Friday, October 20, 2017

Senate Consumer Affairs Committee To Consider FERC Coal/Nuclear Pricing Resolution Oct. 24

The Senate Consumer Affairs & Professional Licensure Committee is scheduled to meet on October 24 to consider Senate Resolution 227 (Aument-R-Lancaster) urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to quickly implement policies to ensure baseload electricity generation (like coal and nuclear) are compensated for all the positive attributes they provide to the electric system (sponsor summary).
The resolution was introduced by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Sen. Donald White (R-Indiana) the chairs of the Nuclear Energy and Coal Caucuses.  The text of the co-sponsor memo introducing the resolution said--
“As the House co-chairs of the Nuclear Energy and Coal Caucuses, we have been raising concerns over the loss of nuclear and coal power plants in Pennsylvania.
“Our concerns have been focused on several issues, including the economic impact of premature plant closures, the potential loss of coal and nuclear plants as a strategic asset for the bulk power system, the environmental consideration of losing the largest and most reliable carbon-free and other fuel-diverse electricity production, and the long-term impacts to consumers should the overall electric grid become overly dependent on any one generation source.
“Pennsylvania is fortunate to be a top electricity producer from many sources, including nuclear, coal, gas and hydroelectric power. Together, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric power produce 67 percent of our Commonwealth’s electricity and create fuel diversity in our supply of energy.
“As such, the loss of these fuel-secure resources matters greatly. For those who are not aware, fuel-secure generation resources are unique in that they are capable of storing fuel for their plants onsite for long periods of time.
“On September 28, 2017, the United States Department of Energy (“DOE”) took a significant step forward in addressing the loss of fuel-secure generation by issuing a new rule directing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to ensure that fuel-secure generators are adequately compensated so that they can remain a viable component of the bulk power system.
“In its rule, DOE noted the following:
“The resiliency of the nation’s electric grid is threatened by the premature retirements of power plants that can withstand major fuel supply disruptions caused by natural or man-made disasters and, in those critical times, continue to provide electric energy, capacity, and essential grid reliability services. These fuel-secure resources are indispensable for the reliability and resiliency of our electric grid-and therefore indispensable for our economic and national security. It is time for the Commission to issue rules to protect the American people from energy outages expected to result from the loss of this fuel-secure generation capacity.”
“We agree, which is why we are seeking your support.
“In the very near future, we will be introducing a concurrent resolution urging the FERC to swiftly consider DOE’s proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule and implement policies and adopt tariffs to ensure fuel-secure generation resources receive proper compensation for the positive attributes they provide our nation’s and Commonwealth’s electric system – in this case, reliability and resiliency.
“Our goal is to promote Pennsylvania’s energy resources to the betterment of our economy, people and overall prosperity and to protect against unforeseen challenges that could threaten our electric grid, such as the polar vortex in 2014.
“We are all aware of the challenges that the coal and nuclear sectors of our energy economy have been facing in recent years. Please join us to encourage the federal government to finally address these very serious issues.”
An identical resolution has been introduced in the House-- House Resolution 576 (Pyle-R-Armstrong).
The meeting will be held in Room 461 starting at noon.
Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R-Bucks) serves as Majority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: rtomlinson@pasen.gov.  Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: boscola@pasenate.com.

