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Weekly PA Environment Digest Newsletter
Crisci Associates, March 24, 2014
(3/24/2014)
CLICK HERE To Print Entire Digest
* Rep. Grove Introduces Bill To Undo Act 13 Drilling Law Court Decision

Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) Wednesday introduced House Bill 2115 designed to undo the Act 13 drilling law court decision eliminating the preemption preventing local governments from regulating the drilling industry under the Environmental Rights Amendment, Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

* Independent Fiscal Office Reports PA Marcellus Tax Rates Lowest Of Any State

The Independent Fiscal Office Thursday issued a report comparing state and local taxation rates of natural gas producing states that found Pennsylvania had the lowest natural gas extraction taxation rates of any state, nearly one-third the rates in Texas.

* Apply Now For 8 CFA Sewage, Water, Watershed, Recreation And Other Grants

The Commonwealth Financing Authority has begun accepting applications for 8 different grant programs to fund water and sewage system improvements, sewage system planning, watershed restoration, abandoned mine drainage abatement and treatment, orphan or abandoned well plugging, baseline water quality data monitoring, flood mitigation and greenways, trails and recreation programs.

* Applications For Clean & Renewable Energy, Green Buildings Grants, Loans Due To CFA

The Commonwealth Financing Authority has begun accepting applications for 3 energy-related programs to support alternative energy, renewable energy and green building projects.  The deadline for applications is noted below with each program--

* DEP Tells CAC Filled Positions Nearly Level Last 3 Years Inspite Of Complement Cuts

DEP Executive Deputy for Administration Jeff Logan told the DEP Citizens Advisory Council Tuesday the number of filled staff positions has been nearly level the last three years hovering around 2,580 inspite of cuts in overall staff complement.

* CBF: Act Now To Oppose Bill Removing Protection For Endangered Species, Wild Trout

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA is urging its members to oppose House Bill 1576 (Pyle-R-Armstrong) that if passed could change stream classifications and protections in Pennsylvania for native brook trout and rare, threatened and endangered species in Pennsylvania.

* Add Us To Your Google+ Circle

PA Environment Digest now has a Google+ Circle called Green Works In PA.  Just go to your Google+ page and search for DHess@CrisciAssociates.com, the email for the Digest Editor David Hess,  and let us join your Circle.

* Senate/House Agenda/Session Schedule/Bills Introduced

Here are the Senate and House Calendars and Committee meetings showing bills of interest as well as a list of new environmental bills introduced--

* Bills On Governor's Desk

The following bills were given final approval by the Senate and House and are now on the Governor's desk for action--

* Senate/House Bills Moving

The following bills of interest saw action this week in the House and Senate--

* Minimum Gas Royalty Legislation Voted Out Of House Environmental Committee

House Bill 1684 (Everett-R-Lycoming) which seeks to clarify a minimum royalty payment in state law was amended and reported out of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Monday, said bill sponsors Reps. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), Tina Pickett (R-Bradford), Matt Baker (R-Tioga) and Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna).

* House Passes Resolution Urging Congressional Action On Flood Insurance Premiums

The House Monday unanimously passed House Resolution 648 (Millard-R-Columbia) urging Congress to re-examine flood insurance laws.

* Senate Oks Bill To Eventually End Summer Low-RVP Gasoline Mandate In Western PA

The Senate Wednesday unanimously approved Senate Bill 1037 (Vogel-R-Beaver) directing the Environmental Quality Board to adopt a regulation to repeal the requirement for summer low-RVP gasoline in seven Western Pennsylvania counties.

* Senate Unanimously Confirms PUC Chair Powelson As Commissioner

The Public Utility Commission Wednesday thanked the Senate for unanimously confirming the renomination of Chairman Robert F. Powelson to his second five-year term as a PUC Commissioner.

* Rep. Godshall: Tighter Controls Coming For Variable Electric Rates

Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery), Majority Chair of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, said Thursday’s public hearing to address recent electric rate spikes for customers with variable rate electric generation contracts allowed Committee members to air the concerns of consumers and set a course for fixing the problem.

* Sen. Boscola Introduces Variable Rate Electric Pricing Legislation

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh) Tuesday introduced Senate Bill 1297 aimed at helping consumers shop for less expensive electricity and avoid sticker shock when they agree to variable rate pricing deals.

* Study Released On Combining Fish And Game Commissions

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Wednesday released a study on the feasibility of combining and Game and Fish and Boat Commissions into one agency which pointed out as much as $5 million a year could be saved by having one agency.

* March Environmental Synopsis Available From Joint Conservation Committee

The March issue of the Environmental Synopsis newsletter is now available from the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee.

* PA Assn. Of Environmental Educators Recognizes Award Winners

The PA Association of Environmental Educators this week presented its annual awards this week to recognize outstanding contributions to environmental education in Pennsylvania.  The winners include--

* CBF Hosts March 25 Workshop On MS4 Stormwater Compliance

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA and its partners are hosting a free workshop on Meeting MS4 Stormwater Requirements: Using WinSLAMM to Assess Quality and Volume Controls March 25 at the Penn State Harrisburg Library, Morrison Gallery, 777 West Harrisburg Pike, Middletown starting at 8:30 a.m.

* DEP To Hold Webinar On Chapter 105 General Permit Processing Updates March 26

The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday announced it will be holding a webinar on March 26 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss Chapter 105 Water Obstructions and Encroachment General Permit processing updates.

* DEP Webinar On Chapter 105 Dam Safety Fees Posted Online

The Department of Environmental Protection held a webinar March 20, to give an update on Chapter 105 Dam Safety Regulations. 

* Penn State Extension: Restoring Our Waterways Through Green Volunteering

Spring is just around the corner, and after this long cold winter, doesn’t it feel great to think about the snow melting, the ground thawing, and getting your hands into the soil to plant something new and green in your community?

* Environmental Quality Board Votes To Keep Perkiomen Watershed Classification

The Environmental Quality Board Tuesday voted 15 to 1 to accept a recommendation by the Department of Environmental Protection to keep the existing water quality classification of the Perkiomen Creek Watershed in Berks, Montgomery and Lehigh counties, but allow the petitioners to resubmit a new petition without waiting for two years as required by Board policy.

* 2014 Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference Call for Abstracts

With a theme of "Collaboration Is Essential," the 2014 Pennsylvania Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference will team up with ARIPPA, combining efforts and audiences, to co-host a dual conference on Abandoned Mine Reclamation and Independent Power Production on June 26-27 in State College.

* Tioga County Project First Net-Producer Of Electricity Using Mine Drainage

An innovative and successful mine drainage treatment demonstration project in Tioga County is showing great potential for widespread use.  The Antrim Micro-Hydropower Project is the first micro-hydropower project to generate electricity to the grid, becoming a net-producer of power using mine drainage.

* NRCS, American Chestnut Foundation April 21 Mine Reclamation Planting Workshop

Anyone interested in learning about American chestnut restoration, opportunities for surface mine reforestation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs, The American Chestnut Foundation’s breeding program, and volunteer opportunities with TACF is invited to attend the evening program from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. on April 21 at the Clinton County Conservation District Learning Center in Mill Hall.

* March Issue Of Catalyst From Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition Now Available

The March issue of the Catalyst newsletter from the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition is now available.

* PSU Research Reveals True Value Of Cover Crops To Farmers, Environment

Planting cover crops in rotation between cash crops -- widely agreed to be ecologically beneficial -- is even more valuable than previously thought, according to a team of agronomists, entomologists, agroecologists, horticulturists and biogeochemists from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

* Prizes, Prestige Await Dog Owners In Philadelphia Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog Contest

The Philadelphia Water Department is giving dog owners in Juniata and Lower Moyamensing the chance to win celebrity status and $200 in prizes.  Residents can now enter the Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog Competition.  The deadline for entries of May 15.

* Wissahickon Creek Clean Up Events Set For April 26

The Friends of the Wissahickon and the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association are joining forces to clean up the Wissahickon Creek on April 26 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Montgomery County.

* Keep PA Beautiful, Washington County Courts Work To Keep County Beautiful

This spring through a partnership between Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, the Washington County Court System Furlough Into Service Program, local officials, and law enforcement continue to remove illegal dumpsites in Washington County and enforce local laws relating to  illegal dumping of waste.

* New Public Service Announcements On Great American Cleanup Of PA

New public service announcements will air on Pennsylvania radio and television stations during the month of April urging all Pennsylvanians to participate in the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania.

* PA Resources Council Kicks Off Hard To Recycle Events In Pittsburgh April 5

On April 5, the Pennsylvania Resources Council will host the first of four 2014 Hard-to-Recycle Collection Events to enable individuals to drop off e-waste such as computers and televisions, cell phones, printer/toner cartridges, CFLs, microwave ovens, used vegetable/cooking oil and polystyrene packaging material (EPS) at no cost.

* Corbett Awards 25 Grants For Natural Gas Vehicle Conversion

Gov. Tom Corbett Friday awarded $7.7 million in Act 13 funding to 25 companies and organizations making the switch to natural gas for their heavy-duty fleet vehicles.

* Hearing Postponed On Application For Hilcorp Gas Well Spacing Units

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday announced it, along with Hilcorp Energy Co., requested a delay in the hearing process on Hilcorp’s Application for Gas Well Spacing Units, or spacing order, in order to provide more complete notice to potentially affected people.

* Marcellus Shale Advocates Launch Grassroots Initiative In Wilkes-Barre

Nearly 700 shale industry supporters turned out Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre for the launch of United Shale Advocates (USA), a new grassroots initiative focused on ensuring that we advance common sense, predictable policies that encourage investment and job growth across the Commonwealth.

* EPA Calls For Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award Nominations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking companies or institutions to nominate their innovative technologies for the 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  Nominations are due April 30.

* PUC Seeks Comments On Accelerating Switching Times For Electricity Suppliers

The Public Utility Commission Tuesday requested comments on proposed regulation changes that will reduce the time it takes to change electricity suppliers.

* Comments On New Electric Supplier Disclosure Statements Requested By PUC

The Public Utility Commission Wednesday requested comments on proposed regulation changes that will provide electric shopping customers with greater, uniform detail in electric supplier disclosure statements and more timely information on “contract renewal” and “change in terms” notices.

* New Video From PUC Responds To Consumer Outrage Over Electricity Price Spikes

The Public Utility Commission this week released a new video on shopping for electric suppliers describing the difference between fixed and variable rate electric rates in consumer contracts.

* PUC Releases Act 129 Phase I Final Annual Report & Assessment Of Compliance

The Public Utility Commission Thursday released the final report detailing efforts by seven electric distribution companies to meet energy reduction requirements under Act 129 of 2008.

* PA Parks & Forests Foundation Honors Award Winners May 6

On May 6 the PA Parks and Forests Foundation will recognize the winners of nine different awards it presents every year to recognize outstanding service and exemplary work in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.

* DCNR Secretary Salutes Forest Fire Wardens, Firefighters

Some came to receive awards, others were there to renew professional ties and brush up on wildfire detection, investigation and protection techniques, but when the 60 men and women filed from the Shavers Creek Volunteer fire hall all took home the same thing—warm thanks from DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti.

* Wild Resources Program Funds Groundbreaking Study Of Snowy Owls

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti Tuesday announced DCNR’s Wild Resource Conservation Program is funding a transmitter to help better understand the southerly movement of snowy owls.

* DCNR Gauging Past Frigid Winter’s Effect On Forest Insect Pests

The past winter of seemingly unending snowstorms and frigid temperatures has proved to be a strong ally for state woodland managers battling the No. 1 enemy of Pennsylvania hemlocks, but the reprieve could be short-lived, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials said Friday.

* Fish And Boat Commission Reschedules Mentored Youth Fishing Days

The Fish and Boat Commission Wednesday announced it has rescheduled its two Mentored Youth Fishing Days into one statewide date on May 10 because most of the waters where the events will be held remain covered in ice and aren’t expected to completely thaw in time.

* DEP Secretary Underscores Need For Increased Transparency To Law Students

DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo this week kicked off Widener University Environmental Law Center’s Distinguished Speaker Series with a presentation on the environmental priorities and accomplishments of the Corbett administration.

* Video: Meet Davitt Woodwell, In-Coming President Of PA Environmental Council

On March 14 David Woodwell was named President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.  He will succeed Paul King who is retiring in July.

* Help Wanted: PA Assn. Of Conservation Districts Engineer, Technician Positions

The PA Association of Conservation Districts is seeking candidates for two engineer and two technician positions.  Click Here for details.

* Help Wanted: Berks County Conservation District Urban Resource Conservationist

The Berks County Conservation District is seeking candidates for an Urban Resource Conservation to process NPDES permits, review project erosion and sedimentation control plans.  Experience with conservation districts and a Bachelors degree in Environmental Sciences, Planning, Resource Management or other related subjects is required.

* Your 2 Cents: Issues On Advisory Committee Agendas

This section gives you a continuously updated thumbnail sketch of issues to be considered in upcoming advisory committee meetings where the agendas have been released

* Grants & Awards

This section gives you a heads up on upcoming deadlines for awards and grants and other recognition programs.  NEW means new from last week.

* Budget/Quick NewsClips

Here's a selection of NewsClips on environmental topics from around the state--

* Marcellus Shale NewsClips

Here are NewsClips on topics related to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling---

* Flooding/Watershed NewsClips

Here are NewsClips on watershed topics from around the state--

* Regulations, Technical Guidance & Permits

The Environmental Quality Board Tuesday voted 15 to 1 to accept a recommendation by the Department of Environmental Protection to keep the existing water quality classification of the Perkiomen Creek Watershed in Berks, Montgomery and Lehigh counties, but allow the petitioners to resubmit a new petition without waiting for two years as required by Board policy.

* Calendar Of Events

Upcoming legislative meetings, conferences, workshops, plus links to other online calendars.  Meetings are in Harrisburg unless otherwise noted.  NEW means new from last week.  Go to the online Calendar webpage.

* Stories Invited

Send your stories, photos and links to videos about your project, environmental issues or programs for publication in the PA Environment Digest to:  DHess@CrisciAssociates.com.

* Supporting Member PA Outdoor Writers Assn./PA Trout Unlimited

PA Environment Digest is a supporting member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, Pennsylvania Council Trout Unlimited and the Doc Fritchey Chapter Trout Unlimited.

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