Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Commonwealth Court Rules In Favor Of Private Lawsuits To Enforce Local Land Development Ordinances

Commonwealth Court Tuesday issued a decision involving a Blair County case where one landowner sought to enforce a local land development ordinance on another.  
The Court ruled under the Municipalities Planning Code there is a private cause of legal action to “enforce an alleged violation of any ordinance enacted under the MPC.”
Click Here to read the opinion.
This issue is important because it could impact lawsuits filed by the Delaware Riverkeeper and six Middletown, Delaware County residents seeking to enforce local zoning ordinances against Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline.
Of course, it could apply to any other land development issue as well.
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Joint Budget & Finance Committee Releases Report On Beneficial Use Of Biosolids

Among the findings in the report were--
-- PA sends more of its biosolids to landfills than most states.  About 46 percent are landfilled, 38 percent land applied and 15 percent incinerated.  Nationally about 60 percent of biosolids are land applied and 20 percent landfilled.  Disposal of biosolids cost about $70 million by all methods in Pennsylvania, according to a 2007 Center for Rural Pennsylvania report.
-- DEP only conducts periodic inspections of biosolids land application sites.  The Committee reviewed 12 facilities and 36 land application sites for 2014-2016 and found none of the facilities had an inspection and only 30 percent of the sites had an annual administrative review.
-- Public concern over offensive odors has been cited as the biggest threat to the beneficial use of biosolids.
-- Biosolids reduce fertilizer costs to farmers and the use of biosolids is protected under the Right To Farm Act as a result of a 2015 PA Supreme Court decision.
The report contained a single recommendation-- DEP should modify its General Permit requirements to require biosolids generators to develop odor management plans covering both the operating facilities and the receiving sites.
Click Here to watch a video of the meeting.
Click Here for a summary of the report.  Click Here for the full report.  Click Here for the presentation given to the Committee Tuesday by Executive Director Philip Durgin.
Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) serves as Chair and Sen. James Brewster (D-Allegheny) serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Reacts To Repeal Waters Of U.S. Rule

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Vice President Kim Coble issued this statement Tuesday following EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announcement they are proposing a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and revert to a previous definition of "waters of the United States."
"Clean water is a right, not a luxury. The proposal to rescind the federal clean water rule would allow more pollution in headwater streams and wetlands.
"Fortunately, most of the Bay states have regulations to protect these waters. But that could change. It is far cheaper to prevent pollution in the first place, than clean it up downstream.
"The Blueprint is working and we are seeing real progress. Now is not the time for the federal government to weaken efforts to reduce pollution."
[Note: Republican and Democratic Secretaries of DEP in Pennsylvania have said the repeal of the waters of the U.S. rule will have no impact here because state laws are stronger than federal laws in protecting streams, rivers and wetlands as waters of the Commonwealth.  But it will cause confusion among individuals expecting federal rules to apply in the state.
[The Secretaries of DEP, DCNR, Agriculture and the Fish and Boat Commission pointed out that fact and the potential for confusion in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on June 19.]

State Environmental Secretaries Hope For Full Collaboration In Developing New Waters Of U.S. Rule

Responding to U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal Tuesday to withdraw the agency’s 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule, the Environmental Council Of States expressed hope for a future collaborative process that ensures protection of human health and the environment.
"Today's proposed rule is a key step in creating an opportunity to develop a regulatory approach to defining waters of the United States in a fully collaborative fashion,” said ECOS President John Linc Stine, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “We look forward to a productive, results-oriented conversation among states, EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and all stakeholders to provide greater regulatory certainty and clarity, and to ensure that waters are protected by an appropriate allocation of state and federal laws, regulations, programs, and resources."
Last week, ECOS sent Pruitt a comment letter on the redefinition of waters of the U.S. following the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order on “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.”
In the letter, the association requests that EPA and the Corps engage states and other parties with significant interest in the ultimate WOTUS regulation via a negotiated rulemaking.
[Note: Republican and Democratic Secretaries of DEP in Pennsylvania have said the repeal of the waters of the U.S. rule will have no impact here because state laws are stronger than federal laws in protecting streams, rivers and wetlands as waters of the Commonwealth.  But it will cause confusion among individuals expecting federal rules to apply in the state.
[The Secretaries of DEP, DCNR, Agriculture and the Fish and Boat Commission pointed out that fact and the potential for confusion in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on June 19.]
Click Here for ECOS materials related to the President’s FY18 EPA budget.
For more information on initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Environmental Council Of States website.