DCNR Awarded $750K Grant For Stream Buffers In Chesapeake Bay Watershed

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Friday announced it was awarded a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Grant for $750,000 to help plant forested buffers along streams to improve water quality.
DEP will match that funding with $2,144,550 for a total project value of $2,894,550.
DCNR’s Stream ReLeaf project will focus on bringing partners together and providing additional momentum to the work the department is leading to plant stream buffers along waterways,” DCNR Policy Director Sara Nicholas said at an event today at Future View Farm in Lancaster County. “The overall goal is to streamline the entire riparian forest buffer process from start to finish to improve local water quality and wildlife habitat, and to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution flowing from Pennsylvania into the Chesapeake Bay.”
Pennsylvania has a goal of planting 95,000 acres of riparian forest buffers by 2025.
Elements of the work funded by the NFWF grant include:
-- Formalization of a partnership of leaders in riparian forest buffer implementation through the Riparian Forest Buffer Advisory Committee.
-- Developing new community-focused and producer-led marketing and outreach materials to recruit new landowners
-- Increasing technical assistance capacity and training opportunities
-- Funding riparian buffer plantings over 3 years on lands that do not qualify for other funding sources in a seven county pilot area
-- Creating a formalized mechanism for tracking new Riparian Forest Buffers planted across Pennsylvania to help with planning, prioritizing, and appropriately crediting riparian buffer implementation
This project initially will include, Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Lancaster, and York counties.
Materials developed will initially be used in the seven-county pilot area to test effectiveness, adjusted as needed, and made available to all riparian forest buffer outreach and implementation partners in Pennsylvania.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will serve as a key administrative partner with DCNR on this project, helping conservation districts and conservation organizations working within the seven-county pilot area to contract private landowners willing to plant riparian forest buffers on their properties.  
The Department of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, and DCNR are leading a partnership of stakeholders in developing Phase 3 of the state plan to clean up local waters in the 43 Pennsylvania counties in the bay watershed.
"The foundation's generous support for projects that reflect deep local knowledge will restore the health of dozens more stream and river locations in our part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed," said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. "This is tremendous, and underscores the great bottom-up momentum that DEP, DCNR, the Department of Agriculture, and our many committed partners are bringing to Phase 3 of Pennsylvania's plan for the watershed. Partner by partner, project by project, we aim to clean up our local waters."
“NFWF’s funding for the Stream Releaf project reinforces the importance of riparian buffers and other best management practices that farmers are employing to protect water quality,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “There is still a long road ahead. But thanks to the effective partnerships between local, state and federal agencies – as well as organizations like Stroud Water Research Center, the Lancaster Farm Trust, and the broader agriculture community – our collective efforts are making a difference in the watershed.”
For more information on stream buffers, visit DCNR’s Forest Buffers Along Waterways webpage.
For background on Chesapeake Bay Watershed cleanup in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s PA’s Chesapeake Bay Plan webpage.
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DEP Warns Public Not To Dispose Of Tires At Luzerne County Business That Has No Permit

Department of Environmental Protection Friday issued a warning to the public not to dispose of old or recycled tires at Nationwide Tire Recycling, Inc. in Duryea, Luzerne County.
The company does not have the proper department-issued permit to accept the tires and anyone who does dispose of tires there could be participating in unlawful activity.
In addition, the accumulation of the tires at the site poses environmental issues.
“DEP wants tires disposed at locations that have the proper permits. When the public drops old tires off at volunteer tire-recycling events, they should be sure the tires are going to approved facilities,” said Mike Bedrin, Director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre. “We are offering this advice so people won’t put themselves in danger of violating state regulations.”
NTR’s most recent waste management permit allowing it to accept waste tires expired in 2016.
Since that time, DEP inspections at the business have determined that more than 10,000 waste tires have been dumped at the site, which is considered a violation of the Solid Waste Management Act.
People who dispose of tires at the site could be contributing to the unlawful activity at the site.
In October 2016, DEP issued a Compliance Order to NTR that required it to remove all tires at its location within 90 days. The company has not responded, and DEP is evaluating enforcement options.
The accumulation of waste tires poses the potential for a tire fire, which could burn for extended periods of time, causing the rubber to decompose and pollute ground and surface water, and create air quality issues from noxious fire fumes.
Rainwater also accumulates in tire piles, creating an ideal environment for mosquitoes, which are known to transmit West Nile Virus.
Click Here for a list of DEP-permitted waste tire processors in Pennsylvania. Please note that inclusion of a facility on this list does not constitute the department's recommendation or endorsement.
Questions should be directed to Colleen Connolly, DEP Northeast Regional Office, 570-826-2035 or send email to: coconnolly@pa.gov.

