Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Learn How To Apply For Green Ribbon School Program In Oct. 7 Webinar

Join the Department of Education’s Science Advisor Dave Bauman as he presents a webinar on the U.S. Green Ribbon School Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Learn about this year’s application, important due dates and how your school can be involved.
The webinar will be held on October 7 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.  
Registration is required. A registration email confirmation will be sent regarding participation and instructions on how to participate in the webinar which is being held in GoToWebinar.
The webinar is brought to you by the Center for Schools and Communities which is administered by Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit through a grant from NOAA Chesapeake Bay Program to support Green Schools-Blue Waters Initiatives in PA.  We are a participant in the Pennsylvania Green and Healthy Schools Partnership.
Click Here to register for this webinar.  1 hour of Act 48 credit is available for this program.

PEMA: Citizens Urged To Watch For Flooding, Strong Winds This Weekend

Weather forecasts are calling for rain and strong winds this weekend, and state officials are urging citizens to watch for possible flooding over the next several days.
“We are several days away from any impact from Hurricane Joaquin, but we’re expecting more rain this weekend so if you live in a flood prone area, get ready,” said Richard D. Flinn, Jr., director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. “It is important for people to be prepared and what they do now can make a big difference if there is flooding later.”
Flinn said it is important for the public to understand the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning because each represents a different level of action to be taken--
— A flood watch means that flooding may occur. Residents should stay alert and watch rivers and streams, and be prepared to move to high ground quickly.
— A flood warning means that there is actual flooding. Residents should act at once and move to high ground
“People tend to underestimate the force of water,” Flinn said. “Six inches of fast-moving water can knock over a person and 12 inches of rushing water can carry away a small car. It is never safe to drive through or walk into flood waters.”
To help ensure safety for motorists and emergency responders alike, state law mandates that motorists who drive around or through signs or traffic control devices closing a road or highway due to hazardous conditions will have two points added to their driving records and be fined up to $250. Penalties are higher if emergency responders are called to rescue motorists who disregard warning signs.
Flinn said parts of the state could also see strong gusty winds over the weekend, and residents should consider securing or storing outdoor furniture, decorations or other items that could damage buildings or cars and injure others.
Families should take the time to create an emergency plan and build an emergency kit for their homes and cars using resources available online at The website includes free downloadable family plan templates and emergency kit checklists.
Information is also available by downloading the free ReadyPA app for Apple or Android devices.

PUC Welcomes Andrew Place To The Commission

The Public Utility Commission Wednesday welcomed Andrew Place, of Greene County, to the Commission and thanked the Pennsylvania Senate for its support of his nomination.
“Andrew’s unique background – blending work in academia, business and state government – will serve the Commission well as we strive to ensure a continued balance between consumer and utilities,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “He brings a wealth of insight to the Commission, especially related to Pennsylvania’s growing role as an energy hub, and my colleagues and I look forward to working with Andrew to address these important issues.”
Commissioner Place was approved Wednesday 48-0 by the Senate following a unanimous recommendation earlier in the day by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.
He will be sworn-in Thursday during a brief ceremony in Harrisburg, immediately following the PUC’s regular Public Meeting.
In his confirmation hearing remarks, Commissioner Place pledged to be “an unassailably independent voice,” and noted the many challenges and opportunities facing the Commission, ranging from utility infrastructure and competitive consumer markets to rail safety, utility security and energy diversity and efficiency.
Prior to his appointment to the Commission, Place was the corporate director for energy and environmental policy at EQT Corporation, where he focused on the economic, social and environmental balance inherent in energy policy choices.
He also worked to establish the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, and has served roles at the Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally, Place was a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy and has taught at the University as an adjunct professor.
Commissioner Place received his bachelor’s degree in economics, with a concentration in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh, where he graduated cum laude, and a master’s degree in public policy and management from the H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon, where he graduated with Highest Distinction.
He also owns and operates a 210-acre farm in Greene County, where he resides with this family.
Commissioner Place succeeded Commissioner James H. Cawley, whose term expired on March 31, 2015, following a combined tenure on the PUC of nearly two decades.

