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Weekly PA Environment Digest Newsletter
April 13, 2020 Issue #824
* Analysis: Conservative Republicans Want To Freeze Funding For Local Parks, Trails, Farm Conservation, Mine Reclamation, Recycling

Conservative Republicans in the House Tuesday pushed an amendment to Senate Bill 327 (Argall-R- Schuylkill) that would have ended funding to help Pennsylvania’s economy recover from COVID-19 as well as support for heavily used parks and trails thousands of Pennsylvanians are using to escape the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* 72 DEP And 9 DCNR Employees Will No Longer Be Paid After April 10

72 employees at the Department of Environmental Protection who could not work or cannot telework will no longer be paid after April 10, but can use paid leave, unpaid leave with benefits and/or unemployment compensation, according to the Governor’s Office of Administration.

* DEP Issues New Guidance On Inspections, Permit Enforcement, Waivers Of Permit, Regulatory Provisions During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Department of Environmental Protection posted new guidance on its website outlining a series of actions it is taking during the COVID-19 pandemic related to inspections, permits enforcement and considering enforcement waivers.

* PennVEST Board Approves Up To $450 Million In Financial Aid To PA Hospitals

On April 10, the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority voted to approve a low-interest, short-term loan program to provide up to $450 million in funding to state hospitals to bridge the gap until federal assistance arrives.

* The Last Line Of Environmental Defense Is You - Report Environmental Problems

To limit exposure to and spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Department of Environmental Protection  is currently prioritizing field inspections and responding to environmental complaints related to issues critical to public health and safety.

* Keep PA Beautiful Urges Residents To Report Illegal Dumping Thru New Report It Webpage

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is encouraging residents to report incidents of illegal dumping in their communities through a new Report Illegal Dump Site webpage as part of their Illegal Dump Free PA Program.

* DEP Expresses Serious Concerns About Rapid Decontamination Of Damaged Unit 2 Reactor At Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant

In an April 6 letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell expressed serious concerns about the plan to rapidly decontaminate the damaged Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant in Dauphin County by TMI-2 Solutions and the transfer of responsibility and the facility’s permit from GPU Nuclear.

* DEP Citizens Advisory Council, Air Quality Advisory Committee Hold Virtual Joint Meeting April 23 On RGGI Carbon Pollution Reduction Proposal

DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council and the Air Quality Advisory Committee are scheduled to hold a virtual joint meeting April 23 starting at 1:00 p.m. on the proposed initiative to reduce carbon pollution from power plants (RGGI).

* PA Assn. Of Environmental Educators Honors 2020 Award Winners

The PA Association of Environmental Educators recently announced the seven winners of their 2020 Environmental Education Awards.  The winners include--

* DCNR, Partners Announce Riparian Forest Webinar Series; PA Clean Water Academy Posts Buffer Webinars

The departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the PA Association of Conservation Districts and other partners are hosting a variety of Riparian Forest Webinars, some live, some on demand over the next few weeks.

* Coalition For The Delaware River Watershed Stormwater Management In PA Webinar Series Starts April 14

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is hosting a new webinar series on the regulatory framework for municipal stormwater management in Pennsylvania.

* Foundation For Sustainable Forests Virtual Wildflower Walk April 26; Update On Loving The Land Conference

The Foundation for Sustainable Forests will host a Lynn Firth Virtual Wildflower Walk on April 26 at 1:00 p.m. to see spring flowers blooming along the Trolley Line Trail in Cambridge Springs, Crawford County.

* The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Lab Youth Curriculum - The Science Behind How Nature Works

For parents looking for At-Home Environmental Ed opportunities for their students, The Nature Conservancy has available its Nature Lab Youth Curriculum.

* Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Regions Participating In City Nature Challenge 2020 Citizen Science Event

The 2020 City Nature Challenge will get under way on April 24-27 around the world where people of all ages use the iNaturalist app and photos you take to identify the plant and animal species in their neighborhoods and embrace the healing power of nature!

