Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trump Issues Executive Order Calling For Review Of Energy, Clean Power Plan, Methane Regs

President Trump Tuesday issued an Executive Order calling on all federal agencies to “immediately review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.”
Particular attention is to be paid to the “burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.  Such review shall not include agency actions that are mandated by law, necessary for the public interest…”
The Order has several parts: 1) general review of agency regulations and requirements related to energy; 2) rescinding orders and other guidance issued by President Obama related to climate change; 3) directing EPA to review the Clean Power Plan and its related rules and agency actions; 4) review of the analysis of social costs of carbon, nitrous oxide and methane; and 5) other provisions requiring the review of the oil and gas operations emission standards, among others.
Regulation Review
The Order requires agencies to submit a plan for carrying out the regulations review within 45 days to the federal Office of Management and Budget, the Vice President, the Assistants to the President for Economic Policy, Domestic Policy and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.  
Within 120 days of the Order agencies are to submit a draft final report on their review report to OMB and the other offices.  The report is to be finalized within 180 days.
Rescinding Actions
The Order also rescinds four Executive Orders and Presidential Memorandum issued by President Obama relating to climate change and carbon pollution.
Also rescinded were two reports-- The 2013 President’s Climate Action Plan and the 2014 Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions-- and the CEQ Final Guidance for Considering Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews.
Review Of Clean Power Plan
The Order requires EPA to review the Clean Power Plan under the criteria established in the Order (and repeated here in the lede paragraph) and “as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules.”
Also included is a directive to the Attorney General to provide notice of the Order to any court with jurisdiction over pending litigation related to Clean Power Plan rules and requirements and request a stay in the litigation pending the completion of this review.
[Note: EPA’s Clean Power Plan never went into effect due to a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court issued in February 2016.  Recent impacts on the coal industry and closing of coal-fired power plants were entirely market-driven, especially in Pennsylvania due to the abundance of natural gas.]
Review of Carbon, NOx and Methane Social Costs
The Order requires EPA to review the estimates of the social cost of carbon, nitrous oxide and methane regulations and requirements to ensure the analyses are based on the best available science and economics.
The Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases is disbanded and six documents developed by the group are to be withdrawn as “no longer representative of governmental policy.”
The Order also requires any analysis monetizing the value of changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from regulations be done consistent with existing 2003 OMB guidance for regulatory cost-benefit analysis.
Other Provisions
There are several other more specific sections in the Order, including--
-- Oil & Gas Methane Rule: Requiring the review of the federal methane rule consistent with the criteria in the order and, if appropriate, “shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules.”  [Note: DEP has proposed to modify and adopt two general air quality permits to comply with this requirement.  Comments are due June 5.]
-- Federal Lands Coal Leasing: The Order requires the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to withdraw the Secretary’s Order prohibiting the leasing of coal on federal lands.
Click Here to read a copy of the Order.  
Click Here for copies of all of President Trump’s Executive Orders.  Click Here for copies of Presidential Memoranda.
AP: Trump Order Rolls Back Obama’s Anti-Global Warming Projects

Legislative Forestry Task Force Issues 2015-16 Report, Recommendations

The Legislative Forestry Task Force Tuesday issued its 2015-16 report done pursuant to Senate Resolution 55 (Hutchinson-R-Venango) of 2015 to make recommendations related to public and private forest lands and practices.
Specifically, the 15-page Task Force report makes recommendations in four areas--
-- The implications of DCNR’s revised State Forest Resource Management Plan--
-- Require the inclusion of a fiscal note to accompany State Forest Resources Management Plan programs to provide increased transparency of program costs.
-- Require routine monitoring and evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of the programs outlined in the State Forest Resources Management Plan.
-- Support the continued use of the Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program on DCNR forestland to help meet land use goals.
-- Create incentives for resource developers to participate in voluntary invasive species early detection surveys
-- The impact of pests and invasive species on Pennsylvania’s forestry industry, as well as the impact to overall forest health--
-- Support legislation similar to the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act, introduced by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) in the previous session-- Senate Bill 1110. This Act updates the current list of noxious weeds and forms the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee, which will be able to add and delete plants from the list following risk assessments and studies.
-- Consider adding a tier of invasive plants that require labeling prior to commercial sale.
-- Establish biosecurity training for commercial importers including invasive species risk education and reporting procedures.
-- Create an emergency response fund which would allow for a flexible reaction to immediate threats posed by invasive species. Early response prevents costly eradication or “slow the spread” programs in the future.
-- The regulatory relationship between the State’s forestry industry, local governments and county conservation districts--
-- Guidance materials developed by DEP, Penn State University and other partners are critical for the forest products industry to remain in compliance. The materials listed below should be updated without delay: Erosion and Sediment Control Plan for a Timber Harvesting Operation; Timber Harvest Operations Field Guide for Waterways, Wetlands and Erosion Control; Professional Timber Harvesters Action Packet.
-- Amend the ACRE law to shorten the time frame in which the Office of the Attorney General will respond to requests for legal review. Consider the need for additional resources to deal with an expedited case load within the Office of the Attorney General.
-- Promote the historical Local Conservation District operating model of educating the public and industry, providing technical assistance for environmental law compliance and solving problems.
-- Encourage conservation districts and local governments to review Penn State University’s model ordinance to prevent unlawful restrictions on forestry operations.
-- Encourage ongoing forest product industry involvement with Conservation Districts.
-- The decline in qualified timber harvesters and other related occupations--
-- Meeting with representatives from the insurance industry as well as the Insurance Department in future task force meetings to understand worker’s compensation structures and other issues facing employers, employees and independent contractors.
-- Develop forestry programs and curricula for high schools and vocational technical schools to foster youth interest in forestry occupations.
-- Introduce a resolution urging Congress to reexamine OSHA regulations as they relate to logging, recognizing the roles that minors could safely  fill while introducing them to career opportunities in the timber harvesting industry.
A copy of the report is available online.
The Legislative Forestry Task Force operates under the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Joint Conservation Committee.
For more information, visit the Joint Conservation Committee website, Like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Committee.

