Tuesday, October 17, 2017

EQB OKs Noncoal Mining Fee Increases, Storage Tank Reg Updates For Public Comment

The Environmental Quality Board Tuesday approved for public comment proposed permit review fee increases for the Noncoal (mineral) Mining Program and updates to the Storage Tank regulations required by recent federal changes.
The proposed noncoal mining fee increases would be phased in over six years both on permit reviews and an annual permit administration fee that DEP hopes will raise about $1.2 million to fully fund the program.  The total annual cost of the program is about $3 million.
Another change would index future annual increases to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics index.
The fee schedule, phasing in the increases and the indexing were recommendations made by DEP’s Aggregate Advisory Board.
The proposed update to the Storage Tank regulations contain changes required by the federal Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program for Pennsylvania to keep authority to administer that program.
For underground tanks, these changes include: adding secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping; adding operator training requirements; adding periodic operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems; removing certain deferrals; adding new release prevention and detection technologies; updating codes of practice; and making editorial and technical corrections.   
The proposal would, among other changes, shorten the in-service inspection cycle for aboveground tanks.
The last major update to the program’s regulations was 10 years ago.
There are currently about 7,100 storage tank owners with over 12,600 storage tank facilities in the state.
DEP’s Storage Tank Advisory Committee recommended the changes be presented to the EQB for action.
For copies of the proposed regulation changes and related documents, visit the Environmental Quality Board webpage.  Questions should be directed to Laura Edinger by calling 717-772-3277 or sending email to: ledinger@pa.gov.
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U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers: F.J. Sayers Dam & Reservoir Study Comment Response Now Available

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday announced a comment response document is now available for the F.J. Sayers Dam and Reservoir Study responding to comments received during an August 30 workshop and associated comment period.
The 1,730-acre Sayers lake is the focal point for water-based recreation in Bald Eagle State Park.  DCNR’s Nature Inn At Bald Eagle overlooks the lake.
The Corps and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission is undertaking a study to evaluate the current operations at F.J. Sayers Dam and Reservoir near Howard, Centre County is to understand if revising the operations plan for the dam will provide improved environmental conditions for in-lake and/or downstream aquatic species and their habitat during low flow or drought conditions.
Technology and science have advanced since time the reservoir was built and this study provides an opportunity to determine if operations can be adjust ices without impacting the project's primary purposes of flood risk management, recreation and water quality.
Visit the Corps’ F.J. Sayers Dam and Reservoir Study webpage for a copy of the comment response document and other background on the project.

Center For Watershed Protection September Science Bulletin Now Available

The September issue of the Watershed Science Bulletin from the Center for Watershed Protection is now available featuring four perspectives on the primary drivers of stream restoration, design approaches and techniques and restoration potential.
One of the featured perspectives is an interview with Drew Altland, Manager of Water Resources with Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP, a York-based engineering firm.
Click Here for a copy of the Science Bulletin.
For more information about programs, training opportunities and upcoming events, visit the Center for Watershed Protection website.

DCNR Continues To Aid Other States In Wildfire Fighting, Hurricane Relief

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reported Tuesday Pennsylvania has mobilized eight 20-person crews so far this year to fight wildfires in California, Montana and other states, marking it as one of the busiest in the history of the Wildland Fire Crew Program.
Since the mutual support program began in 1973, there have been nine years in which that number was exceeded, topping out at 11 crews in1994 and 2000.
In addition, DCNR had two fire engines on assignment to eastern Montana from late July through early September. Each engine crew is staffed by four persons, and three crews cycled through each engine during that time.
There were also 56 highly-trained and specially-skilled personnel that were ordered as “single resources” to fill logistical, operational, and command positions. This is one of the highest numbers of single resources ever sent out of Pennsylvania in a single year.
Between crews, engines and single resources, Pennsylvania has deployed 241 personnel to assist other states, one of the highest on record, and the year is not over.
Many years, like last year, the southern United States has an active fall fire season, and DCNR will send resources to assist our southern neighbors as needed.
The total number of personnel continues to rise as DCNR and PEMA send incident management teams (IMTs) to various locations supporting hurricane relief efforts. DCNR has been working with PEMA to send IMTs to New Jersey, Florida, and now South Carolina, bumping that number up to 259.
For more information on wildfires in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s Wildfire webpage.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

DEP Project Provides Drinking Water To 148 Homes, Businesses In Clearfield County Affected By Abandoned Mine

