Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday NewsClips

Harrisburg Takes Reins For Marcellus Enforcement
Gas Driller Citations To Be Reviewed
DEP Secretary To OK Drilling Enforcement Actions
No Violations Against Drillers Without OK From Top
Punishments Of Shale Drillers Now Need OK From Top
DEP Boss Demands Approval Of Shale Citations
Sen. Ferlo Seeks Review Of New Marcellus Shale Enforcement Rules
Yudichak Has High Hopes For Tax On Gas Extraction
Senate Dem, Republican Push Severance Tax Bill
Pocono Senator Pushes Natural Gas Tax
Op-Ed: The Impact Of Marcellus Shale Impact Fees
Op-Ed: Making The Case For A Drilling Tax, John Quigley
Editorial: Three Letter Words, Marcellus Tax, Fee
Reviewing The Marcellus Shale Tax, Fee Issue
Meet The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission
Midstate Lawmaker Holds Forum On Marcellus Shale Drilling
Op-Ed: Water's Abundance Taken For Granted
Editorial: Fracking Flowback Should Be Classified Hazardous
Newton Citizens Split Over Proposed Gas Drilling Ban
Truck Headed For Well Sites Has Spill
State College Leads In Recycling With Compost
Temp Funding Found For Susquehanna Flood Gauges
Hazleton Creek Properties Gets OK To Use Water In Fill
Scott Twp. Gearing Up For Septic Inspections
Beechwood Nature Reserve Touts Youth Area
Pittsburgh To Replace Streetlights With LED Bulbs
Rimer, Templeton Locks To Close to Allegheny River Boaters
Statewide Health Rankings Show Good News, Bad News
Fayette Among Unhealthiest Counties
Study Renews Calls For Lehigh Valley Health Department
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Senators Yudichak, Erickson Introduce Bipartisan Marcellus Shale Severance Tax Proposal

Sen. John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne) announced today he has introduced legislation that would implement a severance tax on the extraction of natural gas in Pennsylvania.
Joining Sen. Yudichak at the news conference were Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) and Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna). co-sponsors of Senate Bill 905.
During a Capitol news conference, Sen. Yudichak said it is time for a fair and responsible severance tax on natural gas.
“My goal is to initiate a fair and responsible severance tax in Pennsylvania. This proposal will generate significant revenue for local governments, our clean water infrastructure, and the Growing Greener program,” Sen. Yudichak said. “At the same time, such a moderate tax would allow the industry to continue expanding and creating jobs, as well as generate the economic development activity that Pennsylvania so desperately needs.”
Under Sen. Yudichak’s plan (Senate Bill 905), the severance tax would be gradually implemented based on the gas production of each well:
• A severance tax of 2 percent of the gross value of the natural gas severed at the wellhead; this tax rate would be in place for the first three years of well production;
• When the well has been in production for more than three years, the tax rate would increase to 5 percent;
• The tax rate would readjust back to 2 percent if a well’s rate of production fell below 150 MCF of natural gas per day and above 60 MCF per day;
• Wells that produce less than 60 MCF of natural gas per day are exempt from the tax.
If implemented, the severance tax would go into effect on July 1, 2011.
According to Yudichak, revenue from the severance tax would be distributed to three program areas:
• 33 percent of the revenue generated to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for water supply, wastewater treatment, stormwater and flood control projects;
• 33 percent to the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener); and
• 34 percent to local governments in those areas of Pennsylvania that are experiencing the direct effects of natural gas drilling.
“I think it is important to note that investments in our clean water infrastructure also create jobs,” Yudichak said. “Also, in areas where there is drilling activity, local governments are faced with a number of difficult issues. Revenue from a severance tax will benefit those communities.”
“I am pleased to stand with my colleague, Sen. Yudichak, to support this much needed legislation,” Sen. Erickson said. “The fact that this bill has bipartisan support shows the need for this tax goes beyond partisan politics. I believe this bill invests the tax revenues in a responsible way for the protection of our environment and the communities directly affected by the expanding natural gas industry.”
It is estimated the tax could generate more than $126 million in the first year and more than $406 million by 2016. These estimates are based on current prices, the number of wells, additional wells expected to be permitted in 2011 and expected production levels.

Wednesday NewsClips

Yudichak Proposes New Gas Severance Tax
Corbett: PA Gets Millions In Taxes From Marcellus Without New Tax
Rough Roads In Bradford County
Radioactivity, Chemicals In Our Drinking Water?
Rep. Moul To Hold Meeting On His Natural Gas Passion
Demonstrators Interrupt Drilling Industry Meeting
Ohio Readies For Gas Drilling Rush
Casey Wants Home Explosions Investigated
U.S. DOT Head To Talk Pipeline Safety In Allentown
State Farmers Tout Industry's Environmental Protection Record
Blackouts Pose Risk To Nuke Plants
Feds Question Security At PPL Nuclear Plant
PPL Promotes Nuke Plant's Safety
PA Reactors Threat Risk Seen As Low
PECO: 16 Percent Of Customers Have Switched Suppliers
State Recycling Conference Headed To Erie Convention Center
Chatham University Forum Focuses On PG Mapping Mortality
Wildlife Federation Shows Air Pollution's Threat To Fish, Game
Pittsburgh Sets River Front Door Opening
Presque Isle State Park Balances Piping Plovers, People
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Monday, March 28, 2011

