Friday, August 29, 2014

Sept. 1 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The Sept. 1 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Click Here to print entire Digest.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Launches Clean Water For The Keystone State Campaign
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA has launched an exciting statewide campaign-- Clean Water Counts-- urging Pennsylvania officials to make clean water a priority throughout the Keystone State, and to commit the needed funding to ensure that all 83,000 miles of waterways in the state are clean.

DEP Lists Water Supplies Damaged, High Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions From Gas Drilling
The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday released a table listing the 248 water supplies found by DEP to be contaminated by oil and natural gas drilling from 2008 to 2014, about 1.2 percent of new wells drilled during that time period.  Other complaints are still being investigated. Attorney General Issues Subpoenas On Gas Well Royalty Payments reported late Tuesday and Thursday Attorney General Kathleen Kane has issued administrative subpoenas to Marcellus Shale drilling companies across the state as part of her Office’s review of gas well royalty payment issues.

EPA Presents President’s Environmental Youth, Environmental Ed Awards To 2 In PA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday presented the President’s Environmental Youth Award to May Wang from Bucks County and the President’s Innovations in Environmental Education Award to David Andrews of Butler County.

Outdoor Celebration For Military Families Highlights Special Recreation Event Sept. 6
Military service members, veterans and their families are invited to a free day of recreation at Gifford Pinchot State Park on September 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with the PA Parks and Forests Foundation.

DEP New Stanton District Mining Office Opens Replacing Greensburg, Uniontown

The Department of Environmental Protection Greensburg and Uniontown district offices will begin operating out of a new location beginning on September 2.
The just-completed building is convenient to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-70, located at 131 Broadview Road, New Stanton, PA 15672. The phone number for the office is 724-925-5500.
The New Stanton Office consolidates staff from DEP’s Mine Safety, District Mining, Field Operations and Oil and Gas Management Programs. Employees from both offices will be moving in between September 2 and 4.
The 38,000 square foot building is designed to be energy efficient, utilizing many materials with a high recyclable content. The offices feature energy efficient lighting, a highly efficient heating and air-conditioning system controlled by an automated building management system and water saving, low flow toilets and bathroom fixtures.
For more information, call 412-442-4400.

Analysis: DEP Lists Water Supplies Damaged, High Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions From Gas Drilling

The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday released a table listing the 243 water supplies found by DEP to be contaminated by oil and natural gas drilling from 2008 to 2014, about 1.2 percent of new wells drilled during that time period.
Other complaints are still being investigated.
According to Scott Perry, DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, about half the water supplies were damaged by conventional oil and gas wells and about half were unconventional (Marcellus Shale) gas wells.
The problems include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise rendered undrinkable.
The records show that some of the problems were temporary.
The table with links to the letters of determination by DEP or the orders issued to correct the problems.
DEP also posted a list of 19 oil and gas wells that have high levels of hydrogen sulfide emissions-- greater than 20 ppm.  14 of the wells with high emissions were conventional oil and gas wells and 5 were unconventional (Marcellus Shale) wells.
7 of the wells are still active, 8 have been plugged, 2 were abandoned wells and 2 are in regulatory inactive status (inactive, but not abandoned or producing).
Hydrogen sulfide can cause conjunctivitis  and respiratory tract irritation at levels of 50 to 100 ppm and loss of consciousness and possibly death after 30 minutes of exposure at levels of 500 to 700 ppm.
DEP reports 20,178 conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells were drilled between January 2008 and the end of July 2014.  There were 12,098 conventional wells and 8,080 unconventional (Marcellus Shale) wells.
Copies of the list of damaged water supplies and the wells with hydrogen sulfide emissions are available online.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

PA American Water Works Assn. Offers Fall Training Schedule

The PA Section-American Water Works Association recently posted its fall training schedule.  Click Here for a list of available training opportunities.

