Sunday, May 29, 2011

Air Quality Action Days Forecast On May 30, 31 for Five Pennsylvania Regions

The Department of Environmental Protection and its regional air quality partnerships have forecast air quality action days for Monday and Tuesday, May 30 and 31 in the forecasting regions of Pennsylvania.
The air quality forecast predicts Monday and Tuesday will be code ORANGE for ozone in the Pittsburgh, Susquehanna Valley, Lehigh Valley/Berks and Philadelphia regions.
The air quality forecast predicts Tuesday will be code ORANGE for particulate matter in the Liberty/Clairton region.
The Pittsburgh region includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties. The Susquehanna Valley region includes Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. The Lehigh Valley/Berks region includes Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties. The Philadelphia region includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. The Liberty/Clairton region includes the boroughs of Clairton, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue in Southeastern Allegheny County.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standardized air quality index uses colors to report daily air quality. Green signifies good, yellow means moderate, orange represents unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people, and red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for all.
Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, forms during warm weather when pollution from vehicles, industry, households and power plants “bakes” in the hot sun, making it hard for some people to breathe.
Fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, about one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair. These particles can get deep into the lungs and can cause significant health problems. PM 2.5 has been determined to be most closely associated with health effects related to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits for heart and lung disease, increased respiratory symptoms and disease, and decreased lung function.
On air quality action days, young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and should limit outdoor activities.
To help keep the air healthy, residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily limit certain pollution-producing activities by taking the following steps:
-- Ride the bus or carpool to work;
-- Wash dishes and clothes only with full loads; and
-- Save energy – turn off unused lights in your home.
These forecasts are provided in conjunction with the Air Quality Partnership of the Delaware Valley, the Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership, the Lehigh Valley/Berks Air Quality Partnership, and the Susquehanna Valley Air Quality Partnership.
For more information, visit the Air Quality Partnerships webpage.

Sunday NewsClips

Lawmakers Consider Mandatory Trash Pickup
Report: Drilling Brings Modest Job Gains
Gas Drilling Can Spark Neighbor Disputes
Not So Fast On Gas Drilling, Teens Advise
DEP Official: PA Might Have World's Largest Gas Reserves
Sportsmen Form Alliance In Marcellus Shale Region
WV Adds Conditions To Gas Well Permits
NY Orders Review Of Fracking
Expanded Protection Given To 99 Wild Trout Streams
Green Energy Choices Widen In PA
Schuylkill County Plants Turning To Solar Power
Op-Ed: Radicalization Of An Eco-Terrorist
Dragons Will Race At Wyoming Valley Riverfest
Tour De Belt Shows Off Green Gems In Harrisburg Area
Bedford Offers Dunnings Creek Wetlands, Allegheny Hawk Watch
June 23 Philadelphia Rail Network Summit
Anthracite History Comes Alive At Museum
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 30 PA Environment Digest Now Available

May 30 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print Digest.

Penncrest High School Wins 2011 Pennsylvania Envirothon

Penncrest High School in Delaware County took home first place honors in the 2011 Pennsylvania Envirothon this week at Susquehanna University and Shikellamy State Park. Rounding out the top 10 teams were:
-- York Homeschoolers, York County;
-- Blue Mountain High School, Schuylkill County;
-- Carmichaels Area High School, Greene County:
-- MMI Preparatory, Luzerne County;
-- Bald Eagle High School, Centre County;
-- Warren Area High School, Warren County;
-- Oley Valley High School, Berks County;
-- Emmaus High School, Lehigh County; and
-- Palmyra High School, Lebanon County.
The Pennsylvania Envirothon awarded scholarships to the first, second, and third place teams. The scholarships were sponsored by The Hershey Company and EXCO Resources (PA). Each of the top ten teams received a plaque and other prizes. Click Here to read more...

DEP Changes Solicitation For Alternative Fuels Incentives Grant Program

The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the PA Bulletin changing and clarifying the solicitation for Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants. The deadline to apply is still June 17.

Happy Birthday To Pennsylvania's Rachel Carson!

Today marks 104 years since the birth of legendary environmentalist, conservationist and Pennsylvanian Rachel Carson. In honor of her tireless efforts to preserve the natural word, here are some quotes from The Sense of Wonder, courtesy of Open Road Media, that are particularly inspirational:

"A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods . . . nature reserves some of her choice rewards for days when her mood may appear to be somber."

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

"I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel."

"Exploring nature with your child is largely a matter of becoming receptive to what lies all around you."

"No child should grow up unaware of the dawn chorus of the birds in spring. He will never forget the experience of a specially planned early rising and going out in the predawn darkness."

"The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life."

