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DEP to Reduce Power-Plant Water Pollution

The Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to a settlement to reduce toxic water pollution from 10 coal fired power plants.

In settling a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, the DEP has agreed to a schedule to update and draft new water permits for the plants, that have been operating with expired permits.

Discharges from those power plants include pollutants like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury that end up in rivers and streams. George Jugovic Jr., vice president of legal affairs at PennFuture, says federal law requires power plants to renew their permits every five years.

“As those permits are renewed, the limits in the permits will be ratcheted down, meaning less pollutants will be discharged from the power plants as new technologies to control those pollutants become available,” says Jugovic.

Under the settlement, the DEP plans to have permits for all 10 power plants finalized by March of next year.

Larger rivers like the Susquehanna are sources of drinking water, and even smaller streams are used for recreational fishing. Jugovic points out that pollutants in power plant discharges can accumulate over time.

“The fish in the streams ingest these pollutants,” he says. “They are stored in their fatty tissue, and then humans eat the fish and ingest those toxic pollutants.”

Arsenic is a known carcinogen, mercury is highly toxic, and lead is especially harmful to children.

Jugovic says coal fired power plants are among the most polluting industries in the state. While getting the DEP to enforce the requirements of the Clean Water Act won’t solve all the pollution problems, he sees it as a step in the right direction.

“One of our prime objectives is to lead Pennsylvania into a clean energy economy, and one of the ways we do that is by holding dirty energy companies accountable,” says Jugovic.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit included the Sierra Club and the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition

It’s the Environmental Protection Agency’s 14th annual People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition!  Under P3, college teams apply for grants to develop and display innovative solutions for a sustainable future, offering students hands-on experience with classroom learning. The P3 application period is now open. Applications are due by February 7.
What is P3? Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URGEUcDtaMA

Apply Now For Northeast PA Audubon Society College & Family Camp Scholarships

audubon_logo2The Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society is now accepting applications for its annual $4,000 college scholarship, available to students who wish to pursue a career in an environmental field such as forestry, natural resources, environmental planning, environmental engineering, fish, game or wildlife management, ecology and/or environmental science.
Applications are due April 30.
Applicants must be from Pike, Wayne, Lackawanna or Susquehanna counties and must enroll full-time in an accredited two or four-year college or university program.
The winning applicant will receive $1,000 per year for up to four years.
The scholarship is funded by the Audubon Arts and Craft Festival held each July.
Click Here for all the details and the application.
Family Camp At Hog Island, Maine
The Northeast PA Audubon Society is also accepting scholarship applications to attend the Family Camp on Hog Island in Maine the week of August 12 to 17. The camp is designed for families with children ages 8 to 13 years old.
Applicants must be from Pike, Wayne, Lackawanna or Susquehanna counties
Applications are due March 15.
Click Here for all the details.

Chesapeake Bay Health Indicators Showing Positive Results

The federal Chesapeake Bay Program issued its annual Bay Barometer: Health And Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed report Thursday showing a majority of Bay health indicators are showing positive results, an encouraging sign EPA said, restoration efforts are working.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said,  “This is great news! The federal/state partnership we call the Bay Blueprint is working. But is the Bay saved? Not even close!

“That is why we urge Congress to fully fund EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program.

“We also urge EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to cease his ongoing efforts to weaken federal clean air and water laws. Now, more than ever, we need EPA as a federal partner that will champion clean water.”

Thanks to the efforts of local governments, private landowners and watershed residents, nutrient and sediment pollution entering local waterways and the Bay have declined, but agricultural and urban and suburban runoff continue to be a challenge.

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

PA Pipeline Delayed, But Its Critics Push for More

Environmental groups are calling on the state to cancel construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection suspended the pipeline permit, saying Sunoco needs to correct what the agency termed “egregious and willful violations,” including unauthorized drilling and failure to notify the agency of discharges and spills. But Sam Rubin, Eastern Pennsylvania organizer with the group Food and Water Watch, argued suspending work on the pipeline, intended to carry shale-gas liquids across the state, isn’t enough.

“What we really need is a full revocation of this permit, and a full plan to shut this pipeline down,” Rubin said. “I think it’s very easy to read this as still a plan to let this pipeline be built.”

A spokesperson for Sunoco said the company is committed to protecting the environment and is confident it will be authorized to resume work on the pipeline soon.

