Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pennsylvanians Benefit From Natural Gas Use; 68,536 Natural Gas Wells, 69 Gas Power Plants

Associated Petroleum Industries in Pennsylvania Tuesday released a new study on the benefits natural gas brings to the state in terms of consumer savings, family-sustaining jobs and economic growth.
“Natural gas is critical to our way of life in Pennsylvania,” said Executive Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman. “Over the past decade, our state has experienced massive growth in clean-burning natural gas production due to technological innovations and industry investment, helping create jobs and strengthen our state’s economy.”
The study by ICF International examined the economic benefits and opportunities from the entire natural gas value chain, including the production of natural gas, its transportation and end uses like power generation and manufacturing.
Natural gas benefited Pennsylvanians in 2015 in the following ways:
-- Supported 178,100 or 3.1 percent of jobs in the state; and
-- Contributed $24.5 billion to the state’s economy.
The report said in 2015, Pennsylvania’s natural gas and oil infrastructure on the ground included:
-- 21,940 producing oil wells and 68,536 producing gas wells;
-- 11 gas processing plants in the state with a capacity of 754 MMcf/d;
-- 49 natural gas storage sites in the state with a working gas capacity of 426 Bcf;
-- 69 natural gas-fired power plants;
-- 26,536 miles of gas gathering lines;
-- 9,899 miles of gas pipelines;
-- 24 miles of crude oil pipelines;
-- 1,141 miles of natural gas liquids pipelines;
-- 1,956 miles of product pipeline;
-- 47,954 miles of gas distribution mains and 28,711 miles of service lines; and
-- No CO2 pipelines.
“From power generation for homes and businesses that benefit from affordable and reliable electricity, to the industry’s skilled workforce that produces natural gas, to pipelines and the workers who build them, the advantages of natural gas are wide-ranging,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “With energy week in full swing, this study is another example of the job and consumer benefits of natural gas across the country.”
The study found that consumers in all 50 states will save an estimated $655 by 2040 from natural gas production, transportation and other uses such as electricity generation.
Other report highlights on the benefits of natural gas production, its transportation and end uses throughout the value chain include:
-- By 2040, consumers across the country will save an estimated $100 billion, or $655 per household, from the increased use of natural gas throughout our economy – from manufacturing to generating affordable electricity.
-- In 2015, the natural gas supply chain supported 3 percent of the U.S. economy, including direct, indirect and induced activities and jobs associated with natural gas.
-- In 2015, natural gas supported more than 4 million jobs across the country from production to end uses like manufacturing. That number is expected to rise to 6 million jobs by 2040.
Click Here for more information on benefits to Pennsylvania (page 217) in the full report.