Restoration Project Restores Tom's Run In Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Friday  joined partners in a visit to Camp Michaux in the Michaux State Forest in Cumberland County to view a project to restore Tom’s Run to its historic location.
“DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry implements practices that promote the long-term health of our forests in Pennsylvania for many values, including clean water,” Dunn said. “Forests and trees play an incredible role in slowing the flow of water during storms, and removing or filtering pollutants that would end up in our waterways.”
Dunn noted that Tom’s Run is now reconnected to its historic floodplain, which lessens the impacts of heavy storm events.
Along Tom’s Run, there was a diversion channel on the waterway which took the stream flow and diverted it into an impoundment created by a dam previously used as a swimming hole.   
The project involved:
-- Filling in a section of the concrete diversion sluiceway, allowing the stream to continue downstream through its’ original location;
-- Native streambed material was used to line the new channel and give it an appearance of a natural stream channel;
-- Some fish enhancement and stream structures were included in the project; and
-- The swimming area, which had filled up with sediment, will be allowed to convert to a wetland
“Tom’s Run is a Class A trout stream that flows into Mountain Creek. Brook trout are the official state fish, are indicators of superior water quality, and provide recreational fishing opportunities,” Dunn said. “Dams in general are barriers to aquatic organism passage, elevate water temperatures, and reduce dissolved oxygen content. By bypassing the impoundment, Tom’s Run will benefit as a cold-water fishery.”
Dunn noted that the project is included in the Wolf Administration’s clean water initiative.  
The project cost amounted to around $97,000 and was supported by a DEP Growing Greener grant, The Nature Conservancy-PA, and DCNR.
“Brook trout are one of the poster species for climate change impacts and some studies have shown that warming stream temperatures in Pennsylvania are already impacting them,” Dunn said “This project fits in with a climate change adaptation strategy to increase habitat connectivity and develop corridors that help facilitate the movement of species.”
The climate change adaptation strategy for DCNR lands will be completed by the beginning of next year.  
DCNR has a goal of removing five dams on its lands by 2020 as part of its water strategic initiative.
Last year, Long Run dam in Bald Eagle State Forest, and Olyphant dam #1 in Pinchot State Forest were removed.
Tom’s Run and Long Run are both in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Camp Michaux has an unusual history including as a church camp; working farm; as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp during the Great Depression; and as a secret prisoner of war interrogation camp during World War II.
Learn more in the Camp Michaux Self-Guided Walking Tour booklet from the Cumberland County Historical Society.
Pennsylvania’s 2.2 million acres of well-managed state forest lands provide critical habitat for brook trout and thousands of stream miles.
Michaux State Forest is more than 85,000 acres in the South Mountain landscape named for French botanist Andre Michaux.
DCNR also has a Brook Trout Conservation Plan for state forest lands.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Presentation Call: 2018 Keystone Coldwater Conference Extended To Oct. 27

The 2018 Keystone Coldwater Conference has extended its call for presentation proposals and posters through October 27. The Conference will be held in State College on February 23-24.
The Conference theme will be “Goldwater Resource Conservation and Education: Rising to the Changes, Embracing the Opportunities.”
A very diverse group of individuals attend the conference including members from nonprofit organizations such as Trout Unlimited, sportsmen’s groups and watershed associations, along with environmental professionals, and college faculty and students.
A primary objective of the conference is to promote collaboration and an exchange of ideas among diverse groups with shared interests, motivations, and passions.  
Based on past attendance, we expect a turnout of over 200 people.
Proposals are welcome on topics related both to today’s challenges to conservation, protection, restoration and stewardship of coldwater resources in Pennsylvania and to the opportunities for and examples of successes meeting these goals.
Proposals that address such challenges as a changing climate, impacts of new and proposed policy changes, threats associated with exotic and invasive species, and water quality impacts associated with development as well as proposed or actual action to overcome and succeed in conserving and restoring coldwater resources and their watersheds will receive priority.
The Conference organizers are especially interested in proposals about successful innovative and non-traditional education, outreach and stewardship initiatives for both youth and adults.
Conference participants will also want to hear about-- current research, successful on-the-ground projects; effective monitoring efforts; community stewardship successes; outreach and advocacy efforts and outcomes; unique approaches to environmental education; Innovative funding sources; and partnerships, measuring and building upon successes.
Click Here for all the details on submitting proposals.
For more information on the conference, including sponsorship opportunities, visit the 2018 Keystone Coldwater Conference website.
(Note: PA Environment Digest is a Conference sponsor.)