Delco, Philadelphia Schools Celebrated As U.S. Dept. Of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Tuesday at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, environmental and educational advocates gathered to honor the School District of Philadelphia and Coebourn Elementary School in Delaware County as Pennsylvania’s 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.
“Pennsylvania’s Green Ribbon Schools serve as a model for teaching the value of environmental stewardship through the infusion of real-world experiences into the classroom,” said state Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. “I applaud the School District of Philadelphia and Coebourn Elementary School for their efforts to promote conservation and awareness, and thank them for their contributions to their communities.”
Secretary Patrick McDonnell from the Department of Environmental Protection; Secretary Cindy Dunn from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Nick Semon, President of PA Green & Healthy Schools Partnership; John Armstead, U.S. EPA Region 3 Deputy Regional Administrator; and lawmakers and advocates were present at the event to offer their congratulations to the schools.
“The efforts of Coebourn Elementary and the School district of Philadelphia prove that reducing our environmental impacts, educating the next generation to be good stewards of our natural resources, and saving money are all interconnected,” said Secretary McDonnell. “Our future depends on understanding, and protecting, our environment, and these schools exemplify a stellar commitment.”
School District Of Philadelphia
The School District of Philadelphia was recognized for its five-year sustainability plan, during which the district has pledged to make all schools “green schools” by 2020.
The district has incorporated sustainability-infused curriculum, professional development opportunities for teachers and operations staff, and monthly Education for Sustainability meetings with a committee of curriculum specialists, environmental staff, and external partners.
In May 2016 the district launched its first five-year sustainability plan, called GreenFutures.
The plan aims to reduce energy consumption districtwide, increase waste diversion from landfills, increase school green spaces, and create healthy indoor environments and healthy living habits.
Below are examples of just some of the many green initiatives the district has undertaken:
-- Home to 19 registered National Wildlife Federation EcoSchools and a 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.
-- LEED certifications have been obtained for eight district schools.
-- The district implemented a comprehensive recycling program at 42 schools and plans to implement full recycling programs at every school within five years.
-- Construction of large green stormwater infrastructure projects was completed at 31 schools.
-- In 2011, the district was awarded the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Great Start Award for establishing an indoor environmental quality program that was based upon the EPA’s Tools for Schools program.
-- In 2016 a minimum of three hydration stations were installed at every school. These are filtered for lead, chilled, and have a bottle filling counter to illustrate to students how many water bottles are saved from landfills by using the stations.
-- The district uses certified Green Seal cleaning products.
-- Sustainability-infused curriculum, professional development opportunities for teachers and operations staff, and the intentional shift in organizational culture toward sustainability is a priority for the School District of Philadelphia.
Coebourn Elementary School
Coebourn Elementary School, in the Penn Delco School District, demonstrated a commitment to sustainability education through classroom lessons, school-wide announcements, and professional development.
Coebourn’s Green Committee established monthly green activities for the entire school community, and students get hands-on experience through participation in service projects and groups like the Compost Club.
Coebourn Elementary is a new construction in the Penn-Delco School District that opened in January 2015.
During construction of the Coebourn Elementary, the district opted for a hybrid geothermal HVAC system, replaced several dual-fuel large boilers with high efficiency gas fired boilers and domestic hot water heaters, and installed heat wheels and reheat systems.
Coebourn uses low-flow fixtures throughout the school. There is no irrigation system onsite; grass is watered by rain only. The site includes rain gardens and stormwater inlets.
Coebourn has implemented and maintains a single stream recycling program with Waste Management as its partner. Coebourn’s science curriculum includes a deep understanding and connections to life, physical, and earth sciences.
“In addition to protecting the environment, and the health of students and teachers, green schools provide great opportunities for teaching young people, who are our next generation of conservationists,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
Since 2011, the ED-GRS program has nominated schools, districts, and institutions of higher education across the country for their dedication to reducing environmental impact and cost, improving health and wellness of schools, and providing environmental education to students.
Nationally, 45 schools, nine districts, and nine postsecondary institutions were named 2017 Green Ribbon Schools.
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools webpage.
For information on how you can turn your school green, visit the PA Green & Healthy Schools Partnership website.

Report: Exelon Has Lowest Rate Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions By Far Of Any Major Electric Power Producer