* Pollinator Gardens: Help Encourage Ecological Diversity In Your Own Backyard

If you’re looking for a great project at home, here’s an idea-- plan a pollinator garden in your backyard or anywhere you have some space.  Here’s the planning process I went through for the one in my backyard, but a pollinator garden of any size will do.   -- David Hess

* PA Capitol & COVID-19 Report: Up To $3.9 Billion State Revenue Hit, Fight Over Reopening Businesses Continues

Last week COVID-19-related deaths in Pennsylvania climbed to 507 and 22,833 people have tested positive for the virus as of Saturday. 

* Independent Fiscal Office Projects $2.7 Billion To $3.9 Billion Reduction In Revenues Over Current, Next Fiscal Year

On April 8, the Independent Fiscal Office issued a special report projecting a $2.7 billion to $3.9 billion reduction in state revenues in the current and FY 2020-21 combined under two different scenarios of how long the COVID-19 shutdown will remain in effect-- a six-week closure ending April 27 and a 10-week closure ending May 25.

* Senate/House Bills Moving Last Week

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

* 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 Agenda/Session Schedule [Change]/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--

* Republicans On House Committee Report Out Bill Again Trying To Emasculate Environmental Protection Efforts In PA

On April 6, the House State Government Committee reported out legislation by party-line vote-- Republicans supporting-- giving regulated entities sweeping new power to prevent the enforcement of DEP and other state agencies permits and any “published or unpublished document” with no opportunity for public involvement or higher review.

* EPA Sets Specific Mercury, Air Toxics Standards For 6 Coal Refuse Power Plants, 3 In PA

On April 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced specific mercury and air toxics standards for six small coal-refuse power plants in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

* Lancaster Clean Water Partners Choose Team To Lead Implementation Of Action Plan To Reduce Nitrogen, Phosphorus Pollution

Lancaster Clean Water Partners recently announced it has selected a three member team of LandStudies, David Miller/Associates and Lancaster Farmland Trust to lead the implementation phase of Lancaster County’s Countywide Action Plan to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

* Bay Journal: PA Initiative To Convert 10,000 Acres Of Lawns Into Meadows, Forests

By Ad Crable: Chesapeake Bay Journal

* DEP Settlement With CNX For E&S Violations In Greene, Washington Counties Yields $180,000 Streambank, Fish Habitat Project

On April 7, the Department of Environmental Protection announced it has executed a consent order and agreement with CNX Gas Company, LLC to address numerous violations of the operator’s erosion and sediment control authorizations at unconventional natural gas well sites in Greene and Washington Counties.

* Latest Guardian Newsletter Now Available From Susquehanna River Basin Commission

The latest Guardian newsletter is now available from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission featuring articles on--

* DEP Extends Deadline For Host Municipal Inspector Grant Applications

The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the April 11 PA Bulletin extending the deadline for extending the deadline to apply for the Host Municipality Inspector Grants to April 30. 

* PUC Urges Consumers To Seek Out Needed Resources To Keep Utility Bills Affordable

On April 8, the Public Utility Commission is urging consumers to understand the resources and options available to help keep utility service affordable during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and to contact their utilities for assistance before bills become past-due.

* PUC's April 16 Meeting To Be Conducted Telephonically

On April 10, the Public Utility Commission announced its April 16 meeting will be conducted telephonically, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 threat.

* DCED Hosts April 22 Virtual Hearing On Weatherization Assistance Plan

The Department of Community and Economic Development will hold a virtual hearing April 22 on the proposed Weatherization Assistance Program Plan starting at 3:00 p.m. (formal notice)

* Penn State Council Of Sustainable Leaders Continues Online Speakers Series

The Penn State Council of Sustainable Leaders continues its online speakers showcase series on Fridays from Noon to 1:30 on April 17, 24 and May 1.

