Friday, July 31, 2009

Aug. 3 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The August 3 PA Environment Digest is now available. Click here to print this Digest.
Selected Headlines--
Governor Asks House To Send Him Budget Bill, Conference Committee Suspends Meetings
Submissions For Growing Greener Anniversary Grants Due August 20
Senate Committee Reports H20 Program, Coal Refuse, State Park Events Bills
Bill Protecting Redevelopment Agencies From Environmental Liability Now Law
REAP Farm Conservation Tax Credit Applications Accepted Starting August 3
Aquarius Spring! Awards Nine Mile Run Assn $50,000 Grant, Cleanup Events Set
CBF Receives $800,000 Federal Conservation Innovation Grant For Bradford County
Chester Conservation District Receives Non-Point Source Funding
Improvements To Canoe Creek In Blair County Made By Wildlife Partners
Western PA Conservancy Protects Ligonier Farmland And Loyalhanna Creek Watershed
It's Natural: Conservation, Agronomy Work Together At Ag Progress Days August 18-20
Coal Refuse Power Plants Restore Over 4,500 Acres, Award Winners Announced
First West Branch Susquehanna River Mini-Symposium Attracts 50 On Tour
Kettle Creek Watershed Association Habitat Project Set For August 17-25
PA CleanWays Completes 13 County, Pittsburgh Illegal Dump Surveys
Verizon Wireless Kicks Off Wireless Phone Recycling Drive In Pittsburgh
Wildlands Conservancy Seeking Nominations For Charlie H. Nehf, Sr. Leadership Award
Study Confirms Marcellus Shale Development Will Have $14.17 Billion Impact In 2010
CNX Gas Leases 40,000 Acres With Marcellus Shale Potential In PA, West Virginia
Chesapeake Energy Now Largest Marcellus Shale Leaseholder With 1.45 Million Acres
SRBC Hearing August 4 On Proposed Natural Gas Drilling Regulation Changes
New Law Supports Safe Use of Fire For Land Management
Agriculture's Work Continues To Eradicate Giant Hogweed
PA Parks & Forests Foundation Summer Newsletter Now Online
Estemerwalt Log Homes Saves Over 1,000,000 Gallons in Fuel Oil
American Water Works Assn. Sponsors WaterFest V On September 17
Water Trails Workshop Hosted By PA Environmental Council September 15
Western PA Conservancy Announces Photo Contest
DCNR To Begin Collecting Seismic Data During Second Week Of August
AG Urges Consumers To Shop Carefully For Energy Efficient Products, Services
DEP Opportunities To Bid On Projects In Mercer, Montgomery Counties
Spotlight - Quecreek Mine Rescue Remembered On 7th Anniversary
Feature - Hope For Avondale Mine Disaster Site Through Community Revitalization

Friday NewsClips

Rendell Calls Off Budget Circus
Two Lawmakers To Meet Rendell On Budget Crisis
Public Budget Talks Don't Last Long, Legislators Go Private
PA Budget Talks Lead To Nowhere
State Workers Doubt Rendell
York Township Seeks Grant For Creek Facelift
Stimulus To Offset Cost Of Arona Sewer Project
Speakers: PPL Plan To Cut Energy Consumption Isn't Enough
Dickinson Honored For Going Green

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Budget Conference Committee Suspends Meeting For Leaders To Meet

Gov. Rendell has asked House Democrats to act on Senate Bill 850 before Monday so state workers can be paid. Yesterday he promised to blue line-- veto-- all but 75 budget line items that would keep critical state government programs functioning. He also said he would immediately furlough 300 state workers as he promised to do.
Conference Committee "moderator" Rep. Dwight Evans has suspended the Conference Committee meetings until he, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) and Gov. Rendell can meet on budget issues.
At a noontime press conference, Gov. Rendell again was critical of the progress being made by the Budget Conference Committee and Senate Republicans in particular for taking time again on procedural issues.
The Governor also chastised Senate President Pro Tempre Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) for setting a special election date of September 29, rather than waiting for the regular November election just four weeks later. He said the special election will cost taxpayers $400,000. That money, he said, could help fund necessary government programs.
He said again members of the Conference Committee should act like adults.
The morning session of the Budget Conference Committee again dissolved into bickering about procedural issues and what items the Committee would discuss first.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) said Conference Committee moderator (they haven't agreed he's Chair yet) Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) failed to keep an agreement to have staffers from the Governor's Budget Office at the meeting today to answer questions about available tax revenues for the new fiscal year. He pointed to empty seats on the stage of the Forum Building where the meeting is taking place and said if the budget was so important to the Governor, then he'd have his people there.
The remainder of the morning session was taken up with talking about various education line items with Rep. Evans questioning his own Appropriations Committee staff.

Thursday NewsClips

Rendell Plan: Pass Budget, He'll Veto Most
Governor Moves To Pay Workers As Budget Talks Stall
Rendell Likely To Sign Interim Budget
Forrest Wood Fishing Tournament Expected To Draw 60,000 Fans
Editorial: Eyes Of Fishing World Are On Pittsburgh
Water Quality In Lake Erie Declines
Editorial: Dredging The Delaware
Flood Control Fee Gets Court Airing
Duryea Pulls Plug On River Cleanup Project
Pittsburgh Businesses See Green In Recycling Effort
Rain Day Prediction Holds True Again In Greene County
Op-Ed: Wind Turbines A Scam, Only Benefit Builders
Op-Ed: Wind Energy Is Bargain, Cost-Efficient And Clean
Target In Wilkes-Barre To Save Energy
PA Designates August 9 Coal Miners Day
Powell To Speak At Flight 93 Sept. 11 Anniversary

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Budget Conferees Meet, Gov. Rendell Has Plan To Pay State Employees

At the initial meeting of the Senate-House Budget Conference Committee members argued over committee rules, over what issues to start with first-- Senate/House Republicans-- what the total spend will be-- or House/Senate Democrats with individual line items. It went on for four hours.
At a press conference one hour into the Conference Committee discussions, Gov. Rendell said if there is not substantial progress by Monday, he will ask the House to send him Senate Bill 850-- the Senate Republican budget-- and he will blue line, veto, all line items in the bill that are not absolutely critical to the operation of state government-- fewer than 75 lines out of over 700 will survive. He said it's not a stopgap, and not a real budget, but a bridge budget.
Gov. Rendell said it would take 5 days to get state workers their first check after a budget bill is signed. He also said there would be an immediate layoff of 300 state workers when the bill is signed.
Budget conferees will meet again Thursday morning starting at 9:00 a.m.