Governor Says Public Water Supply Testing Finds No Risk From Japanese Fallout

Gov. Tom Corbett today said weekend testing of public drinking water found no elevated levels of radioactivity.
On Friday, concentrations of Iodine-131, likely originating from the events at Japan's damaged nuclear plants, were found in rainwater samples collected from Pennsylvania's nuclear power plant facilities.
The numbers reported in the rainwater samples in Pennsylvania range from 40-100 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Although these are levels above the background levels historically reported in these areas, they are still about 25 times below the level that would be of concern. The federal drinking water standard for Iodine-131 is three pCi/L.
As a result of the findings, Corbett immediately ordered the Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Water Quality, Radiation Protection and Laboratories to test the drinking water from six regions in the state.
Samples were taken from facilities in Norristown, East Stroudsburg, Harrisburg, Williamsport, Greenville and Pittsburgh. After repeated testing throughout the weekend, results showed normal levels of radioactivity and no Iodine-131 above the federal limit. In fact, no Iodine-131 was detected in the drinking water samples.
"We have been proactive and conducted immediate drinking water tests to provide hard facts, assuring the public that the water they drink is safe,'' Corbett said.
On Friday, rainwater samples were taken in Harrisburg, where levels were 41 pCi/L and at nuclear power plants at TMI and Limerick, where levels were 90 to 100 pCi/L.
Corbett emphasized that the drinking water is safe and there is no cause for health concerns. State officials will continue to carefully monitor the situation, Corbett said, and will keep the public informed.
"Rainwater is not typically directly consumed,'' Corbett said. "However, people might get alarmed by making what would be an inappropriate connection from rainwater to drinking water. By testing the drinking water, we can assure people that the water is safe.''
Rainwater is diluted by water in reservoirs and rivers or filters through the ground - and it is treated before reaching consumers as drinking water - it would not be expected to be a concern in public water systems.
While the radioactive element is believed to have originated from Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it is not considered to be a health risk in Pennsylvania or anywhere else in the country. Similar testing in other states, including California, Massachusetts and Washington, has shown comparable levels of Iodine-131 in rainwater samples.
"We do not expect the levels to increase and, in fact, the levels we see now should go down rather quickly over the next three months,'' Corbett said.
"DEP has an extensive network of radiation monitoring points at the nuclear plants and elsewhere, and we will continue to monitor water supplies to ensure there is no risk of contamination to the public,'' Corbett added.
Any Iodine-131 concentrations detected in rainwater samples are significantly higher than might be detected in a surface body of water, such as a lake or a pond.
Air quality is also being examined and test results are expected later this week. As soon as results are available, Corbett said, they will be made public.
DEP will continue to work with Pennsylvania's public water suppliers to enhance their monitoring and treatment operations as necessary. Residents whose drinking water originates from groundwater, and obtained from wells or springs, should not be affected.
DEP's Bureau of Radiation Protection is in regular contact with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency, while the Department of Health is in contact with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other states tracking Japan-related issues.
Potassium Iodide Tablets
Pennsylvania residents should not take potassium iodide (KI) pills, Corbett advised. The pills are to be taken only during a specific emergency and only at the recommendation of public health officials or the governor.
"Taking KI now is unnecessary under the circumstances and could cause harmful side effects," said Corbett. "Although usually harmless, it can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine or shellfish, or those who have thyroid problems."
Additionally, the elevated levels of radioactivity found in the rainwater on Friday were still well below levels that could pose any harm to pets or livestock.
"Ironically, today marks the 32nd anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant,'' Corbett said. "The lessons we learned from that incident and the safeguards that were installed, including constant monitoring, have made us better prepared for situations like this.''
For more information, visit DEP's Nuclear Safety Division and the Radiation Protection webpages.

Monday NewsClips

Corbett Resolute In Gas Tax Opposition
Corbett Maintains Hard Line On No Marcellus Shale Tax
Wyoming Authority Eyes Drilling Water Treatment Facility
Blog: Corbett: I Understand The Issue Of Marcellus Shale Impacts
Wyoming Authority Eyes Drilling Water Treatment Facility
Column: TMI, Marcellus Shale, NCAA, Is It That Awful In PA?
Students Pitch Their Agenda In Harrisburg
Lease Offer For Gas Drilling At Butler County Park
Few Living Around TMI Worry About Nuclear Power
Scranton Residents Wait For Relief From Flood Insurance Payments
Deadline Nears For Luzerne County Floodplains
Drug Chemcials Still In Presque Isle Waters
Trash Disposal Switch Worries Dauphin County Municipalities
Editorial: NE PA's Environmental Scores Surprisingly Well In Survey
Susquehanna Greenway To Designate Shickshinny River Town
Springfield Twp Rejects Billboard Proposal
Clearing Path To Memorialize Mine Disaster
Editorial: It's All About The Green
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, March 25, 2011

March 28 PA Environment Digest Now Available

March 28 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Computer Upgrade May Disrupt April 4 PA Environment Digest Delivery

Crisci Associates is upgrading its computer and Internet connection. The result may be a disruption in the delivery of the April 4 issue of PA Environment Digest.
If that happens, Click Here to see a copy of the April 4 issue at its usual delivery time on Friday, April 1.
We apologize for any inconvenience!