But Rubin contended the real issue isn’t adherence to the permits, but whether the pipeline is safe – an issue the permits do not address.

“We have never actually seen a transparent, open and publicly accessible risk assessment to this pipeline,” he said; “even though this pipeline cuts across the entire state of Pennsylvania, directly through communities.”

He added that there are 40 schools within what he calls the “blast zone” along the pipeline route. And Rubin noted that this pipeline would be carrying ethane, posing what he describes as an extreme risk in the event of a leak.

“The contents are heavier than air,” he said. “Meaning that they don’t disperse, and instead form a low-lying, invisible, odorless vapor cloud – which remains explosive, under the right circumstances, down to parts per million.”

He said the suspension of construction permits gives pipeline opponents an opportunity to build on their efforts to bring the project to a complete halt.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

UGI Penn Natural Gas Launches Energy Efficiency/Conservation Rebate Program

UGI Penn Natural Gas Thursday announced the formal launch of the company’s comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program. The UGI program provides financial incentives that encourage consumers to reduce energy consumption and costs.

The UGI PNG EE&C program includes several rebate options for customers who upgrade heating systems or appliances to more efficient equipment or convert to natural gas.

The program also offers incentives for commercial and industrial customers, including those replacing less-efficient heating systems with high-efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units.

UGI proposed the EE&C Program as part of its 2017 Penn Natural Gas base rate filing made before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). The EE&C was approved by the PUC as part of the base rate case settlement.

Brian Meilinger, UGI’s Manager, Energy Efficiency and Conservation, said the company already has received significant customer interest in the program.

“We’re very pleased at the response from customers who have heard we were launching this program,” Meilinger said. “We believe UGI’s EE&C program has the potential to reach a significant number of customers interested in becoming more energy efficient.”

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

President’s Environmental Youth Award

Your project – or one you are sponsoring – could be an award winner. Apply or encourage a student you know to apply for the President’s Environmental Youth Award(PEYA) and see what a difference they can make for the environment with an award-winning project. Applicants from all 50 states and U.S. territories are eligible to compete for a regional certificate of special recognition and a national Presidential award. The application period for the PEYA program is now open. Applications are due by March 1.

Delaware Highlands Conservancy To Begin Accepting Entries For Eagles & Their Environs Photo Contest Jan. 15

The Delaware Highlands Conservancy will begin accepting entries for a new juried photo contest– Sharing Place: Eagles and Their Environs— for the Upper Delaware River region on January 15. The deadline for entries is February 15.
The contest is open to professional and amateur photographers who are invited to submit no more than two photos to the contest.
The Conservancy invites photographers to capture striking eagle-inspired photos in four categories: eagles; healthy eagle habitat; factors important to eagle welfare; and a wild card to feature insights gained in the process of photographing eagles and their habitat.
Photos will be judged on creativity, originality, composition, clarity and quality, and impact.
The Conservancy is also offering a guided Photo Workshop Bus Tour on February 3 with instruction from local photographer Sandy Long, but participation in the bus tour is not required to enter the contest.
Photographers must follow Eagle Etiquette when photographing eagles and avoid disturbing or disrupting the birds or their habitat.
The winning 15 photos will be chosen by a panel of judges, along with one People’s Choice, and will be hung at the ARTery gallery in Milford, Pike County, beginning with a reception on April 21st from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and on display until May 7th. The ARTery is a cooperative owned and operated by successful and emerging artists and artisans from the Tri-State area.
The winning photos will be exhibited with the ARTery member artists’ own interpretations of eagles, raptors, and other species of birds. During the opening reception, members of the Conservancy will present a short background on the organization and eagles in the region.
For all the details, including the required rules acknowledgement form, visit the Conservancy’s Sharing Place: Eagles and Their Environs webpage.
Questions about the contest should be directed to Outreach Coordinator Jason Zarnowski by sending email to: jason@delawarehighlands.org or call 570-226-3164 ext. 6.

January is National Radon Action Month

Test your home for radon, an invisible radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. Testing is the only way to know whether your home contains high radon levels.

Fracking Linked to Low Birthweight Babies

Pregnant women living near fracked gas wells are more likely to have a low birthweight baby – that’s the finding in a new study from Princeton University.

The researchers compared standard birthweight records collected by Pennsylvania hospitals with the locations of the parents’ homes. Low birth weight has long been considered an important indicator of later health problems.