Short Biography Of Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson (1907–1964) was one of the most influential American nature writers of the twentieth century. She wrote four critically acclaimed books, as well as articles and pamphlets on conservation and natural resources. Grounded in the scientific discoveries of the day, Carson’s works were notable for their intimate lyric prose that appealed to everyday Americans. She is considered one of the first environmentalists and popularized new ideas and words to describe man’s relationship to the earth, such as ecology, food chain, biosphere, and ecosystem.
Born in the rural town of Springdale, Pennsylvania, near the Allegheny River, Carson spent much of her childhood roaming her family’s sixty-five-acre farm and exploring the woods around her home. Her lifelong love of nature, encouraged by her mother, was coupled with a passion for writing, and her first published piece appeared in the popular children’s publication St. Nicholas when she was ten years old.
Carson pursued writing at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now called Chatham University) but switched her focus to biology before graduating in 1925. After studying at the esteemed Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts and receiving a master’s degree in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932, Carson joined the U.S. Bureau of Fish and Wildlife Service, where she worked for fifteen years as a scientist, editor, and editor-in-chief of the bureau’s publications. When she was named junior aquatic biologist in 1936, she was one of only two female professionals at the bureau.
Carson began writing natural history articles for the Baltimore Sun and other papers during the Depression and was encouraged to transform her scientific articles and pamphlets into general-interest pieces. In 1941 she published her first book, Under the Sea Wind, which tells the story of the sea creatures and birds that dwell in and along North America’s eastern coast. In 1951 she published The Sea Around Us—about the ecosystems within and surrounding the world’s oceans—which captured the imaginations of readers around the world. The book became a cultural phenomenon and was named an outstanding book of the year by the New York Times, won a National Book Award and John Burroughs Award, and inspired an Academy Award–winning documentary of the same name. The book has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into twenty-eight languages. With this success, Carson left the Fish and Wildlife Service to become a fulltime writer, and in 1955 she published a follow-up to her bestseller, called The Edge of the Sea.
A year after publishing The Edge of the Sea, Carson adopted the orphaned son of one of her nieces. Stories of her outdoor adventures with Roger would become the touchstones of her essay in Woman’s Home Companion magazine, “Help Your Child to Wonder,” which was published posthumously as the illustrated The Sense of Wonder (1965).
But it was Carson’s fourth book, Silent Spring (1962), that would again catapult her into the limelight. In this book Carson challenged the widespread, conventional use of many chemical pesticides, including DDT, citing the long-term effects on marine and animal life. Silent Spring provoked an outcry of concern, as well as criticism from the chemical industry, government, and media. However, shortly after publication, her findings were accepted by the Science Advisory Committee under President John F. Kennedy. In 1970 President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and two years later the use of DDT was banned. The publication of Silent Spring has been credited with sparking the environmental movement in the United States and continues to inspire readers today.
Rachel Carson died in 1965 from breast cancer. She was fifty-seven years old. In 1969 the Fish and Wildlife Service named the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, near Carson’s home in Maine, in her honor.
You can also visit the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale and enjoy the educational exhibits and programs.
In 1995 Gov. Tom Ridge named the headquarters building for the Pennsylvania departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources after Rachel Carson. And in an interesting twist, the Rachel Carson Building became home to thriving pairs of Peregrine Falcons, once almost wiped out by DDT which Carson fought against.

Historic Marker Honoring Maurice Goddard To Be Dedicated May 30 In Camp Hill

Dr. Maurice Goddard, the founder of Pennsylvania's State Park System and the first Secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources will be honored with the dedication of a state historical market at 12:30 on May 30 in Willow Park, 25th and Market Streets, Camp Hill, Pa across the river from Harrisburg.
Speakers at the event will include: William Forrey, former director of the Bureau of State Parks, former state Senator Franklin Kury and attorney Timothy Weston, a colleague of Maurice Goddard.
The event is being coordinated by the PA Parks and Forests Foundation as part of the Foundation's Goddard Legacy Project.

Op-Ed: Local Impact Fee Helps Protect Communities Where Drilling Takes Place

By Sen. Joe Scarnati

It was only several years ago that many Pennsylvanians first heard the term Marcellus Shale, and very few understood what impact it would have on our state. That has certainly changed, as this fast-growing industry brings both opportunities and challenges to our communities and a great deal of healthy debate about how to best harness its potential.
The Marcellus Shale currently ranks number one as the fastest growing natural gas production enterprise in the United States, and sixty percent of it is in Pennsylvania. The shale region has the potential to supply most of the energy needs for the Northeast for the next 100 years – that's the good news. But we also face a variety of physical, environmental and regulatory challenges as we manage this world-class resource.
Because of shale's economic potential, there are many wide-ranging opinions on if and how much we should regulate this industry. Some have proposed taxing the drilling companies and using the money to close our state's deficit. Others oppose any tax, saying that we avoid any actions that could slow the growth or make us noncompetitive.
Recently, I introduced legislation that I believe strikes a middle ground in promoting this tremendous economic opportunity while protecting the communities and residents where drilling is occurring. A Washington, D.C. think tank organization recently tried to vilify my legislation by labeling it "job killing-legislation," but nothing could be further from the truth, and elected officials in Pennsylvania (not federal lobbyists) must be the ones who ultimately decide what is in the best interests of our job creators and residents in the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 1100 would establish a reasonable annual fee per Marcellus Shale well. The base fee would be $10,000 and adjusted upwards depending on production levels and the current price of natural gas. A majority of the revenue from the impact fee would be distributed to affected counties and municipalities to address such things as road repairs, environmental cleanup or water and sewer plant improvements in drilling communities across the Commonwealth. A portion of the fee would be dedicated to conservation districts as well as statewide environmental and infrastructure projects.
It is estimated that my proposal would capture $121.2 million in payments by March 1, 2012. In addition, each well would generate at least $160,000 in fees over a decade, based on current gas prices and widely-accepted production projections. If calculated using current gas prices, the proposal would collect at least $675 million over five years. This money will ensure communities impacted by the drilling will have the resources necessary to address a wide range of local concerns, and at the same time not push this welcomed economic development to other states.
Under Senate Bill 1100, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) would publish a model zoning ordinance for local governments. Counties or municipalities would be prohibited from receiving impact fee revenue if they adopt an ordinance that exceeds the model written by the PUC. Local jurisdictions, under the model ordinance, would retain their ability to enact reasonable restrictions on drilling. But only communities that choose to ban drilling will not collect money from the impact fees. This, to me, is a common sense approach to distributing the fee and is supported by several statewide local government organizations.
My proposal has attracted a great deal of support from local officials and environmental organizations. The Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts called it "a bold proposal to provide a new steady stream of funding necessary to further protect our natural resources from the mounting strain from the production of the Marcellus Shale."
I believe that the Legislature should pass this bill in the next five weeks so we can begin to distribute monies to our municipalities and counties for road improvements, water and sewage issues, as well as other community enhancements. Through a reasonable and well-thought-out impact fee on shale companies, we can manage this tremendous resource in a way that improves our economy and protects our quality of life.
For more information, visit the Marcellus Shale Impact Fee Proposal webpage on Sen. Scarnati's website.

Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) is President Pro Tempore of the Senate and represents all or part of Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter, Tioga and Warren counties.

Friday NewsClips

Editorial: PA Sits On Tax Reserves, Needs Go Unmet
Scarnati Defends Marcellus Impact Fee
Drilling Firms Submit Wastewater Disposal Plans To EPA
Survey: Marcellus Drilling Benefits Nearby Businesses
Police Get Training On Marcellus Shale Enforcement
Mining Areas Danger To Children, Adults
State Wants Filter Systems For Homes With TCE
Barletta Urges EPA To Test Butler Tunnel Area
Q/A: Cristin Powers, GreenBeing
Lancaster Firm's Technology To Save Energy
Editorial: PNC Skyscraper Watershed Moment
Westinghouse Nuke Plant Revisions Reviewed
Smart Growth Group Honors Westmoreland Planner
Presque Isle Prepares For Summer Season
Falcons Checked, Receive ID Tags
Historical Marker Honoring Maurice Goddard Monday
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Growing Greener Coalition Recognizes Scarnati’s Improved Impact Fee Proposal

The Renew Growing Greener Coalition today recognized Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati (R-Jefferson) for expanding critical environmental, conservation and recreation programs in his proposed Marcellus Shale Impact Fee legislation, but reiterated concerns over the amount of revenue generated, programs still not being funded, and funding the existing programs through the Commonwealth Finance Authority as the current legislation provides.
“After listening to concerns voiced across the Commonwealth, Sen. Scarnati has expanded his legislation to fund critical environmental programs, which we applaud,” Andrew Heath, RGG Executive Director, said. “This more detailed proposal is a positive step forward, and a marked improvement from the initial concepts released two weeks earlier. Similar to Growing Greener, these environmental programs benefit all Pennsylvanians because they preserve and protect our resources for future generations. Growing Greener is a national model for communities to protect our water, air and land while still growing local economies.”
Sen. Scarnati’s proposal does not provide funding for the Environmental Stewardship Fund, Growing Greener’s source of revenue, while three other Severance Tax proposals being considered do. Other proposals being discussed also project to generate higher levels of revenue.
“The Commonwealth is facing a serious situation with the depletion of funds in the ESF. Sen. Scarnati’s proposal would allow many programs funded under Growing Greener to continue, but does not cover them all. Adding a portion of the revenue to the ESF would strengthen the legislation by providing funds for programs not covered, such as farmland preservation, the state’s parks and forests and environmental education. These programs are essential and benefit all Pennsylvanians and our shared economy,” said Heath.
The Coalition is also concerned about changing the funding mechanism for these programs. Since 1999, Growing Greener funds have been distributed through the various state agencies; primarily DCNR, DEP, AG andPennVest. Senator Scarnati’s legislation proposes to distribute the environmental programs via the Commonwealth Finance Authority.
Heath stated, “I have significant concerns with the CFA administering the funds. More details and safeguards will be needed to ensure a fair distribution of the funds across the spectrum of environmental, conservation and recreation programs. The current merit based way of funding these programs works – and has worked since 1999. Why try to fix something that is not broken?”
Heath concluded, “I see the current legislation as an improvement. We are making progress and that is what matters. The Renew Growing Greener Coalition urges citizens to get involved and voice their views so that the process may continue forward. Sitting on the sidelines is no longer a viable option.”
More than 60 Pennsylvania municipalities and counties have passed resolutions urging the Governor and legislature to renew Growing Greener funding. Counties passing resolutions include: Blair, Cambria, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Philadelphia, Pike, Somerset, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York.
The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of conservation, recreation and environmental organizations representing over 260 organizations and government entities.