Richard J. Allan Nominated To Lead Dept. of Conservation And Natural Resources

Gov. Tom Corbett this week nominated Richard J. Allan, of Camp Hill, Cumberland County, as secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"Richard Allan is a proven leader and commands a wealth of knowledge and experience in environmental and energy issues," Gov. Corbett said. "I am confident that his abilities and background will be a tremendous benefit to DCNR, especially during this critical time in the agency's history."
Since 1991, Allan has served as executive director for the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware members of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the national trade association that represents the recycling industry. Since 2005, he has also been a consultant to energy producers in the electric, wind, solar and coal sectors. Click Here to read more....

Lt. Governor Chairs First Meeting Of Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission

Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley called the first meeting of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission to order this week saying Pennsylvania has an unprecedented opportunity to improve the economic well-being of Commonwealth residents over the next 50 to 100 years, if we develop the state's Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves in the right way economically and environmentally.
Lt. Gov. Cawley said the Executive Order creating the Commission gave the group several responsibilities to identify--
-- Additional steps necessary to protect, conserve and enhance the Commonwealth’s environment and natural resources and further mitigate impacts from development on the state’s air, land, and water resources;
-- Efforts necessary to promote the efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective development of Marcellus Shale and other unconventional natural gas resources;
-- Policies designed to encourage the end use of natural gas and natural gas byproducts;
-- Workforce development needs and opportunities; and
-- Identifying, quantifying and recommending proposals to address the needs and impacts of natural gas development on local communities.
The Commission will have 120 days to complete these tasks. The meeting dates for the entire Commission were scheduled for: May 20, June 17 and July 15. A meeting date in April will be announced.
To accomplish its work the Commission created four working groups co-chaired by members of the Commission--
-- Economic and Workforce Development: C. Alan Walker, Acting Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development and Gene Barr, PA Chamber of Business and Industry;
-- Infrastructure: Barry Schoch, Acting Secretary Department of Transportation and Christopher Masciantonio, U.S. Steel;
-- Health, Safety and Environmental Protection: Michael Krancer, Acting Secretary Department of Environmental Protection and Cynthia Carrow, Western PA Conservancy;
-- Local Impacts: Glenn Cannon, PA Emergency Management Agency and Jeff Wheeland, Lycoming County Commissioner.
The work groups are expected to meet between meetings of the entire group to work on Commission assignments.
Each member of the 30-person Commission attending the meeting was given the opportunity for a five minute introduction and a common theme among all participants was the need to "get it right" in developing Marcellus Shale.
Anthony Bartolomeo, Chair of the PA Environmental Council, said he and his group have several objectives for participation in the Commission--
-- We must adapt the overall regulatory and permitting process to ensure more complete information is gathered to inform decision making, allow for assessment of potential long-term impacts, instill predictability, and help assure the public that the right decisions are being made.
-- We must identify the environmental co-benefits in development of the industry, and how they can be incentivized. This is especially important in the realm of advancing best management practices above and beyond the point of regulation.
-- We must ensure that our state agencies have the resources and authority they truly need to support and regulate this industry.
-- We must follow the adaptive management principle so the Commonwealth stands ready to address issues and needs beyond the 120 day horizon of this Commission.
PEC's participation will be guided by a report prepared after the group's May 2010 conference on developing the Marcellus Shale.
Matthew Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Office Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, commended Gov. Corbett for creating the Commission to focus on Marcellus Shale development and added:
"For over twenty years CBF has been active in restoring and protecting water quality in the thirty-six counties making up the Bay portion of Pennsylvania. Through our advocacy efforts, on-the-ground work with farmers and landowners, and sound scientific approach to dealing with challenging environmental threats, CBF has helped to restore and protect the waters of the Commonwealth.
"Developing natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale provides a critical energy source and critical economic resources for the Commonwealth. It also poses some significant environmental concerns and some unanswered long term questions.
"While some significant improvements have been made to our management and oversight of gas development, there is still work to do. There are numerous issues such as bonding, setbacks, fines, pad siting, post construction stormwater, etc. which have been raised.
"There are questions about shallow gas migration, the long term fate of fracwater and our aquifers, and the potential for utilizing less toxic fracturing technology.
"There are also big picture concerns which include habitat fragmentation and the impact of natural gas development on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). The cumulative load of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and sediment from this industry sector must be accounted for in the Commonwealth's Watershed Implementation Plan, to address how the state will meet federal water quality requirements."
Here is the complete list of individuals invited to join the Commission:
-- Mike Krancer, acting Secretary of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg.
-- George Grieg, acting Secretary of Agriculture, Harrisburg.
-- C. Alan Walker, acting Secretary of Community and Economic Development, Harrisburg.
-- Barry Schoch, acting Secretary of Transportation, Harrisburg.
-- Richard Allan, acting Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources, Harrisburg.
-- Patrick Henderson, the Governor’s Energy Executive, Harrisburg.
-- Robert Powelson, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Harrisburg.
-- Glenn Cannon, executive director of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Harrisburg.
-- James W. Felmlee, president of the PA State Association of Boroughs, Harrisburg.
-- Clifford “Kip’’ Allen, president of the PA League of Cities and Municipalities, Harrisburg.
-- Gene Barr, vice president, Government & Public Affairs, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Harrisburg.
-- Terry R. Bossert, vice president, Government & Regulatory Affairs, Chief Oil & Gas, Harrisburg, and former Chief Counsel at DEP.
-- Jeff Wheeland, Lycoming County Commissioner, Williamsport.
-- Vincent J. Matteo, president Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, Williamsport.
-- Terry Engelder, professor of geosciences, Penn State University, Department of Geosciences, University Park.
-- Matthew J. Ehrhart, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania office, Harrisburg.
-- Ronald L. Ramsey, senior policy advisor, the Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Chapter, Harrisburg.
-- David Porges, chief executive officer, EQT, Pittsburgh.
-- Christopher J. Masciantonio, general manager, State Government Affairs, U.S. Steel, Pittsburgh.
-- Cynthia Carrow, vice president of Government & Community Relations, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pittsburgh.
-- David Sanko, executive director of the PA State Association of Township Supervisors, Enola.
-- Dave Spigelmyer, vice president, Government Relations, Chesapeake Energy, Canonsburg.
-- Randy Smith, U.S. Government Affairs Manager, Exxon Mobil, Fairfax, Va.
-- Ray Walker, chairman Marcellus Shale Coalition, Canonsburg.
-- Chris Helms, NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage, Houston, Texas.
-- Terry Pegula, Delray Beach, Fla. (founder of East Resources).
-- Jeff Kupfer, Chevron, Washington, D.C.
-- Gary Slagel, chairman, PA Independent Oil & Gas Association, Wexford.
-- Anthony S. Bartolomeo, chairman, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Philadelphia.
-- Nicholas S. Haden, vice president, Reserved Environmental Services, Mt. Pleasant.
For more information, visit the Marcellus Shale Commission webpage, send email to: or write: Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, Office of the Governor, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120.