Covanta Acquires 2 Speciality Waste Services Companies In Pennsylvania

Covanta, a world leader in sustainable waste and energy solutions, Wednesday announced its subsidiary, Covanta Environmental Solutions, has acquired Waste Recovery Solutions, Inc. and Chesapeake Waste Solutions, two privately-held environmental services companies located in Pennsylvania.
The acquisitions will expand Covanta's industrial material management network and capabilities in the Mid-Atlantic region, complementing previous acquisitions of similar businesses in the Midwest and Carolinas.  
In total, the acquisitions completed to date are expected to contribute approximately $80 million of annual revenue.
These two acquisitions add four locations to Covanta Environmental Solutions' current asset base and allow for continued expansion of a comprehensive suite of environmental services offerings.
These offerings include treatment, storage, disposal and recycling of industrial waste, secure destruction of consumer products, reverse distribution of highly regulated pharmaceuticals through a Drug Enforcement Agency registered site, and environmental consulting.
"The acquisitions of WRS and Chesapeake will enable continued growth of our environmental services business by expanding our profiled waste volumes and providing new revenue opportunities through on-site services, transportation and industrial recycling. These businesses also complement and support our core Energy-from-Waste business," said Covanta's President and CEO, Stephen J. Jones.
Created through both organic growth and the acquisition of several well-established environmental services companies, Covanta Environmental Solutions offers comprehensive industrial material management services and consultative expertise to companies seeking solutions to some of today's most complex environmental challenges.  
With a nationwide network of treatment, recycling and Energy-from-Waste facilities, Covanta Environmental Solutions enables customers to mitigate risk and reach their sustainability goals.
Covanta operates five of the six energy-from-waste facilities in Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and York counties.
For more information on services and activities, visit the Covanta website.

Post-Gazette: Federal Court Says PA Haze Pollution Control Plan Inadequate

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the air pollution control plan Pennsylvania submitted in 2010 to meet U.S. Environmental Protection haze pollution control requirements was insufficient.
The decision said Pennsylvania did not require coal-burning power plants and industrial facilities to install the best available pollution control technologies.
The court appeal was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Sierra Club, the Clean Air Council and the National Parks Conservation Association.
The court found that Pennsylvania’s calculations supporting its “State Implementation Plan” — a document that is supposed to assess emissions sources and establish a plan to reduce them — was so lacking in specifics that it provided no justification for the EPA’s decision to approve the plan.
“Because we, as a reviewing court, need an agency to show its work before we can accept its conclusions,” Judge Thomas Vanaskie wrote in the opinion, “we will remand this case to the EPA for further consideration.”
A copy of the 2010 Plan is available online.
DEP’s 2010 plan can be found on the Bureau of Air Quality webpage.