Princeton economics professor Janet Currie says they found a strong correlation – that the low birth weights were highly localized and much more likely to be found right next to the well sites.

“What is surprising is, we found a fairly large effect for people living very close; but by the time you got to two miles away, we did not detect any effect,” she notes.

The industry argues that air pollution from gas wells and equipment such as compressor stations disperses quickly after it’s released.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is finalizing tighter regulations for emissions from new oil and gas facilities.

But Patrice Tomcik, with Moms Clean Air Force, notes that the new rules don’t cover wells, compressor stations and pipelines already in service.

“We need a solution for reducing the methane pollution from these existing sources that are sickening our families today,” she says.

Emissions of methane, the main component of natural gas, also carry other pollutants including volatile organic compounds. Tomcik says about 1.5 million Pennsylvanians live within half a mile of oil and gas facilities.

Beth Weinberger, a public health consultant with the Environmental Health Project, says previous research indicates preterm births and similar issues may be due to volatile organic compounds such as benzene, or small, soot-like particles such as those found in diesel exhaust, pollutants associated with drilling operations.

“We know much of what’s in the emissions, and in each of the studies, the researchers have found associations between exposure to gas drilling and birth outcomes,” Weinberger says.

The Princeton research suggests keeping drilling away from homes, through zoning or well set-back rules.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Solar Power Continues to Grow in PA

Solar power is growing in Pennsylvania as individuals, businesses and communities take action to reduce carbon emissions.

Since the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, local and state efforts to combat climate change have become critical.

According to Jason Grottini, director of design for Envinity, a clean energy company, Pennsylvania is creating incentives to encourage both commercial scale solar installations and smaller systems for home and business.

“We have very strong net metering laws, which allows homeowners and businesses to sell their excess power back to the utility,” says Grottini. “We recently passed some legislation that all the renewable energy that our public utilities are required to generate must come from inside Pennsylvania.”

He adds improvements in efficiency and reductions in the cost mean those who install home based solar systems can expect an 8 percent to 10 percent return on their investment.

Critics complain that the growth in renewable energy depends on government subsidies and incentives. But Ed Perry, an aquatic biologist with the National Wildlife Federation, points out that the very profitable fossil fuel industry gets plenty of government help every year.

“They get over $15 billion a year in tax breaks that are built right in to the tax code,” he says, “so that they don’t have to go back to Congress each year, like the wind and solar industry does, to get these tax credits.”

He says tax incentives for renewables are not special treatment – instead, they level the playing field.

Scientists estimate that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change will require reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. Perry notes that even with cancellation of the federal mandate to reduce carbon emissions, progress continues.

“Already, despite the fact that the Clean Power Plan is not in effect, Pennsylvania is on that path,” says Perry.

Forty-two mayors nationwide have adopted the goal of achieving 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2035.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Climate Change Tops Environmental Year-in-Review

Catastrophic hurricanes, severe flooding and raging wildfires fueled by drought have been prominent features of an eventful year for the environment.

Rainforest Trust’s first-annual Environmental Year-in-Review put the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on fighting global climate change at the top of the list of major events for 2017. Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust, pointed out that the withdrawal took place despite a scientific consensus that the warming climate is the driving force behind the extreme weather.

“What we’re basically seeing is hurricanes that are much more intense, flooding that is going to be much more catastrophic,” Salaman said. “This year, we’ve already had estimates of upwards of half-a-trillion dollars worth of property damage.”

He said acting locally by planting a bee-friendly garden or volunteering to help clean up a local park in the coming year are easy steps people can take to begin to make a difference.

But Salaman emphasized that global action is required, too.

“Our most important resolution will certainly be towards protecting habitat,” he said; “and really importantly, preserving rainforests that are really the lungs of the planet and the biggest stabilizing factor for the global climate.”

He noted that as little as $2, the price of a cup of coffee, can permanently protect an acre of rainforest.

And while the federal government may have opted not to fight climate change, Salaman said other levels of government are stepping up to the challenge.

“The good thing is that many states and cities have come together across the U.S. to balance this and really double their efforts towards reducing carbon emissions and becoming much more sustainable,” he said.

The Environmental Year-in-Review is online at rainforesttrust.org.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Do-It-Yourself Projects To Help Save on Energy Bills

The typical American family spends nearly $2,000 a year on their home energy bills. But you don’t need to break the bank to keep your home comfortable.