Friday NewsClips

Marcellus Shale Commission To Make Debut
Meeting Set Today For Marcellus Shale Panel
Op-Ed: On Marcellus Commission, Industry Holds All The Cards
Corbett May Sit Down And Listen On Drilling Fee
Poll: 70% Support Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Severance Tax
Blog: Poll Shows Solid Support For Shale Tax
Towns Eye Impact Fee On Natural Gas Drillers
Gas Driller To Pay $25,000 In Marcellus Settlement
Bottleneck: Pipelines Next Big Marcellus Play
Rural Truck Traffic From Drilling Concerns PennDOT
Lawmaker Wants To Limit Space Between Marcellus Drilling Sites
Natural Gas Industry Prepares For Surge In Demand
Budget Cuts vs. Drilling Oversight Raised At Meeting
DEP Budget Halved In A Decade
Op-Ed: Where's Realist Position On Marcellus Shale Drilling?
Editorial: Corbett's Openness To Drilling Fee Only A Start
Nomination Of Allan At DCNR Praised, Questioned
Messiah College To Install 112 Solar Panels On Residences
DEP Returns Amerikohl Mining Permit
Laurel Highlands Summit To Highlight Eco-Tourism
New Tax Incentives Increase Draw Of Private Land Conservation
Rail-Trail Group's 20 Years Full Of Progress, Plans
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Opens Webpage

The Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission today opened a webpage in advance of its first meeting on Friday, March 25, in Room 105 Rachel Carson Building, Harrisburg, beginning at 10:30.
Questions and comments can be sent by email to: or write: Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, Office of the Governor, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120.

New Poll: 70% Of Voters Support Marcellus Shale Tax, 65% Oppose State Forest Drilling

Yet another poll this week by Susquehanna Polling found 70 percent of those polled support a Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction tax, including 62 percent of registered Republicans.
Just last week a poll by Franklin & Marshall College found 62 percent of those surveyed supported the tax.
The new poll found 65 percent of voters were against opening any more State Forest land to Marcellus Shale drilling.
Just 17 percent supported continued budget cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection, which now has General Fund support below 1994 levels, almost all of which occurred during the Rendell Administration.

