Governor Corbett awards 111 grants for environmental education and stewardship; 12 awarded in NEPA

Gov. Tom Corbett on April 22 announced that he is awarding $309,626 in environmental education grants to 111 schools, universities, non-profit organizations and conservation districts across Pennsylvania.“Each year, these grants are awarded to deserving organizations to educate Pennsylvanians about important environmental issues,” Corbett said. “Their work plays in integral role in the preservation and enhancement of Pennsylvania’s air, land and water.”Grant recipients will use the funding for various initiatives, including farm field days, summer camps, exploratory learning activities, professional development and explanatory signage along watersheds. Through these initiatives, students, teachers, farmers and others will learn about a variety of environmental issues ranging from pollination, stormwater management and hydroponics in agriculture, to Marcellus Shale and the Chesapeake Bay, among other topics.“These projects will use proven best management practices to educate Pennsylvanians about their environment,” Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. “Funding environmental education initiatives is an important part of fulfilling DEP’s mission.”The grant program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates setting aside five percent of the pollution fines and penalties DEP collects annually for environmental education in Pennsylvania. (read more)

DEP releases 2014 Susquehanna River sampling plan

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on April 16 released a work plan outlining efforts to continue studying and sampling the Susquehanna River basin throughout 2014. The plan includes analysis of water quality, water flow, sediment, pesticides, hormones, invertebrates, fish tissue and more. “Over the last two years where we tremendously enhanced our examination efforts, DEP has learned a great deal about the health of the Susquehanna River,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. “It is important to continue these efforts so that DEP can create policy and regulation based on facts and sound science.” In 2013, DEP staff spent 927 days collecting samples on the river. The amount of work days in 2014 is expected to be the same or increase slightly. DEP will collect samples at sites along the Susquehanna in Marietta, City Island and Sunbury and along the Juniata River at the Lewistown Narrows and Newport. Additional sampling sites along the Delaware, Allegheny and Youghiogheny rivers will be used as control sites to establish a baseline for water quality. Portions of the study will focus on areas where smallmouth bass reproduce.Staff will test for various water quality parameters, like dissolved oxygen, temperature and pH, at multiple sites in the Susquehanna River. Samples of fish, mussels and macroinvertebrates, such as mayflies, will also be collected. Fish tissue from bass collected during the spawning season will be analyzed for pesticides, PCBs and metals. Throughout 2014, DEP will continue to sample for pesticides at existing water quality network stations along the Susquehanna, Juniata and Delaware rivers. Samples will be collected during high and low flows to better document pesticides in these waters.DEP’s biologists continue to consult with a contracted algal expert to analyze samples collected in the Susquehanna River Basin and control sites. Algae samples are analyzed for total suspended solids, ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus to determine the relationship between nutrient run-off, or discharges, and algae growth. Excessive algae may be indicative of poor water quality.For more information, visit (read more)

State Senate approves Sen. Yaw ‘Landowner Protection’ bills

Three bills expanding the rights of landowners who are currently leased with natural gas companies were approved today with strong bipartisan support by the full state Senate, according to prime sponsor, state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford).The legislation, known as the Oil and Gas Lease Protection Package , aims to provide more protections for landowners. “This three-bill package aims to level the playing field in favor of Pennsylvania landowners who are looking for fair treatment when leasing their land,” Yaw said. “Hopefully, these bills, along with other legislative and investigative efforts that are presently underway, will resolve many of the royalty issues which have been brought to the attention of local legislators. I’m sure the House of Representatives will also see the merit in approving this legislation.”The first bill, (read more)

DEP releases annual natural gas drilling emissions inventory data

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on April 4 released annual emissions data for the natural gas drilling industry. The inventory represents 2012 emissions levels from Marcellus Shale natural gas production and processing operations as well as compressor stations that receive gas from traditional oil and gas well sites.“The natural gas emissions inventory was created to collect and assess air quality impacts from these sources,” DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “This vital information assists DEP in its efforts to improve Pennsylvania’s air quality.”In addition to the emissions inventory, DEP has implemented new measures for controlling and reducing emissions from natural gas sites. In 2013, DEP made revisions to the general permit, GP-5, that regulates emissions from natural gas-fired engines and equipment at compressor stations. The changes will significantly lower allowable emissions for compressor stations.DEP also finalized new air quality criteria for Marcellus Shale gas well owners and operators. These criteria require actions to be taken which are more stringent than the EPA’s standards for new emission sources and result in emission levels of minor significance. If an owner or operator is unwilling to or cannot meet these criteria, they must seek an air quality plan approval for construction of the well site from DEP.The sources and activities of natural gas operations that DEP identified as part of the inventory include compressor stations; dehydration units; drill rigs; fugitives, such as connectors, flanges, pump lines, pump seals and valves; heaters; pneumatic controllers and pumps; stationary engines; tanks, pressurized vessels and impoundments; venting and blow down systems; well heads and well completions.For the 2012 inventory, data reported to DEP came from 56 Marcellus Shale operators covering 8,800 natural gas wells and 70 operators of 400 compressor stations, which received gas from Marcellus Shale and traditional oil and gas well sites. New to this round of reporting were 250 additional compressor stations that process gas from traditional well sites. These compressor stations were not required to report in 2011.The totals reported for the 2012 natural gas emissions inventory are: (read more)