Senate Bill Would Require Approval Of Regulations By The General Assembly, Governor

Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) Tuesday announced he has introduced legislation-- Senate Bill 561-- to prohibit regulations with an economic impact of $1 million or more from being imposed without approval by the General Assembly and Governor.
Under the measure, no regulation with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, to its political subdivisions, and to the private sector exceeding $1 million could be imposed without approval of the General Assembly and Governor.
The bill requires the Independent Fiscal Office to verify any cost estimates prior to submitting the regulation for review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. In 2015, that would have meant 74 regulations, according to the IRRC.
The IRRC reviewed 32 final regulations in 2015 which the General Assembly would be required to approve under this legislation
The bill makes no mention of any review of the potential benefits a regulation may generate.
“This legislation is needed to strengthen political accountability for regulatory policy and protect our economy from undue burdens on business and job creation,” Sen. DiSanto said.
Currently, the regulatory review process requires the General Assembly to pass a concurrent resolution disapproving a regulation. However, the Governor must sign the disapproval resolution to bar his own agencies from enacting the regulation, the senator noted.
“Reversing this process and requiring concurrent resolutions of approval will reinforce the constitution’s balance of powers. While the General Assembly delegates legal authority to executive agencies, it is essential that the General Assembly have the final say on legislative intent for economically significant regulations,” he said.
“I was sent to Harrisburg to protect taxpayers and employers from the growing burden of state government and to encourage entrepreneurialism and job growth,” Sen. DiSanto said. “These measures are just two of the steps necessary to restore government that serves the people, instead of the other way around.”
The bill was referred to the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee since the bill amends the Regulatory Review Act.
A sponsor summary is available.

Regional Opening Day Of Trout Season Kicks Off April 1 In Southeast, April 15 Statewide

With great weather greeting kids and their mentors this past weekend for Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day, anglers in 18 southeastern counties are warmed up and ready to kick off a new fishing season on April 1 and statewide on April 15.
The 18 counties opening on April 1 include: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York.
All along creeks and lake shorelines, anglers and their friends and families will wait at their favorite spots for the official 8 a.m. start and an opportunity to catch some of the 3.15 million trout stocked each year by the Fish and Boat Commission. Anglers can keep a daily limit of five trout, which must be at least seven inches long.
"The opening day of trout season is always a big event that anglers and their friends and families look forward to each year," said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. "It's a way to kick off spring and start another season of fishing and creating memories."
A second Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day will be held on April 8 in the remaining 49 counties. This is the Saturday before the April 15 Statewide Opening Day of Trout Season.
The PFBC's "great white fleet" of hatchery trucks has been busy since late February stocking Pennsylvania's waterways with a fresh supply of brook, brown and rainbow trout. In addition to these fish, the PFBC plans to stock about 8,700 trophy golden rainbow trout that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long.
Also, PFBC cooperative nurseries run by sportsmen's clubs across the state will add another 1 million trout to waters open to public angling.
Anglers can find stocked waters in their county by visiting the PFBC website or by downloading the free FishBoatPA smartphone app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
The app has been downloaded more than 68,000 times so far. Users can sort stocking schedules by county, and the app is tied directly into the PFBC's online stocking schedule, so anglers can see past and upcoming stockings and the type of trout placed in a water.
The "Near Me" feature uses a phone's GIS coordinates to locate and display trout waters within 5, 15, 25 and 50 miles of the user, who can then use mapping apps to get directions to their favorite stocking site.
Each year more than 850,000 anglers buy a fishing license, which is required for anyone 16 and older.
The price of a resident annual license is just $21; non-resident annual $51; and senior resident annual $10. Trout permits are $8. Anglers also can purchase an optional $5 metal button for an alternate way to display their license.
The PFBC also offers a voluntary youth fishing license for $2.90. For every youth license sold, the PFBC receives approximately $5 in federal funding, which is reinvested into youth fishing programs.
"Trout season is a great cure for cabin fever and an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the Commonwealth's abundant natural resources," Arway added.
Licenses and buttons can be purchased at more than 900 licensing agents and online at the Gone Fishing PA website.