DEP Says Illegal Dumping Of Drilling Wastewater Not Widespread

Acting Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer told the Senate Appropriations Committee today the illegal dumping of Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater is not a widespread practice in spite of the impression left by a recent case in Greene County.
Last week agents from the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Section filed charges against a Greene County business owner and his company for illegally dumping millions of gallons of wastewater from drilling operations and other sources.
Krancer said as long as he has been involved with environmental issues there have always been criminals, but that activity will not be tolerated by DEP or the Attorney General, saying they are "all over it like a ton of bricks."
Testimony: Copy Of Written Testimony (same as in the House)
Here's a summary of some of the major topics discussed at the hearing.
Radioactivity In Water From Marcellus Drilling: In response to a question by Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, about the New York Times articles on testing drinking water for radioactivity, Krancer said testing by his agency through its stream monitoring network showed nothing above background levels. He noted DEP is also asking drinking water and wastewater treatment plants to do additional testing for radioactivity.
Krancer said DEP has promoted the recycling of drilling wastewater which is already done extensively by the industry. In addition, new requirements regulating the discharge of Total Dissolved Solids are in effect and will increase the agency's ability to deal with these issues.
Krancer said there are 27 wastewater plants approved by DEP to treat drilling wastewater.
Later in the hearing, Krancer noted the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water program said last year he had seen no evidence fracking fluids have caused any problems, yet EPA sent the state a letter a few weeks ago raising concerns.
In response to a questions from Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny) and Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Minority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on whether DEP has tested fracking fluids to confirm its contents, Krancer said he would be open to discussing that and would get back to the Committee with additional information.
Sen. Hughes commented the public is concerned about whether their drinking water is safe and that DEP has enough people to make sure drilling is done right.
Krancer said he shares that concern and it is his job to ensure drilling companies follow the law and regulations.
Illegal Dumping Of Drilling Water: In response to a question from Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, about the recent case involving the illegal dumping of millions of gallons of drilling and other wastewater in Greene County, Krancer said as long as he has been involved with environmental issues there have always been criminals, but that activity will not be tolerated by DEP or the Attorney General.
He said he does not believe illegal dumping is a common practice, but said they are "all over it like a ton of bricks."
Marcellus Shale Impact Fees: In response to a question from Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia) about the potential of Gov. Corbett to support a Marcellus Shale impact fee, Krancer said he read the same newspapers, adding he was not at the press conference where the Governor made his remarks.
Sen. Gordner noted Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and others in the Senate have talked about the need for a community impact fee.
Gas Well Inspectors: Krancer said DEP has "the boots on the ground" to do the inspections required to make sure there is compliance with the law, saying there are 78 DEP inspectors working in the field. He noted DEP is on track to do about 7,200 Marcellus Shale natural gas well inspections this year, up from 5,000 last year.
Krancer said if there is a need to add additional staff they would add the staff saying staff costs are supported by permit application fees.
Conservation District Review Of Drilling Permits: Sen. Mary Jo White asked Krancer to review the policy which took away the ability of county conservation districts to review Marcellus Shale drilling permits.
Krancer said they are reviewing all the policies and regulations in the agency to determine if they are effective or should be changed and that is one of them.
Reporting Gas Well Violations: Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) asked about the number of violations from Marcellus Shale wells, how those violations are reported and the penalties imposed. Krancer said he tends to focus on the violations that have real environmental consequences, not where someone made a spelling error or left a soda can on the site. He was going to get back to the Committee with more specifics.
In response to a follow up question from Sen. Pippy about the need to offer a more organized approach to presenting violations and inspection information on Marcellus Shale wells, Krancer said he is always looking to increase the ability to share information with the public.
Sen. Pippy also asked if Krancer would support an increase in penalties for well violations. Krancer said those who do not follow the rules have a market advantage and he would like to look at that issue.
Increased Bonding For Gas Infrastructure: In response to a question from Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) about increasing bonding rates for Marcellus Shale gas wells and pipelines, Krancer said that will probably be a topic discussed by the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission beginning this week.
Regulatory Philosophy: Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) expressed a concern about Marcellus Shale drilling, noting some people are "freaking over fracking" and asked what Krancer's philosophy is on regulating drilling under the state's Article I, Section 27 Environmental Rights Amendment to the state's constitution.
Krancer said he has no philosophy, he follows the law and the constitution and the facts in doing his job.
Marcellus Shale Air Policy: In response to a question from Sen. Mary Jo White about revisiting the air aggregation policy on how to regulate air emissions from facilities such as natural gas compressors, Krancer said the document was an interim guidance issued without public or even internal review and was a compilation of how decisions were made in this area and did not offer good guidance to staff.
He said federal law requires decisions to be made on case-by-case basis and that's what the agency is going to continue to do.
DEP Staff Working On Unrelated Projects: In response to a question from Sen. White about the complexity of funding sources and DEP staff administering hundreds of energy and federal stimulus projects when they would otherwise be reviewing permits or make inspections, Krancer said it has tied up valuable staff time and contributed to the permit backlog. He also said it has helped to lower staff morale when you have a DEP geologist, for example, checking to see if a solar panel is installed properly.
Infrastructure/Growing Greener Funding: Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) expressed concern about the fact Growing Greener II is out of funding and funding for local drinking water and wastewater projects is being reduced and asked if there are other sources available to fund these projects.
Krancer said there are many programs looking for funding and in these difficult budget times the state needs to be creative in looking to fulfill those needs.
Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) urged DEP to consider additional sources of funding for wastewater system improvements through the H2O and other programs.
Sen. Mary Jo White commented the Rendell Administration wanted to get the Growing Greener money upfront and pushed for enactment of the Growing Greener II bond issue. She said the money is still there, but now most of the funds coming into the Growing Greener Program are now going to pay debt service for the bonds.
Sen. Yudichak agreed with the value of the Growing Greener Program, particularly for mine reclamation, and asked if the Administration has a plan to renew funding for the program. Krancer said he did not know now where that issue is going, although it is being discussed.
Chesapeake Bay TMDL: In response to a question from Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) about Pennsylvania meeting the requirements of the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay TMDL, Krancer said Pennsylvania has some disagreements with the federal government on several issues related to the Bay requirements.
He said he favors more use of market-based solutions, like nutrient credit trading, to reducing nutrients going into rivers and streams because they are economically and environmentally more efficient.
Sen. Smucker also expressed concern about the need to comply with requirements to eliminate combined sewer overflows, like in the city of Lancaster.
Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster) asked whether DEP is considering legal action against EPA over the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. Krancer said litigation is a last option for resolving the Bay issues, noting DEP has "not yet begun to fight" for Pennsylvania's interests.
Pressed again by Sen. Brubaker, Krancer said he would like to argue their points more aggressively first with EPA before considering litigation.
In response to a follow up question from Sen. Brubaker, Krancer said Pennsylvania farmers have stepped up to the plate and are doing great work in reducing nutrients and sediments from farmland. The state, however, has not been given enough credit for that and in some cases not even counted those projects and they should.
Part of his approach on Chesapeake Bay issues, Krancer said, will be as a strong advocate for Pennsylvania solutions.
Nuclear Power Plant Role: In response to a question from Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, about the role DEP has in overseeing Pennsylvania's nuclear plants, Krancer said DEP has a major role and noted preparation for emergencies is built into the construction of the plants and in emergency response planning around the facilities.
DEP has five nuclear reactor sites and assigns its own engineers at each of these sites, provides monitoring and other oversight at the facilities in addition to being involved in emergency planning and response.
DCED Permit Acceleration: Sen. Ferlo asked about a line in the Governor's budget announcement about the Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary being given authority to speed up permit reviews in any state agency and encouraged the Corbett Administration to issue an Executive Order to define "friction-free" permit processing.
Krancer said he felt this whole issue was overblown by stories in the media.
He said this is about all the agencies working together to "cooperation communicate and coordination," especially in this difficult economy on economic development projects. It has nothing to do with suspending existing law or responsibility or giving DCED any additional authority.
Environmental Education: Sen. Mary Jo White expressed concern about the zeroing out of funding for the PA Center for Environmental Education and the McKeever Environmental Education Center saying they perform valuable functions for the Commonwealth at the DEP budget hearing and at an earlier budget featuring Dr. John Cavanaugh, Chancellor, PA State System of Higher Education.
Flood Control Funding: In response to a question about a $3.5 million reduction in the flood control project funding, Krancer said the reduction does not affect DEP's Dam Safety Program or funding for projects through the Capital Budget process. He said it will affect funding for some very localized projects which may or may not be funded by local sponsors, noting these are part of the tough budget decisions that need to be made.
In a follow up question about whether the reduction will cause any loss of staff, Krancer said they are hoping to work to make sure there are no furloughs.
Delaware River Flooding: Sen. Bob Mensch expressed concern that the management of the Delaware River flows by the Delaware River Basin Commission is aggravating flooding along the river. Krancer said he is personally aware of the flooding issues and the DRBC activities are guided by a U.S. Supreme Court decision and said he is working closely with the Commission on that issue.
Solar Industry/Alternative Energy: Asked by Sen. Smucker about whether there is a need to increase the solar mandate in the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards, Krancer said he is "old fashioned" and looks to the market to pick energy and other technologies. He said he did not see Gov. Corbett proposing to increase the AEPS mandate.
Krancer said DEP will not be the only voice on setting the state's energy policy. It will be a cooperative effort through Patrick Henderson, the Governor's Energy Executive.
Future Of Coal: In response to a question from Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) on the future of coal, Krancer said for the foreseeable future, coal will be an important part of Pennsylvania's energy future and doing without it would mean living much differently until alternatives come online.
Energy Independence: Sen. Yudichak asked if the new Administration has any new plans to promote energy independence. Krancer said the natural gas industry has a staggering potential for helping to achieve energy independence, noting it is a cleaner and low carbon fuel alternative.