Thursday NewsClips

Scarnati Defends Marcellus Impact Fee
Drilling Impact Fee: It's A Tax, Says Norquist
Norquist: That Fee Is A Tax, Scarnati: No, It's Not
It May Be A Fee, But It's A Tax To Norquist
House Fights Proxy Battle Over Severance Tax
House Democrats Force Consideration Of Drilling Tax
Chesapeake Energy Releases Fracking Report
Gas Royalty Owners Lament Gutted Senate Bill
Bill To Require Posting Of Gas Wells' GPS Location
Churches To Vote On Marcellus Shale Moratorium
Wyoming County Creates Environmental Liaison For Drilling Issues
Hearing Set On Claims Of Smelly Pond Water Related To Drilling
Residents Suing Over Foul Odor At Gas Well Site
Forum Works For Consensus On Marcellus Shale
Enforcing Laws The Focus Of Shale Conference
Cabot Gas Reaches 400 Mmcf Per Day In Production
Exxon Facing Natural Gas Push Queries
Op-Ed: Coal Set Stage For Natural Gas Free-For-All
Solar Firm Sued For Not Finishing Project For Carbon County Company
Editorial: Don't Let Sun Set On PA Jobs
Slate Belt Power Plant Exec: We Follow The Rules
Blog: Boiling Springs To Be Dedicated As Appalachian Trail Community
Blog: Osprey Make First Nest At Lake Marburg, Hanover
Blog: Bassmasters Get Green Light For Tournament At Kipona
Public Art Project Announced For Point State Park
Three Scenic Byway Projects Receive Federal Funding
Riverfront Plaza Opens In Pittsburgh
DCNR Announces Trail Rug Release In Tuscarora State Forest
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Bridge Replacement To Begin May 31
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Does Proposed Marcellus Impact Fee Violate No Tax Pledge? Scarnati Says No

Grover Norquist, of the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform and the self-described opponent of all tax increases, wrote to several members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly recently charging the proposed Marcellus Shale natural gas impact fee proposed by Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) violates his group's no tax increase pledge.
Gov. Tom Corbett and 34 of Pennsylvania's 253 state lawmakers have signed Norquist's pledge.
Responding to the charge in a letter, Sen. Scarnati said Senate Bill 1100 does not impose a tax on the Marcellus Shale industry because:
-- Not one penny of the impact fee is deposited into the General Fund;
-- The fee is entirely dedicated to local and statewide impacts associated directly or indirectly with gas drilling;
-- The impact fee is modeled after the municipal waste fee currently set forth in Pennsylvania law; and
-- The fee is a fixed amount per well.
Sen. Scarnati's response goes further saying, "Your letter unfortunately offers no specific justifications concerning why you believe the fee imposed under Senate Bill 1100 to be a tax. You allowed yourself to be the spokesperson for the Commonwealth Foundation which does not have a comprehensive understanding of the complexities and the needs of the Shale industry.
"For example, it is simply inaccurate to say that monies from the fee will be deposited into a slush fund for "pet projects." The permissible worthwhile efforts to be funded from the fee are specifically delineated in the legislation: impacted local roads and bridges, conservation clean-up projects, emergency preparedness, watershed protection, dam safety projects and plugging abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, to name several.
"I ask that you-- over the course of the next few weeks-- take a few minutes to discuss my proposed fee legislation with the leaders of Range Resources, Chief (Oil and Gas), Chesapeake (Energy), or other companies investing in Pennsylvania. They will all reinforce their belief that a reasonable, responsible severance fee is a welcomed proposal that will aid in their efforts to be good corporate citizens, will go directly to local impacted areas, and will not impair their economic competitiveness."
Sen. Scarnati noted the no tax increase pledge promoted by Norquist has an offset provision. "Currently we are considering several business tax reductions that would benefit shale companies and I believe enactment of those changes would more than exceed the fee collection estimates associated with Senate Bill 1100."

House Re-Commits Severance Tax Bill To Committee

House Bill 33 (Vitali-D-Delaware) enacting a Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax was reported out of the House Finance Committee Tuesday in response to a discharge resolution filed by Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware). The Committee reported the bill out with a requested the bill be re-referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
That request was defeated today by a vote of 199-0 and the bill was returned to the House Finance Committee after that ruling was challenged and defeated by a vote of 113 to 86.