These do-it-yourself projects will help prepare you for the colder days and weeks ahead:

Insulating Hot Water Pipes

Insulating your hot water pipes can reduce heat loss and raise water temperature by up to 4° Fahrenheit.

It takes 3 hours or longer to complete (depending on the house size) but insulating hot water pipes can save you up to 4% on your energy bill—if you’re willing to put the time in!

Sealing Air Leaks with Caulk

If your house is drafty in the winter, then caulking is a quick-and-easy way to save up to 20% on your heating bill.

Here are the step-by-step directions. Completion time is usually 1-2 hours.

Weatherstrip Air Leaks

Weatherstripping is another affordable option to cut down on air leaks.

You can tackle this one in about an hour to get up to 10% in energy savings.

Here are the step-by-step directions.

Find out more from the OFFICE of ENERGY EFFICIENCY & RENEWABLE ENERGY including more projects you can tackle to save money on your energy bills.

2,093 Acres Of Farmland On 29 Farms Permanently Preserved In PA

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the PA Agricultural Land Preservation Board approved conservation easement purchases to protect another 29 farms totaling 2,093 acres in the Commonwealth.

The board preserved farms in 20 counties: Adams, Armstrong, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Columbia, Dauphin, Fayette, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Susquehanna, Union, Washington, Westmoreland and Wyoming.

With the acreage preserved last Thursday, Pennsylvania will end have preserved 16,237 additional acres on 197 farms in 2017, according to state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

“Preserving Pennsylvania’s farmland is as important today as it was nearly three decades ago when the program was conceived,” said Redding. “2017 has been another successful year for safeguarding our best acreage – and our food supply – because of the commitment of farmers and other partners. Along the way, we’ve secured federal funding, advocated for succession planning for owners of preserved farms, and remain the national leader in farmland preservation.”

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program identifies properties and slows the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses. It enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, or development rights, from owners of quality farmland.

Gov. Tom Wolf allocated $40 million for farmland preservation in this year’s state budget – an increase of $8 million that makes the 2017-18 fiscal year the program’s highest-funded in a decade.


Read the full story from Pa Environment Digest here.

EPA Sued for Removing Scientists

Doctors, scientists and professional organizations are suing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for replacing publicly-funded scientists with others who advocate for polluting industries.

According to the lawsuit, of Pruitt’s 18 new appointees to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, seven are now employed by industries the EPA regulates, four have a history of taking money from polluters and five have histories of rejecting mainstream science in favor of industry talking points.

Neil Gormley, staff attorney at the environmental law firm Earthjustice, says ironically, Pruitt claims the academic scientists are being removed because they have financial ties to the EPA.

“By barring people just because they’ve received competitive research grants from the agency, they’re pushing out some of the most qualified experts,” he says.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., calls the policy an illegal override of federal ethics rules that will introduce a pro-polluter bias in EPA decisions.

Environmentalists fear that the new appointees also will undermine the integrity of EPA science. Gormley points out that some of the replacements on the advisory board have espoused opinions that fall into the category of junk science.

“Claiming that air pollution is good for you or denying that smog causes asthma – ideas that are way outside the scientific mainstream and that just serve a corporate agenda,” he explains.

He says the scientists being removed from the board are experts in fields such as cancer, children’s health, respiratory diseases and the risks of chemicals in the home.

Gormley says the lawsuit asks the court to rule that the new policy is unlawful and arbitrary, and to halt the discharge of scientists on the basis of having received agency funding for their work.

“We’re also asking for the reinstatement of discharged scientists to these science boards to restore their ability to render objective, high-quality scientific advice to the agency,” he adds.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

New Methane Rules Called Just a Start

Clean air advocates want the Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to strengthen rules for methane leaks from existing sources.

Environmental groups say last week’s release of the final draft of permits to control emissions from new oil and gas wells, pipelines and compressor stations was an important step in the right direction.

But according to Andrew Williams with the Environmental Defense Fund, Gov. Tom Wolf appears to be backing off his pledge to apply methane controls on the thousands of oil and gas facilities already in operation in Pennsylvania.

He says, “Gov. Wolf and the Department chose to tie their strategy to controls that exist at the federal level already – the very same controls that President Trump’s EPA is now in the process of walking back.”