PA American Water Awards 2017 Environmental Grants For Local Watershed Projects

PA American Water Tuesday announced eight watershed-related projects across the Commonwealth will receive financial support through the company’s 2017 Environmental Grant Program.
The recipients will receive a share of grant funds totaling nearly $30,000 for their community-based projects that improve, restore or protect watersheds.
The 2017 Environmental Grant recipients are:
-- Allegheny Land Trust: The grant will be used for dumpsite cleanups at Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area, a protected green space with several tributaries to the Youghiogheny River. The cleanups will allow further habitat restoration and stream water monitoring.
-- California University of Pennsylvania: Funding will support a fish and macroinvertebrate survey of the Youghiogheny River that will enhance water quality management, along with existing survey information. The information will also be used for continued monitoring by local school groups within the watershed.
-- Delaware River Basin Commission: The funds will be used to purchase markers and equipment that the Boy Scouts will apply on storm drains in the Yardley and Nazareth areas, alerting residents about their impact on the Delaware River Watershed.
-- Misericordia University: Partnering with Lehman Sanctuary, the university will install and utilize advanced telemetry equipment to monitor water quality on the sanctuary’s property. The project will advance understanding of the biodiversity and allow remote monitoring of environmental conditions for school groups at the location.
-- River Alert Information Network: With the funding, the organization will coordinate watershed groups along with the Allegheny Watershed Alliance to identify local source water protection issues. Additionally, informational literature will be developed to educate community groups on source water protection.  
-- South Fayette Conservation Group: The organization will purchase a groundwater and rainmaker model to be used as a hands-on educational tool to help students better understand point source and nonpoint pollution.
-- Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County: The grant will support a riparian buffer project in Simpson Park along the Yellow Breeches Creek. Volunteers will plant new trees and shrubs to help stabilize the streambank as part of an ongoing riparian project.
-- West Norriton Township, Montgomery County: Funding will support the Schuylkill River Invasive Weeds project, aimed at removing invasive plant species from the Norristown Basin, improving water quality along the river and habitats for wildlife.
A panel of judges selected the grant recipients from nearly 40 applications, which were evaluated on such criteria as environmental need, innovation, community engagement and sustainability.
“Each year, we receive an impressive list of applicants who are working to protect watersheds and sustain our environment,” said President Jeffrey McIntyre of Pennsylvania American Water. “Partnerships are the key to achieving goals, and we’re proud to partner with these organizations and their many volunteers to help achieve their goals of protecting our natural resources now and in the future.”
For more information on PA American Water’s Environmental Grant Program, Protect Our Watersheds Student Art Contest and Stream of Learning Scholarship Program, visit the company’s Community Involvement webpage.
PA American Water is a subsidiary of American Water, which initiated the Environmental Grant Program in 2005 in Pennsylvania to support projects that protect or restore drinking water sources and surrounding watersheds. Since then, American Water has expanded the annual program to many of its state subsidiaries across the nation.

15th Anniversary Of Quecreek Mine Rescue Community Celebration July 29 In Somerset

The 15th anniversary of the Quecreek Mine Rescue in Somerset County with a Community Celebration on July 29 at the mine rescue site, 140 Haupt Road in Somerset from 3:00 to 9:45 p.m.
The Celebration is a free community event featuring museum tours on the site, live entertainment, children’s activities, food vendors, a car cruise and ending with fireworks.
Click Here for a full schedule of events on the 29th and earlier in the week.
  On July 24, 2002 coal miners broke through into an abandoned, water-filled mine flooding the Quecreek Mine with over 150 million gallons of water.  Nine miners scrambled to safety, but nine were trapped in a pocket of air in the dark, cold, water filled mine.
The nine miners were rescued four days later through the combined efforts of state and federal mine rescue agencies and hundreds of workers and local volunteers.
Click Here to watch a video produced by the Commonwealth Media Services documenting the decisions made step-by-step during the rescue effort.
The celebration is being coordinated by the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation and a special 15th anniversary planning committee that includes the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce.
The Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization that relies on support from the public to educate the public about the rescue and to maintain and operate the mine rescue  area and a visitors center.
For more information on the 2002 mine rescue, contact the Quecreek Mine Rescue Foundation or make a donation by writing: 140 Haupt Road, Somerset, PA 15501, calling 814-445-5090.

U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Reports Out RECLAIM Mine Reclamation Initiative