DCNR Names The Watershed Farm, Westmoreland County, Green Park Award Winner

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Tuesday announced The Watershed Farm in Westmoreland County is the recipient of the 2017 Green Park Award for its demonstrated commitment to water resource protection, habitat creation and connecting people to nature.
“Whether it is education or preservation, plantings or parking, this 123-acre Westmoreland County farm emerges as a pure, shining gem,” said Dunn. “For its demonstrated green and sustainable practices, The Watershed Farm is most deserving of the third annual Green Park Award.”
The secretary joined other state and local parks and recreation officials in presenting the award to the Loyalhanna Watershed Association at a luncheon hosted by the PA Recreation and Parks Society at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey.
“It’s exciting to see that this year’s Green Park Award winner has made a commitment to sustainability by incorporating green and sustainable practices in all of the Green Park Award criteria areas,” Dunn said. “Much like DCNR, The Watershed Farm is home to facilities that employ the ideals of the LEED rating system, and it is a showcase property for practices in environmental stewardship, water conservation and natural Landscaping, including 150-foot riparian forest buffers around the farm’s streams and wetlands.”
Co-sponsored by DCNR and the PRPS, the award recognizes statewide excellence in a public park community that demonstrates green and sustainable practices. Judges include DCNR staff from the department’s bureaus of Recreation and Conservation and State Parks, the secretary’s office, and PRPS.
The award was accepted at the luncheon by Susan L. Huba, executive director of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, and Linda LaRue and Corliss Aukerman, association volunteers.  The Loyalhanna Watershed Association owns and operates the property.
“The Loyalhanna Watershed Association was excited to complete The Watershed Farm Project as a conservation asset for our community thanks to many friends and partnering organizations, without whom the project would not have been possible,” said Huba. “To be recognized by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources with this award is truly an honor, as it exemplifies all The Watershed Farm represents through adaptive reuse, green practices and environmental stewardship.”
Restored as a family farm landscape, The Watershed Farm is a 123-acre property that is home to a refurbished bank barn, the original brick farmhouse and a 4-acre wetland.
The bank barn now serves as the Nimick Family Education Center, allowing staff to provide environmental programming to nearly 1,000 students and community groups each year.
Over 1,700 native trees and shrubs were planted to create 150-foot riparian forest buffers around the waterways and wetland.  Gardens on the farm host numerous pollinator-friendly plants, bee boxes and bat boxes. A permeable parking area, two rain gardens and natural swales promote infiltration and reduce erosion from storm water.
The Watershed Farm is also host to the popular Ligonier Country Market every Saturday from May to October.
For more information, visit DCNR’s Green and Sustainable Park Initiative webpage.