Nominations Due For Wildlands Conservancy’s Charlie H. Nehf, Sr. Leadership Award

The Wildlands Conservancy is seeking nominations for the Charles H. Nehf, Sr. Conservation Leadership Award to honor an individual who has made a life-long and an outstanding commitment to environmental education, preservation of wildlife habitats or land conservation efforts in the greater Lehigh Valley region.
Nominations are due October 2.
Charles H. Nehf, Sr. was instrumental in the preservation of thousands of acres of woodlands, special eco-systems and other wild places in eastern Pennsylvania. As a volunteer, Nehf headed the Wildlands Trust Fund of Wildlands Conservancy for nearly 15 years. He was an avid hunter, angler and served as the Morning Call’s outdoor columnist, an Allentown School District teacher and administrator and board member of Wildlands Conservancy.
Nominations can be submitted by a one-page summary of the nominee’s accomplishments and justification for receiving the award. Contact information of the nominee and the group or individual making the nomination should be included.
The award will be given at Wildlands Conservancy’s annual Green Gala, which will be held Friday, November 20, 2009 at Brookside Country Club. Past recipients include Bob and Ardie Rodale; Gloria Pool and the late Leonard Parker Pool.
Send nominations to the Nomination Committee c/o Wildlands Conservancy, 3701 Orchid Place, Emmaus, PA 18049.

REAP Farm Conservation Tax Credit Applications To Be Accepted Starting August 3

The State Conservation Commission will begin accepting applications for the next round of Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax credits beginning August 3.
Last year, the Commission received enough applications to use up the entire $10 million appropriation in the first few hours of the first day applications were accepted.
The guidelines and application forms are posted on the REAP webpage. Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Any applications with a postmark prior to July 30 will be returned.
All applicants who applied in the previous fiscal year funding round, but were not approved because the REAP credits were exhausted, were mailed a short “Addendum Application.” These applicants will not be given any priority in the first-come, first-served process, however, and must submit this application along with the other new applicants.
Will There Be Funding?
At this point in the budget process, it is not yet certain whether the REAP Tax Credit Program will be kept at the existing $10 million level or changed.
Gov. Rendell's proposed budget included $10 million for REAP. The proposed Senate Republican budget did not specifically eliminate the REAP tax credit, however, their budget would eliminate $250 million of the $324 million allocated for all tax credits.
For more information, visit the REAP Program webpage or contact Mary Bender at 717-787-8821 or by sending email to:

NewsClips/Conferees To Meet

The Senate-House Budget Conference Committee meets at high noon today. Gov. Rendell said he would outline options today for pay state workers.
Public Budget Talks To Start
Meet The Budget-Makers
State Employees Demand Action
PPL energy Conservation Plan Sparks Debate
Green's A Good Idea For Baby's Home
Marcellus Shale = 176,000 Jobs?
Employment Could Triple In Marcellus Shale Region
DEP Investigating Gas Well Leak In McNett Township
Lycoming County To Hold White Goods Collection August 8
Rubbish Scattering On The Rise
Venango Tech Center Invests $3.4 Million In Energy Efficiency Upgrades
Funds Geared To Fight Greenhouse Gas
Man Found Dead In Bucks Quarry After Party

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

House Names Conferees, Budget Conference Committee Meets Wednesday

The House appointed Majority Leader Todd Eachus (D-Luzere), House Majority Appropriations Committee Chair Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) and House Minority Leader Sam Smith (R-Jefferson) to the budget bill conference committee.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) announced the House-Senate Conference Committee on the budget will meet for the first time Wednesday.

Senate Names Budget Conferees, Governor Seeks Pay Options

The Senate tonight voted to insist on its amendments to House Bill 1416, originally the House Democratic budget bill, and appointed its three conference committee members: Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Senate Appropriations Committee Minority Chair Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).
The House now must appoint its conferees-- two Democrats and a Republican. It takes four members of a conference committee to agree on a bill to report it out of conference.
Gov. Rendell said at a press conference Monday he was considering stopgap budget actions that would allow state workers to be paid. He would decide on an option on Wednesday. He said budget negotiations have shown little movement, particularly on the part of Senate Republicans. The Senate Republicans, he said, have to "get real" about the budget negotiations.
The Governor also said he agreed to cut an additional $8 million from the Department of Environmental Protection budget.
Rendell Hints At Proposing Stopgap Spending
Stopgap Budget Would Let State Pay 77,000 Workers
Rendell Floats Stopgap Plan In Budget Crisis

DEP Applauds PA CleanWays For Identifying Illegal Dump Sites

The Department of Environmental Protection this week recognized PA CleanWays for its efforts to combat the illegal dumping of trash and littering by surveying, assessing and documenting illegal dump sites across Pennsylvania.
PA CleanWays, a non-profit organization that works to eliminate illegal dumping and littering, announced the latest survey results for Adams, Armstrong, Centre, Clarion, Forest, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Perry, Montgomery, Snyder, Warren and Westmoreland counties and the City of Pittsburgh.
“Illegal dump sites do more than create eyesores in our neighborhoods and on our landscapes,” Secretary Hanger said. “They create direct threats to the health and safety of people and animals. Before dealing with a problem, you must first identify it. PA CleanWays is taking that important first step.”
PA CleanWays began surveying illegal dump sites in 2005. To date, surveys in 37 counties have identified 4,159 dump sites containing an estimated 14,493 tons of trash. The organization’s goal is to survey the entire state by 2014.
Completed survey results have shown that illegal dumping is a problem in urban and rural areas. For example, 279 illegal dump sites were identified in the city of Pittsburgh, while 105 sites were found in rural Perry County. Dump sites have been identified in municipalities that have mandatory trash collection and recycling programs, and many sites are still active.
“Cleaning up dump sites is costly and time-consuming,” Secretary Hanger said. “Disposing of trash properly, however, generates revenue through tipping fees at landfills and incinerators, which is used to fund other ventures, like the state’s recycling program. Unfortunately, these surveys confirm that many recyclable materials never make it into the system.”
Last fall, DEP awarded PA CleanWays a $1 million grant to aid its efforts. In addition to identifying the illegal dump sites, the organization is educating the public and raising awareness of the hazards of illegal dumping as well as resources for affordable disposal and recycling.
In April, DEP announced the first Illegal Dump Cleanup program. Nearly $500,000 was granted to help clean up 350 sites in 31 counties, some of which were identified through the dump site surveys.
“We need to move forward with identifying these sites and cleaning them up,” Secretary Hanger said. “We also need to work on preventing future cleanups from being necessary. Through proper trash disposal, we can help make our state a cleaner, safer place for everyone.”
Pittsburgh Dump Sites Health Hazard, Official Says
Study Cites 92 Illegal Dumping Sites In Lackawanna County

Small Changes In Natural Gas Prices Will Offset Impact Of Proposed Natural Gas Severance Tax