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Tuesday amended and reported out H.R. 1731, the RECLAIM (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities By Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More) Act mine reclamation and economic development initiative to the full House, according to Robert Hughes, Executive Director of the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation Coalition.
H.R. 1731 would make $200 million available over 5 years to states and Indian tribes to reclaim abandoned mines that promote economic revitalization.
The coal industry is opposed to the bill.  Pennsylvania and the National Association of Abandoned Mine Lands Programs and the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and many other groups support the proposal.
An amendment to the bill made by Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) strengthened the bill by prohibiting states using federal mine reclamation funds for purposes other than mine reclamation from receiving future funding under this program.
There is also a companion bill in the U.S. Senate S.728 (McConnell-R-KY).
Click Here to watch of video of the Committee markup session.
RECLAIM Pilot Program
The RECLAIM Act follows the successful implementation of the federal AML Pilot Project that was enacted in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill.
That $90 million pilot – spearheaded in Pennsylvania ($30 million), West Virginia, and Kentucky – provided coal communities with grants to reclaim abandoned mine lands with economic development purposes in mind, create new job opportunities, and stimulate the local economy.
No new revenues are provided by this effort. The funding that would be provided through the RECLAIM Act already exists in the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund that was established in 1977 to help states saddled with the legacy of abandoned mine lands and polluted waters.
In Pennsylvania alone, the cost to remediate that legacy exceeds several billion dollars.
Reauthorize AML Fee
Also on the table in Congress is reauthorization of the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee which is the source of revenue for the RECLAIM and federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program.  The fees are set to expire in 2021.
The Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation is participating in the national effort to reauthorize SMCRA by collaborating with States and Tribes to establish a grassroots campaign and publish tools for citizens, non-profits, and legislators to use for advocating for abandoned mine reclamation.
Click Here for a presentation by WPCAMR on fee reauthorization.  Click Here for a video on reauthorization.  Questions should be directed to Andy McAllister, WPCAMR, by calling by 724-832-3625 or send email to: andy@wpcamr.org.
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Susquehanna River Basin Commission Increases Municipal Fee Discount To 44% For Next Year

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission will hold the line on most fees for the next year, and will increase the municipal discount for its Annual Compliance and Monitoring Fee to 44 percent, as a result of actions taken at its meeting on June 16.
The Commission opted to hold the line despite having the authority to increase a majority of its regulatory fee schedule to reflect the increase in the Consumer Price Index. The action averts a 0.5 percent increase across the board.
The Commission also did not change its Consumptive Use Mitigation Fee because there was no change in the index used to increase this fee during the last 12 months.
The municipal discount on the Annual Compliance and Monitoring Fee was increased to 44 percent, matching the discount on municipal groundwater application fees.
In another action regarding the monitoring fee, the Commission established a tiered fee for hydroelectric power plants so smaller facilities are subject to a lesser fee.
The only fee increase involved the standard fee for minor modifications, which increases to $1,000 from $750 based on costs incurred in the application process.
“We understand the concerns our permit holders have over fees, and we’re pleased to be able to hold the line this year on nearly all of them and increase the municipal discount for annual compliance and monitoring,” said Andrew Dehoff, Commission executive director. “Many of us are being asked to do more with less, and we’ve worked hard to hold our costs down to avoid fee increases.”
The actions on fees were among several others taken at the Commission’s quarterly business meeting. In other business, the Commission:
-- Tabled a request for waiver from Middletown Borough regarding the borough’s unapproved sources and directed staff to gather more information and work closely with the borough to seek resolution.
-- Denied a request by EOG Resources Inc., to circumvent rules regarding the development of a new water source.
-- Approved 19 applications and tabled six others.
The voting Commissioners and alternates were: Ben Grumbles, Chair and Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment; Col. Ed Chamberlayne, Vice Chair, Commander and District Engineer, Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Paul D’Amato, Director, Region 8, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; and Dana Aunkst, Deputy Secretary, Office of Water Programs, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Click Here for the complete announcement.
The next hearing of the SRBC will be on August 3 in Harrisburg and the next business meeting on September 7 in Elmira, New York.  
For more information on these upcoming events, visit the SRBC Public Participation Center webpage.

