Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sen. Yudichak Calls For Task Force To Investigate Threat Of Lead Exposure In PA

Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Tuesday announced he and other lawmakers will soon reintroduce a resolution [Senate Resolution 33] that creates a bipartisan task force to investigate the scope of Pennsylvania’s lead exposure problem
The resolution directs the task force to recommend changes to existing laws, regulations, and procedures that will reduce the risk of lead contamination in Pennsylvania’s schools, daycare centers, homes, and water-delivery infrastructure.
The resolution also creates an advisory committee, reporting to the Joint State Government Commission, that will work closely with the Senate task force to complete its review and produce a report detailing its findings and recommendations to the Senate within 18-months.
The advisory committee will include cabinet secretaries, pediatricians, representatives of water authorities and private companies, maintenance workers in school districts, and the Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.
“We cannot eliminate the threat posed by lead contamination until we know the true extent of the problem in Pennsylvania’s homes, schools, daycare centers, and water-delivery infrastructure,” said Sen. Yudichak. “The task force will leverage the expertise of medical professionals, agency officials, and industry leaders who combat the dangers of lead contamination every day and are best suited to recommend policies and procedures to improve the quality of Pennsylvania’s drinking water. Pennsylvanians should never fear for theirs or their children’s health when they pour water from the faucet or drink from a water fountain.”
Sen. Yudichak can be contacted by sending email to: yudichak@pasenate.com or call 717-787-7105.
For more information on lead in water, visit DEP’s Lead In Drinking Water webpage.
Related Story:

Delaware RiverKeeper Submits Petition To EQB To Protect Spawning Fish Species

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network Tuesday petitioned the Environmental Quality Board, the rulemaking arm of the Department of Environmental Protection, to upgrade the existing and designated uses of Zones 3 and 4 of the Delaware River, River Miles 78.8-108.4, to recognize that fish propagation is occurring in these reaches.
By recognizing that the existing use in these Zones includes fish propagation, fish species like striped bass and shad will get important enhanced protections from pollutant discharges from wastewater treatment facilities or other polluting sources.
The Delaware River Basin Commission’s staff, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regions 2 and 3, and DEP itself, all support this upgrade, but DEP has not yet acted.
“We’ve known about increasing fish populations in this recovering section of the river for years, but DEP has failed to implement federally and state mandated protections to ensure that pollutants discharged do not adversely affect the spawning of these fish,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.
The petition will now be reviewed by the DEP and a hearing will be set to discuss the issues presented therein.
“Because the conclusions reached in the petition are the result of significant and verified scientific findings, we expect DEP’s prompt review and consideration,” said van Rossum.
A copy of the petition is available online.
For information on the petition process, visit the EQB Rulemaking Petitions webpage.

DEP Partnering On Discounted Building Operator Certification To Save Energy

The Department of Environmental Protection is partnering with the National Sustainable Structures Center, the Centre Region Council of Governments and UGI to offer a discounted certification program for Building Operators starting April 6 in State College.
Created and validated by industry experts and practitioners, BOC is the only credential program that is third-party verified to save energy, and the only program to require the compile on of hands-on projects for certification.
BOC Level I training: Students demonstrate knowledge of their own building by completing projects involving documentation of building equipment, systems and controls; benchmarking the building’s performance using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager; updating occupancy profiles; reviewing HVAC systems and opera on and mapping the facility’s electrical distribution system.
Who should enroll? Those with two or more years of experience in building operation and maintenance who wish to broaden their knowledge of the total building system.
The course will be held at the Centre Region Council of Governments, 2643 Gateway Drive in State College, Centre County.
The deadline for registering for certification is March 27.   The cost of the 7 classes in this certification program is $1,395.  The exam fee is $285.  Eligible participants can receive $339 off the certification program cost.
For more information, download the program flyer.  Click Here for course descriptions.  Click Here to register for certification course.