Williams says as the second biggest natural gas producer in the country, Pennsylvania needs to do more than meet the bare minimum of emission control standards.

Methane alone is a major contributor to climate change. But emissions also contain smog forming volatile organic compounds that trigger asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Williams notes that those being affected already have been waiting for years for relief.

“Communities are experiencing the impacts of oil and gas pollution right now,” he says, “and the vast majority of Pennsylvanians support controlling methane emissions across the state.”

He says Wolf first promised to cut emissions from existing oil and gas facilities three years ago.

Williams points out that other gas producing states such as Colorado have instituted controls that exceed the federal standards.

He says now the governor has an opportunity to show real leadership.

“Leadership that will make sense on both sides of the political aisle,” says Williams, “leadership that will provide much-needed protections to those millions of families living near oil and gas operations here in Pennsylvania.”

Wolf and the DEP have pledged to finalize the permits for new oil and gas facilities in the first quarter of next year.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Wildlands Conservancy Adds 72 Acres To 1,300 Acre Thomas Darling Preserve

The Wildlands Conservancy Tuesday announced it has permanently protected 72 acres of woodlands and wetlands situated in Tobyhanna Township, Monroe County.

The acquired acreage expands Wildlands’ 1,300-acre Thomas Darling Preserve at Two Mile Run along Route 940 in Blakeslee.

This acquisition permanently preserves the forests and streams that are critical to the sustained health of the Lehigh River watershed, and, ultimately, the irreplaceable, natural resource that is the Lehigh River.

It also protects critical wildlife habitat, provides essential connectivity between adjacent existing natural areas and it forwards the land trust’s plans for public access along Route 940.

“With precious wetlands, abundant wildlife habitat and waterways that lead to the Lehigh River, this special, natural area is a critical landscape that begs to be kept whole,” says Christopher Kocher, president of Wildlands. “And thanks to the support of our giving community and visionary partners, Wildlands is meaningfully connecting more people with nature in Poconos, altogether inspiring a future for local conservation.”

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.


Final Tax Bill Called a Blow to Environment

Environmental groups say the final tax bill agreed to last week by the House and Senate Reconciliation Committee will be a disaster for the environment.

There is some good news, as tax incentives for electric cars and wind power that had been eliminated in the House bill, are back in. But the Senate’s provision opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling is in, too.

Kirin Kennedy, associate legislative director for lands and wildlife at the Sierra Club, said eliminating $1 trillion or more of revenue over ten years will have a huge impact on government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department.

“They’re going to be basically facing massive cuts in their budgets to help pay for the tax cuts that will go toward the richest 1 percent and the top 1 percent corporations in the country,” Kennedy said.

Republicans contend that environmental regulations have hindered economic development, and that selling oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could raise about $1 billion in revenue to offset some of the tax cuts.

Kennedy is convinced that oil lease sales aren’t going to meet that goal, while the environmental and financial risks are significant.

“The way the rules are written, it doesn’t quite raise that much money,” she said. “And there’s issues with the technology to be able to actually get into the refuge and drill, and they’d have to use very expensive technology that hasn’t been tested.”

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to the indigenous Gwich’in people as well as endangered polar bears, herds of caribou and migratory birds.

There is widespread opposition to the tax bill and the final version still needs to pass in both the House and Senate. Kennedy said she hopes lawmakers get the message that they need to realign their priorities.

“Pass a tax bill that will actually create jobs and not hurt jobs,” she said; “that will help protect our air and health and water, and access to services, not get rid of them.”

The Republican leadership in Congress hopes to hold a final vote on the bill this week.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Lacawac Sanctuary Receives Grant For Environmental Education Center

Lacawac Sanctuary and Biological Field Station Saturday announced it has received a $111,450 grant from DCNR to purchase 0.8 acres of land to develop a new Environmental STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Education Center.

For more than 50 years Lacawac Sanctuary has inspired a love for nature and ecology among families, researchers, and students throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.

Nearly half a century of footprints on the trails and the natural evolution of our diverse ecosystems have created a critical need to revitalize and expand the aging facilities and to preserve our forests, wetlands and other natural areas for future generations.

Many of the Sanctuary’s outreach programs connect underserved populations to nature by partnering with agencies where low income, diverse students are already engaged.

Lacawac is currently the only environmental education center Wayne County. The majority of children served come from schools where from 50 to 75 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced lunch program.