Westmoreland Conservation District Hosts First AmeriCorps Member: Alyssa Harden

Alyssa Harden isn’t in the military, but she is serving our nation.  In fact she’s one of more than 80,000 citizens who are volunteering their time, energy, and talents in service to America through a program called AmeriCorps at the Westmoreland County Conservation District.
Similar in philosophy to the Peace Corps, but focused within our own country, AmeriCorps members do a lot of good things for other Americans.  
Some offer help during hurricanes, forest fires, and other disasters…some build houses for people living in poverty…and, some like Alyssa, focus their energies on improving our environment.
Since joining AmeriCorps in August, Harden has been in Greensburg with the staff of the Westmoreland Conservation District, and her goal is to help improve the water quality in Westmoreland County.
In the past few months, she’s been involved with the Conservation District’s projects to reduce the amount of soil that gets into streams from unpaved roads in the county.  And she’s also been providing support for the water-quality efforts of area watershed and trail groups.
The August graduate of the University of Pittsburgh likes the program and the work.  
“I majored in geology, which is more about rocks and earth structures,” Harden said, “but I always also liked environmental science, which is more conservation-oriented.”  
She especially enjoys the fieldwork and hopes to do even more during her tenure with the program, which continues until August of 2018.
This is the first AmeriCorps member the 68-year-old Westmoreland Conservation District has hosted.  
“Some of our sister agencies, such as the Armstrong County Conservation District, have hosted AmeriCorps members for many years and always spoken very highly about the program,” said Westmoreland Conservation District Manager/CEO Greg Phillips.
“Then, a few years ago, our District hired Chelsea Walker, who had just finished her service as an AmeriCorps member with the Armstrong County District.  Chelsea came to us very well prepared for her watershed position with our District, and has worked out beautifully.  It is clear that AmeriCorps is a very beneficial program – for our country and the members -- and I feel certain that we will host a member again in the future.”
Harden, a 2014 graduate of Plum Senior High School, lives in Holiday Park, Allegheny County.
For more information on programs, initiatives, education, assistance and upcoming events, visit the Westmoreland County Conservation District website.
(Photo: Alyssa Harden stands on a pedestrian bridge over Cherry Creek on the campus of Westmoreland County Community College.  Conservation practices have been put in place here over the past few years to improve water quality.)

Senate Committee To Consider Bill Oct. 24 To Fund Energy Efficiency Projects Thru Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee is scheduled to meet on October 24 to consider Senate Bill 234 (Blake-D-Lackawanna) would authorize local governments to create energy improvement districts to help fund energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation projects by commercial and industrial buildings to reduce their operating costs (sponsor summary).
“The Property Assessed Clean Energy program is a proven-successful economic development tool that enhances property values and employment opportunities; lowers the cost of doing business; and expands the use of energy saving technologies,” said Sen. John Blake prime sponsor of the bill. “Our legislation would give Pennsylvania businesses an opportunity to make costly energy-saving upgrades with a creative, market-driven funding mechanism that does not spend a dime of taxpayer money.”
Under Senate Bill 234, PACE financing – which can be used to purchase new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps and insulation – would be repaid in the form of a voluntary property tax assessment on the specific, improved building.
“PACE is a commonsense, voluntary program, that doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny. PACE increases the use of energy-saving and environmentally-conscious technology, saves businesses money, and will create family-sustaining jobs throughout the commonwealth because of sales and installations,” said Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny) a co-sponsor of the bill. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and the dozens of organizations that support the proposed PACE legislation.”
A local government would be able to choose to participate in or develop a PACE financing program.
PACE financing would not require any public funds; participating local communities would be tasked with collecting the assessment on the improved building and remit it for payment on the debt incurred from the building’s energy-efficiency and clean energy technology upgrades.
A companion bill-- House Bill 1722 (Harper-R-Montgomery)-- is pending in the House Local Government Committee.
The meeting will be held in the Rules Room off the Senate Floor at the call of the Senate President at some point after the Senate convenes Tuesday.
Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and he can be contacted by sending email to: mscavello@pasen.gov. Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: farnese@pasenate.com.
Related Story:

DEP Published 64 Pages Of Permit Actions In The Oct. 21 PA Bulletin

DEP published 64 pages of public notices related to proposed and final permit and approval/ disapproval actions in the October 21 PA Bulletin - pages 6500 to 6564.
Sign Up For DEP’s eNotice: Did you know DEP can send you email notices of permit applications submitted in your community?  Notice of new technical guidance documents and regulations?  All through its eNotice system.  Click Here to sign up.

PEC Blog: A Day Of Discovery On The Delaware River

By Patrick Starr, Executive Vice President Southeast Region, PEC

I’ve been trekking in various vessels on the Delaware River since 2000, and never before have I learned so much as I did late last month when I joined the Upstream Alliance (aka Don Baugh and family) on a 3-day paddling odyssey.
The trip was organized for leaders interested in stewardship of the Delaware River, ranging from NGO environmental educators to elected freeholders to the chair of the William Penn Foundation board of directors.
My kayak-mate turned out to be none other than Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Amazing people aside… the learning too was amazing!  We dropped a net at the river’s edge as we launched out from Beverly, New Jersey. Just feet from the river’s edge we found dozens of wriggling fish – including the babies of signature fish such as striped bass, shad and perch.  
The shad fry in particular appeared energetic and ready for their long migration to their juvenile and adult lives in the oceans before they return to the Delaware for spawning.
The views and historic sites along the river as we paddled were extraordinary.  I have previously studied many important sites – such as Glen Foerd and Andalusia — but was introduced on this trip to the Red Dragon Canoe Club, among the oldest groups of its kind in the nation.
I also encountered the oldest fishing club, the incongruously named State of the Schuykill Club, which now overlooks the Delaware.  That quaint old board and batten structure built in 1732 was relocated in the mid-19th century due to the deteriorated water quality on the lower Schuylkill.
With a dramatic change in the weather intensified by the “squeeze” between a Canadian high and Tropical Storm Maria off the coast, we had an intense day of paddling.  
Winds were a consistent 10-15 miles per hour with greater gusts, and at times the sky darkened like a winter squall.  
Seventeen miles of paddling on flat water (albeit with the tide) is challenging, but in those windy conditions, it was HARD!
We managed nonetheless to make it on schedule to Palmyra Cove for lunch and a freshwater mussel identification exercise.  
I have long heard about the value of mussels to water quality, but little did I realize that the tidal stretch of the Delaware has some of the richest mussel habitat in the watershed, and it appears to be growing if not thriving.
We were challenged to collect mussel shells and identify them from a written description.  Though we found several species of native mussels, perhaps the most eye-opening finding was that 80 percent of the shells we collected belonged to one non-native species: the Asian clam.
I had begun the exercise thinking ‘well, this is easy,‘ only to find out that all of the specimens in my bucket were Asiatic invaders!
Approaching Center City, we entered a familiar landscape of industrial artifacts, dominated by the huge former power plants at Port Richmond and Penn Treaty Park, as well as the amazing Reading Railroad coal “gangway” and, of course, the majestic bridges.  
As much as I love the Ben Franklin, the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge provides a cross-sectional view akin to an enormous cathedral knave – it is spectacular viewed from the new Kensington-Tacony Trail or from a river kayak.
It was a great day!  At the end, we shared words about what we saw: “Opportunity!” “Majestic!” “Changing!” were just some of the words shared.  I’m amazed how much I learned about the Tidal Delaware, and I thought I already knew a lot.  Thanks, Captain Baugh!
(Photo: Patrick Starr’s  kayak-mate DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn holding some shad fry.)
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.
Patrick Starr is Executive Vice President of the Southeast Region for the PA Environmental Council and can be contacted by calling 215-545-4570 or by sending email to: pstarr@pecpa.org.  

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