Exelon Tuesday announced the American Council For An Energy-Efficient Economy reported Exelon had the lowest rate of carbon dioxide emissions among the 20 largest privately held or investor-owned energy produces with the next best ranking company coming in with six times Exelon’s emission rate.
Based on U.S. Energy Information Administration and Environmental Protection Agency data, the 2017 Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers report indicates that Exelon’s nuclear, natural gas and renewable energy plants continue to have by far the lowest rate of carbon dioxide emissions among the 20 largest privately held or investor-owned energy producers.
Two of the company’s utilities, BGE in Maryland and ComEd in Illinois, were in the top 10, with Pennsylvania’s PECO also making the list. Exelon’s Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco utilities were not evaluated in the study, which was based on utility retail sales.
“Customers want reliable, affordable energy that doesn’t come with harmful air pollution,” said Chris Gould, Exelon’s chief innovation and sustainability officer. “We’re answering that call by providing more ways for them to conserve energy -- which lowers costs -- and by enabling the transition to a low-carbon future that protects the long-term health of our communities.”
The ACEEE study examined metrics across three categories including savings and spending performance, program diversity and emerging areas, and efficiency-related regulatory issues, using 2015 data.
Combined, customers of the six Exelon utilities have conserved 27 million megawatts of power since the inception of the various energy efficiency programs, enough to power more than 2.5 million homes for one year.
Customers also saved almost $9 billion dollars through a variety of programs that encourage lower energy use, including appliance rebates and bill credits for using less energy on certain hot days.
ComEd has plans to double its energy efficiency offerings as part of Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act, passed in 2016.
The Benchmarking Air Emissions report evaluates publicly reported emissions data from the nation’s 100 largest electric power producers. The latest rankings are based on 2015 data.
Since that period, Exelon has added additional clean resources to its nuclear fleet, including acquisition of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear energy plant in New York.
Click Here for a copy of the report.
Last year, Exelon received A- Leadership scores from the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) for disclosures in the three areas CDP measures – climate change, water use management and sustainable supply chain efforts.
Exelon has been a leader in CDP disclosure performance for more than six years. Exelon has also been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America Index for 11 consecutive years.
Exelon has also received other national and global recognitions for programs to incorporate clean energy, energy efficiency and smart grid technology as part of its strategy to build a sustainable and reliable next-generation energy grid.
To learn more about Exelon’s programs to protect the environment and enhance communities, read the Sustainability Report 2016 and visit Exelon’s Sustainability webpage.
(Photo: Exelon-Epuron Solar Energy Center, Falls Townships, Bucks County.)

Wednesday PA Environmental NewsClips - Budget Storm Day 3

The Feds
Click Here for Updated Environmental NewsClips & News
Click Here for PA Capitol Digest NewsClips & News
Click Here for PA Environment - The Feds

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pennsylvanians Benefit From Natural Gas Use; 68,536 Natural Gas Wells, 69 Gas Power Plants

Associated Petroleum Industries in Pennsylvania Tuesday released a new study on the benefits natural gas brings to the state in terms of consumer savings, family-sustaining jobs and economic growth.
“Natural gas is critical to our way of life in Pennsylvania,” said Executive Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman. “Over the past decade, our state has experienced massive growth in clean-burning natural gas production due to technological innovations and industry investment, helping create jobs and strengthen our state’s economy.”
The study by ICF International examined the economic benefits and opportunities from the entire natural gas value chain, including the production of natural gas, its transportation and end uses like power generation and manufacturing.
Natural gas benefited Pennsylvanians in 2015 in the following ways:
-- Supported 178,100 or 3.1 percent of jobs in the state; and
-- Contributed $24.5 billion to the state’s economy.
The report said in 2015, Pennsylvania’s natural gas and oil infrastructure on the ground included:
-- 21,940 producing oil wells and 68,536 producing gas wells;
-- 11 gas processing plants in the state with a capacity of 754 MMcf/d;
-- 49 natural gas storage sites in the state with a working gas capacity of 426 Bcf;
-- 69 natural gas-fired power plants;
-- 26,536 miles of gas gathering lines;
-- 9,899 miles of gas pipelines;
-- 24 miles of crude oil pipelines;
-- 1,141 miles of natural gas liquids pipelines;
-- 1,956 miles of product pipeline;
-- 47,954 miles of gas distribution mains and 28,711 miles of service lines; and
-- No CO2 pipelines.
“From power generation for homes and businesses that benefit from affordable and reliable electricity, to the industry’s skilled workforce that produces natural gas, to pipelines and the workers who build them, the advantages of natural gas are wide-ranging,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “With energy week in full swing, this study is another example of the job and consumer benefits of natural gas across the country.”
The study found that consumers in all 50 states will save an estimated $655 by 2040 from natural gas production, transportation and other uses such as electricity generation.
Other report highlights on the benefits of natural gas production, its transportation and end uses throughout the value chain include:
-- By 2040, consumers across the country will save an estimated $100 billion, or $655 per household, from the increased use of natural gas throughout our economy – from manufacturing to generating affordable electricity.
-- In 2015, the natural gas supply chain supported 3 percent of the U.S. economy, including direct, indirect and induced activities and jobs associated with natural gas.
-- In 2015, natural gas supported more than 4 million jobs across the country from production to end uses like manufacturing. That number is expected to rise to 6 million jobs by 2040.
Click Here for more information on benefits to Pennsylvania (page 217) in the full report.

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