Third Round Of Act 13 Natural Gas Vehicle Grants Opens Aug. 30

Gov. Tom Corbett and the Department of Environmental Protection Thursday announced the third round of Natural Gas Vehicle Grants will open on August 30 and will provide an estimated $6 million to help pay for the incremental purchase and conversion costs of heavy-duty natural gas fleet vehicles.
Applications are due November 14 and will be awarded this winter.
“Pennsylvania continues to move in the right direction by creating opportunities to convert vehicle fleets from imported oil to homegrown, clean-burning, affordable natural gas,” Gov. Corbett said. “We encourage all who are eligible for this funding to lower their operational costs and lessen our dependency on foreign oil.”
Since 2013, $14 million has been awarded to 44 organizations and companies making the switch to compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and bi-fuel vehicles weighing 14,000 pounds or more.
Those eligible to apply include non-profit organizations, local transportation organizations, state owned or state related universities, commonwealth or municipal authorities, for-profit companies and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.  
Requests can be no more than 50 percent of the incremental purchase or retrofit cost per vehicle, with a maximum total of $25,000 per vehicle.
Grant Webinar
Eligible applicants are encouraged to participate in a related webinar, scheduled for September 22, from 2 to 3 p.m.
To register for the webinar and view the updated guidance document and online grant application, visit DEP’s Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program webpage.

Environmental Groups Respond To Auditor General Report On Marcellus Shale Review

Environmental and citizen organizations sent Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Chris Abruzzo a letter Thursday challenging the agency’s response to issues raised in Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s DEP Performance Audit, released on July 22.
The organizations take issue with DEP’s claim that flaws in the agency’s programs have been fixed and details critical gaps that put water quality and health at risk. In addition, the organizations express disappointment with DEP’s rejection of all of the eight key deficiencies uncovered in the Performance Audit.
Although DEP simultaneously agreed with all or parts of 22 of the 29 related recommendations from the Auditor General, the agency has yet to provide any evidence of how they intend to implement the recommendations.
"PADEP has fallen down on the job despite their attempts to favorably spin the critical analysis laid out so graphically by the Auditor General's performance audit. The Auditor General explains how the agency simply isn't effectively serving the public in its oversight responsibilities of shale gas development and DEP defensively responded with lots of weak excuses. The people of Pennsylvania and our clean water and air are paying the price of DEP's failings and until they make fundamental changes they will continue to contribute to the shale gas problems communities are experiencing," said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
"The DEP's press release states that the Auditor General's report found no instances where the agency failed to protect public health, safety, or the environment from unconventional gas drilling activities. Secretary Abruzzo said that the report ‘validates’ his agency's performance, but perhaps Secretary Abruzzo doesn't know what ‘validates’ means,” said Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth. “A scathing 145-page report that cites numerous significant deficiencies and makes no fewer than 29 recommendations for overhauling the DEP's record keeping systems and addressing its completely inadequate process of conducting inspections is hardly validation of the agency's clearly skewed self-perception. It certainly provides no validation of matters that were outside of the scope of the audit, namely the DEP's ability to protect public health, safety, or the environment."
The organizations have regularly met with DEP staff for more than a year to discuss impacts from oil and gas operations on water quality.
Earthworks, one of the organizations involved in the meetings, recently released their own report Blackout in the Gas Patch, which details similar problems in how DEP permits and oversees gas and oil operations and subsequent impacts on air and water quality.
Both that report and the Performance Audit confirm many of the same issues the organizations have directly asked DEP to address.
“We’ve met with DEP, analyzed the response to the Auditor General, and conducted our own research with one central goal in mind: to help Pennsylvania’s regulators step up and protect the environment and health,” said Nadia Steinzor, Eastern Program Coordinator for Earthworks and author of the Blackout report. “DEP should stop refuting strong evidence of problems and start advocating for more agency resources and stronger industry oversight. Only then will it be able to fulfill its mandate and serve the public”
“We wholeheartedly agree with the overall conclusions of the Performance Audit and the Blackout in the Gas Patch report,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale Policy Associate, Clean Water Action. “If these reports validate anything, it is the message we have been publicly delivering for over a year now that DEP is underfunded, understaffed, and does not have sufficient policies in place to meet the continuing demands placed upon it by expanded shale gas development and to protect the environment and health.”
The organizations believe the reforms adopted by DEP and outlined in the comment response section of the Performance Audit are insufficient. Their letter details steps DEP needs to take in five key areas, including transparency of information; communication with citizens; tracking of complaints and agency responses; tracking of oil and gas field waste; and the frequency of well inspections.
The organizations hope these comments will spur DEP to provide clarification and enhance measures to solve and prevent environmental and health impacts associated with oil and gas operations, and to be more responsive to the public it serves.
“The DEP’s attempts to shirk all negative critiques make our calls for greater transparency louder. It is time for the DEP to own up to its flaws and start a real dialogue with the public. Our organizations will not stop applying pressure until the DEP institutes essential department-wide reform,” said Nick Kennedy, Community Advocate, Mountain Watershed Association.
“Unfortunately for Pennsylvania’s environment and the health of the state’s residents, the AG’s report validated many of the deficiencies that citizens and experts in the field already knew about the DEP’s oversight of fracking in the Commonwealth,” stated Kristen Cevoli, Fracking Program Director of PennEnvironment. “For the health of Pennsylvania’s citizens and its environment, it is critical that the DEP, as well as our elected officials in Harrisburg, embrace the recommendations laid out by the Auditor General’s office.  If not, fracking will leave Pennsylvania with the same toxic legacy as the coal industry before it, and future generations will be left footing the bill and doing the cleanup.”
A copy of the letter is available online.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Outdoor Celebration For Military Families Highlights Special Adaptive Recreation Event Sept. 6