LandStudies To Assist Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative Pollution Reduction Planning

LandStudies, Inc., an ecology-focused engineering and landscape architecture company based in Lititz, Lancaster County, has been selected to help the Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative develop a multi-municipal Pollution Reduction Plan,
The Plan is a requirement of the nine member municipalities’ Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.
A PRP is a document that shows how a municipality will reduce the amount of pollution – like sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus – that ends up in their creeks and rivers from stormwater runoff.
The Plan will focus on the Cobbs Creek and Darby Creek watersheds in the Delaware River basin.
LandStudies staff members Bob Gray and Mike LaSala will collect and organize information from the nine individual municipalities into a single multi-municipal PRP for submission to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Their expertise will be essential for the development of budget estimates, best management practices, and long-term maintenance requirements.
LaSala has been helping municipalities with their MS4 requirements for many years, while Gray is new to LandStudies. His role is project manager, particularly in southeastern PA – a region in which LandStudies has recently begun to work more often.
“We are excited to work with the many municipalities of the Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative to reduce the amount of pollution entering Cobbs and Darby creeks,” said Gray. “This kind of multi-municipal effort is still relatively new in Pennsylvania, but we see it as an opportunity to make great strides in water quality protection with less resources needed per municipality.”
To learn more about MS4 stormwater management, visit LandStudies’ MS4 Permits webpage.   Learn more about stormwater management statewide, visit DEP’s MS4 Stormwater Program webpage.
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DEP Holds July 20 Hearing On Use Of Emission Credits For Lancaster Soybean Plant

Department of Environmental Protection Monday announced it will host a July 20 public hearing regarding Perdue AgriBusiness LLC’s application to use Emission Reduction Credits at the soybean processing facility currently under construction in Conoy Township, Lancaster County.
The hearing will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge Fire Hall, 34 South 2nd Street in Bainbridge.
Perdue proposes to use 175.7 tons per year of volatile organic compound (VOC) credits from an industrial facility in Little Valley, New York, 85.7 tons per year of VOC credits from an industrial facility in Depew, New York, 9.11 tons per year of VOC credits from an industrial facility in Belleville, PA, and 6.6 tons per year of VOC credits from an industrial facility in Neville, PA.
The scope of the hearing is limited to the use of these specific emission reduction credits for the facility currently under construction.
Copies of the emission reduction credit plan approval and other relevant information are available for public review at DEP’s Southcentral Regional Office, 909 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-8200. Please call 717-705-4732 between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment.
The application, draft plan approval and DEP’s review memorandum can also be accessed on DEP’s Southcentral Regional Office Community Information webpage.
Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes per person. Individuals wishing to offer testimony are asked to pre-register no later than July 13, 2017. Contact John Repetz at 717-705-4904, or send email to: jrepetz@pa.gov to register.
Commenters are requested to provide two (2) written copies of their remarks at the time of the hearing. Organizations are requested to designate a representative to present testimony on their behalf. Written comments may be submitted to the Air Quality Program, 909 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-8200, no later than July 30, 2017.
Individuals in need of an accommodation for the hearing as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact John at the number provided or make accommodations through the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service a 1-800-654-5984 (TDD).
Questions should be directed to John Repetz, DEP Southcentral Regional Office, 717-705-4904 or send email to: jrepetz@pa.gov.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

