Behnke of Colorado State University considered the foremost trout biologist in the world is again expected as the keynote speaker.
The camp is limited to 32 selected, qualified students, aged 14 to 17. The student must have been born between June 24, 1993 and June 19, 1997 to qualify. The camp selection committee will choose students based upon each candidate’s qualifications and their desire to attend as stated in the required essay. The cost to attend the event is $350. Tuition assistance is available for qualified students.
For more information or an application go to the Rivers Camp website. You may also contact Mike Klimkos at (717) 243-3056, or via email at klimkos@embarqmail.com.

Saturday NewsClips

House Done Voting For The Year
House Cancels Plans For Voting Session
Rendell: Beware Budget Cuts' Effects
Nature Reserve Cautions With Drilling Costs
Editorial: Drilling Issues Lost On Corbett
Marcellus Expert Advises Caution As Drilling Expands
Luzerne Gas Well May Be Fracked Soon
Drilling Supply Truck Strikes Building In Ulster
Driver Of Overturned Water Truck To Be Cited
North Lebanon Gets Growing Greener Grant For Park
Army Corps Hosts Lehigh River Release Review
Editorial: By The Delaware River
White Pages Victim Of Numbers Game
Conservancy May Buy PA Land From MD City
Fisheries Biologist Exam Now Open
Editorial: Use Weapons Against Blight

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nov. 8 PA Environment Digest Now Available

November 8 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Republican Tsunami Takes Governor's Office, Returns GOP To Power In State House

The voters have spoken and they gave the nod to Republican Tom Corbett for Governor and gave Republicans at least a 111 to 92 seat majority in the House, reversing the 104 to 99 Democratic majority.
These results together with the Republican Senate will give Republicans control of the Senate, House and Governor's Office for the first time since Gov. Tom Ridge was elected in 1994. Click here to read more…

House Ends Legislative Session In A Whimper, No Chance For A Severance Tax

The 2009-10 legislative session ended in a whimper Friday when House Democrats decided to cancel plans to vote on any more legislation for the remainder of the year ending all hope of any last minute deal by the Senate, House and Gov. Rendell to enact a Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax and rescuing cash-starved environmental programs.
House members are being asked to return to the House Floor on November 15 at 1:00.

PA Environmental Council Names Paul M. King President

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council today named Paul M. King, QEP, to the position of president and chief executive officer, succeeding Donald S. Welsh, who has resigned to pursue other interests.
The transition is effective November 29.
King returns to PEC after having served as chairman of the board of the organization for 12 years. He also served as interim president and CEO of PEC from April 2008 to April 2009. Mr. King is both a lawyer and qualified environmental professional with extensive experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors. He is currently the executive director of RiverQuest, a non-profit educational organization that operates river based educational programs for students, teachers and the community of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he was the director of environmental health and safety for Duquesne University in Pittsburgh after a distinguished career at PPG Industries, Inc. where he served as corporate director of environment, health and safety and PPG’s corporate counsel of environment health and safety.
“The Pennsylvania environment is at a crossroads,” said Mr. King. “The challenges posed by a state budget shortfall, funding for environmental programs and departments, unconventional gas drilling, climate change and economic growth have all converged on Pennsylvania and we’ll have but one chance to make the right choices. PEC looks forward to leading the debate and the public process.”
King’s background includes previous leadership positions as the executive director for the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice, director of the Certificate Program in Environmental Law, Science and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, an environmental management consultant and an environmental attorney. He holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Duquesne University and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member and chair of the Allegheny County Board of Health and is a member of the Environmental Committees of the American, Pennsylvania and Allegheny County Bar Associations. He has served as an adjunct professor of environmental management at Duquesne University’s Environmental Science and Management Program for 12 years and as an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law for 20 years. He has also been a member of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
He is a past president of the Air and Waste Management Association, a past chairman of the Chemical Manufacturers Association's Environmental Management Committee, a recipient of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Environmental Law Committee award for distinguished service to the profession in 2002, and a lifetime achievement award in 2009 from the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice.
King is a Qualified Environmental Professional and has written and spoken extensively in the environmental area. He is a resident of Pittsburgh.
Don Welsh served as PEC’s president and chief executive officer since April 2009, after serving eight years as the Region III administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he led the environmental protection efforts for six states in the mid-Atlantic region. Prior to that, he was the deputy secretary for state/federal relations for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and as the chief of government affairs for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Don Welsh has been a tireless champion in protecting Pennsylvania’s environment and a great asset to our organization,” said Tony Bartolomeo, chairman of the board of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
“The increasing challenges to environmental quality and conservation, such as the Marcellus Shale, that Pennsylvania has encountered during his tenure with PEC have been some of the most consequential in the history of this Commonwealth and Don has pointed PEC in the right direction to make a tremendous impact on the future,” he added. “We wish him the very best for the future.”
Founded 40 years ago, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council has been the leading environmental organization in the state, and was instrumental in the passage of nearly every major piece of legislation and regulatory initiative affecting clean air, clean water, land use and conservation, hazardous materials and other major public policy actions since that time.
Today, the organization is heavily engaged in a number of critical initiatives surrounding the development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, trail and green space development, green energy and climate change programs, sustainable community and stormwater infrastructure projects. The organization is also actively involved in seeking to restore Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program to support environmental conservation and remediation programs across the state.