CBF, Partners Go To Federal Court To Defend Chesapeake Bay Restoration

A coalition of environmental groups announced today they have filed a motion in federal court to oppose the efforts of major national agricultural organizations to force an end to federal and state programs to reduce pollution and restore the Chesapeake Bay.
The coalition includes the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Defenders of Wildlife, the Jefferson County Public Service District, the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Within days after the federal government announced scientific pollution limits and the states laid out specific plans to reduce pollution in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau went to federal court in Pennsylvania to stop those efforts.
They have since been joined by other national agricultural lobbying groups, including the Fertilizer Institute, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Chicken Council, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, and the National Turkey Federation.
“Just as the Bay is making progress in its long fight to survive, these big money industry lobbyists are trying to derail the process. Why? A simple profit motive,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker. “They want the rest of us to suffer dirty and dangerous water so they can maximize their corn, hog, and poultry profit.”
For decades, science has known that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution are responsible for the dead zones, fish kills, and harmful algal blooms that annually plague the Chesapeake Bay. Under the Clean Water Act, and as the result of numerous court cases, a scientific limit, or TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load), has been set.
State governments then developed plans designed to ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025, with at least 60 percent of the actions completed by 2017. Science set the limits, and the states designed individual plans to achieve the goals.
“This lawsuit is a frivolous attack by polluters against the Chesapeake Bay’s rivers and streams, the source of drinking water for millions and an economic engine for the region.” said the National Wildlife Federation’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Executive Director Tony Caliguiri. “In these economic times it’s appalling that taxpayer money is being spent to defend clean water in local communities against polluters. Responsible local leaders are working hard to set pollution limits for their communities and polluters would rather sue rather than be accountable.”
The lobbyists claim the restoration plans were created overnight and in a vacuum. That is not the case. The plans were preceded by a long and arduous history of efforts to restore and preserve the Chesapeake Bay by the states and federal government.
The efforts included a lengthy, transparent series of public meetings, many of which were attended by representatives from plaintiff organizations.
“The new Bay TMDL pollution limit is our best chance to reverse course and restore the health of the Chesapeake and the fish and wildlife that rely on it for survival,” said Greg Buppert, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “It’s time for Big Ag to share the responsibility of protecting this economically valuable and treasured natural resource.”
“Our Mid-Shore waterways are magical, special places, but to date they haven’t been adequately protected,” said Timothy D. Junkin, Director of the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy. “We have an historic opportunity in our hands to heal these waters, and we must not let it be taken away.”
Opponents of the pollution limits claim that EPA is overstepping its authority, and wants the process to start all over again.
“The Farm Bureau’s lawsuit is just another attempt to delay federal action,” said Brian Glass, senior attorney for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture). “This delay will harm the very people the Bureau purports to represent, endangering farms that need a fresh and clean water supply, and preventing farmers from getting the help they need to protect their own land and waters.”

PA American Water Awards 10 Stream Of Learning Scholarships

Pennsylvania American Water announced this week 10 high school seniors throughout Pennsylvania have been selected to receive Stream of Learning Scholarships, with each student earning a $2,000 scholarship.
2011 Stream of Learning Scholarships were awarded to: Sierra Davis of Indiana Area High School, Rachel Clark of Thomas Jefferson High School, Sarah Haralam of Canon-McMillan High School, Nathan McCormick of Upper St. Clair High School, Elizabeth Metzler of Bethel Park High School, Robert Moodispaugh of Peters Township High School, Victoria Schneider and Katherine Welsh of Seton-LaSalle High School and Rachel Couch and Wasiullah Mohamed of East Pennsboro Area High School.
“This year’s Stream of Learning Scholarship recipients are each outstanding students who are pursuing studies that are essential to the future of our industry,” said Pennsylvania American Water President Kathy L. Pape. “These young people are not only extraordinary academic students, but they’ve also demonstrated a real commitment to environment stewardship and service to their communities.”
The company inaugurated the scholarship program last year to support outstanding students who are charting a course of study that is critical to the water and wastewater industry.
A panel of judges selected the winners from more than 100 scholarship applications, which were evaluated on such criteria as academic achievement, letters of recommendation, community service and interest in future careers in the water and wastewater industry.
In 2011, American Water is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a yearlong campaign to promote water efficiency and the importance of protecting water from source to tap.

Wednesday NewsClips

House Passes State Budget
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Fighting Back In Court
Group Tackles Water Well Contamination Issues
Senate Committee Approves Emergency Rules For Gas Wells
Drilling Amendment Back With Murrysville Council
Vehicles Envisioned Running On Natural Gas
Erie Forum Addresses Water Quality Issues
New EPA Searchable Website For Drinking Water Violations
Riverside Students Go Green
State Not Using Available Solar Energy, Rep. Ross Says
Delmarva Seeks To Move MD Wind Farm To PA
Clergy Gang Up On Mercury Emissions
Editorial: PNC's New Headquarters Will Be Eco-Attraction
KME Receives Recycling Award
EPA: No Common Ground For Cancer Cluster In Pittston
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 23 PA Environment Digest

May 23 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Sen. Scarnati Introduces Marcellus Shale Impact Fee Langauge

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) this week introduced the language for a local impact fee on Marcellus Shale companies as Senate Bill 1100 which he said will raise $121.2 million in FY 2011-12.
"While I recognize that even though the language has been put into legislative form, this issue is still a work in progress," Sen. Scarnati stated. "My main objective with this bill is to ensure our local municipalities, where drilling takes place, receive a fee to assist with road improvements, water and sewage issues, as well as other community enhancements."
According to Sen. Scarnati, there has been significant progress made over the past couple of weeks to improve the proposal. Click Here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Editorial: Corbett Should Heed GOP Call For Natural Gas Tax
Editorial: Natural Gas Fee Legislation A Start
Drilling Wastewater Treatment Plant In Cross Hairs
Study Shows No Hazard In Shale Well Air Emissions
Gas Drilling Turning Quiet Tourist Destination Into Industrial Town
Shareholders Voice Concerns On Fracking
PUC Votes To Continue Evaluating Whether Gas Pipeline Firm A Utility
Pipeline's Status Returned To PUC
Benton Twp Holds 2nd Hearing On Proposed Gas Well
WVIA Panel: Drilling Transforming Williamsport
Gas Executive Makes The Case For Marcellus Drilling
Lackawanna Schools Compete In Environmental Challenge
Duquesne Light: Buy One, Get One CFL Light Bulb Free
LED Light Bulbs Gaining Traction
PPL Officials Learning From Japan Nuclear Crisis
Car-Deer Collisions Can Rise In Spring
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fight For Clean Air Saturday In Pittsburgh

The Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership will host free kite flying and an information booth as part of the Venture Outdoors Festival in Point State Park, May 21 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in downtown Pittsburgh..
The Flight for Clean Air kicks off the ground-level ozone season and helps to bring awareness of air quality issues. The Partnership, made up of business, government and environmental groups, works to educate residents about air quality and calls for Air Quality Action Days when air pollutant levels are elevated.
“We believe that working to protect air quality is good citizenship,” said Partnership Chair Harilal Patel. “We encourage residents to learn about and take simple actions on Air Quality Action Days to improve our area’s air quality.”
The Partnership relies on air quality forecasting performed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) which uses the national Air Quality Index. The Index uses color codes to designate the level of pollutant for the day.
Red on the Air Quality Index means an unhealthy day when everyone should limit outdoor activities. Orange indicates the air is unhealthy for outdoor activities. Yellow means sensitive people should limit outdoor activities. Green indicates good air quality with no health impacts expected.
The Partnership asks residents to take voluntary actions on Air Quality Action Days. These voluntary actions include:
-- Postpone mowing your lawn with gas-powered mowers until evening.
-- Refuel your car after dark and keep your car tuned-up.
-- Skip the charcoal lighter fluid when grilling. Use a charcoal chimney or propane.
-- Conserve energy by turning thermostats up a notch or two and turn off unnecessary lights.
More Air Quality Action tips are available on the Partnership website. Information about the Venture Outdoors Festival is available online.

Thursday NewsClips

Drilling Impact Fee Won't Go To Those Who Ban It
Editorial: Save Our Water From Drilling
Letter: Scarnati's Impact Fee Bill Deserves Consideration
PA Officials Issue Largest Fine Ever To Gas Driller
Drilling Wastewater Facility Plans Officially Kaput
Dallas Official: Zoning Inadequate For Gas Activities
NRC Officials To Discuss Berwick Nuke Shutdown
$1 Million Fish Could Be Hiding In NE Waters
Academy Of Natural Sciences To Partner With Drexel
Flight 93 Parks Eye Partnerships To Draw More Tourists
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wild Resource Conservation Program Now Accepting Grant Applications

The Wild Resource Conservation Program is now accepting applications for projects to study, conserve and protect Pennsylvania's animal and plant species from an increasing number of environmental stresses, including habitat fragmentation and loss, invasive species, climate change, and the effects of energy extraction and distribution.
Applications are due June 30.
This year’s grant priorities are focused on quantifying those risks and monitoring the impacts. The Program will be accepting grant applications for the following types of projects:
-- Compiling and analyzing existing population and distribution data for at-risk species.
-- Identifying communities, habitats, and natural systems most at risk from environmental stressors.
-- Monitoring species and natural systems’ responses to environmental stressors.
-- Developing predictive models for population and distribution changes of at-risk species.
-- Monitoring and developing predictive distribution models for new invasive species and pathogens that may affect our native species and natural systems.
-- Critical Conservation Needs.
Visit the Wild Resource Conservation Program website for more details about this year’s grant priorities and to apply online.

Wednesday NewsClips

Pileggi: Impact Fee Not Necessarily Connected To Budget Deal
Editorial: Drilling Tax Could Be Less Costly
PA Fines Driller $1.1 Million Over Contamination, Fire
Marcellus Shale Driller Hit With Record $1 Million Fine
DEP Fines Chesapeake More Than $1 Million
Marcellus Driller Fined Record $1.1 Million
Corbett's DEP Slaps Chesapeake Energy With Biggest Drilling Fine Ever
DEP Hits Chesapeake With Million In Fines
Chesapeake Energy: 10,000 Gallons Of Water Spilled In Blowout
PA's Drilling Wastewater Deadline Nears
Drilling Companies Hold Data On Risk To Water Quality
Rivers In Gas Country Make Group's Imperiled List
Susquehanna Called Most-Endangered River In Nation
Susquehanna Is America's Most Endangered River Due To Drilling
Editorial: Protecting The Susquehanna
Donora Seeks Volunteers For Spring Cleanup
Eco-Friendly Homeless Housing Opens In Philadelphia
Alcoa Develops Smog-Busting Panel
NRC Gives York Nuclear Plants Good Grades
Ohiopyle Fitness Trail Open To Public
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DEP Fines Chesapeake Energy Over $1 Million For Washington, Bradford Well Violations