* PA Forestry Assn.: Family Forest Carbon Pilot Program Launched In PA

The PA Forestry Association would like to announce the American Forest Foundation in partnership with The Nature Conservancy  has launched a pilot carbon sequestration incentive program in selected areas of Pennsylvania called the Family Forest Carbon Program.

* Natural Lands Preserves 54-Acre Castle Rock Farm In Chester County

On April 8, Natural Lands announced the successful preservation of the 54-acre Castle Rock Farm that straddles Pocopson and West Bradford Townships, Chester County.

* ClearWater Conservancy Conserves Crucial Bat Habitat In Blair County

ClearWater Conservancy, with approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently finalized a permanent conservation easement along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River in Blair County.

* PA Land Trust Association Adds New Topics To April Webinar Series

The PA Land Trust Association added several new titles to its 2020 PALTA webinar series.  They include--

* DCNR Now Accepting Applications From Volunteer Fire Companies For Grants To Battle Wildfires

On April 6, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced it is now accepting grant applications from volunteer fire companies to help them battle wildfires.  Applications are due May 21.

* Latest Forests For The Chesapeake Bay Newsletter Now Available

The latest edition of the Forests For The Chesapeake Bay newsletter is now available featuring articles on--

* PA Parks & Forests Foundation Issues Special Newsletter, Opens COVID-19 Blog Page

The PA Parks and Forests Foundation sent out a special newsletter and opened a COVID-19 Blog page to provide updates and provide information on how getting out in nature can help relieve stress…. as long as you follow social distancing guidelines.

* Call For Presentations: Eastern PA Greenways & Trails Summit Sept. 27-29

The Planning Committee for the 2020 Eastern PA Greenways and Trails Summit is seeking proposals for educational sessions to be presented at the 2020 Summit.  The deadline for proposals is May 1.

* PA Environmental Council’s In Case You Missed It In March Now Available

The In Case You Missed It In March is now available from the PA Environmental Council featuring articles on--

* April 10 Take Five Fridays With Pam, PA Parks & Forests Foundation

The April 10 Take Five Fridays With Pam is now available from the PA Parks and Forests Foundation featuring articles on--

* DelVal Outdoors, A New Source For Conservation & Recreation Info In The Delaware Valley

DeVal Outdoors is a new online journalism project created by Kyle Bagenstose, an investigative reporter for The USA TODAY Network where he covers the Northeast and specializes in environmental reporting.

* Marcus Schneck Relaunching Outdoor Pennsylvania To Cover Hunting, Hiking, Camping, Birding & Backyard Wildlife

Marcus Schneck, one of the longest running outdoor and conservation journalists in Pennsylvania, will relaunch his free, weekly, outdoor newsletter, Outdoor Pennsylvania, later this month.

* Fish & Boat Commission Opened Trout Fishing Season April 7

On April 7, the Fish and Boat Commission, in consultation with the Office of the Governor, Department of Health, and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources opened the statewide 2020 trout season effective at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7.

* Game Commission: Revised, Draft Chronic Wasting Disease Plan Available For Review

On April 9, the Game Commission released the latest draft of its Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan for a second round of public comments.  Comments are due May 7.

* Wildlife For Everyone Foundation Elects Dennis Coleman New Board Member

On April 8, Wildlife for Everyone Foundation recently elected Dennis Coleman, Howard, Centre County, to the Board of Directors.

* Environment & Energy NewsClips

Click Here: Week’s Worth Of PA Environment & Energy NewsClips - Support Local Journalism

* Public Participation Opportunities/Calendar Of Events

Click Here for a list of public participation opportunities and a calendar of events.

* Grants & Awards

Look Again, Many Deadlines Have Been Extended.  Click Here for grants, awards, recognition programs and contest deadlines.

* Regulations, Technical Guidance & Permits

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

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* Stories Invited - About PA Environment Digest

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

* NEW Date! PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference Oct. 28-29 In State College

The PA Environment Digest is a proud sponsor of the 2020 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference will now be held on October 28-29 in State College.

* 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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