Gov. Corbett awards 25 grants for natural gas vehicle conversion

Gov. Tom Corbett on March 25 awarded $7.7 million in Act 13 funding to 25 companies and organizations making the switch to natural gas for their heavy-duty fleet vehicles.“Act 13 not only strengthened oversight of the drilling industry, it allows us to continue growing jobs while cleaning the air at the same time,” Corbett said. “Natural gas, particularly from the shale formations here in Pennsylvania, is an abundant, affordable, domestic fuel that is putting this country on a path to energy independence.” Act 13 of 2012 was the single largest step in modernizing the state’s Oil and Gas Law in nearly three decades. It increased protections for private water supplies, empowered the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to issue larger fines and included one of the most progressive hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure laws in the nation.The Act also authorized DEP to develop and implement the Natural Gas Energy Development program, funded by impact fees paid by natural gas operators. The program distributes up to $20 million in grants over three years, to help pay for the incremental purchase and conversion costs of heavy-duty natural gas fleet vehicles. For this second round of the program, DEP received applications from 37 applicants requesting more than $10 million in grants. A portion of funding was reserved for local transportation organizations, as required by the Act.The first round awarded $6.3 million to 19 companies and organizations making the switch to natural gas. The third and final round is slated to open in late summer.Eligible vehicles for all three rounds of the Natural Gas Energy Development program include those fueled with compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) or bi-fuel vehicles weighing 14,000 pounds or more.Grant requests cannot exceed 50 percent of the incremental purchase or retrofit cost per vehicle or a maximum total of $25,000 per vehicle.Gov. Corbett recently announced the March 1 opening of the Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant (AFIG) program, providing an estimated $8 million to help companies and organizations purchase or convert CNG, LNG or bi-fuel vehicles weighing 26,000 pounds or less, as well as electric, propane or other alternative fuel vehicles of any weight. Applications are also being accepted for innovation technology projects that include research, training, development and demonstration of new applications or next phase technology related to alternative transportation fuels and alternative fuel vehicles. To learn more about AFIG and Act 13 grant programs, visit (read more)

Pond management workshop slated for May 3

Ponds and lakes are a common feature of the landscape in Northeastern Pennsylvania providing a source of enjoyment for many residents. Although they occur naturally in this area, many ponds and lakes have been constructed for a variety of purposes. Regardless of its origin or intended use, management of a pond or lake may present the individual landowner or community organization with many complex and difficult management decisions.To assist private pond owners and members of lake-based community organizations with making informed and sound management decisions a workshop will be held at the PPL Environmental Learning Center on Route 6 in Hawley on Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.This workshop will provide participants with an overview of lake and pond ecology and management. Topics to be addressed include lake ecology and monitoring, aquatic plant control, restoration of lakes and ponds and wildlife issues. The cost of the workshop is $25.00 per person and includes continental breakfast and informational materials.Registration is available at (read more)

Pennsylvania to receive more than $52 million to clean up abandoned coal mines, funds could aid mine fires in NEPA

On Feb. 25, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) announced that the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mine Reclamation and Enforcement has awarded Pennsylvania $52,368,972.10 in funds to clean up abandoned coal mines. The funds could also help put out mine fires in parts of Northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2012, Senator Casey backed legislation to restore previous cuts to the Abandoned Mine La (read more)

General Dynamics, Scranton works with PennTAP to achieve energy savings

General Dynamics achieved gold-level SEP certification by achieving energy reductions of 11.9 percent over three years at its Scranton plant. Two manufacturers working with the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) at Penn State have received certification from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for significantly reducing their energy use.Mack Trucks’ Macungie Cab and Vehicle Assembly plant, and (read more)

Landowner protection bills approved by state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee

Legislation aimed at expanding the rights of landowners who are currently leased with natural gas companies was approved March 11 by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, according to Committee Chairman Gene Yaw (R-Bradford). The legislation, known as the Oil and Gas Lease Protection Package, consisted of three bills:1. The first bill, Senate Bill 1236 (read more)

Efforts underway to make ‘energy=jobs’ in NEPA

Energy equals jobs. That’s the mantra of Gov. Tom Corbett and his new plan to highlight the number of jobs related to the energy related field across Pennsylvania. “It’s really an all-of-the-above approach,” said Valerie Caras, deputy communications director for the governor. “Pennsylvania has abundant and diverse resources that doesn’t focus on growing one particular field, rather all of our reso (read more)

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