DEP Update On Drilling Chemical Release Into Water Supplies In Potter County

The Department of Environmental Protection is issuing a Notice of Violation to JKLM Energy after the chemical release from JKLM’s Reese Hollow 118 well pad on September 18, 2015. The wellpad is located in Sweden Township.
The Notice of Violation includes: Failure to prevent pollution of fresh groundwater; Drilling through fresh groundwater with a substance other than air, freshwater or freshwater based drilling fluids; and Violations of Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law.
DEP has had representatives in the area almost daily since September 21, collecting samples, meeting with property owners affected by the release, and overseeing operations at the gas well.
More than 60 individual water samples have been taken from residential water supplies through September 29, 2015. DEP is continuing to test and analyze residential and municipal water supplies for evidence of contamination.
DEP is also ensuring water supply replacement to affected residences, including the Cole Memorial Hospital, which was transitioned to municipal water sources as a precaution.
The Department also participated in a September 25, 2015 meeting with the Potter County Commissioners, PEMA, Potter County EMA, Cole Memorial Hospital, Coudersport Borough, and JKLM Energy.
According to JKLM estimates, approximately 98 gallons of surfactant (F-485) was released to groundwater during top-hole drilling activities. This surfactant included isopropanol at 10-15 percent concentration, which is not approved for use when drilling through freshwater aquifers.
The surfactant was reportedly diluted in 22,000 gallons of water and also included 35 gallons of rock oil, a paraffinic petroleum product used to lubricate the drill bit. DEP is working to verify this information.
DEP is currently in discussions with JKLM Energy on cleanup and remediation of the release. JKLM has also voluntarily suspended related drilling activities at the Reese Hollow site.
If residents suspect contamination with their water supply, they should contact DEP at 570-327-3636 immediately. Residents with impacted water supplies should not use their water for drinking, washing or bathing.
Local residents with questions may also contact Dean Boorum, JKLM's community liaison, at 814-598-3960.
The company established a North Hollow Response website to provide regular updates as the groundwater investigation and response process continues.

Keystone Energy Education Program Workshop In Philadelphia Oct. 20

The Department of Environmental Protection invites middle school teachers, administrators, and building managers to an October 20 training workshop in Philadelphia on the Keystone Energy Education Program (KEEP) to teach and track energy efficiency in school buildings and homes.
The workshop is offered free of charge and will be from 8:20 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 500 W Willow Grove Ave.
KEEP is primarily for teachers of grades 4 through 8, administrators, and building maintenance managers. Workshop participants will explore energy conservation, efficiency, energy basics, student energy teams, and benchmarking the school building using the free Energy Star Portfolio Manager program through presentations, tours, and hands-on activities.
Participants will have the opportunity to integrate high-level, standards-based energy education into their formal curriculum. This could include lesson plans, curricular modules, energy benchmarking through EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager, or hands-on student-led energy efficiency assessments leading to improvements that reduce energy consumption.
The workshops are based on Pennsylvania’s Academic Standards and Assessment Anchors for Environment and Ecology, Science and Technology and Engineering Education.
Participating teachers will receive background information, standards-based curricular materials and energy conservation kits that contain a Kill-a-Watt meter, light meter, multimeters, power conserving plug-in wall switches, and thermometers (each kit is valued at $75).
Participating teachers will be eligible for 6.5 Act 48 credit hours.
Click Here to register online.Space is limited, so registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
For more information on the program, visit DEP’s Keystone Energy Education Program webpage.

Call For Proposals, Student Posters: 2016 Keystone Coldwater Conference

The 2016 Keystone Coldwater Conference organizers are now accepting presentation and student proposals for this special event.  It will be held February 26-27 at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in State College.
The theme for the upcoming conference is Coldwater Resources: Connecting Conservation, Protection, Restoration, and Stewardship.
Presentations are welcome on topics related to the protection, restorations and stewardship of Pennsylvania's coldwater resources.
Deadline to submit proposals is October 16. Click Here a presentation request form.  
Student Presentations
There will once again be a student poster session. College students currently participating in research that relates to the conservation, protection or restoration of Pennsylvania's coldwater resources are invited to participate.
Students should prepare a poster and a 3-5 minute presentation about their research. Posters will be judged by a technical team, and the top three presentation will be announced during the conference on February 27.
Click Here for more information.  To participate, email your abstract to Samantha Ferguson by January 29:
Opportunities to sponsor this very worthwhile Conference are still available.  Click Here for all the details.  PA Environment Digest is already a sponsor.
For more information, visit the 2016 Keystone Coldwater Conference website.

Wednesday PA Environmental NewsClips

Click Here  for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Make Your Reservations Now: PA Resources Council Awards Dinner Nov. 12

The PA Resources Council will hold its Annual Awards Dinner on November 12 from 6-9:00 p.m. at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
The dinner will include a networking reception and dinner, wine and beer tasting, silent auction and “wildly” delicious cuisine.
Click Here for more information about sponsorships and Click Here for dinner tickets.
          For more information, visit the PA Resources Council website or by calling 610-353-1555 ext. 230.