Marcellus Shale development will pump $14.17 billion into the state’s economy in 2010 and create more than 98,000 jobs, while generating $800 million in state and local tax revenues, according to an economic study completed by the Pennsylvania State University for the Marcellus Shale Committee and the House Natural Gas Caucus.
The industry study notes a consistent increase in annual drilling and projects a $25 billion contribution to the Commonwealth’s economy in the year 2020. This level of activity would generate almost $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue and create more than 176,000 new jobs.
The study confirms the "main factor affecting (Marcellus Shale) development is the market price for natural gas." (page 7) In fact, the study says that for every one percent change in price, drilling increases 2.7 percent. (page 33)
The study contents drilling activity would be curtailed by about 30 percent if the proposed severance tax on natural gas production were enacted in the state. (page 31) The result would be to generate $1.4 billion less state and local total tax revenue between now and 2020 than if the industry is allowed to grow without the new proposed tax.
It would also result in less job creation and overall economic benefits in Pennsylvania. No other mineral in Pennsylvania is subject to such tax, however, coal mined in Pennsylvania is subject to a 35 cent per ton federal mine reclamation tax.
The study, however, does not take into account projected changes is natural gas prices over the study period and its impact on drilling activity and state and local tax revenues.
Even a small change in natural gas prices, less than 41 cents per million BTUs over the 11 years of the study, would offset the impact of the proposed severance tax, according to information in the study.
The price of natural gas on July 22 was $3.79 per million BTUs, up 50 cents over the previous week, according to the Energy Information Administration. The study notes the average price of natural gas has been $7 per million BTUs. (page 7)
Pennsylvania is the only state with major natural gas reserves without a severance tax on natural gas production. A recent poll found 87 percent of those surveyed support a severance tax if revenues were used to fund environmental programs.
The industry study also confirms companies drilling Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves do not pay Pennsylvania's 9.99 percent Corporate Net Income Tax like other large businesses in the state because they are organized as limited partnerships which pay taxes at the Personal Income Tax rate of 3.07 percent like any individual. (page 30) (Click here for a full copy of the study)
Marcellus Shale Estimated Natural Gas Yield Rises
Gas Well Tax will Impede Development, Study Claims
Rapid Growth In Marcellus Shale Jobs, Study Says
PennFuture Calls Study Example of Fuzzy Logic

Tuesday NewsClips

Rendell Hints At Proposing Stopgap Spending
Rendell Floats Stopgap Plan In Budget Crisis
Rendell Drafts Plan to Pay Workers
Pittsburgh Dump Sites Health Hazard, Official Says
Study Cites 92 Illegal Dumping Sites In Lackawanna County
Marcellus Shale Estimated Natural Gas Yield Rises
Gas Well Tax will Impede Development, Study Claims
Rapid Growth In Marcellus Shale Jobs, Study Says
Bottler Denied Permit To Tap Somerset Watershed
Pro Anglers Hooked On High-Tech Fishing
Man Seeks To Overturn Windmill Zoning Changes
Groups Target Tons Of Trash From Illegal Dumping
Exploring The Susquehanna
Going Green On The Green
MCCC, DEP Collaborate TO Offer Waster Management Certificate
Renovo Rail Takes Steps To Serve Gas Drilling Industries
School Districts Saving Energy, Cash
Mine Subsidence Has Sandy Run Residents Worried

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quecreek Mine Rescue Remembered At 7th Anniversary

The Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation Saturday held the seventh anniversary celebration of the rescue of nine miners from the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County.
On July 24, 2002 miners broke through into an abandoned, water-filled mine flooding the Quecreek Mine with over 50 million gallons of water. Nine miners scrambled to safety, but nine were trapped in a pocket of air in the dark, cold, water-filled mine. They were rescued four days later through the combined efforts of state and federal mine rescue agencies and hundreds of workers and volunteers.
The celebration event included the kickoff of a capital campaign, which will be the core fundraising effort that allows the Foundation to complete the Education and Visitor Center. The Center’s museum will include exhibits featuring actual equipment and other artifacts from the rescue.
Bill Arnold, QMRF President, stated, “I am blessed and honored to be a part of something so big that has continued to draw visitors and volunteers to the rescue site over the past seven years. We are eternally grateful and inspired by those who continue to give their time, resources and financial support to make the Education and Visitor Center a reality.”
“With more than 10,000 visitors every year to the rescue site, we were just getting overwhelmed. The new visitors’ center will help us tell the story of the Quecreek miracle,” said Arnold. “This is a working farm and we used our own storage building to display the rescue capsule, drill bit and other equipment used in the rescue.”
In 2008 Gov. Rendell signed into law the first update to the Bituminous Coal Mine Safety Act in 45 years, prompted in part by the lessons learned from the Quecreek Mine Rescue.
In 2007 the General Assembly passed the Mine Families First Act to put into law the policies Gov. Mark Schweiker adopted to keep mine families involved in accidents informed of the progress of rescue operations before the media.
In 2006 the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission officially recognized the mine rescue site as part of the state Historical Marker Program erecting a blue and gold historic marker at the Arnold Farm. (click here to visit DEP's Quecreek Mine Rescue webpage.)

Sunday NewsClips

Senate Republicans Refuse to Buckle Under Pressure
Rendell Lacks Leverage In Budget Negotiations
Rendell's Lagacy, GOP's Need For Identity Collide
Rendell, GOP At Odds Over The Deficit
Paychecks Stalled, State Workers Seek Help
Three Rivers Ecological Research Center Reconsidered
Anglers To Fish The Three Rivers for A Trophy
Lycoming County To Restore Floodplains
8 Areas Identified For Floodplain Restoration In Lycoming County
Volunteers Are Key To Success Of Susquehanna Warrior Trail
Fees Planned For Recycling Electronic, Household Items In Erie
Quecreek Group Plans Visitors Center On Mine Rescue
Quecreek Mine Rescue Marks 7th Anniversary

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 27 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The July 27 PA Environment Digest is now available. CLICK HERE to print this Digest.
Selected Headlines--
State Of Budget-- There Is No Rational Reason For Optimism
Environmental Groups Outline Budget Priorities In Letter To Senate, House Members
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Highlights Watershed, Environmental Funding Needs
Webinar- PA Energy Conservation Works! Grant Webinar July 27
Submissions For Growing Greener Anniversary Grants Due August 20
House Environmental Committee Reports Solar Testing Lab, Coal Refuse Bills
Senate Committee To Consider H20 Program, Coal Refuse, State Park Events Bill
PennVEST OKs Interesting Green Infrastructure Projects Funded By Stimulus Monies
$14.9 Million In Stimulus Funding Awarded For Farm BMPs To Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Conservation Districts Present Awards To Individuals For Conserving PA’s Natural Resources
Agriculture Recognizes Pennsylvanians For Conservation Successes
State Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference Attracts Over 168 People
DEP Invites Public To Erie July 28 Meeting On Great Lakes Restoration Plan
American Water Announces $32,800 In Environmental Grants To PA Groups
Conservation Districts Gets a New Look In PA, New Website
2010 Keystone Coldwater Conference Seeking Speakers, Posters
Ohio River Watershed Celebration Changed To October 1 To Avoid G-20 Summit
Cabot Oil Now Producing 39 Million Cubic Feet Of Natural Gas A Day In Pennsylvania
EPA Invites Public To Vote In The Rachel Carson Sense Of Wonder Contest
PA Resources Council Offers Rain Barrel, Composting, Invasive Species Workshops In Fall
Lancaster County Waste Authority Receives SWANA 2009 Excellence Award
Wyoming County Illegal Dump Cleanup Removes More Than 20 Tons of Trash, Tires
Pennsylvania Receives $38.8 Million For State Energy Projects
GreenQuest Offers Free Community Energy Efficiency Tool to School Districts
Urban Eco Electric's Free Solar Panel Program In Philadelphia
DEP Accepting Applications For Alternative Energy Production Tax Credit
PA Conservation Works! Grant Workshops Set For Pittsburgh On August 5
Green Technology Upgrades At PA Farm Show Complex To Save $300,000 Annually
PUC Approves PPL's Plan To Mitigate Projected Rate Increases
Keystone Connections Newsletter From PUC Is Now Available Online
51 Work Plans, Recommendations Approved By DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee
Game Commission Posts Draft Strategic Plan For Public Comment
Emerald Ash Borer Found In Indiana County; Quarantine Expanded
Game Commission Seeks Citizen Advisory Committee Volunteers
Brinley Named DEP Deputy For Community Revitalization & Local Government Support
Spotlight - Passive Mine Drainage Treatment System Snapshots

