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Weekly PA Environment Digest Newsletter
March 2, 2009
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* Budget Hearings: DEP Hopes To Eliminate Permit Backlogs In Two Years
Acting DEP Secretary John Hanger told the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week he hopes to eliminate permit backlogs in the agency by the end of his tenure (over the next two years) as the agency copes with its budget constraints.

* Budget Hearings: DCNR Does Not Expect Another Marcellus Shale Windfall
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis told the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week not to expect another windfall from leasing state forest lands for drilling Marcellus Shale natural gas wells.

* Budget Hearings: Agriculture Expects $34 Million In Federal Farm Conservation Help
Department of Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff this week told Senate and House Appropriations Committees he is expecting $34 million in help installing farm conservation practices as a result of funding from the federal Farm Bill.

* Budget Hearings: PUC Chair Opposed To Phasing In Electric Rate Increases After Caps Expire
Public Utility Commission Chair James Cawley told the House Appropriations Committee this week he was opposed to requiring electric distribution companies to phase in electric rate increases after the caps expire in most areas of the state in 2010-11.

* Senator Casey's Guide To PA Federal Stimulus Funding
U.S. Senator Robert Casey this week issued a guide to funding Pennsylvania is due to receive under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

* EPA's Guide To Green Infrastructure Funding Under The Federal Stimulus Act
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided guidance on what it considers "green infrastructure" projects set aside under the 20 percent of the water facility funding it will provide to states under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

* Video Blog - Sure Sign Of Spring: Geese, Swans Return To Middle Creek, Pymatuning Wildlife Areas
Each year the Game Commission’s Middle Creek and Pymatuning Wildlife Management Areas host hundreds of thousands of migrating geese, swans and ducks.

* Online Education - REAP Farm Conservation Tax Credit Webinars March 3, 11
The State Conservation Commission is hosting two “Webinars” to provide an update on the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax credit program.

* Online Education - Cooperative Extension Hosts Webinars On Natural Gas Drilling
Penn State's Cooperative Extension Service will host three online webinars on the topic of natural gas exploration in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation.
* Video Blog - Environmental Benefits Of Carbon Capture Storage Outlined In New Video
Carbon capture and storage technology is outlined in a new video by the CCS Education Initiative and theDepartment of Environmental Protectionis now available online.

* On the Senate/House Agenda/Session Schedule/Bills Introduced
The next scheduled voting session day is March 9 for the Senate and House, but between now and then both chambers will hold hearings on Gov. Rendell's proposed budget. NOTE: Many budget hearings will be carried on the PA Cable Network on cable and online. The Senate Appropriations Committee starts its budget hearings next week. The Senate will webcast their hearings live on the regular Senate webpage.
* House Consumer Protection Hears Comments On Natural Gas Infrastructure
The House Consumer Protection Committee this week held another in a series of informational meetings, this time on the natural gas industry. Much of the discussion revolved around the need to develop infrastructure funding tools, like the distributed system improvement charge (DISC) now used by drinking water suppliers.

* Rep. Stern Receives Agriculture & Rural Legislation Award For REAP Farm Tax Credit
The State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Association recognized Rep. Jerry Stern (R-Blair) for excellence in agriculture and rural policy making at its annual conference in January for the legislation creating the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax credit program.

* House Appropriations To Hear Comments On Carbon Sequestration Bill March 12
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Fiscal Policy will hear testimony at a public hearing on House Bill 80 (Vitali-D-Delaware) and Senate Bill 92 (Erickson-R-Delaware) making changes to the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards and creating a carbon sequestration network on March 12 in King of Prussia. (Neither bill is available online.)

* Advisory Committee Critical Of DEP Proposal To Rollback Water Quality Protection
The Department of Environmental Protection’s Water Resource Advisory Committee held a special meeting on February 25 to discuss a proposed “permit-by-rule” for the Chapter 102 Erosion and Sedimentation and NPDES Stormwater Permitting Programs. DEP released a draft of the rule on February 20.

* Williamsport's $99 Million Plan For Sewer Upgrades OK'd By DEP
The Department of Environmental Protection this week approved a $99.2 million plan by the City of Williamsport to upgrade its wastewater treatment facilities to meet federal nutrient reduction requirements to protect the Chesapeake Bay and eliminate combined sewer overflows.

* 11th Annual PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation & Coal History Conference Set For July 13-16
The 11th Annual PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation & Coal History Conference is set for July 13-16 at theUniversity of Pittsburgh, at Johnstown’s Living Learning Center.

* Farmers Learn How Green Improvements Can Earn Money At Credit Trading Workshops
Over 170 conservation district employees, farmers, engineers, planning commissioners, and other interested individuals participated in nutrient trading seminars in State College and Lancaster co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts and the Capital Resource Conservation and Development Area Council.

* Comments Invited On Buffalo Creek, Comment Period On West Branch TMDL Extended
The Department of Environmental Protection and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission published a notice inviting comments on the Buffalo Creek Watershed, Union County and extended the comment period on the West Branch Susquehanna River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plans..