Military service members, veterans and their families are invited to a free day of recreation at Gifford Pinchot State Park on September 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with the PA Parks and Forests Foundation.
Families can try a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, including kayaking, rowing, nature photography, disc golf, hand-crank bicycling, fishing and more at no cost. The event takes place at the Conewago Day Use Area, off Alpine Rd. in Wellsville, PA.
Now in its second year, Military and Families Appreciation Day: Returning to the Outdoors is designed for attendees to explore new kinds of recreation, enjoy the outdoors together, and learn about adaptive recreation opportunities for all who may have suffered injuries in the line of service.
“The goal is to inspire peers, families and friends to get outdoors by raising awareness of their options, providing hands-on training in a variety of recreational pursuits, and make adaptive equipment more readily available,” PPFF President Marci Mowery says. “We are thrilled to bring back this event for a second year and welcome all military families to come out and spend a special day at the park.”
More than 25 organizations will provide information and activities to try throughout the day. Activity leaders and exhibitors include Heroes on the Water-Central PA Chapter, Susquehanna Service Dogs, IAM ABLE Foundation, Summit Search and Rescue, Above Limits, Total Outdoors, Department of Military & Veterans Affairs Mobile Outreach Bus, Lebanon VA, PA National Guard, and many more. There will also be a free luncheon for attendees, donated by Mission BBQ restaurant.
Registration is encouraged, but not required for the event. Folks can learn more and sign-up for lunch online. They can also find the event on Facebook.

Brodhead Watershed Assn To Celebrate 25th Anniversary, Receives PPL Grant

The Brodhead Watershed Association received a timely donation this month supporting its Adopt-a-Stream Site Program and 25th Annual Dinner Celebration on October 2.
A donation from PPL Utilities in the amount of $3,000 will allow the BWA to step up vigilance in monitoring local streams, and protecting drinking water, and will contribute to a lively celebration at this year’s 25th Annual Dinner.
The BWA, a nonprofit environmental organization, formed in 1989 as a group of individuals and business owners dedicated to ensuring clean water in Monroe County.
For the past twenty five years, BWA’s Volunteer Streamwatchers have been testing water quality in the Brodhead, Cherry, Marshalls, McMichael, Paradise and Pocono creeks and their tributaries. PPL Utilities recognizes this important work spanning a quarter century, and a donation was made possible by Pocono Regional Affairs Director Paul Canevari.
“We are pleased to support the BWA and its volunteers to continue protecting the water we all drink and depend on,” said Canevari at a check presentation event this past Monday.
“We thank PPL Electric Utilities and Paul for his ongoing support of our essential work and look forward to acknowledging PPL Utilities as River Patron at our 25th Annual Dinner Celebration,” said BWA President John Smith.
Anyone interested in assisting the BWA protect the community’s water resources is invited to attend the Annual Dinner Celebration which will highlight the BWA’s activities over the past twenty five years.
The event will take place on October 2 at the Chateau at Camelback in Tannersville, Monroe County. Register at the Brodhead Watershed Association website or call the BWA office at 570-839-1120.