Thursday NewsClips

Corbett Favors Impact Fee On Drilling
Corbett Opens Up To Marcellus Fees
Corbett Opens Shale Fee Window A Crack
Corbett Says He Will Listen To Proposals For Drilling Fees
Blog: Has Corbett Opened The Door To Impact Fee For Shale?
Task Force Will Study Possible Impacts Of Natural Gas Drilling

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Richard J. Allan To Lead Department of Conservation And Natural Resources

Gov. Tom Corbett today announced that he intends to nominate Richard J. Allan, of Camp Hill, Cumberland County, as secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"Richard Allan is a proven leader and commands a wealth of knowledge and experience in environmental and energy issues," Gov. Corbett said. "I am confident that his abilities and background will be a tremendous benefit to DCNR, especially during this critical time in the agency's history."
Since 1991, Allan has served as executive director for the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware members of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the national trade association that represents the recycling industry. Since 2005, he has also been a consultant to energy producers in the electric, wind, solar and coal sectors.
Allan, 57, has served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Pennsylvania Resources Council since 2000. Allan was also a member of the energy and environmental committees for Governor Corbett's transition team.
Allan has long been involved in environmental interests. He was a founding member of Back Mountain Recreation, Inc., a recreation and environmental facility in Luzerne County. He was also a founding member of the North Branch Land Trust, which provides management to more than 10,000 acres of land in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He has also worked with the LACAWAC Sanctuary Foundation.
Allan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Sciences/Biology from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre in 1976. He was vice president and general manager of Allan Industries from 1975 to 1991.
Allan and his wife, Patricia, live in Camp Hill and have two adult daughters.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is charged with maintaining and preserving the 117 state parks; managing the 2.1 million acres of state forest land; providing information on the state's ecological and geologic resources; and establishing community conservation partnerships with grants and technical assistance to benefit rivers, trails, greenways, local parks and recreation, regional heritage parks, open space and natural areas.