National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Accepting Applications For Chesapeake Bay Grants

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership, is soliciting proposals to restore water quality and habitats in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Proposals are due May 9.  Webinars for applicants will be held March 21 and 23.
NFWF estimates awarding up to $12 million in grants through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund in 2017, contingent on the availability of funding. Major funding for the Stewardship Fund comes from the EPA.
Note: There is a special priority for Pennsylvania farm conservation practices.
Other important contributions are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Altria Group, and CSX.
March 21 & 23 Webinars
NFWF will host a webinar for applicants on Tuesday, March 21st to review the Request for Proposals and respond to questions.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to participate, and can register for the webinar online.  
In addition, NFWF will provide training on the new online FieldDoc tool for calculating nutrient and sediment load reductions from proposed Stewardship Fund projects on March 23.  
All applicants proposing to improve water quality through their project, including those who have received Stewardship Fund grants previously, are strongly encouraged to participate, and can register for the FieldDoc webinar online.
A Request for Proposals detailing NFWF’s funding priorities and other key considerations is available online.  Applications must be submitted through NFWF’s online application.
For additional information or to discuss project ideas, please contact Jake Reilly by sending email to: jake.reilly@nfwf.org, Elizabeth Nellums by sending email to: elizabeth.nellums@nfwf.org, or Alyssa Hildt by sending email to: alyssa.hildt@nfwf.org or call 202-857 0166.

Get Outdoors Poconos March 18 Bruce Lake Natural Area Hike In Wayne County

The Brodhead Watershed Association is hosting a Get Outdoors Poconos hike to the Bruce Lake Natural Area in Palmyra Township, Wayne County just north of Promised Land State Park on March 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Beavers, giant boulders and a bounty of trails await intrepid winter hikers at Bruce Lake Natural Area.
Carol Hillestad will guide this 2.2 mile loop hike through the natural area and along the 47-acre Egypt Meadow Lake. Dammed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the lake accommodates many beaver lodges, and four of them are visible along the trail.
Enormous tumbled boulders are everywhere. Mountain laurel, beech, many kinds of oak, maples, and evergreens abound. One tall, old hemlock has a girth of more than 12 feet.
Hikers should meet at the trailhead on the east side of Route 390, just south of Route 84. Please do not block the trailhead gate. Trailhead coordinates 41.359356, -75.203335.
The hike series is supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
The hike is free, but registration is required.  Call 570-839-1120 or 570-629-2727 or send email to: info@brodheadwatershed.org to register or with questions.
For information about other hikes in the Northeast, visit the Get Outdoors Poconos webpage.  For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Brodhead Watershed Association website.

Delaware RiverKeeper Challenges DEP’s PennEast Pipeline Certification In Federal Court

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network petition for review says Pennsylvania failed to apply appropriate state standards for determining whether a 401 Water Quality Certification was proper and instead issued the certification contingent upon future review and state permitting of the project.
This legal challenge is similar to challenges the organization filed against the Leidy Southeast Pipeline on May 5, 2015 and against the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project filed on May 4, 2016.  Both cases are proceeding through the court process.
“The issuance of this approval to PennEast is a betrayal by the Wolf Administration of the highest order.  Gov. Wolf and DEP are more concerned with serving the profit goals of the pipeline companies than they are with protecting Pennsylvania’s environment and communities,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. “Gov. Wolf’s administration continues to issue unsupported and premature approvals to projects like the PennEast pipeline.  DEP, with the full knowledge and support of the Wolf administration, is failing to fulfill its obligations to determine whether pipelines like the PennEast pipeline will harm our communities and environment prior to deciding whether to give them state approval – this is an obvious violation of the state’s obligation to protect our environment and communities.”
The PennEast pipeline, if built, would carry fossil fuels through environmentally sensitive areas and public lands. Concerned residents and environmental groups have voiced concerns about the devastating and irreversible impacts should construction continue.
The 401 Certification was issued on February 7, 2017 and was noticed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on February 25, 2017.   
The route of the PennEast pipeline goes through communities in Dallas, Kingston, Jenkins, Plains and Bear Creek Townships, West Wyoming, Wyoming  and Laflin Boroughs, Luzerne County; Kidder, Penn Forest, Towamensing  and Lower Towamensing Townships, Carbon County; Lehigh, Moore, East Allen, Upper Nazareth, Lower Nazareth, Bethlehem, Lower Saucon,  and Williams Townships, and Easton City, Northampton County; and Durham and Rieglesville Townships, Bucks County.  
In addition the pipeline would cut through communities in Mercer and Hunterdon Counties, New Jersey.  
New Jersey has not taken steps to issue its approval for the project.  Approvals are also required from the Delaware River Basin Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers.  
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would also have to approve the project, “but that agency is so biased we all know their approval is a foregone conclusion,” says van Rossum.  “It is just a matter of when they will issue their approval, not if they will issue it.”
A copy of the petition for review is available online.
Delaware RiverKeeper Takes Legal Action Against DEP On PennEast Pipeline
Related Story:
PennEast Pipeline Receives DEP Water Quality Certification