Department of Environmental Protection Monday announced funding for an Abandoned Mine Land project to construct a public waterline to serve 148 homes and businesses with public drinking water.
“The Pine Grove Waterline Project will eliminate health and safety hazards to the community and provide a safe, reliable public drinking water supply,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Residents here have struggled with diminished water supply and degraded water quality for too long.”
Existing water supplies in the area do not meet minimum state and federal drinking water standards due to impacts of legacy underground and surface coal mine operations.
The project will include the construction and installation of a pump station and water storage tank, and construction of approximately 69,300 linear feet of waterline. The tank and pump station will facilitate future expansion of the waterline service.
“This project not only promotes public health by providing safe drinking water to residents, but it also promotes economic development by providing vital infrastructure to support businesses, making future development in the area possible,” said McDonnell.
The Pine Grove Waterline Project is part of the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Pilot Program, funded by $30 million from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, U.S. Department of Interior. Projects were chosen for their strong potential for combined community, economic, and environmental outcomes.
Joining Secretary McDonnell in discussing the importance of this project at the event and touring the waterline route in Lawrence Township, Clearfield County, were Congressman Glenn Thompson and representatives from OSMRE, the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, the Clearfield Municipal Authority, and Bee Kind Winery.
For more information on abandoned mine reclamation, visit DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation webpage.

Western PA Conservancy Accepting Applications For Canoe, Kayak Access Grants

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is now accepting applications for 2018 Canoe Access Development Fund Grants, which supports projects that will improve canoe and kayak access to the region’s waterways.
The deadline for applications is November 17.  Recipients will be notified by December 15.
WPC’s Canoe Access Development Fund helps make the region’s rivers and streams more accessible for outdoor recreation by providing grants to watershed organizations or other community groups to develop rustic access sites for canoers and kayakers. Currently, 45 fund-supported projects are completed and open to the public.
“When we started canoeing, access to some of the streams in Western Pennsylvania was problematic,” said Roy Weil, co-founder of the fund. “We established the CADF with the Conservancy to help organizations improve primitive walk-in access sites in their local communities. We hope that making it easier for people to canoe the streams will get them involved in preserving the great natural heritage of the area.”
Proposed new access sites should be located along a stream or river featured in Canoeing Guide to Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia, a similar guidebook or resource, or be recognized as a paddling waterway in Western Pennsylvania.
Qualified grant recipients will receive up to $4,000 per site for the construction and enhancement of canoe and kayak access locations. Grant funding could be used in multiple ways, including stabilizing access areas to rivers or streams, adding nearby parking areas or purchasing riverside access.
“Thanks to this fund, we assisted several organizations with more than 45 projects over the past seven years,” said Eli Long, a watershed manager and the fund’s coordinator at the Conservancy. “It’s great to see these groups planning and creating new paddling trips for the public by connecting other funded access sites.”
To apply and for all the details, visit the WPC’s 2018 Canoe Access Development Fund Grants webpage.  Questions should be directed to Eli Long at WPC’s Watershed Conservation office by sending email to: elong@paconserve.org or call 724-471-7202, ext. 5105.
More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events at the Western PA Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, add them to your Circle on Google+, join them on Instagram, visit the Conservancy’s YouTube Channel or add them to your network on Linkedin.  Click Here to support their work.

Bill Allowing The General Assembly To Kill A Regulation By Doing Nothing Was Reported For Referral To Another House Committee

The House Commerce Committee Monday reported out House Bill 1237 (Keefer-R-York) which amends the Regulatory Review Act requiring the General Assembly to specifically approve “economically significant” final regulations approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
The bill was reported out with a recommendation to re-refer the bill to the House State Government Committee which has been working on the regulation efform issue.
The bill requires the Senate and House to each pass a concurrent resolution approving a final regulation which has an estimated direct or indirect cost of $1 million or more to the Commonwealth, political subdivisions and to the private sector.
While not specifically referenced in the bill, Section 9 of Article III of the state Constitution requires a concurrent resolution to be presented to the Governor for his action to sign or veto.
If the Senate and/or House fail to each pass a concurrent resolution, a final regulation would be deemed disapproved and could not go into effect.  
Since there was no action needed by the General Assembly to kill a regulation, the Governor would not have an opportunity to sign or veto their action in the usual checks and balances established in the state Constitution between the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
The bill also requires estimates of cost impacts to the verified by the Independent Fiscal Office prior to submitting a proposed regulation to the IRRC for review.  There is no similar requirement for final regulations.
All other provisions of the Regulatory Review Act requiring a review at the proposed and final regulations by Senate and House Committees and the IRRC and follow-up actions of an IRRC-approved final-form regulation are not changed by the bill.
This legislation is similar to a bill-- Senate Bill 561 (DiSanto-R-Dauphin)-- passed on June 13 by a party-line vote (Republicans supporting) also allowing the General Assembly to kill regulations by doing nothing.  This bill is in the House State Government Committee.  Click Here for more.
A 2013 study by Rutgers University presented to the House State Government Committee found Pennsylvania’s regulatory adoption process is already more complex and has more “veto points” than the federal government does.  Click Here for more.
Rep. Brian Ellis (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and can be contacted by sending email to: bellis@pahousegop.com. Rep. Curtis Thomas (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: cthomas@pahouse.net.

Senate Environmental Committee meeting TUESDAY is now Off The Floor in Rules Room

Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meeting TUESDAY is now Off The Floor in Rules Room.  Click Here for details.

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