* EPA Invests $2 Million To Secure Philadelphia's Drinking Water Supply
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week awarded a $2 million grant to Philadelphia to help the City address the risk of intentional contamination of its drinking water.

* 2009 Green$ense Conference In March, Green Opportunities Abound Despite Economy

* Save The Date: PA Environmental Professionals Hold Annual Conference On May 13-15
The 2009 Annual Conference of the PA Association of Environmental Professionals will be held on May 13-15 in State College. The theme of this year's conference is, "The Future Is Now."

* Southeastern PA Environmental Advisory Council Conference March 14
The 12th Annual Southeast PA EAC Conference will be held on March 14 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

* DEP To Announce Availability Of Energy Conservation Financial Help March 2
The Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary John Hanger is scheduled to announce the agency will begin accepting applications for energy conservation projects for homeowners and small businesses on March 2.

* Dickinson College Hosts Biodiesel Conference April 3-4
Pennsylvania will hold its First Intercollegiate Biodiesel Conference on April 3-4 at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.

* PUC Approves Penelec, Met-Ed Pre-Payment Option To Mitigate Projected Rate Increases
The Public Utility Commission this week approved a settlement that will allow Pennsylvania Electric Co. and Metropolitan Edison Co. to begin a Voluntary Pre-payment Plan to help customers flatten projected rate increases.

* Standard Application Forms, Fees Set For Customer-Generators Connections To Electric Grid
The Public Utility Commission this week established standard application forms and fees for customer-generators wanting to interconnect to the electric grid.

* Penn State Professors Alley, Pugh To Share Tyler Prize For Environmental Achievement
Richard B. Alley, Evan Pugh professor of geosciences, Penn State, will share the 2009 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement with Veerabhadran (Ram) Ramanathan, distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

* Knoll Manufacturing Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2 Years Ahead Of Schedule
Knoll this week announced that it has reached its 2010 goal of an additional 2 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over its Phase 1 results as part of its program with the Chicago Climate Exchange.

* DEP Finds Air Quality Around Schools To Be Safe, Refuting USA Today Report

* Save The Date: Kings Gap Hosts Environmental Health Symposium March 20
Kings Gap Environmental Center in Cumberland County will host an Environmental Health Symposium on March 20.

* DCNR Has Federal Funds Available To Help Volunteer Firefighters Battle Forest Fires
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this week announced almost $560,000 in federal grant funds are available once again to help Pennsylvania's rural communities better guard against fires in forested, undeveloped and unprotected areas.

* New Watershed Forestry Resource Guide Website Unveiled
Representing a one-stop shop for information and resources on managing urban forests for watershed health, a new Watershed Forestry Resource Guide has been put together by the Center for Watershed Protection.

* Tree Care Short Course Offered By Penn State McKeesport In March
Penn State Greater Allegheny campus in McKeesport will hold a short course on tree care onMarch 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

* Emerald Ash Borer Found In Mifflin County
Emerald Ash Borer beetles, an invasive species that destroy ash trees, were identified in Granville, Mifflin County, Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff announced this week.

* Collectible Patch/Print Marks 50 Years Of Hunter Education
To honor 50 years of hunter education, the Game Commission is offering a limited edition patch and fine-art print by George LaVanish, of Tyrone, Blair County.

* DEP Project Bid Opportunities Forest, Elk Counties
The Department of Environmental Protection published notice of bid opportunities for an abandoned oil well plugging project in Forest County and and abandoned mine reclamation project in Elk County.
* Opinion - Green Farming Boosts Pennsylvania Economy
By Lamonte Garber, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

* Spotlight - Jatropha, Basis Of The Next Generation Of Biofuels In Pennsylvania?

* Student Video Blog Feature - Student Leadership Program For Chesapeake Bay - Sara Wendt's Experience
For 12-year-old Sarah Wendt, the road to environmental activism began with one small step: a class field trip, and making a video urging action to cleanup the Bay watershed.

* Student Feature - Springside School Students Conduct Environmental Science Projects
By Katie Chasar, Springside Class of 2009
* Grants & Awards
This section gives you a heads up on upcoming deadlines for grants and financial assistance as well as nominations for awards and other recognition programs. NEW means from last week—
* Quick Clips
Here’s a selection of NewsClips on environmental topics from around the state--
* Watershed NewsClips
Read a sampling of NewsClips on watershed topics from around Pennsylvania.
* Regulations
No new regulations were published this week. Pennsylvania Bulletin - February 28, 2009
* Technical Guidance & Permits
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources published several notices on the execution of Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling on state forest lands. The Department of Environmental Protection published notice of a final policy on the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program.
* Calendar Of Events
Upcoming conferences, meetings, workshops, plus links to other online calendars. Meetings are in Harrisburg unless otherwise noted. NEW indicates new from last week. Go To: PA Environment Digest Calendar Page
* Stories Invited
Send your stories about environmental issues, programs and positive actions to PA Environment Digest-
* Guide To The PA Environment Digest Family Of Websites
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* Supporting Member PA Outdoor Writers Assn./PA Trout Unlimited
PA Environment Digest is a supporting member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited and the Doc Fritchey Chapter Trout Unlimited.

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