Bill Encouraging Reuse Of Treated Mine Water For Fracking Sent To Governor

Senate Bill 875 (Bartolotta-R-Fayette) encouraging the reusing of abandoned mine water for drilling operations was given final approval by the Senate Tuesday and now goes to Gov. Wolf for his action.
The bill clarifies legal liabilities associated with the use of treated mine water in oil and gas operations.
The use of treated mine water holds the potential to significantly decrease the use of fresh water in the natural gas extraction process, reducing the withdrawal demand on Pennsylvania rivers, lakes and streams.
Sen. Bartolotta, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, emphasized that her legislation would not weaken any existing environmental safeguards designed to protect public health.  It would only clarify parties that could be held responsible if the mine water is not treated or utilized properly.
“Using treated mine water in natural gas operations is an innovative and environmentally responsible practice,” Sen. Bartolotta said. “Clearing up this gray area in terms of liability will pave the way for more companies to explore this alternative.”
A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.

Fish & Boat Board Acts On Trout Waters, Endangered Species, Dam Removal

Trout anglers who want an experience targeting bigger fish will have the opportunity to catch 14”-20” trout in eight Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters, unveiled Tuesday at the quarterly meeting of the Fish and Boat Commission.
Under the program, approximately 3,200 large trout will be distributed among the eight waters, one in each commissioner district. The trout will be stocked at a rate of up to 250 trout per mile, which is comparable to the numbers of fish of this size in Pennsylvania’s best wild trout waters.
The Board also approved a pass-through grant of up to $130,000 to the Eastern Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation or other appropriate partner organization for the removal of the Solomon Creek Dam in Luzerne County.
The PFBC received the funds from the state Department of Transportation as mitigation for a highway improvement project on State Route 3046, Section 301, known as the South Valley Parkway Project.
The Board took these other actions-
— Approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking to add the Hornyhead Chub to the state’s Endangered Species list; to remove the Mountain Brook Lamprey from the Threatened Species list; and remove the Hornyhead Chub, Ohio Lamprey, Bowfin and Timber Rattlesnake from the Candidate Species list;
— Added 102 waters to the list of wild trout streams, revised the section limits of four waters, and removed one water; and
— Added 40 stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams.
A complete list of actions taken is available online.

DEP’s Richard Beam Wins National Abandoned Mine Land Assn. Teaching Award

Richard Beam of the Department of Environmental Protection was recently honored by the federal Office of Surface Mining with the 2015 Dave Bucknam Outstanding Instructor Award.
DEP earlier announced it had received a 2015 Excellence in Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Appalachian Regional Award for the Simpson Northeast Coal Refuse Fire Project in Lackawanna County.
Both awards were given on September 28 during an awards banquet at the annual conference of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Beam was given the award for his exemplary performance as an instructor for OSM’s National Technical Training Program. The award is given annually to an OSM-NTTP instructor who exhibits dedication, leadership, compassion, and commitment in promoting the training of fellow public employees.
OSM-NTTP has hundreds of instructors located around the country that include current or retired state, tribal, or federal employees certified to instruct by OSM-NTTP.
Over the past 15 years, Beam has been an instructor for OSMRE, teaching classes of colleagues about issues such as: acid forming materials, passive mine drainage treatment, computer applications for acid mine drainage treatment, and much more. He has also been involved in instructing two special training sessions on mine drainage treatment for Montana.
“Rich has a breadth of experience and passion that he brings to the workplace,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations John Stefanko. “In his capacity as an instructor, he has and will continue to foster important mine reclamation projects in Pennsylvania and beyond.”
Beam is a 28-year veteran of DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation. During that time, he has worked in a variety of positions within the mining program. He has a significant amount of expertise in the treatment of acid mine drainage.
Beam is a professional geologist, having received a bachelor’s of geology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 1984.
Pennsylvania has many environmental and safety hazards that have arisen as a result of past coal mining (pre-1977). These issues include: mine fires, mine subsidence, dangerous highwalls, open shafts and portals, mining-impacted water supplies and more.
DEP, through the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, seeks to remediate these hazards through projects funded by the federal Office of Surface Mining.