Help Wanted: PA Parks & Forests Foundation Public Relations, Outreach

The PA Parks and Forests Foundation is seeking an individual to fill a public relations/outreach position. The deadline for applications is April 8.
The position reports directly to the President of the Foundation and will be responsible for developing and implementing a media campaign and activities to support awareness and involvement with the Foundation.
The individual will also be responsible for newsletter development, working with social media and planning outreach to potential donors and foundations.
A complete job description is available online.
Cover letters and resumes should be sent to Marci Mowery by sending email to:

Penn State Seeks Water Well Owners For Marcellus Drilling Impact Study

Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and School of Forest Resources are seeking owners of private drinking-water wells near completed natural-gas wells in the Marcellus shale region to participate in a study of the impact of gas development.
Funded by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the PA Water Resources Research Center, the study will assess the potential impacts of Marcellus gas drilling on rural drinking water wells, according to Bryan Swistock, extension water resources specialist. The data collected from the study is for research purposes and the education of each homeowner, he pointed out.
"Private water wells near completed Marcellus gas-well sites will be selected for free post-drilling water testing of 14 water-quality parameters," Swistock said. He noted that to be eligible for this free, post-drilling water testing, participants must meet all of the following criteria:
-- Own a private water well (no springs/cisterns can be included in the study).
-- Have an existing Marcellus gas well (drilled and hydrofractured) within ab out 5,000 feet (one mile) of the water well.
--Had your water well tested by a state-accredited water laboratory before the Marcellus gas well was drilled and are willing to share a copy of those water-test results with Penn State researchers.
"Due to funding constraints, all eligible applicants cannot be promised inclusion in this study," Swistock said. "Selection will be based on eligibility, geographic location and other factors."
Participants selected for the study will benefit personally by receiving a free test of their home drinking water supply and information about the results of those tests, Swistock said. Residents with water wells that meet the research criteria above should Click Here to indicate an interest in participating in this research study.

DEP Shuts Down Potter County Gas Well Construction Site

The Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Chesapeake Energy to cease work on a natural gas drilling well pad for failing to comply with regulations and impacting one of Galeton Borough Water Authority’s water sources.
The well pad was in the site-preparation phase, which occurs before any well construction or drilling activities take place.
In conducting site-preparation activities at the Beech Flats well pad in West Branch Township, Potter County, Chesapeake failed to implement the required erosion and sediment controls. As a result, a significant amount of sediment and silt discharged from the site into a stream that is a tributary to a water source serving Galeton’s system. The Galeton Water Authority has been forced to use another permitted water source to serve its customers.
“In order to protect human health and the environment, we ordered Chesapeake to stop all construction activity,” DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber said. “They must begin corrective action on this site immediately.”
By March 29, the company must correct the existing violations at the site and review and revise, as appropriate, its Erosion and Sediment Control Plan to prevent future damage. DEP will not permit Chesapeake to resume construction at the site until all terms of the order are met.
After a routine site inspection March 8 and a March 10 meeting with Chesapeake, DEP issued a notice of violation for several infractions of the Clean Streams Law and Oil and Gas Act. The company did not respond to the notice. During follow-up inspections March 21 and 22, staff discovered the additional violations and impacts that resulted in the March 22 order.

Wednesday NewsClips

Shale Drillers Tout Recycling As Option For Wastewater
Schuylkill Task Force Will Study Possible Impacts Of Gas Drilling
Judge OKs Marcellus Shale Landowners Lawsuit Settlement
Judge OKs $22 Million Marcellus Shale Case Settlement
Dallas Twp Gets 2nd Request To Build Gas Metering Station
Cumberland MD Would Supply Water To Gas Driller
Marcellus Shale Conventions Proliferate
Federal Meddling In Natural Gas Spurned
Sunoco To Convert Pipeline To Deliver Ethane From Marcellus Areas
Conemaugh Plant Held Liable For 8,684 Violations
Power Plant Faces Fines In Millions
New Watershed Group Unveils Environmental Programs In Erie
Farm Preservation Funds Up For Lancaster County
COLTS Piggyback On Lancaster Contract For Hybrid Buses
Going Green To Aid Economy
Final Agreements Reached In 1993 Hazleton Gasoline Spill
Book Surveys PA Species For 1st Time In 25 Years
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DCNR To Constantly Reevaluate Need For Staff To Oversee Marcellus Shale Drilling