Friday NewsClips

DEP Chief Confronted, Bombarded With Questions In Dimock
Editorial: Act Now On Severance Tax
Editorial: Severance Tax Pitfalls
Corbett May Halt Drilling Ban
Corbett's Work Starts Soon
Drilling Opponents Fight For Monongahela River
Group Protests Drilling In Wilkes-Barre Square
House GOP Sees Driller Obligation
Results On Luzerne County Drilling Sites Draw Near
Chesapeake Energy 3rd Quarter Profit Rises To $558 Million
Ultra Petroleum Announces Increased Cash Flow, Earnings
Westmont Resources Buys Natural Gas Leases, Wells
White Pages To Fade In Green Effort
Verizon Hanging Up On White Pages
Waste Management Increases Single-Stream Recycling Capacity
Environmental Institute Slated For North Pocono Community
West Nile Season Draws To Close Across PA

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sen. Mary Jo White Calls Permit Policy For Gas Wells On DCNR Lands Ill-Conceived, Possibly Illegal

In a letter to Gov. Rendell today, Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, called the new policy announced by the Department of Environmental Protection last week on permitting natural gas wells on State Park and State Forest lands "ill-conceived, most likely illegal and could potentially cost Pennsylvania taxpayers tens of millions of dollars."
The new policy requires well operators to identify all areas of a tract that will be disturbed by development activities. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will delineate, with assistance from the well operator, any areas of concern and recommend measures to minimize the impacts.
The impacts to be considered include: threatened and endangered species habitat; wildlife corridors; water resources; scenic viewsheds; public recreation areas; wetlands and floodplains; high-value trees and regeneration areas; avoiding steep slopes; pathways for invasive species; air quality; noise; and road placement and construction methods.
After coordinating with DCNR, the well operator will submit the DCNR Environmental Review to DEP as part of a well permit application. An application that does not include sufficient information to allow DEP to consider the impacts on state park and forest lands will be considered incomplete.
"No one disputes both the desire and the statutory mandate of ensuring that oil and gas wells are designed, constructed and operated in a responsible manner that protects the environment," said Sen. White. "This is true regardless of whether the proposed development is located on publicly owned property. However, doing so must occur in concert with laws which have been enacted, and regulations which have been promulgated within the scope of the enabling legislation and according to the Regulatory Review Act.
"The regulatory review process allows for both public input and legal review to ensure that the proposed policy goals are appropriate and permitted. Both of these critical elements are circumvented by unilaterally imposing a policy that seeks to significantly alter the criteria for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to approve or deny a drilling permit.
"In fact, Section 201 (e) of the Oil and Gas Act is clear in its delineation of five reasons why DEP may deny a drilling permit. This policy seeks to add a new rationale for denying a permit, one which is not authorized by the Act."
Sen. White also raises a concern about the new policy impairing the right to develop mineral rights under State Parks not owned by the Commonwealth and adding a new condition to existing mineral leases already signed by the state.
"This new policy may very well impair these contracts, by authorizing DCNR to impose new conditions on permits that the lessee never envisioned and which may have discouraged the lessee from bidding on or signing the lease offering," Sen. White wrote. "Simply put, this new policy has resulted in the imposition of new conditions on the lessee which are not mandated by law and which have not been negotiated. Doing so very well may result in a lessee suing the Commonwealth for breach of contract, resulting in the return of the lease bonus payments and, potentially, associated costs and damages.
"This new policy is especially troubling because it blatantly disregards the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling of April 2009," said Sen. White. "In that case, Belden & Blake Corporation v. DCNR, the Commonwealth was prohibited from its efforts to impose surface use agreements and drilling conditions on permit applicants who owned the subsurface mineral rights underlying state park land. The Supreme Court held that DCNR “may seek conditions like any other surface owner, even additional conditions consistent with its statutorily imposed duties” [emphasis added]."
Sen. White concluded by saying, "DEP has done a good job of working to ensure that natural gas is developed responsibly, and DCNR has negotiated and executed lease agreements which contain meaningful added protections for publicly-owned lands. However, if there is justification for additional conditions on natural gas production, these conditions must be adopted by statute or regulation, and must adhere to settled case law. For these reasons, I encourage you to rescind this policy immediately so as to minimize the legal and financial ramifications the Commonwealth and its citizens now face."
A copy of the letter is available online.