The opportunities provided by Lacawac are likely to be the only affordable opportunities for experiential, environmental education for the vast majority of the children served.

Lacawac’s new center will anchor all of the work the Sanctuary has been doing for the last 50 years and will be permanent, accessible and conducive to train the next generation of scientists, conserve our natural resources and preserve our history.

Click Here for more information on the STEAM Center.

For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Lacawac Sanctuary website.

EPA Awards $3.7 Million to Pennsylvania for Chesapeake Bay Restoration

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is providing $3.7 million to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to implement best management practices (BMPs) on agricultural lands in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These practices will reduce the loads of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution going to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

“The Chesapeake Bay Program is an excellent example of cooperative federalism at work,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This funding will help Pennsylvania accelerate its progress in improving local water quality and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.”

“Clean water is a top priority for EPA,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio.  “This funding will help Pennsylvania continue putting the necessary pollution control measures in place to restore local waters and the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, it helps to demonstrate our commitment in working with the agricultural community where we see first-hand the successes and challenges of growing food and having local streams, as well as ensuring available water supplies, to support our farming communities.”

“The most practical way to balance farmers’ economic viability and the health of local waters is to enlist farmers in using environmentally conscious and economically sustainable best management practices,” said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We’re grateful for funding support from EPA that enables DEP to partner with farmers to plan and implement these practices. Achieving clean local waters takes boots on the ground farm by farm, stream by stream. With over 33,000 farms in Pennsylvania’s part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, we simply couldn’t do it without EPA’s support.”

This funding, which is being provided through EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant (CBIG) program will support activities to help achieve and maintain the water quality necessary to fully restore the aquatic resources of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, including:

  • Developing multiyear management plans;
  • Chesapeake Bay education;
  • Implementing local BMPs to control stormwater runoff;
  • Developing agricultural nutrient and manure management plans;
  • Installing agricultural BMPs;
  • Funding cost share programs to reduce the cost to farmers of implementing BMPs; and
  • Providing funding opportunities to Pennsylvania conservation districts for implementing local stormwater BMPs.

For more information about EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant (CBIG) program, visit:  https://www.chesapeakebay.net/who/funding_and_financing

Trump administration will rush toward drilling and mining in embattled Utah monuments

Michael Reinemer

Two Federal Register notices will be published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Tuesday, January 16th, showing the agency’s intent to rus


Seaweed-An Overlooked Ally In Fight Against Climate Change

Oceana is reporting seaweed could be scrubbing way more carbon from the atmosphere than we expected:

If you’ve even eaten sushi, you know that seaweed goes great with rice and fish. But recent research suggests that seaweed is more than just a culinary partner — it could be an overlooked ally in the fight against climate change. By dying and drifting down to the deep sea, seaweeds like kelp may sequester more carbon than all other marine plants combined.

That’s a big deal, because saltwater plants like mangroves and seagrasses are well-known dynamos when it comes to storing carbon. Per acre, these “blue carbon” ecosystems can take up 20 times more CO2 from the atmosphere than land-based forests. The secret to their carbon-storing success lies not in the plants, but in the rich muck they grow in. As marine plants grow and die, their leaves, roots, stems and branches wind up buried in underwater sediments. These low-oxygen sediments can store carbon for decades or longer.

Seaweeds, on the other hand, were long ignored as a carbon sink. These algae grow on rocky surfaces where their fronds can’t be buried in soil or sediment. Some species even have air bladders that make them less likely to sink. Seaweed cells are soft and easy to digest, so they are more likely to be eaten by animals or broken down by bacteria. Digestion or decomposition releases seaweeds’ stored carbon back into the air or water, where it reacts with oxygen to become CO2.

But a study published in Nature Geoscience found that our assumptions about seaweed could be wrong. The study estimated that about 11 percent of total seaweed production may be sequestered, most of it after it sinks down into the deep sea.

Read the full story from Oceana here.

Investor concern over methane risks on the rise. It should worry industry.

Many operators continue to ignore the financial and reputational risks methane poses, with potential implications for the entire industry.

How blockchain could soon upend America’s power markets

The energy market may eventually be a bigger user of blockchain than the financial services sector.

Congress is working to enshrine into law Trump’s bad decisions on national monuments

Michael Reinemer

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands conducted hearing today on H.R.