DEP, PennDOT Receive National Recognition From Keep America Beautiful

The departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation were two of 13 Keep America Beautiful State Agency Partner Award recipients at the annual Keep America Beautiful National Awards Ceremony in January for their support of the Great American Cleanup of PA.
The award recognizes state agency partners for their support of Keep America Beautiful state affiliates like Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful through partnership projects and the value Keep America Beautiful places on public-private partnerships.
“Keep America Beautiful’s National Awards celebrates some of our country’s most dedicated community leaders – representatives from our affiliates and partner organizations,” said Mike Rosen, Keep America Beautiful senior vice president, marketing and communications, who served as emcee of the event. “It’s my privilege to recognize such valuable, mission-based work that our state agency partners achieve with their respective Keep America Beautiful state affiliate partners to help communities become more environmentally healthy and economically sound.”
“Through their individual and collaborative actions, volunteers are significantly helping to eliminate and prevent pollution to our lands and waters,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “By adopting local roads and parks, they really do help beautify our green spaces. We’re pleased to be an annual sponsor of the Great American Cleanup of PA.”
“We are very pleased to have been honored with the 2016 State Agency Partnership Award,” said PennDOT Secretary, Leslie S. Richards. “Our dedicated staff and enthusiastic volunteers are truly at the heart of this important endeavor.”
“We are grateful for the support of our state agencies. PennDOT provides tremendous support to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful through its Adopt-A-Highway program, utilizing its network of 7,500 AAH groups to promote the Great American Cleanup of PA and plays a critical role in distributing cleanup supplies,” said Shannon Reiter, President, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.  “The Department of Environmental Protection continues to provide program funding and is integral to the success of the Great American Cleanup of PA and our organization as a whole.”
Keep PA Beautiful and local affiliates working in 14 counties also earned national recognition at the same Conference.
Click Here for a complete list of National Awards recipients.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from KPB, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, Discover them on Pinterest and visit their YouTube Channel.
Also visit the Illegal Dump Free PA website for more ideas on how to clean up communities and keep them clean and KPB’s new Electronics Waste website.
Sign up now for the 2017 Great American Cleanup of PA and set up your own cleanup and beautification event through May 31.
(Photo: Shannon Reiter, Keep PA Beautiful President presents KAB Partnership Award to Patrick McDonnell, DEP Acting Secretary and Carl Wesneski, PennDOT Roadway Program Coordinator.)
Related Story:
Keep PA Beautiful, Local Affiliates Working In 14 Counties Earn National Recognition

Op-Ed: Nuclear Energy-A Keystone For Pennsylvania’s Economy And Environment

By: Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Rep. Becky Corbin (R-Chester), Rep. Rob Matzie (D-Allegheny) Co-Chairs of the PA Nuclear Energy Caucus

Pennsylvania’s energy history is a rich landscape of innovation and technological breakthroughs that have helped advance our Commonwealth and the country.
From its earliest founding days, the Commonwealth has pioneered energy sources that have helped the state grow and prosper.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Shippingport, Pennsylvania where Duquesne Light Company started the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in 1957 - a first-of-its kind nuclear power generating facility designed solely for peacetime utility use.
From those early beginnings and in the decades that followed, Pennsylvania supported the nuclear industry as it became a foundation for energy grid reliability, economic vitality and carbon-free electricity.
Today, Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants generate a staggering 35 percent of the state’s electricity, employ thousands of people and contribute billions of dollars in the state through taxes, payroll and direct and indirect spending.
Pennsylvanians don’t always give thought to where the power comes from, as long as the lights come on when we flick the switch.  Perhaps more importantly, we don’t always consider what would happen if one form of electricity supply just went away.
We want to make sure that members of the General Assembly and others understand the value and importance of nuclear power.
That is why we have joined together – Democrats and Republicans – in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to launch the Nuclear Energy Caucus.  We believe that the unique role that nuclear power plays and the benefits it offers to Pennsylvania need to be recognized and more easily understood.
Nuclear energy is a clean, safe, reliable and affordable source of electricity that helps power the economy, and achieve Pennsylvania’s environmental goals.  
For example, nuclear stations support more than 15,600 direct and secondary full-time jobs, have an annual payroll of $360 million, and lead to about $81 million in tax revenue from secondary/induced economic activity from plant and employee activities.
The nuclear energy industry also purchases more than $1.8 billion of materials, services and fuel from more than 4,150 companies in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s nuclear plants contribute approximately $2.36 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Additionally, nuclear power plants prevent substantial emissions from CO2, SO2, and NOx.  Average annual CO2 emissions would be about 52 million tons greater absent the generation from Pennsylvania nuclear plants.
This Caucus will provide members with an opportunity to better learn, recognize and support the zero carbon emission qualities of nuclear energy, which coupled with its ability to provide baseload, or continuous, capacity make it an incredibly beneficial form of electricity.
Our collective goal is to have a continuing, ongoing dialogue about Pennsylvania’s nuclear assets.
As we look around the country, there is little doubt that nuclear energy sources – like many other resources – are struggling.  
Since 2013, five nuclear stations have ceased power production and begun decommissioning, with another seven plants already announced that they plan to close by 2019, in addition to two other plants planning to shutter four more reactors by 2025.
All of the events, coupled with Pennsylvania’s status as a top nuclear power producer, invite us to have a timely – and important – discussion on the valuable role that nuclear power plays in the Commonwealth’s economy and environment.
To that end, we look forward to working on policies that promote all of Pennsylvania’s energy resources, including nuclear energy.
(Photo: Exelon, Three Mile Island, Dauphin County)
Related Story:
Feature- Remembering The Accident At Three Mile Island, 3:53 a.m., March 28, 1979

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