Sen. Corman Calls October State Revenue Report "Sobering"

In his monthly report on state budget issues, Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, had this to say about October state revenue collections and the budget challenges facing Governor-elect Tom Corbett--

October revenue collections provide a sobering reminder that the economy is not yet out of the woods and that the recovery may in fact be slowing.
IHS Global Insight, in its October forecast, indicated that it expects growth of 2.6 percent for 2010, slowing to 2.2 percent for 2011. It also indicated that the economic impact of the fiscal stimulus is ebbing and that the economy is operating on limited underlying strength that results from private final demand.
Households and businesses remain cautious due to economic uncertainty and such caution directly impacts demand and thus the pace of the recovery.
The Governor’s certified revenue estimate for FY 2010-11 assumed an annualized growth rate of approximately 3.2 percent for tax revenues. To date, tax revenues exceed the estimate by $27.1 million or 0.37 percent. Neither the assumed or actual revenue growth, however, is sufficient to offset the fiscal troubles ahead.
The General Fund is facing an estimated structural deficit of $4 to $5 billion for FY 2011-12. What this means is that the General Fund’s revenue sources (income) are not adequate to offset projected expenditures in future years.
The loss of ARRA, FMAP and Fiscal Stabilization funds, increases in corrections costs, debt service, pension obligations and public welfare costs all contribute to the structural deficit.
Cuts to Commonwealth programs are an obvious and necessary part of solving our fiscal problems. Governor-elect Corbett has indicated that he intends to review all state programs to determine where cuts can be made or dollars saved.
The following charts show that the vast majority of General Fund resources support a scant few appropriations. More than 83 percent of General Fund expenditures are contained in the largest 38 appropriations.
It is important to recognize the composition of the General Fund expenditures because the next Governor and the General Assembly will need to focus attention on the largest cost driving appropriations in order to re-prioritize spending and address the structural deficit.
The entire report is available online.

Scarce Public Infrastructure Dollars To Replace Drilling-Affected Water Supplies In Dimock

The PA Infrastructure Investment Authority will vote on November 9 on whether to fund a $11.7 million drinking water project to replace water supplies affected by Marcellus Shale drilling in Dimock, Susquehanna County.
The proposed financing package would give an $11.5 million grant and a $172,000 loan to Pennsylvania American Water to install 5.4 miles of transmission line and 7 miles of distribution line to provide the option of public water to 18 homes with wells affected by drilling. The grant would be one of the largest ever given by PennVEST for a single project.
In an open letter to residents of Dimock in October, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said, "No one in Dimock or Susquehanna County will pay for it and local taxes will not be increased as the result of it. Residents along Route 29 will have the option to tap into the line if they so choose. No one will be forced to hook up to the new public water supply."
Secretary Hanger also said in a letter to Senators Mary Jo White (R-Venango) and Don White (R-Indiana), "All homeowners who choose to accept the public water system will receive the same monthly water bill as other Pennsylvania American Water Company customers." PennVEST estimates the average annual water bill on the system to be $724.
In that same letter, Secretary Hanger said the Commonwealth will "take all actions necessary and appropriate" seek to recover the cost of the project from Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation which DEP holds responsible for drinking water well contamination in the area.
Residents in Dimock this week protested the construction of the water line in a meeting with Secretary Hanger saying other less expensive options like drilling new wells, well reconstruction or adding filtration systems would solve the problem.
Opponents of the proposed water line are bombarding legislators and members of the Board of PennVEST with emails and petitions asking that funding not be approved. Senators Ray Musto (D-Luzerne), Don White (R-Indiana) and Reps. Bud George (D-Clearfield) and Dick Hess (R-Blair) serve on the Board.
The PennVEST Board meeting will be held in Room 60 East Wing of the Capitol Building starting at 10:30. It had been scheduled for its usual location at the Governor's Residence.
DEP Secretary Meets With Affected Families In Dimock
DEP Chief Confronted, Bombarded With Questions In Dimock

Link: DEP: Dimock Residents Will Be Provided Permanent Replacement Water Supply

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