51 Work Plans, Recommendations Approved By DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee

Members of the DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee met July 17 to discuss their final work plan recommendations for the department's consideration for inclusion in the Climate Change Action Plan.
The CCAC recommended 51 work plans, rejecting only three that were under consideration. An additional five work plans had been analyzed for their microeconomic impacts but required no further action because they represent recent actions already established via federal or state law.
The department is beginning to draft the report for the Climate Change Action Plan which will be completed after receiving the results of the macroeconomic modeling in September. The next full CCAC meeting is August 14.
The revised, approved work plans and recommendations will be posted on the Climate Change Advisory Committee webpage within the next week or so.
For more information, contact Joe Cherrick, DEP Climate Change Program Manager, 717-705-0372 or send email to:

Brinley Named DEP Deputy For Community Revitalization

DEP Secretary John Hanger has announced the appointment of Denise Brinley as the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Community Revitalization and Local Government Support.
“Denise's knowledge and professional experience in the public and private sectors makes her well qualified to lead this important deputate within DEP,” Secretary Hanger said.
Brinley has recently served as the Executive Assistant and Land Use Coordinator in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Community Revitalization and Local Government Support. In addition, she was the Local Government Liaison based out of DEP’s Southcentral Regional Office for four years.
Prior to joining the department, Brinley was employed in the private sector in a variety of professional positions. She was employed by Intercorp, Inc. as an Environmental Insurance Specialist and XL Environmental, Inc. as an Environmental Insurance Underwriter. She began her environmental career as a Hydrogeologist while employed at Groundwater Services Corporation.
Denise holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geosciences from Franklin & Marshall College where she graduated Cum Laude and she also holds a Master of Science degree in Geology from the University of Maryland.

DEP Accepting Alternative Energy Production Tax Credit Apps

The Department of Environmental Protection announced tomorrow it is accepting applications for the Alternative Energy Production Tax Credit which provides a credit of 15 percent of the net cost of alternative energy production projects located in Pennsylvania. Applications are due September 15. (formal notice)
Eligible projects could include projects which: produce or distribute alternative energy, manufacture or produce products which provide alternative energy or alternative fuels, improve energy efficiency or conserve energy, research and develop technology to provide alternative energy sources or alternative fuels, develop or enhance the transportation of alternative fuels by means as rail, developing new more efficient locomotives or enhancing the efficiency of existing locomotives.
Eligible applicants include Pennsylvania taxpayers who completed a qualifying project in this Commonwealth between July 9, 2008 and December 31, 2008, in the preceding tax year.
DEP said the application package including guidance, instructions and application forms would be posted on its website under keyword "Alternative Energy Tax Credit."
The application package is also available by contacting the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Energy and Technology Deployment, 15th Floor, Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market Street, P. O. Box 8772, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8772, 717-783-8411.

GreenQuest Offers Free Energy Efficiency Tool To School Districts

In order to encourage community-wide energy efficiency, GreenQuest has launched the "School's Out Promotion" for school districts.
GreenQuest is a personal web-based energy dashboard that enables home and business owners to track the energy use for their home or building and gain valuable energy efficiency insights.
Through the School's Out campaign, school districts can provide GreenQuest to their students, staff and community members at no cost to the district or the community. The School's Out free offer is available to districts that enroll by August 31.
For more information, visit the School's Out webpage. Visit the GreenQuest website for more information or contact Chris S. Heinz, Director of Marketing, by sending email to: or calling 877.327.3702 x24.

Growing Greener Anniversary Grants Due August 20

The Growing Greener Watershed Restoration Program will be ten years old in December and to help celebrate 10 groups have come together to invite watershed groups to share their success stories on a special Growing Greener website.
Thanks to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds and an anonymous benefactor, two $250 grants will be given to the watershed groups with the best article and photo or video each month through December.
The groups partnering to sponsor the celebration include: the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, Stream Restoration, Inc., the Western Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Eastern Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the PA Association of Conservation Districts, LandStudies, Inc. and PA Environment Digest.
August 20 is the next deadline for entries for the second month of the grant program.
Visit the GrowingGreener website and learn how you can earn $250 for your watershed group by sharing your Growing Greener success story. Look over the history of the program and see the stories, photos and videos already posted there.

Friday NewsClips

Rendell Makes Media Push For State Budget
Rendell Optimistic About Budget Talks, GOP Leader Not So Sure
Rendell Optimistic On Budget, Others Less So
As Paychecks Evaporate, It Keeps Morale Down
Landfill Site Eyed For Solar Collection
Restoration Effort Will Focus On Mahanoy Creek Watershed
Letter: Open Letter To Delaware River Basin Commission On Drilling Permit
In Philly, It's Not Easy Being Green
Column: How To Harness Green Power
Franklin County Has Paperless Initiative
PUC Approves PPL Rate Hike Payment Plan
PPL Customers Can Defer Part Of Rate Increase, Could Save Money

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DEP Invites Public To Erie July 28 Meeting On Great Lakes Restoration Plan

In response to the proposed investment of $475 million for Great Lakes restoration projects in the 2010 federal budget, the Department of Environmental Protection is encouraging local residents to attend a public meeting to learn about restoration plan and offer comment.
The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 28, at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Room 112, 301 Peninsula Drive, Erie. The meeting will be hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force.
“Lake Erie defines the identity and character of the Erie area, as well as being a major contributor to its economic vitality,” said DEP Chief of the Office of the Great Lakes Lori Boughton. “The financial commitment proposed in the 2010 federal budget will help communities solve the many environmental challenges that exist throughout the Great Lakes.”
The $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative proposed by President Obama puts EPA in charge of leading the effort which will target the most significant environmental problems in the Great Lakes basin.
EPA is holding meetings in states within the Great Lakes basin to share with the public current plans for implementing the initiative, to collect ideas and feedback on how to make the restoration effective in addressing the problems, and to learn about restoration plans and activities that are already under way.
EPA also is interested in gathering ideas to set priorities for 2011 and beyond as part of a multi-year Great Lakes action plan.
Questions regarding the July 28 meeting or Great Lakes issues should be addressed to Lori Boughton at 814-217-9635 or
Visit the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative webpage for more information.

EPA Invites Public to Vote in the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invites the public to vote for their favorite submissions in the third annual Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Intergenerational Poetry, Essay, Dance and Photography Contest.
A panel of judges has selected the finalists in five categories: photography, essay, poetry, dance and mixed media (photography and a poem or essay).
Pennsylvania-native Rachel Carson is considered to be the founder of the contemporary environmental movement through her book, "Silent Spring." Using the title of another of Carson's books, "The Sense of Wonder," the contest sought submissions "that best express the 'Sense of Wonder' that you feel when observing the sea, the night sky, forests, birds, wildlife, and all that is beautiful to your eyes."
Finalists were selected based on originality, creativity, use of an intergenerational team, and ability to capture a sense of wonder. The deadline to vote is October 1. Winners will be announced later that month.
The contest is sponsored by the U.S. EPA Aging Initiative, in partnership with Generations United and the Rachel Carson Council Inc., and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.
To vote, visit the Sense of Wonder webpage.

Wednesday NewsClips

House Votes Down Senate Budget Bill
Leader-Run Talks May Resolve PA Budget
The Calls Grow Louder: Pay The State Workers
Pitt Study Shows Green Roofs Help Delay Rainwater, Sewage Overflow
Water Grants, Loans To Get Projects Moving In Western PA
Game Commission Purchases Buffer Around Flight 93 Site
Gamesa Plans No Layoffs At Western PA Plant

$14.9 M In Stimulus Funding For Farm BMPs

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was awarded $14.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds today, to pay local contractors to install a variety of farm conservation practices that will reduce pollution and, in some cases, use manure to create energy. The grant funding provided by PENNVEST will be used in 16 counties in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“Along with providing local jobs, this funding will ensure that farms meet or exceed basic criteria designed to prevent pollution from reaching local waterways,” said CBF Pennsylvania executive director Matt Ehrhart. “In addition, these are ‘shovel ready’ projects, which will break ground by this fall.”
Grants will pay for conservation practices including forest buffer restoration, animal waste storage, rotational grazing, and anaerobic digesters that turn waste into energy.
CBF worked with the Conservation Districts in Adams County, Columbia County, Montour County, and Susquehanna County, as well as agricultural consultants Red Barn Consulting, Inc., and TeamAg, Inc., to identify projects to fund.
“Thousands of miles of Pennsylvania waterways are impaired as a result of runoff from farms, development, and other sources, which contributes to the dead zones that plague the Chesapeake Bay every summer,” Ehrhart said. “Pennsylvania will soon be required to significantly reduce pollution flowing down to the Chesapeake Bay, and installing conservation practices is the most cost-effective way to reduce that pollution.”
It is estimated that the practices funded by this grant will reduce pollution by 1.3 million pounds of nitrogen, 445,000 pounds of phosphorus, and 1,000 tons of sediment annually. (click here for full stimulus announcement)

Environmental Groups Outline Budget Priorities

Several major state environmental groups sent another letter to all members of the General Assembly today outlining their budget priorities for the coming budget conference committee.

The undersigned organizations believe the following policies must be part of any final state budget agreement:

1. Enacting the proposed natural gas severance tax and dedicating a portion of these funds to the Environmental Stewardship Fund and to affected local governments.

In these tough economic times, as Pennsylvania’s residents pay their fair share of taxes, it’s critical that the natural gas industry pays its fair share as well. Yet Pennsylvania remains one of only two states that allow natural gas drilling but do not assess a severance tax to compensate for the depletion of a nonrenewable resource and for damage to natural resources and public infrastructure. The severance tax would not create any greater disincentive to drilling than in other states; consider also that the vast majority of extraction companies do not pay the state’s corporate net income tax because of their corporate structure. As you probably know, the proposed tax rate is five percent of the value of the natural gas at the wellhead, plus 4.7 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas removed. Please call on your party leadership to make this a part of any final budget agreement.

2. Ensuring that the budgets of Pennsylvania’s two environmental agencies, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), are not subject to cuts disproportionate to other state agencies.

While the undersigned organizations understand that in these tough budget times all of the Commonwealth’s agencies will have to tighten their belts and make difficult financial decisions as part of any budget agreement, we believe that it is essential that the budgets of DCNR and DEP receive cuts that are fair and comparable to other Pennsylvania agencies. Conversely, the undersigned organizations will oppose any efforts to deliver budget cuts that are deeper and more harmful to these two environmental agencies than other state agencies. We ask you to advocate on behalf of DCNR and DEP when holding budget discussions with your leadership.

3. Safeguarding State Forest lands from proposals to open additional publicly owned acres to gas drilling until potential impacts can be assessed and appropriate protections can be put in place.

The impacts of gas drilling on the 660,000 acres of publicly owned State Forest already open for drilling have yet to be assessed. The undersigned organizations strongly oppose proposals that would open up hundreds of thousands of additional acres of State Forest lands to drilling until it can be demonstrated that new leases will avoid environmentally sensitive and ecologically important areas and minimize impacts of drilling and related activities on other forest values and uses as well as assure that the revenue derived will be reinvested in conservation, recreation and flood control projects as has been state policy through the past 54 years and seven recessions.

Much of the additional state land that would be opened to drilling is wholly unsuitable for resource extraction; a concern that becomes all the more compelling given the rise in environmental damage occurring as Marcellus Shale drilling increases. The potential long-term consequences of this action would be: scarring of public lands, degradation of our most pristine water resources, and destruction of wildlife habitat.

Take the example of one company’s gas well drilling in Washington County’s Cross Creek Park: a leaking waste water pipe polluted a tributary of Cross Creek Lake killing fish, salamanders, crayfish and aquatic insect life -- and degrading water quality for area residents. Or the example of another company which received a cease and desist order from DEP this July for more than 320 violations of environmental laws and regulations. These two examples will be magnified enormously -- with significant consequences for our public lands and waters. For these reasons, the undersigned organizations will vocally oppose any final budget deal that puts short-term financial gain ahead of the responsible management of Pennsylvania’s public lands including protection of its environmentally sensitive resources.

In these tough economic times, it is critical that legislators from both chambers and both parties work together to protect our environment and continue the Commonwealth’s strong legacy of environmental protection and conservation. These policies will ensure that Pennsylvania may continue on this course.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the undersigned organizations with questions or if you need more information. We appreciate your work to protect Pennsylvania’s environment.

Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future
GreenSpace Alliance
Montgomery County Lands Trust
Natural Lands Trust
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association
Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society
Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter
The Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Chapter
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

House Sends Budget Bill To Conference, Suspends Legislative Calendar

The House just voted by 150-49 to non-concurr in the Senate amended version of the House Bill 1416 budget bill. The action sends the bill back to the Senate for a vote on whether it will insist on its amendments. If it does, and it will, the bill will then go to a conference committee, guaranteeing state workers and state vendors will not get paid until there is a final resolution of the budget.
The House Democratic Appropriations Committee published a comparison of the amended budget to the original House-passed version of the budget bill and to the House Republican budget that is available on the Crisci Associates website.
House Majority Leader Todd Eachus (D-Luzerne) also announced the House will suspend its legislative calendar until the budget is negotiated. He also put members on a 6 hour call, like the Senate, allowing them to leave town until called to return by the Speaker.

House Environmental Committee Schedules Meeting Wed.

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meets on July 22 to consider bills on siting new coal refuse disposal areas and creating an alternative energy testing laboratory. The bills include:
-- House Bill 1624 (Cohen-D-Philadelphia) establishment and operation of a solar and alternative energy testing laboratory; and
-- House Bill 1847 (Harhai-D-Westmoreland) adding areas adjacent to or an expansion of an existing coal refuse disposal site to preferred coal refuse disposal sites priorities.
The meeting will be held in Room 39 East Wing at 9:15.
Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and Rep. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Minority Chair.

Tuesday NewsClips

Gov. Rendell's job approval rating has shrunk to its lowest level ever, 39 - 53 percent negative, and voters see him as most responsible for the state's budget mess. Voters also reject 63 - 33 percent the Governor's call to raise the state income tax temporarily to balance the budget, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Senate GOP Pares Budget, Sends To House
Senate Bounces Back Budget Plan To House
State Budget Still Not Close To Being Passed
No Softening Stances As Senate Answers House
Sides Still Far Apart On PA Budget
Midstate Food Bank Extends Hours For State Workers
Scout Warns Of Dangers Of Putting Chemicals Into Sewers
Opera Joins Pittsburgh's Green Renaissance
Opera Going Green In Strip Offices
Editorial: Green Acres, Two Proposals Would Deliver Better Buildings
Federal Disaster Aid For Flooding Victims Denied In Western PA
Southpointe Firm Plans First Solar Power Plant In Western PA
Mine Tunnel Discharges Not Chemical

Monday, July 20, 2009

Keystone Coldwater Conference Seeking Speakers, Posters

The organizers of the 2010 Keystone Coldwater Conference are seeking speakers and posters for its February 19-20 conference.
The theme of this year's conference is "Responsible Energy Development: Protecting Our Coldwater Resources."
Proposals are welcome in four major priority areas: oil and gas exploration and extraction, wind power generation, access and transmission corridors and coal extractions. (click here for more details)

PA Energy Conservation Works Grant Webinar

The Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the Local Governments for Sustainability, will offer a webinar on July 27 from 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. that focuses on the new PA Conservation Works! energy conservation grant program.
The webinar will address what the PA Conservation Works program is, project eligibility, and how local governments in Pennsylvania can apply to receiving funding as part of this new program. Speakers include representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection and ICLEI. (click here for registration information)

Senate Due To Consider Budget Amendment Further Cutting Environmental Funding

The Senate Republicans today will propose an amendment to the House Democratic budget passed Friday in House Bill 1416 that will cut environmental funding roughly an additional $94 million.
Following the lead of House Democrats, Senate Republicans are dipping into DCNR's Oil and Gas Fund for an additional $94 million, diverting it to help balance the budget.
Other individual line item changes from the original Senate-passed budget in Senate Bill 850 include:
Agriculture: $5.3 million increase generally, Conservation Districts + $456,000;
Conservation & Natural Resources: $233,000 reduction (from Forest Pest Management); and
Environmental Protection - $782,000 reduction, $623,000 from General Govt. Operations, $159,000 from Chesapeake Bay Pollution Abatement Program.
A comparison of the Senate Republican, House Democrat and House Republican environmental budgets is available online.
A comparison of the original Senate Republican budget passed in May as Senate Bill 850 and their new amendment is also available online.
A new Senate Republican balance sheet is also available.

Monday NewsClips

Senate GOP Budget Action Could Force Talks
Interest Groups Plead For Money, But Will It Work?
Budget Cuts Erode Conservation Efforts
PA Climate Study Predicts Hotter Weather, Less Snow
Best Hikes Near Pittsburgh Offers Shortcut To Hiking Trails
DEP Investigation Substance At Butler Mine Tunnel

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 20 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The July 20 PA Environment Digest is now online. Click here to print this Digest.

Selected Headlines-
House Ds Adopt Budget Diverting, Cutting $459 Million In Environmental Funding
Drastic Budget Cuts Will Hurt Environmental Programs Mandated By Law - Video Blog
Environmental Groups Urge Governor, Legislators Not To Mortgage PA's Future - Video Blog
Budget: PA Environmental Council, The Nature Conservancy Urge Investment In Future
PA Environment Daily Blog, Twitter, Updates During This Extended Legislative Session
Submissions For Growing Greener Anniversary Grants Due July 20
House Passes Bill Requiring Use Of Green Building Standards
Joint Conservation Committee July Environmental Synopsis Available
Proposed Change To Clean and Green Program Will Improve Soil, Water Quality
Fish And Boat Board Asks Doug Austen To Step Down As Executive Director
Montgomery County Community College Offers Water Management Certificate Programs
Economic Stimulus Funding Helps Correct Erie County Water Problem
Next H20 Water Infrastructure Funding Applications Due August 4, CFA OKs Projects
Comments Invited On Federal Stimulus Water Infrastructure Projects, Meeting Set
PA CleanWays Announces New Washington County Chapter
Philadelphia Sets All-Time Record For Recycling
Recycling Performance Grant Applications Due To DEP September 30
DCNR Seeks Comment On Right-Of Way Process For State Parks, Forests
Game Commission Adds Habitat Happenings To Website, New Habitat Improvement Signs
Emerald Ash Borer Found In Armstrong, Washington Counties; Quarantine Expanded
Court Decision Upholds Constitutionality Of Philadelphia Outdoor Advertising Controls
PUC Sets Public Hearings On Energy Efficiency, Conservation Plans
PA's Solar Capacity To Triple With Help Of New State Investments
8th Graders Are Learning And Earning At Environmental Camp
Save The Date: PA Environmental Educators Conference March 12-13
EPA Awards $9.2 Million In Clean Diesel Stimulus Fund To PA Projects

Friday NewsClips

House Rejects GOP-Backed Budget Proposal
Budget Deadlock Remains
Without Budget, State Cannot Allocate Millions
Editorial: Shared Obligations Of Gas Drilling's Advance
Editorial: Chemicals For Fracking Should Be Disclosed
Editorial: Natural Gas A Transitional Fuel
Over $13 Million In State Grants For Northumberland Water Projects
Casino Fined For Wetlands Violations
First Two Energy Efficient Homes Completed In Pittsburgh
Bayer, PPG Industries To Receive Nearly $1.5 Million Combined For Wind Projects
New Parks & Rec Commish Has Ambitious Plans For Philadelphia

Thursday, July 16, 2009

DEP Mining Reclamation Advisory Board July 23, 24 Meetings Cancelled

The July 23 meeting of the Mining Reclamation Advisory Board has been cancelled. Also the July 24 Field Trip has been cancelled. The next meeting and field trip will be rescheduled for a later date, as yet to be determined.
Questions concerning the next scheduled meeting of the Mining Reclamation Advisory Board can be directed to James Charowsky at 717-787-7007 or by send email to

Thursday NewsClips

Rachel Carson Top Floors To Be Out Of Commission Through Weekend
House To Begin Debate On Competing State Budgets
Budget With No Tax Increase On Move, Drops College, Student Funding
DRBC Delays Ruling In Northeast Gas Drilling Dispute
DRBC Begins Review Of First Natural Gas Application
SRBC Proposed Drilling Rule Changes Open For Comments
Decision On Natural Gas Company Application For Water Withdrawal Postponed
Gas Drilling Expansion Brings Rail Jobs To Carbondale
Luzerne County To Collect Levee Fee
Rule Would Encourage Green Building In Pittsburgh
Solar Power Company To Build Plant At Sony Site
PUC Sets Hearings On Energy Efficiency Plans
Eco-Sexy Eagles Bioloicious Couture Calendar Unveiling
Wind Company Continues Fight With Fayette Zoning Board
Electric Cars Coming To State College
Clinton County Receives $4 Million For Water Systems
Clearfield County Receives $10.1 Million In Infrastructure Grants
State Doles Out $16.5 Million For Sewer Projects
Grants Announced For Luzerne County Sewer Projects
Lackawanna County Receives $8 Million for Water, Sewer Projects
Phoenixville Award State Grant For Water, Sewer Projects
CFA Approves $490 Million In Sewer, Water System Upgrades

Drastic Budget Cuts Will Hurt Environmental Programs Mandated By Law

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation expressed great concern today over drastic cuts to environmental funding that have been proposed during the budget process. Some of the cuts will threaten key pollution-reduction programs that the Commonwealth committed to implementing over the next two years, and which are mandated by federal law.
“The budget cuts disproportionately affect environmental and conservation programs, which are some the most cost effective ways to reduce pollution in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Matthew Ehrhart, Executive Director of CBF’s Pennsylvania Office. “With goals unmet, lack of compliance with current laws, and new regulations potentially on the horizon, it is extremely short-sighted for our leaders to remove the tools that we will need to meet our commitments under the Clean Water Act.”
Some of the programs, like local Conservation Districts that provide local environmental support and enforcement, are functions required by law.
“Funding for these programs is not optional,” said Ehrhart. “On the contrary, many programs being cut are integral to meeting federally mandated obligations, and without them Pennsylvania’s communities and farmers will not be able to meet these mandates.”
In addition, water protection programs threatened with cuts include Sewage Facilities Planning, Stormwater Management, REAP (the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act) farm conservation tax credits, and Nutrient Management programs for farmers.
“Reductions in these areas, as well as reducing staff in the departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, will result in higher costs for consumers, municipalities, and farmers across the Commonwealth as Clean Water Act pollution-reduction requirements increase in the coming years,” Ehrhart said.
CBF believes that new opportunities for revenue, that do not add economic pressure to our citizens, are needed to offset budget cuts. One such opportunity is the proposed industry severance tax on natural gas extraction.
Pennsylvania is the only major fossil fuel producing state that does not impose a severance tax on natural gas to help mitigate local and environmental pressures of extraction. This tax is projected to collect $107 million in revenue this year with minimal impacts on the industry. Another opportunity is the state’s “Rainy Day Fund,” which could be used in its entirety this year
“There is no question that the budget situation is dire, and that all will feel some pain,” Ehrhart said. “That pain should be equitably distributed, and programs necessary to achieve the pollution reduction required by law must be maintained.”
(Click here for a history of $784 million in environmental cuts over the last six years.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

House To Consider Budget Bill Thursday

The House today voted to suspend its rules to consider budget issues Thursday-- House Bill 1416 (House Democratic version of the budget), a comprehensive budget amendment proposed by House Republicans and any budget amendment filed by 5:00 today.

Doug Austen, Fish & Boat Commission E. D., Ousted

The Fish and Boat Commission board Tuesday reassigned Executive Director Dr. Douglas Austen to a new position in the agency. Austen joined the agency in 2004. (Click here for news story)

DEP Rachel Carson Building Still Having Problems

DEP posted this notice on its website today: DEP is experiencing some electrical issues in our central office. At this time, some phone lines are down and some personnel do not have access to email.

Wednesday NewsClips

Chasm Between Dems, GOP Widens In Budget Impasse
State Workers Anger Boils On Capitol Steps
State Allocates Millions For Carbon Solar Plant
Penn State Plans To Go Green To Save Some Green
Montgomery Community College Using Funds For Green Efforts
Recycling In Philadelphia At All Time High
Recycler Dumped Electronics In Africa, EPA Says
Gas Drillers Face Wastewater Regs
Water Extractors Boon To Boroughs
West Branch Susquehanna Cleanup Saturday
Regulations Of Septic Tanks Nothing New
$67.5 Million Deficit In Shippingport Nuclear Plant Cleanup Fund

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

DEP Rachel Carson Building Closed, Phone, Email Down

The Department of Environmental Protection posted this notice on its website today: The Rachel Carson State Office Building is closed for the rest of the day. DEP is experiencing electrical issues in our central office. At this time, our phone lines are down and we are experiencing email and website issues.

CBF: Changes Will Improve Water, Soil Quality

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation today applauded the introduction of House Bill 1823 by Rep. Michael Sturla (D-Lancaster), a bill requiring all farmers participating in the “Clean and Green” preferential tax assessment program to have a soil erosion control plan in place for their land.
“This is common sense legislation that we strongly support,” said Matthew Ehrhart, CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director. “HB 1823 amends “Clean and Green” to match an existing state requirement, one that good farm managers have complied with for decades.”
HB 1823 would require all current and future participants in the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act, commonly known as the Clean and Green Program, to verify that they have a plan that complies with a long-standing state regulation requiring all landowners who plow or till more than 5,000 square feet to have an agricultural erosion and sediment control plan.
“Soil conservation plans are the ‘blueprint’ for keeping the soil on the farm, where it belongs, and out of local streams and the Bay,” Ehrhart said. “This legislation ensures that as landowners are receiving an important tax benefit, the land is protected for current food production and future generations.”
Erosion control plans have been required since 1972 under the state’s Clean Streams Law, but state officials estimate that as many as half of the state’s agricultural producers don’t have them. Existing participants in Clean and Green would be given four years to develop these plans if they do not have them already.
The Clean and Green Program allows farmland and forest land to be assessed at its “use value” rather than at fair market value. The intent of the program is to encourage landowners to maintain land in farms and forests.
Controlling soil erosion from all land uses is a fundamental strategy for Pennsylvania to comply with federal mandates to clean up local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution are chief causes of water pollution.
Through improved farming practices, Pennsylvania farmers have already reduced nitrogen levels to the Bay by 18 million pounds per year compared to 1985 levels, the biggest reductions from any single source in any state in the Bay watershed. More reductions from agriculture and other sources will be required, however, and HB 1823 will lead to more farmers getting involved, and more pollution reductions being accounted for.

Tuesday NewsClips

State Democrats Yank Higher Ed Funding
Gap Widening Over State Spending Plan
House Dems' New Budget Seeks More Spending Than Rendell Plan
Statue Of Rendell Should Be On Every State Workers' Mantel
PA Sea Grant Program Faces Crisis
West Wyoming Creek Issues Addressed
First Lackawanna County Gas Drilling Permit Issued
Housing For Drilling Workers Planned IN Athens Township
Hughesville Hopes To Sell Water To Gas Drilling Firms
Jersey Shore Won't Appeal DEP Wastewater Order
Cool Weather, Cool Economy Mean Less Electric Usage
Editorial: Shining A Light On Efficiency For Businesses
Op-Ed: PA Program Saves Energy, Money
PA Works Coalition Praises House For Passing Green Building Legislation
Quarantine On Wood From Ash Trees Expands
Beetle Spreads To Washington, Armstrong

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 13 PA Environment Digest Now Available

July 13 PA Environment Digest now available. Click here to print this Digest.

Selected Headlines--
House Democrats, Governor To Start With GOP Budget, Then Cut, Cut, Cut
Budget: Fair Share For Clean Water Coalition Calls For Strong Steps To Restore Water Quality
Brandywine Valley Assn, Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation Win Growing Greener Grants
Online Webinar - Penn State July 23 Webinar Addresses Marcellus Shale Water Policy Issues
House Environmental Committee Re-Reports Alternative Energy, Carbon Sequestration Bill
Cleanup Liability, Gas Production, Host Municipalities Bills Reported From House Committee
Rep. Sturla Introduces Bill To Strengthen Clean And Green Program, Farm Conservation
Susquehanna Basin Proposes Natural Gas Drilling Changes, Sets Public Meetings
DEP Orders U.S. Energy To Cease Drilling Operations Throughout Pennsylvania
Hearing Set For Terraqua Drilling Wastewater Treatment Plant Permit
Save The Date: Pennsylvania Natural Gas Summit November 16-18
Water Resources Education Network Grant Applications Due September 1
West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition To Hold 6 Mini-Symposiums, Tours
Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Aquarius Spring Partner For July 18, 25 Cleanups
Clinton County CleanScapes Sponsors July 18 West Branch Susquehanna Cleanup
Kettle Creek Watershed Abandoned Mine Drainage Projects Celebration August 25
Dirt And Gravel Road Annual Maintenance Workshop September 22-23
Stroud Center's Sweeney Takes Leadership Role In International Barcode of Life Project
Help Available In Westmoreland For Forest Management Plans, Practices
2009 Waste Watcher Awards Honored By PROP, Waste Industry Groups
Jane Hallinan Winner Of PA CleanWays Sue Wiseman Scholarship
July PA Center For Environmental Education Newsletter, Annual Report Now Online
Villa Maria Academy In Erie Earns Energy Star Award
Green Field Energy Solutions Presents Get Off The Grid Workshop August 12
PUC Releases Updated Comparisons Of Current Electric Prices With Capped Prices
E-Power Electric Choice Conference Attracts More Than 300
DEP Offers Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants For Airports, Airlines
DEP Releases Climate Change Assessment Report
State Forests, Parks Participate In DMAP Deer Management Program
Camping Goes Green In State Parks With New DCNR Guidelines
24th Annual Middle Creek Wildlife Art Show Set For August 7-9
President Nominates DEP's Joseph Pizarchik To Federal Office Of Surface Mining Position
Spotlight - CFP Report Highlights Human Health Risks Caused By Pollution

Friday NewsClips

Dems Power Ahead With GOP's Budget
Dems To OK Vote On GOP Budget
Democrats In House Plan Vote On GOP Budget
Dems To Advance GOP Budget They Have Assailed
Lititz Run Watershed Cleanup A Success
DEP Sets Hearing For Drilling Wastewater Treatment Plant
Erie Recycling Center For E-Waste, Household Chemicals Busy
House Passes Capital Greenbelt Bill
Editorial: Cap And Trade, Clean Coal Investment Key For PA
Editorial: Cap And Trade, Costs To Middle Class Must Be Considered

Thursday, July 9, 2009

House Democrats, Governor Propose 5th Round Of Environmental Budget Cuts

After spending weeks saying the world would end if the Senate Republican budget was adopted, House Democrats and Gov. Rendell have now reversed course and are preparing a budget to bring before the House Monday that cuts at least $1.7 billion more from the GOP budget so it is balanced and meets the no tax increase mood of many lawmakers.
This would be the fifth round of cuts to environmental programs since February.
"If the public wants a no-tax budget, they should very well see what a no-tax budget looks like," Speaker Keith McCall (D-Carbon) said, predicting severe cuts in aid to schools, highway projects and social service programs. "All of these lines will be cut, and cut substantially."
Speaker McCall rejected the idea that approving the stripped down budget was a scare tactic to convince Republicans (and some of their Democratic members) a broad-based tax increase was necessary.
"They've said 'no' to everything. What are we to do?" said Speaker McCall.
Earlier in the week, House Democrats said balancing the Senate Republican budget would mean laying off 6,000 state employees.
Cuts, Cuts And More Environmental Cuts
In May Senate Republicans followed Gov. Rendell's lead by making significant, additional cuts to environmental funding, doubling the already deep $77 million cut the Governor proposed in the 2009-10 state budget, by adding another $77.4 million in cuts.
The additional $77.4 million in cuts made by Senate Republicans were to the departments of Agriculture ($8.9 million), Conservation and Natural Resources ($19.1 million) and Environmental Protection ($49.4 million) and mostly to line items related to funding for personnel costs.
In February Gov. Rendell proposed cuts of $77 million-- $13.9 million at the Department of Agriculture, $6.9 million in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, $18.2 million at the Department of Environmental Protection and $22 million reduction in funding available for recycling. (PA Environment Digest 2/9/09)
Funding for conservation districts under both proposals would be the same, but cut by 25 percent or $1 million. (PA Environment Digest 2/16/09)
$10 million in funding for the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) farm conservation tax credit program was preserved in Gov. Rendell proposal, but is uncertain in the Senate Republican budget. Senate Republicans said they would suspend $250 million in tax credit programs, but did not specify which ones. There are $324 million in tax credit programs included in the state budget, including $75 million to support movie and television production in the state.
The proposed cuts of $154 million do not include the transfer of $174 million from the DCNR Oil and Gas Lease Fund to the General Fund to help plug the deficit hole in the 2008-09 budget. These funds are proceeds from last year's leasing of state forest land for Marcellus Shale drilling
A third round of environmental budget cuts in June by Gov. Rendell resulted in an additional $12.5 million in cuts to environmental programs in the departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection, Conservation and Natural Resources and Insurance and the State System of Higher Education. (PA Environment Digest 6/29/09)
A fourth round of environmental budget cuts was agreed to by Gov. Rendell and Senate and House Leadership this week totaling about $3 million. A list of all the cuts is available online. The environmental program cuts include--
Transfer to Industrial Sites Environmental Assessment Fund - $493,000 (zeroed out)
General Government - $62,000
-- DEP - $2.4 million total
Environmental Program Management - $260,000
Environmental Protection Operations - $487,000
Flood Control Projects - $500,000
Stormwater Management - $800,000
Sewage Facilities Planning Grants - $100,000
Sewage Facilities Enforcement Grants - $100,000
Sea Grant Program - $189,000
Funding cuts for 2009-10 so far have totaled more than $343 million for environmental programs.
As noted, another $1.7 billion needs to be cut from the Senate Republican budget to achieve the goal of a no increases in any state broad-based tax like the Personal Income Tax. The will result in a fifth round of cuts to envirnomental programs.
Environmental, sportsmen and local government groups have supported adoption of a severance tax on natural gas production to help fund environmental program, but there was no mention if this proposal will play a role in helping to fund the state budget or environmental programs. (PA Environment Digest 6/29/09)
NewsClip: Dems To Advance GOP Budget They Have Assailed

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