March 20 Environmental Issues Forum Focuses On Waste Coal-Fired Power Plants

The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee will host its first Environmental Issues Forum of this year on March 20 to hear a presentation by the Anthracite Region Independent Power Plant Association on waste coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania.
ARIPPA Executive Director George Ellis will provide an overview of the coal refuse industry, the various benefits these facilities provide, as well as fiscal and regulatory challenges that may threaten the industry’s future if left unaddressed.
Using circulating fluidized bed boiler technology, coal refuse plants are able to generate up 10 percent of the state’s electricity from abandoned coal piles, which are a serious environmental hazard.
To date, over 200 million tons of coal refuse and 7,000 acres of abandoned coal lands have been remediated by this environmentally beneficial industry.
Despite marked improvement, the DEP estimates 300 million tons of coal refuse remain throughout the Commonwealth, and these facilities represent an important part of the comprehensive cleanup strategy.
The hearing will be held in Room 8E-A Capitol Building in Harrisburg starting at noon.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Joint Conservation Committee.
For more information, visit the Joint Conservation Committee website, Like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Committee.

Sen. Yaw Asks For Specific Plan On How Pennsylvania Will Meet Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Obligations

In comments at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Monday on the Department of Agriculture’s budget, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, expressed concerns about whether the state was doing enough to meets its obligations to cleanup the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
He asked Agriculture, and will ask DEP and DCNR, for a specific plan on how Pennsylvania is going to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup commitments.
Sen. Yaw noted a recent Penn State study found Pennsylvania should be spending more than $378 million a year to meet its federal mandate to cleanup the state’s rivers and streams flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, mostly in assistance to farmers.
Under the best circumstances, Sen. Yaw said, Pennsylvania is spending about $140 million a year to help meet Pennsylvania’s obligations.
Pennsylvania is way behind where we should be in meeting our Chesapeake Bay commitments, said Sen. Yaw, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now “breathing down our necks” to meet our commitments.
“If you don’t meet them, something bad’s going to happen,” said Sen. Yaw.
[In response to a question at the House budget hearing Monday, Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said the possible federal actions for not meeting Chesapeake Bay requirements include withholding federal funding, which EPA has done in some cases, having EPA overseeing individual permit actions and having EPA set its own permit requirements in Pennsylvania.]
In response to Sen. Yaw’s comments, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding explained the Governor’s budget has a 3-year, $45 million initiative in the proposed budget funded by a bond issue to address Pennsylvania’s water quality cleanup obligations, including $15 million over 3 years for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup specifically.
[Note: The bond funding initiative proposed by Gov. Wolf is not going over well with Senate and House Republicans.]
Sen. Yaw requested Secretary Redding to provided a list of specific things his agency and DEP and DCNR want to accomplish in terms of water quality improvement related to the Chesapeake Bay.  He said he wants to know what is being done over the next year, how Pennsylvania is going to do it and how many miles we’re going to cleanup and where.  
He said he will ask DEP Acting Secretary McDonnell the same question.
Sen. Yaw said Pennsylvania needs to tell EPA specifically what we’re doing, as well as other states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, like Maryland and Virginia.
Secretary Redding said he welcomed the discussion, because everyone recognizes Pennsylvania is behind and said Sen. Yaw’s suggestion was timely.
Redding reminded the Committee “we will need your help” in terms of funding.
In January, Sen. Yaw and the other House and Senate members representing Pennsylvania on the interstate Chesapeake Bay Commission wrote to all members of the Pennsylvania Senate and House to outline the need to address the state’s water pollution cleanup problems and propose a potential solution - a dedicated Clean Water Fund for Pennsylvania.
The letter proposes, as one solution, a water use fee to finance Pennsylvania’s water pollution cleanup effort that would raise an estimated $245 million a year.  They note water fee proposals were introduced last session in Senate Bill 1401 (Alloway-R- Franklin) and House Bill 2114 (Sturla-D-Lancaster).
The letter to members was signed by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Sen. Rich Alloway (R-Franklin), Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York) and Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster).
Click Here to watch the Senate budget hearing.  This exchange is at about 67 minutes into the hearing.
For information on Pennsylvania’s initiatives, visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office webpage.
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here for a copy of CBF-PA’s most recent newsletter.
Related Stories:
CBF-PA: Wolf’s Budget Lacks Adequate Investments To Meet PA’s Clean Water Commitments

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