DCNR, DEP Increasing Efforts To Monitor Seismic Activity In Pennsylvania

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Tuesday announced the department, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection, is increasing earthquake monitoring in the Commonwealth.
For a number of years now DCNR, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State University, has been monitoring seismic activity (commonly referred to as earthquake activity).
The new joint effort will maintain a real-time network of 30 seismic stations around the state, many of them on state park lands.
“This initiative will help our Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey continue to map what is underground, and give us increased knowledge about naturally-occurring events, as well as induced seismic events resulting from quarry blasts, injection and hydraulic fracturing,” Dunn said.
In addition to the 30 stations, a pool of up to five temporary stations will be maintained for rapid deployment to investigate in detail seismic events of interest.
“This effort will give us a better overall understanding of the state’s geology.  It will allow us to know what is normal, and to be able to quickly identify what isn’t normal - whether manmade or natural,” DEP Secretary John Quigley said. “We can then apply this important information to permitting decisions and other work that protects public safety.”
DCNR and DEP are contributing a total of about $531,000 to support the seismic network for a period of three years.
Penn State will be working to create a website to provide public access to the data.
Pennsylvania experiences a relatively low level of natural earthquake activity compared to active states such as Alaska and California. However, small earthquakes do occur in the state, and all of Pennsylvania has been subject to the effects of earthquakes located outside our borders.
For more information about earthquake activity in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s Earthquake webpage.