The Department of Environmental Protection today fined Chesapeake Energy $1,088,000 for violations related to natural gas drilling activities in Bradford and Washington, counties.
Under a Consent Order and Agreement, or COA, Chesapeake will pay DEP $900,000 for contaminating private water supplies in Bradford County, of which $200,000 must be dedicated to DEP’s well-plugging fund. Under a second COA, Chesapeake will pay $188,000 for a February 23 tank fire at its drilling site in Avella, Washington County.
“It is important to me and to this administration that natural gas drillers are stewards of the environment, take very seriously their responsibilities to comply with our regulations, and that their actions do not risk public health and safety or the environment,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “The water well contamination fine is the largest single penalty DEP has ever assessed against an oil and gas operator, and the Avella tank fire penalty is the highest we could assess under the Oil and Gas Act. Our message to drillers and to the public is clear.”
At various times throughout 2010, DEP investigated private water well complaints from residents of Bradford County’s Tuscarora, Terry, Monroe, Towanda and Wilmot townships near Chesapeake’s shale drilling operations.
DEP determined that because of improper well casing and cementing in shallow zones, natural gas from non-shale shallow gas formations had experienced localized migration into groundwater and contaminated 16 families’ drinking water supplies.
As part of the Bradford County COA, Chesapeake agrees to take multiple measures to prevent future shallow formation gas migration, including creating a plan to be approved by DEP that outlines corrective actions for the wells in question; remediating the contaminated water supplies; installing necessary equipment; and reporting water supply complaints to DEP.
The well plugging fund supports DEP’s Oil and Gas program operations and can be used to mitigate historic and recent gas migration problems in cases where the source of the gas cannot be identified.
The Avella action was taken because on February 23, while testing and collecting fluid from wells on a drill site in Avella, Washington County, three condensate separator tanks caught fire, injuring three subcontractors working on-site.
DEP conducted an investigation and determined the cause was improper handling and management of condensate, a wet gas only found in certain geologic areas. Under the COA, Chesapeake must submit for approval to the department a Condensate Management Plan for each well site that may produce condensate.
“Natural gas drilling presents a valuable opportunity for Pennsylvania and the nation,” Krancer said. “But, with this opportunity comes responsibilities that we in Pennsylvania expect and insist are met; we have an obligation to enforce our regulations and protect our environment.”

Green America Announces Green Sustainability Grants Contest

Green America announced today it will award four Green Grants to local projects in the United States that support its mission of creating a socially just and environmentally sustainable economy.
Green America will provide one Grand Prize of $2,500 and three First Prizes of $1,000. Projects do not need to be run by nonprofits. Nominations will be accepted through May 31.
Green America’s members and the public will then be invited to vote on the top ten nominees (as chosen by Green America staff), and the winners will be selected in July.
“Green America is looking forward to providing Green Grants for a second year to innovative green projects around the country,” says Green America Director of Corporate Responsibility, Todd Larsen. “Last year’s winners used the funds to help a community bike shop, build energy efficient homes for people in need, and start a campus recycling program. We’re looking forward to nominations from local schools, civic associations, religious groups, business owners, and anyone else who has a great green project that could use a small financial boost.”
Projects can use the Green Grant awards to support their work in any way, and will just need to report back to Green America how the grant made a difference in their work.
For more information, visit the Green Grants webpage.