Natural Lands Trust Green Hills Preserve Now Open To Public In Berks County

Natural Lands Trust Wednesday announced its 168-acre Green Hill Preserve in Robeson Township, Berks County, is now open to the public.
Once slated for development, the property—known as Green Hills Preserve—provides crucial habitat for wildlife; now, it is a place of refuge and exploration for visitors as well.
The property, originally approved for a high-density development, went into foreclosure in 2009. Prudential Fox & Roach’s Land Development Division took the unusual step of seeking a conservation solution.
After more than two years working to piece together critical funding, Natural Lands Trust was able to purchase the property from the lender in 2012.
Over the past two years, Natural Lands Trust has worked to secure funding for visitor amenities, such as parking and a trail network. With those elements now in place, Green Hills Preserve is open—free-of-charge—to visitors for hiking, bird watching, nature exploration, and dog walking (dogs must be leashed at all times). The preserve is open during daylight hours, seven days per week.
Green Hills Preserve features gently rolling agricultural fields, woodlands, and wetlands. A tributary to Allegheny Creek, a Department of Environmental Protection-designated “Cold Water Fishery” stream, bisects the preserve.
The Preserve is situated within the Schuylkill Highlands, a region at the nexus of two landscapes that have been prioritized for protection: the Highlands (as defined by the US Congress) and the Schuylkill River watershed, a focus of much planning work by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, DEP and the Philadelphia Water Department.
The area’s importance derives from the need to protect water quality, conserve habitat, and develop recreational opportunities in a region set for considerable growth over the next 20 years.
For more information, visit the Natural Lands Trust’s Green Hills Preserve webpage.

EPA Presents President’s Environmental Youth, Environmental Ed Awards To 2 In PA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday presented the President’s Environmental Youth Award to May Wang from Bucks County and the President’s Innovations in Environmental Education Award to David Andrews of Butler County.
May Wang
15-year old May Wang was recognized for the experiments she conducted about removing a common contaminant from drinking water.
“Energetic students like May Wang and all the young people who competed for the PEYA awards have the enthusiasm to promote awareness of our nation’s environment,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Her water project demonstrates the kind of leadership needed to take on tough environmental challenges.”
Wang, a rising junior at Council Rock High School in Holland, experimented with using activated charcoal to remove Bisphenol A (BPA) from water supplies. BPA, which has been shown to cause reproductive and developmental effects in animal studies, is used in the manufacture of a wide range of consumer and industrial products.
From her experiments, Wang concluded that activated charcoal as a filter is effective for removal and is active for a number of times after the initial use.
In addition to the PEYA program, May’s research paper was accepted for presentation at the American Water Resource Association’s 50th Annual Water Resource Conference, and the Association for Environmental Health and Science Foundation’s 30th Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water, and Energy later this year.
Wang was one of 60 students nationwide to receive a PEYA award this year. The PEYA program is about promoting awareness of our nation's natural resources, encouraging positive community involvement, and recognizing students who can do these things and prove themselves to be outstanding young leaders in environmental stewardship.
David Andrews
David Andrews of Butler Junior High School in Butler with the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators.
“David Andrews’ dedication to environmental education inspires students to promote sustainability in their school and their community,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “He oversees several classroom projects that provide his students with a greater awareness of environmental issues and an appreciation of natural resources.”
Andrews, a general science, environmental science and chemistry teacher, was one of 17 teachers nationwide who received a PIAEE award.
Andrews raises brook trout with students through the “Trout in the Classroom” program and then releases the fish into streams to boost the local fish population. He also works with his students to conduct fish population and water quality surveys.
Andrews also oversees other classroom projects including tree-plantings, litter cleanups, coordinating paper recycling and providing opportunities for students to work with professional biologists. His work with local waterways encourages students to give back to their local communities and foster a sense of environmental stewardship.

Summer Issue Of Estuary News Now Available From Partnership For Delaware Estuary

The Summer edition of Estuary News is now available from the Partnership For The Delaware Estuary featuring articles on--
-- Investing In The Future, Delaware’s Clean Water Initiative
-- The Delaware River: Wild, Scenic and Managed
-- Interview With The Delaware River Masters
-- Water Systems To Be Major Challenge In Years Ahead
-- Revolution-Era Dam Surrendering To Shad After 2 Centuries
— NCCo's Stormwater Amnesty Program: Breathing New Life into Waterways
— Five DIY Projects that Really Hold Water
— PDE to Honor Two at Philly Fundraiser
— Five New Faces at the PDE
— Help Us Rally Supporters for the River and Bay
— Estuary Events

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