Wolf Vetoes Republican Stopgap Budget Bills, Calls On GOP Leaders To Get Serious

Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday vetoed the Republican stopgap budget and called on Republican leadership to get serious about negotiating a final budget that moves the Commonwealth forward.
The stopgap budget bills include Senate Bill 1000 (Browne-R-Lehigh) General Fund Stopgap Budget Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note); Senate Bill 1001 (Browne-R-Lehigh) Fiscal Code Stopgap Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note); and amended House Bill 224 (Christiana-R -Beaver) with the Education Code Stopgap Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note).
Wolf released the following statement:
“Instead of seriously negotiating a final budget that funds education with a commonsense severance tax, fixes our deficit without gimmicks and provides property tax relief for middle-class families and seniors, Republican leaders passed a stopgap budget that once again sells out the people of Pennsylvania to oil and gas companies and Harrisburg special interests.
“Republican leaders are intent on Harrisburg politics as usual and embracing a failed status quo that is holding Pennsylvania back.
“Just like their sham budget in June, this stopgap budget makes it clear that Republican leaders not only want to do nothing to move the Commonwealth forward, but they are intent on taking us backwards.
“If the Republican budget became law, our deficit would balloon to $3 billion, and instead of restoring education funding, even further cuts would become necessary, and our credit rating would become junk status – that’s unacceptable.
“Throughout negotiations, I have tried hard to compromise, and recently, I offered historic reforms to the liquor and pension systems, two areas Republicans say are priorities, and in return, I have received nothing on education, a severance tax or fixing the deficit.
“Despite the political posturing and blatant obstruction by Republican leaders, I know there are rank and file Republican legislators who understand the importance of investing in education and there are rank and file Republican legislators who support a commonsense severance tax.
“Now is the time to come together to accomplish that goal – Pennsylvania cannot wait any longer.
“At every turn, Republican leaders have prevented serious negotiations because they are unwilling to take on oil and gas companies and Harrisburg special interests to make the long-term investments in education and the changes needed to help Pennsylvania families.”
Click Here for a copy of the short veto message for each bill.
Senate Republicans React To Wolf's Veto
            Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) released this reaction to Gov. Wolf’s veto: 
            “Today, Gov. Wolf again said no to vital funding for schools and community organizations. By vetoing the emergency funding plan, Gov. Wolf is preventing $3 billion of state support for schools and hundreds of millions of dollars for social service agencies from immediately reaching those in need. 
            “We are deeply troubled that the Governor has elected to hold vital services hostage. This does not have to happen – the money is there and our state hasn’t stopped collecting taxes. We are simply attempting to end unnecessary hardship while efforts to enact a full budget continue. Unfortunately, the Governor refuses to see this emergency funding plan as an opportunity to keep money flowing to schools and social service agencies. 
            “We met or exceeded his request on 70 percent of budget items and offered to match his proposal for school funding, yet Gov. Wolf still said no. It’s becoming more and more clear that for Gov. Wolf this budget impasse is about one thing – achieving a tax increase of historic proportions. With that stance, he is ignoring the will of the people. The majority of Pennsylvanians cannot afford for us to raise their income taxes and sales taxes by $4 billion. 
             “We have real differences. While we are greatly upset by the Governor’s latest rejection, we remain ready to talk further and ultimately pass a fiscally responsible budget for the citizens of Pennsylvania.”
School Districts Borrow $346 Million+
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale Tuesday said through September, the prolonged state budget impasse forced at least 17 school districts and two intermediate units to borrow more than $346 million to meet expenses and keep classrooms open. Interest and fees on those borrowed education dollars could reach $11.2 million.
“Our students have returned to their schools, but much-needed state funding is stalled by the budget impasse in Harrisburg,” DePasquale said. “It’s causing financial insecurity in schools across Pennsylvania and already forcing some to borrow money.
“Instead of focusing on education, schools across the state are having meetings to try and figure out how to get by every month, and shopping banks for loans that will hopefully allow them to keep the lights on.”
In the past month, Department of the Auditor General staff spoke with officials at nearly 300 school districts across the state. The department will continue to reach out to school districts and release updated borrowing figures every month until the final budget is signed into law.
In addition to loan interest payments and fees, the drawdown on schools’ reserve funds results in a permanent loss of future investment income that could support school programs.
“Every available dollar of school funding should go to classroom education, not interest payments and loan fees,” DePasquale said. “We already are seeing extra costs through borrowing and lost revenue from abandoned investments, and it is certainly going to get worse each day this impasse drags on.
“Even if the Commonwealth repays the borrowing costs to the districts and IUs — and that is not guaranteed — the money has to come from somewhere, and that could eat into other parts of the education budget,” he said. “This is already a huge problem affecting districts in rural, suburban, and urban areas. And it is going to turn into a crisis if the budget doesn’t get passed now.”
Some districts are struggling to get loans. For example, Steelton-Highspire School District in Dauphin County reports that it has enough cash to last until the end of September, then it will need to borrow about $8 million. So far, multiple loan requests have been rejected by banks.
“We are seeing the bond ratings for many schools being downgraded, making it even harder and more costly to borrow money to keep classes open until the state budget is resolved,” DePasquale said. “Who is going to help these school districts?”
A list of school districts borrowing is available online.
Republicans React To Auditor General
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) released a statement following Auditor General DePasquale’s press conference regarding Pennsylvania schools:
“Earlier today, Auditor General DePasquale showcased the very harsh reality of what Gov. Wolf’s budget veto has done to our schools.  They are left with uncertainty and without needed financial support.
“We fully understand the urgency to have a state budget in place.  The General Assembly presented Gov. Wolf with emergency funding legislation to provide our schools with over $3.1 Billion in funding. We urged Gov. Wolf to put our schools and vital services first and sign the emergency funding budget in order to provide stability while we continue to negotiate a final budget agreement.”

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