Cindy Dunn, Acting Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, told the Senate Appropriations Committee today DCNR takes seriously its stewardship responsibility over State Forest and State Park lands and said they have an obligation to constantly reevaluate the need for staff to oversee Marcellus Shale natural gas development on these lands.
Dunn also said again the proposed budget does not anticipate leasing additional State Forest land for Marcellus Shale drilling in FY 2011-12.
Here's a quick summary of issues raised during the hearing:
Marcellus Shale Wells On State Forest Lands: In response to a question from Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Dan Devlin, Director of the Bureau of Forestry, said as of March 1 there have been 575 Marcellus well locations approved, 482 have DEP permits, 164 are drilled, 61 are producing and DCNR received about $16 million from 47 wells for a total of $26 million for this fiscal year and $63 million in FY 2011-12.
Dan Devlin, Director of the Bureau of Forestry, said about half the activity is on State Forest lands where DCNR owns the mineral rights and half are on lands where DCNR does not own the rights. He said he has been pleased with the cooperation of the drilling companies in developing these rights.
Dunn said the royalties from these operations are now being used for their intended purposes to support recreation and conservation projects and operations through the Oil and Gas Lease Fund.
Review Of Marcellus Well Permits On State Lands: In response to a question from Sen. John Yudichak, Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, on the recent revocation of a DEP-DCNR well permit review process, Dunn said there is a process in place to review the impacts of well development under Section 205(c) Oil and Gas Act. In the field, through the robust leases used by DCNR to control drilling on State Forest land, drilling companies do work with DEP and DCNR on impacts as wells are being developed on existing leases.
Drilling In State Parks: In response to questions, Dunn said it is the agency's policy not to allow Marcellus Shale drilling in the State Parks where DCNR owns the mineral rights, however, the agency does not own the mineral rights of 80 percent of State Park lands of which two-thirds of that area are in the Marcellus Shale play.
John Norbeck, Director of the Bureau of State Parks, said they have interest expressed in drilling in two State Parks where DCNR does not own the mineral rights-- Ohiopyle State Park, and in just the last few days, Yellow Creek State Park.
In the case of Ohiopyle, Norbeck said they have met with the drilling company and gave them input into the layout of well pads to help avoid sensitive areas and conflicts with recreation operations in the park. He said they are still evaluating the Yellow Creek request.
Oversight Staff For Marcellus Wells: Noting a recent Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report recommended additional staff to oversee Marcellus Shale development in the Fish and Boat Commission, Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny) asked about the need for more staff to oversee Marcellus development on DCNR lands.
Dunn said the budget includes 27 new positions in the Bureau of Forestry to oversee State Forest land drilling which are carried through in FY 2011-12. As activity ramps up on Marcellus wells, Dunn said they would have to reevaluate the need for additional staff.
State Park Status: Dunn said there should be no State Parks would be closed in the coming fiscal year because the budget proposes transferring monies from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to help finance park operating costs. She did note there was some curtailment of State Park services last year and those services would remain closed this coming year.
Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) expressed concern about the dependence of DCNR on Marcellus Shale drilling royalties for operating costs when the agency is to be an advocate for conservation.
Dunn said DCNR has always had a multiple use approach to managing State Forest and Park lands, including a history of timbering and oil and gas development and takes very seriously the agency's responsibility for stewardship of these lands.
Dunn said Pennsylvania's State Forest system was certified as using sustainable forest practices and the State Park system was recently awarded a Gold Medal Award for the quality of its operations.
Heritage Parks: Sen. Mary Jo White asked why the budget proposal increased funding for land trust and local conservation groups, but zeroed out the Heritage Parks line item.
Dunn said Heritage Parks are eligible for Keystone, Community Partnership and Growing Greener grants and they compete well because their projects have multiple benefits-- recreation, environmental and economic development.
Dunn noted Heritage Parks return about $5 in benefits for every $1 provided by the state in grants and are responsible for generating about 6,000 jobs annually.
Growing Greener Fund: Dunn confirmed all the monies under the Growing Greener II bond issue are exhausted. She noted the Renew Growing Greener Coalition is pressing to renew funding for the program. With respect to DCNR funding, Dunn said her agency is looking to royalties monies in the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to finance State Park and State Forest land development and enhancement.
Dunn said there is a history and ongoing need for funding conservation projects through programs like Growing Greener and its predecessor programs.
Keystone Fund: In response to a question about funding available from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, Dunn said there has been an increase in proposed funding to $43 million from $27.7 million in FY 2011-12. She noted reality transfer tax revenue projections show an increase in funds available through the Keystone Fund, due in part to land and rights transfers in Marcellus Shale development areas.
Privatization In State Parks: Dunn said DCNR is always looking for opportunities for partnership to build local tourism and recreation opportunities. A recent economic impact study shows State Parks generate more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs around the state resulting in over $929 million of economic benefit. In a recent study by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission also shows investments in preserving open space yields increased property value.
Norbeck said there are over 125 concessionaire's contracts for food, recreation and facility operations across the state from the Denton Hill Ski Area to pool facilities at several parks.
Dunn said The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle Inn in Centre County is a public-private partnership model DCNR would like to promote to provide a variety of accommodations in State Parks. John Norbeck said the Inn has a 45 percent occupancy rate, which is ahead of projections, especially since it was open at the end of the Park's main season.
Gypsy Moths: In response to a question, Dan Devlin said gypsy moths should not be a problem this year because the populations are still down and the agency should have adequate resources to deal with the issue. However, tent caterpillar populations are building and could be more of a problem.

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