40 Groups Urge Gov. Wolf, DEP To Deny Permits For Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

A coalition of 40 community organizations, farms, environmental organizations, and local businesses representing over 436,727 members and constituencies Monday delivered a coalition letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of Environmental Protection Secretary McDonnell urging the DEP to deny permit applications for the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project.
DEP is reviewing the application for this nearly 200-mile Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, which would transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to Maryland for export and to supply gas plants in North Carolina and Florida. Transco, the parent company of the proposed Atlantic
The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline must obtain Chapter 102 and 105 permits from the DEP for wetland and waterway crossings and earth disturbances.
If approved, the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline would directly impact ten Pennsylvania counties and cross hundreds of wetlands and waterbodies — many of which are designated high quality or exceptional value.
The pipeline would directly affect 45,000 residents and place 19,000 homes in the evacuation zone, according to a recent report commissioned by the Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
The Key Log report estimates the lost value and benefits Pennsylvania would lose from this pipeline in food production, water supply, air quality, erosion control, biological diversity, soil fertility and waste treatment is estimated to be $6.2 to $22.7 million, while annual costs for this diminished ecosystem would be approximately $2.9 to $11.4 million per year.
“The mission statement of the DEP is ‘to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment,’ but it is clear that the cumulative impacts of the Atlantic Sunrise project will cause massive environmental degradation and put citizens in harm’s way,” said Ann Pinca, President of Lebanon Pipeline Awareness. “The DEP cannot approve these permits without directly violating its own mission statement.”
"The applications for this destructive project are still incomplete and deficient," said Alex Bomstein, Senior Litigation Attorney of Clean Air Council. "It would be premature and against the law for DEP to permit this pipeline without first making sure Williams fixes the problems in its applications."
“The only rational way forward for Pennsylvania is to invest in and support renewable, sustainable energy solutions, not allow the building of more fracked gas pipelines that are intended to be in service far longer than we can afford to rely on fossil fuels. The letter we’re submitting to Gov. Wolf and Secretary McDonnell lays out ample arguments that justify a rejection of the Chapter 102 and 105 permits for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. So the only question that remains is whether or not the administration will come down on the side of reason or if it will continue its failed and irresponsible policy of supporting natural gas infrastructure,” said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth.
“This project has failed to receive both the serious environmental review and adequate public participation necessary,” said Patrick Grenter, Senior Campaign Representative of Sierra Club. “People from around Pennsylvania have voiced their sustained opposition to this dangerous proposal. It is time for Governor Wolf to listen to his constituents and reject this pipeline.”
“A technical review on just one portion of this pipeline application in Schuylkill County shows nine areas where this permit application is grossly unprotective, incomplete and inadequate,” said Faith Zerbe, Director of Monitoring, Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “Exceptional Value waterbodies and anti-degradation standards deserve and warrant far greater protection than what is being proposed by the pipeline applicant - the cost to our environment and health is too high and risky. Governor Wolf and his DEP have an opportunity to protect Pennsylvania and we urge them to use their power to deny the water permits.”
“Fossil fuels have left legacy contamination and polluted waterways in Pennsylvania we are still cleaning up with taxpayer money long after the industry is gone. It’s time we look to the future and invest in sustainable and renewable jobs, not more fracking and pipeline build outs that will lock us into harmful climate trapping exploitation for decades to come, said Leah Zerbe, CoFounder, Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness. “We urge Gov. Wolf to stand up for Pennsylvania families and the environment and deny these permits.”
The letter is a follow up to concerned residents who attended public hearings held subsequently and on the heels of the community requesting, at minimum an extension beyond the June 26th deadline for further scrutiny and public review of the pipeline company’s applications.
The groups sending the letter include: Air Coalition of Tunkhannock,  Aquashicola/ Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy, Berks Gas Truth, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County, Bucks Environmental Action, Chester County Sierra Club, Citizens for a Sane Energy Policy, Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County, Damascus Citizens For Sustainability, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Green America, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Lancaster Against Pipelines, Lancaster Farmland Trust, Lancaster Friends Meeting Environmental Concerns Committee, League of Humane Voters, Lebanon Pipeline Awareness, Mason Pipeline Committee, Mud and Maker, New Jersey Sierra Club, Omega-Alpha Recycling Systems, Paunacussing Watershed Association, Peace Action Network of Lancaster, Pennsylvania Campaign for Clean Water EV Committee, Pennsylvania Earth Guardians, Pennsylvania Sierra Club, Plains Township Residents Against PennEast, Potter’s Farm, Protect Penn-Delco, Quittapahilla Watershed Association, Rachel Carson Council, Radnor Racquet Club, Responsible Drilling Alliance, Sane Energy Project, Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness, Shalefield Organizing Committee, StopNED, and the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network (UUPLAN).
A copy of the letter is available online.
For more information on the status of permit reviews, visit DEP’s Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline webpage.

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