SRBC: Call To Cease Water Quantity Approvals For Drilling Misguided

Susquehanna River Basin Commission Executive Director Paul O. Swartz today issued the following commentary in response to American Rivers’ designation of the Susquehanna River as the nation’s most endangered river in 2011.
Today’s announcement by the national organization American Rivers declaring the Susquehanna River as the nation’s most endangered river in 2011 does not come as a surprise to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.
We are well aware that the development of natural gas is foremost on the minds of citizens, policy makers, organizations and water management agencies.
Why the Susquehanna River is the Focus in 2011
As in 2005, when American Rivers last gave the Susquehanna the dubious distinction of being the most endangered due to concerns about combined sewer overflows, it is clear to us and others that the designation does not really mean the Susquehanna is the most polluted river. It is primarily meant to raise awareness of an issue with the underlying hope to effectuate policy changes. The issue this time around is the practice of hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracing) to capture natural gas from shales and whether the practice should be halted.
SRBC commends American Rivers for raising awareness on the importance of protecting our nation’s rivers and streams. Undoubtedly, the Susquehanna River and its 49,000 miles of tributaries that feed the river are vital for all life, healthy ecosystems and a vibrant economy.
Why the Call for an SRBC Moratorium is Misguided and Legally Indefensible
SRBC wholeheartedly disagrees with American Rivers’ call for us to impose a moratorium on water withdrawal and use approvals for hydrofracing. Many in the public who oppose or are very wary of this practice believe the overriding concern relates to the potential impacts to water quality, which falls outside of SRBC’s regulatory responsibilities.
We believe the decision whether to impose a moratorium falls squarely within the discretion of SRBC’s member states.
It is SRBC’s job to wisely manage and conserve the water resources of the basin while encouraging their sustainable use and development. That is SRBC’s prescribed mission.
We are aware of and sensitive to the public’s concern about water quality and drinking water supplies, but the call for an SRBC moratorium is unfortunately misguided and would be legally indefensible on our part.
The Commission has a “limited” but very important role in the regulation of natural gas development, namely the regulation of water withdrawals and consumptive water uses.
The Susquehanna River Basin Compact – that established SRBC 40 years ago – directs SRBC to avoid regulatory duplication, particularly in the area of water quality.
In the Susquehanna basin, water quality regulations fall in the domain of our sovereign member states, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and the federal government. As such, while our regulations are intended to be protective of aquatic resources, we do not regulate and have never regulated water quality, nor are we contemplating doing so in the future.
When it comes to water quantity, the Commission solidly believes the largely water-rich Susquehanna basin can accommodate the natural gas industry’s water needs, especially during times when our waterways are flowing very high or at normal levels.
For times when water quantities are stressed such as during droughts, we impose many protective conditions on project sponsors to ensure the withdrawals cease until water supplies naturally recover. Those very measures were imposed on withdrawals last summer even before drought declarations were issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Given the Commission’s limited regulatory role, there is no legal basis for us to impose a moratorium. To do so would surely invite lawsuits that the Commission would expect to lose on legal grounds.
Throughout the Commission’s 40 years, instead of looking to costly and lengthy legal avenues, we have placed significant attention to instituting strong, science-based regulations and practicing governmental coordination and cooperation to effectively and efficiently manage water resources.
Our regulations are comprehensive and designed to protect the environment and other water users. Those same regulations and our Compact require us to review and act on reasonable and sustainable requests for water, without regard to sectors. We treat all sectors equally and uniformly.
In areas where a member state has determined that hydrofracing can occur, we legally can not deny a reasonable and sustainable request for water by a natural gas driller that conforms to our regulatory requirements and standards.
Nor would we deny a legitimate request for water by a hospital, a school, a municipality, a water bottler, a public water supplier, a food processer, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, a farmer, a power plant or others that meet the requirements of our regulations. Those are just a sample of the types of water users that have a legitimate right to the basin’s water supplies.
In the Pennsylvania portion of the basin, where no direct or de-facto moratorium on hydrofracing is in place by the state, the Commission continues to review and act on withdrawal and use requests. SRBC believes the Commonwealth’s regulatory improvements, including well casing, impoundments and TDS standards, are significant and will help protect water quality.
Conversely, we have not been acting on any new applications for water use related to this activity in the New York portion while the state undergoes its comprehensive environmental assessment.
SRBC recognizes the sovereign authority of our member jurisdictions. As an extension of the members, it is our job and mission to support them, not to duplicate or hinder them. And the decision whether to continue or discontinue hydrofracing practices is squarely the responsibility of SRBC’s members, not SRBC. As evidenced by our divergent actions on applications in the Pennsylvania and New York portions of our basin, we clearly walk that walk.
How SRBC’s Regulations Protect Streams
When we became aware that hydrofracing was taking place in the Susquehanna basin, SRBC was out of the gates early imposing penalties on violators and strengthening and streamlining our regulations to protect the environment while meeting our mission to support the sustainable use and development of water resources.
We believe our actions and our regulations can be held up as models of good government. We rigorously protect the environment and other water users with passby flow requirements, incentives for the use of lesser quality waters and recycling and encouragement of water sharing that reduces potential impacts on streams and truck traffic.
The Commission has also been investigating and plans to move aggressively forward to implement revised passby flow requirements that dictate when water withdrawals must cease due to low streamflow conditions. We have been working with our member jurisdictions, resource agencies and The Nature Conservancy to establish new passby flow thresholds that more accurately reflect seasonal variability with respect to streamflow and associated ecosystem flow needs.
SRBC Does Monitor Water Quality to Protect Streams
While we do not regulate water quality, SRBC has been a leader in water quality monitoring for more than 25 years. Good monitoring consists of using approved methodologies, collecting and carefully recording and analyzing data, following protocols for quality assurance and quality control, coming to proper conclusions based on sound science and then releasing the findings to agencies, policy makers and the public.
As a federal-interstate watershed agency, we are uniquely qualified to conduct monitoring programs without regard to political boundaries. While we are routinely involved in a variety of monitoring programs, I draw your attention to our newest monitoring program, the Remote Water Quality Monitoring Network that continuously records and feeds water quality data to SRBC.
To date, SRBC has installed nearly 40 monitoring stations in northern tier Pennsylvania where natural gas drilling is most active and southern tier New York to collect pre-drilling baseline data. SRBC makes the data readily available to other resource agencies and the public via its website.
The data help environmental protection officials track existing water quality conditions and any changes in them on an ongoing, real-time basis. The data also help local public water suppliers, watershed groups and communities stay informed.
The Commission clearly understands that citizens are concerned about natural gas drilling activities occurring in the Susquehanna basin. Data collection efforts such as this monitoring network are critically important to establish existing background conditions and monitor changes in water quality.
Inaccuracies in American Rivers’ Statements
Among the statements and assertions made by American Rivers, there are several technical and misleading inaccuracies that must be corrected.
First, American Rivers indicates that about 1.5 times the annual flow of the Susquehanna River will be used to sustain natural gas drilling. This is misleading because it implies an ongoing extreme demand for water that in reality will be drawn out over the course of 2 to 3 decades. Further, the estimate includes water needs for wells drilled outside the basin that will not rely on basin water.
The Susquehanna River supplies the Chesapeake Bay on average 18 million gallons of freshwater inflows every minute of the day. The effects of withdrawals from the northern reaches of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries will not diminish this quantity going to the bay.
SRBC staff estimates that the maximum need for water at the height of drilling will be 30 million gallons per day, or less than two minutes worth of the average flow of the river.
Further, considering the lowest flows ever recorded in the lower Susquehanna River, the maximum use for drilling is expected to consume less than 3 percent of the flow to the bay during an extreme drought.
Second, in that related sentence about the Susquehanna River, American Rivers points to the potential for 400,000 wells across the Marcellus Shale. This could lead readers to believe the 400,000 wells relates to the Susquehanna basin only, which is clearly not the case.
No industry or governmental estimate comes close to indicating that many wells for the Susquehanna basin. American Rivers should have indicated it meant the entire Marcellus Shale region, which includes portions of West Virginia, Ohio, and portions of Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York not located within the Susquehanna basin.
For more information, visit the SRBC's Marcellus Shale webpage.

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner