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Weekly PA Environment Digest Newsletter
May 6, 2019 Issue #775
* Student Leader Involved In Passing Hellbender Recognition Says: We're Not Done

Student members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation PA Student Leadership Council were recently successful in getting the Eastern Hellbender recognized as Pennsylvania's state amphibian and clean water ambassador.

* State Budget Decisions Will Be Made Soon: New Funding Needed To Restore The Environment, Prevent Flooding, With No Backsliding

With final decisions on the state budget coming in the next few weeks, the Growing Greener Coalition has called on the Senate, House and Gov. Wolf to make new investments to restore the environment and prevent flooding and not to back away from funding commitments they have already made.

* Bay Journal: State Chesapeake Bay Plans Reveal Tough Path To 2025 Cleanup Goals, Pressure Mounting On PA

By Karl Blankenship, Chesapeake Bay Journal

* State Revenues $828.2 Million Over Estimates; Senate, House Republicans, Gov. Wolf Agree On Banking Surplus Funds

On May 1, the Department of Revenue reported Pennsylvania collected $4.4 billion in General Fund revenue in April, which was $464.7 million, or 11.8 percent.

* Senate Environmental Committee To Consider Renomination Of McDonnell For DEP Secretary May 8

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is schedule to meet on May 8 to consider the renomination of Patrick McDonnell as DEP Secretary.

* Senate Environmental Committee Unanimously OKs Renomination Of Dunn As DCNR Secretary

On April 30, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee unanimously reported out the renomination of Cindy Adams Dunn as DCNR Secretary with a favorable recommendation to the full Senate.

* Gov. Wolf, Legislators Announce New Climate Action Plan, Including Endorsing Cap-And-Trade For Power Generation, Keeping Nuclear Power Plants Open

On April 29, Gov. Tom Wolf was joined by Senate and House lawmakers to announce an update to the state's Climate Action Plan and that the state will join with 24 other governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold commitments of the international Paris Climate Agreement.

* House Hearing: Bill To Aid Nuclear Plants Will Significantly Increase Electricity Costs For Businesses, Threatens Competitive Electric Market, Offers No Job Guarantees

On April 29, the House Consumer Affairs Committee hear testimony at its third hearing on House Bill 11 (Mehaffie-R- Lancaster) to provide financial support for nuclear power plant the bill will significantly increase electricity costs for business, offers no job guarantees for workers and threatens Pennsylvania’s competitive electricity market.

* Agenda - House Consumer Affairs May 6 Hearing On Bill To Aid Nuclear Power Plants

On May 6, the House Consumer Affairs Committee will hear testimony at its fourth hearing on House Bill 11 (Mehaffie-R- Lancaster) to provide financial support for nuclear power plant.

* House Hearing: TMI Decommissioning Should Not Be Delayed; Highly Radioactivity Fuel Should Be Stored In Hardened, Secure Facilities

On April 29, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee heard recommendations that the spent nuclear waste at Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants should be stored in hardened, secure facilities and decommissioning of TMI, if it closes, should not be delayed 55 years.

* Senate Committees: Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Worked, But PA Is Behind; More Opposition To Bills To Aid Nuclear Plants

In a marathon session on May 1, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and Environmental Resources and Energy Committees heard from 16 witnesses providing an update on implementation of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards and mostly opposition to the bills drafted to aid nuclear power plants.

* Sen. Mensch Introduces Bill To Develop Infrastructure For Electric, Natural Gas, Hydrogen Vehicles

On April 30, Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) introduced Senate Bill 596 designed to promote the development of clean transportation infrastructure to support electric, natural gas and hydrogen vehicles.

* Auditor General DePasquale To Hold May 13 Climate Hearing At Widener University, Harrisburg

Auditor General DePasquale will hold another in his series of hearings on climate change May 13 at Widener University Commonwealth Law School, Administration Building Room A-170, 3800 Vartan Way in Harrisburg from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

* Long-Term Research Finds Shift To Disease Carrying Ticks In PA Resulting From Changes In Climate, Land Use, Human/Animal Behavior

By Chuck Gill, Penn State News

* Senate Task Force On Lead Releases Report Calls For Lead Testing For Children, Lead Abatement Program, Testing All School Water; May 7 Announcement

On April 29, the Joint State Government Commission released the final report of the Senate Task Force On Lead recommending universal lead testing for children, establishing a statewide Lead Abatement Program funded by a surcharge on paint and requiring school drinking water systems to be inspected and certified as protecting children from lead.

* House Republicans Pass Bills To Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing, Waive Penalties, Provide Defenses To Violators

On April 30, House Republicans passed a series of bills adding new bureaucracy and cost to government by authorize the House and Senate to kill a final regulation by doing nothing, take permit reviews away from state agencies and give them to 3rd parties, authorize the waiving of penalties and give violators defenses for their actions.

* House Republican Bills Providing Public Subsidies For Natural Gas Use Creates Political Commission To Set Environmental Standards, Make Individual Permit Decisions

On April 29, House Republicans, led by Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), announced the introduction of an 8 bill package they said will “Energize PA” by encouraging the use of natural gas throughout the state’s economy.

* More Than Half Of E&S Permit Applications Submitted Are Incomplete; Consultants Take 6 Weeks To Respond To Deficiencies

On May 1, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee heard testimony from the Cumberland County Conservation District saying more than half of the erosion and sedimentation control/NPDES plan applications submitted to the district are incomplete and consultants (almost all registered engineers) take an AVERAGE of 33 business days to respond to technical deficiencies-- more than 6 calendar weeks.

* Agenda - House Environmental Committee Sets May 8 Info Meeting To Hear From Regulated Community On DEP Permit Review Experiences

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hold an informational meeting on May 8 to hear from the regulated community on their experiences with DEP’s permitting program.

* DCNR Proposes Replacing Recreational Value Lost From Gas Drilling On State Forest Land Bought With Federal Funds With Property In Chester County

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is inviting public comments on a draft Environmental Assessment recommending the recreational value of State Forest land lost when it was leased those lands for drilling from 2008 to 2011 be replaced with land it is purchasing in Chester County(formal notice)

* PA Environmental Professionals Recognize Robert Eppley, Jr. And Allegheny CleanWays With Awards

On May 2, the PA Association of Environmental Professionals announced they have recognized Robert Eppley, Jr., a retired PennDOT District 6-0 Environmental Manager, with the Karl Mason Award and Allegheny CleanWays with the Walter Lyon Award.

* John Ackerman Named Lehigh Valley 2018 Engineer Of The Year

John R. Ackerman, P.E., P.G., BCEE, M.ASCE, has been named the 2018 Engineer of the Year by the Lehigh Valley Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Ackerman is President of Twin Oaks Water Systems, Inc. in Hazle Township, Luzerne County.

* Senate/House Bills Moving Last Week

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

* Senate/House Agenda/Session Schedule/Bills Introduced

Here are the Senate and House Calendars for the next voting session day and Committees scheduling action on bills of interest as well as a list of new environmental bills introduced--

* Senate Committee OKs Bill Allowing Fish & Boat Commission To Adopt Their Own Fees

On April 30, the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee approved and reported out House Bill 808 (Mehaffie-R-Dauphin) authorizing the Fish and Boat Commission to adopt their own fees for 3 years (House Fiscal Note and summary).

* Senate Declares May 5-11 Conservation District Week In Pennsylvania

On May 1, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 103 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) designating May 5-11 Conservation District Week.

* Sen. Yaw Plans Bills On 3rd Party Permitting, Stream Cleaning, Nutrient Procurement, Farm Conservation Excellence, Testing Lead In School Water

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, announced plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks covering a variety of hot button environmental issues.

* Senate Committee Meets May 7 To Consider Bill To Authorize Game Commission To Set Its Own Fees

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee is scheduled to meet on May 7 to consider Senate Bill 552 (Stefano-R-Fayette) to authorize the Game Commission to set its own license fees for 5 years (sponsor summary).

* Senate Committee Roundtable May 10 In Latrobe On Exempting Counties From Vehicle Emissions Testing

The Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold a roundtable discussion on May 10 on the issue of exempting eligible counties from vehicle emissions testing in Latrobe, Westmoreland County.

* U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Reports Out RECLAIM, Good Samaritan Mine Reclamation Initiatives; Senate Version Introduced

On May 1, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee reported out HR 2156 (Cartwright-D- PA) RECLAIM abandoned mine reclamation initiative to accelerate spending from the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund.

* Groups Call For Renewed Leadership To Advance Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters Program

On April 29, Environmental, parks and sustainable business advocates called for renewed leadership from the mayor and city council to advance Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program.

* Penn State DuBois Wildlife Technology Students Help To Reclaim Abandoned Mines In Elk County

By Steve Harmic, Penn State News

* Opportunity To Bid On DEP Mine Reclamation, Subsidence Projects In Washington, Westmoreland Counties

The Department of Environmental Protection published notices in the May 4 PA Bulletin of opportunities to bid on a mine reclamation project in Washington County and a mine subsidence project in Westmoreland County.

* Coal Mining Industry Seeking Changes To DEP’s Mine Reclamation Bond Rate Calculation Methodology

The PA Anthracite Council reported in its May newsletter: “Pennsylvania’s anthracite and bituminous coal mining industries are seeking changes to the way the Department of Environmental Protection calculates coal mine reclamation bond rates.

* Presentation Proposals Now Being Accepted For Nov. 15-17 Chesapeake Watershed Forum

The 2019 Chesapeake Watershed Forum Planning Committee is now accepting session and field experience proposals for the Forum to be held November 15-17 in Shepherdstown, WV.  The deadline for submissions is May 24.

* E-Town College Students Work With RiverStewards To Promote River Towns Like Marietta

RiverStewards recognizes the myriad beneficial qualities of river towns along the Susquehanna River and wants to raise awareness about these treasured places.

* May 2 Harrisburg University Data Analytics Summit Featured Partnership With Susquehanna River Basin Commission

Harrisburg University’s Data Analytics Summit V on May 2 featured two projects developed by the University’s Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy (E3) in partnership with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

* Yough Senior High School Takes First Place In Westmoreland County Envirothon

On April 29, the Westmoreland Conservation District announced Yough Senior High School took first place in the Envirothon – an academic competition in which students test their knowledge of the natural world.

* Wallenpaupack Area High School Students Overall Winners Of 2019 Pike/Wayne Envirothon

The Wallenpaupack Area High School team called The Bad Birches are the overall winners of the 2019 Pike/Wayne Envirothon.  Second place went to The Beefcakes of Honesdale High School in the Wayne Highlands School District.

* PA Envirothon Draws Hundreds Of High School Students To State Competition In Johnstown May 21-22

More than 300 students and teacher-coaches from Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are converging on the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown and Windber Recreation Park to utilize their year-long “Envirothon” experience to vie for the championship title at the Pennsylvania Envirothon.

* PA Environmental Educators: 2019 Status & Needs Of Environmental Education In PA Survey

The PA Association of Environmental Educators is encouraging educators across the state to participate in the NOAA funded PA Environmental Literacy  Capacity Building Project Survey.  Responses are requested by May 24.

* Erie Times-News Connect With Your Environment: It’s All Connected Edition

The latest issue of Connect With Your Environment in the Erie Times-News features an In Life and in the environment -- “It’s All Connected” edition.

* Friends Of Johnston, GIANT, KPB Celebrate Arbor Day With Tree Planting, Beautification Event In Northampton County

In celebration of environmental stewardship, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful worked with GIANT associate volunteers and the Friends of Johnston, Inc. to plant trees and flowers, mulch beds, create walkways and conduct additional improvements at Camel's Hump Farm on the Johnston Estate April 26 in Northampton County. 

* Delaware River Basin Commission Hearing May 15; Business Meeting June 12

The Delaware River Basin Commission will hold a public hearing on May 15 to take public comments on water withdrawal requests and other items expected to be on the agenda of the June 12 business meeting.  (formal notice)

* PennEnvironment, Clean Air Council Sue U.S. Steel For Clean Air Act Violations At 3 Pittsburgh Facilities

On April 26, PennEnvironment and the Clean Air Council announced they have filed a lawsuit against U.S. Steel for violation of the Clean Air Act at its three Pittsburgh-area plants.

* DEP Our Commonwealth Blog: Air Quality In PA, How To Be Air Aware

By: Ashley Schalleur, Environmental Protection Compliance Specialist, DEP Southeast Regional Office; Jillian Gallagher , Air Quality Environmental Group Manager, SERO; and John Repetz, Community Relations Coordinator, DEP Southcentral Regional Office

* Keep PA Beautiful Accepting Applications For Fresh Paint Days Beautification Grants

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is now accepting applications for Fresh Paint Days Beautification Grants.  The deadline for applications is June 28.

* PA Resources Council Hosts 6 Hard-To-Recycle Collection Events In Allegheny County

The PA Resources Council will host 6 Hard-To-Recycle Collection Events in Allegheny County starting on May 11 and ending October 5.

* Over 57,000 Pounds Of Household Hazardous Waste Turned In During Centre County Collection Event

Over 57,000 pounds of household hazardous waste was collected in a 2-day event on April 26-27 organized by the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority.

* DEP Hosts May 9 Meeting/Hearing On Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority Landfill Expansion

The Department of Environmental Protection announced it will hold a public meeting and hearing May 9 to answer questions and obtain comments from the public regarding a major permit modification application to expand the Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority Landfill, located in North Lebanon and North Annville townships.

* PUC's PA One Call Enforcement Committee Imposes $57,775 In Penalties For Hitting Pipelines, Underground Utilities

On April 30, the Public Utility Commission announced the ‘PA One Call’ Damage Prevention Committee this month filed 77 disciplinary actions resulting in approximately $57,775 total fines against 37 facility owners, excavators and project owners.

* DEP Oil & Gas Program Reported 94 Violations At 168 Conventional Well Facilities During 1 Week In April

The Department of Environmental Protection reported from April 20 to 26 the agency inspected 168 conventional oil and gas well facilities and found 94 violations.

* PJM Regional Grid Operator: Summer Predicted To Be Hotter Than Usual

On May 2, PJM Interconnection, the operator of the nation's largest electricity grid, said it is ready to meet demand during a summer predicted to be hotter than usual, keeping air conditioners, fans and refrigerators running in 13 states and the District of Columbia, including Pennsylvania.

* Frick Environmental Center Receives AIA National Committee On Environment Top 10 Ten Plus Award

The Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh, designed by architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, has received a prestigious 2019 Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Plus Award.

* PJM Members To Study Markets' Role In State Carbon-Pricing Efforts

On April 29, the PJM Interconnection said stakeholders are leading an initiative to build a framework enabling jurisdictions to incorporate their carbon-pricing policies into PJM’s markets while mitigating the policies’ impact on surrounding areas not participating in such programs.

* City Of Lancaster To Hold Public Presentation Of Municipal Operations Climate Action Plan May 9

The City of Lancaster will present its Municipal Operations Climate Action Plan on May 9 at the Ware Center, 42 N. Prince Street starting at 6:30 p.m.

* Franklin Institute Hosts Global Warming Demystified Presentation May 14 In Philadelphia

The Franklin Institute will host a Global Warming Demystified presentation on May 14 by Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, an Astrophysicist and educator, starting at 8:00 p.m. at the Institute located at 271 North 21st Street in Philadelphia.

* DCNR Good Natured Blog: Selecting Trees For Pennsylvania’s Changing Climate

The theory of evolution suggests that species will adapt to changing environmental conditions. The belief is that these changes occur over long periods of geologic time.

* Audubon Society Of Western PA Native Plant Nursery Opens May 4 In Pittsburgh

On May 4, the Audubon Society of Western PA will open their Native Plant Nursery at the Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, 614 Dorseyville Road, in Pittsburgh. 

* Brodhead Watershed Assn. Native Plant Sale May 31 - June 1, Monroe County

Local gardeners just can’t go wrong at Brodhead Watershed Association’s annual Native Plant Sale to be held May 31 to June 1.  The popular sale will feature environmentally responsible flowers and shrubs sure to flourish in area gardens.

* Go Native With Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Spring Native Plant Sale May 18-19, Berks County

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks county will host its annual Spring Native Plant Sale, displaying a wide variety of Pennsylvanian plants and flowers, on May 18 and 19. 

* Wildlands Conservancy Adds 35 Acres To Thomas Darling Pocono Preserve In Monroe County

The Wildlands Conservancy recently announced it has acquired an additional 35-acre parcel of land situated in Tobyhanna Township, Monroe County that has extended the Thomas Darling Pocono Preserve to over 1,400 acres.

* PEC Now Accepting Applications For Grants To Support Local Trails Month Events

The PA Environmental Council is now accepting applications for mini-grants of up to $500 to help community organizations and trail groups celebrate Pennsylvania Trails Month in September 2019.  Applications are due May 15.

* Pennsylvania Sojourn Season Underway, Join The Fun!

The first river sojourn of the 2019 season begins this Saturday, May 4, and will explore 30 miles of the Swatara Creek over two days.

* Brodhead Watershed Assn: May 11 - Birding For Kids; May 18 Walk In Woods That Work For Warblers, Monroe County

The Brodhead Watershed Association is hosting 2 upcoming birding events in Monroe County-- May 11 Birding For Kids and May 18 Walk In Woods That Work For Warblers.

* DCNR: Good Natured Pennsylvanians: Ron Minnich, Wildland Fire Program

Ron Minnich works in William Penn State Forest [Southeast Pennsylvania], where he assists with the wildland fire program. He previously worked in Delaware State Forest as a forest lookout.

* Gifford Pinchot’s Grey Towers New Home Of Historic Forest Fire Tower

A forest fire tower that was used as a lookout in the Pocono Mountains area from the 1920’s until 2017 is getting a facelift and a new life as a proposed educational exhibit at the Gifford Pinchot Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, Pike County.

* May 1 Resource Newsletter Now Available From DCNR

The May 1 issue of the Resource newsletter is now available from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources featuring articles on--

* Fish & Boat Commission Invites Public To Help Update Strategic Plan

The Fish & Boat Commission is updating the agency’s strategic plan and the Board of the Commission invites the public to be part of the initial process by taking an online survey.

* Game Commission Board To Study Saturday Deer Hunting Opener Ahead Of 2020 Season

On April 30, the members of the Board of the Game Commission announced that last week commissioners last week with House Game and Fisheries Committee Majority Chairman Keith Gillespie (R-York) and Minority Chairman Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny) to discuss the Saturday opener to Pennsylvania’s firearms deer season, which the board adopted earlier this month when it set seasons and bag limits for the 2019-20 license year.

* Governor’s Advisory Council Seeks Candidates For Game Commission Board

The Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation is seeking a qualified candidate to represent District 1 on the Game Commission’s board of directors.

* Environmental NewsClips - All Topics

Here are NewsClips from around the state on all environmental topics, including General Environment, Budget, Marcellus Shale, Watershed Protection and much more.

* Public Participation Opportunities/Calendar Of Events

This section lists House and Senate Committee meetings, DEP and other public hearings and meetings and other interesting environmental events.

* 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.

* Regulations, Technical Guidance & Permits

Here are highlights of actions taken by agencies on environmental regulations, technical guidance and permits.

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