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Paris Climate Deal: PA Cities say “We Are Still In”

President Trump may not be interested in keeping the United States in the Paris climate deal, but several Pennsylvania cities say they are.

Tuesday was called a “Still In” day of action, and rallies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were among the hundreds held around the nation to show a commitment to meeting the standards to reduce carbon emissions by 2050. Sustainability director for the city of Philadelphia, Christine Knapp, said it’s time for Pennsylvania to move away from its history of dirty energy.

“We’re trying to change our future to one that’s more just and healthy and fairer and affordable for folks,” Knapp said; “one that really revolves more around clean energy sources that don’t contribute to carbon emissions and don’t contribute to air pollution. Having Pennsylvania take the stand is really important.”

More than 2,500 leaders representing businesses, colleges, cities and states have signed the “We Are Still In” declaration in support of climate action.

After Trump used the line of “Pittsburgh, not Paris” to justify the withdrawal from the Paris deal, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto vowed his city would be 100 percent powered by clean energy by 2030 and lead by example. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney made a similar announcement. And on Tuesday, Philadelphia also released a plan for how the city will meet the Paris climate goals.

“Residents, businesses, institutions, legislative bodies: This is a road map of options, of policy levers, actions that people can take to help us all move towards this direction,” Knapp said; “because the city can lead by example, but everybody has to take action in order for us to meet these ambitious goals. ”

Allentown, Ambler, Bethlehem, Easton, Ferguson Township, Lancaster, Swarthmore and West York Borough join Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as Pennsylvania cities that have declared a commitment to support local climate action in the absence of federal leadership.

-Mary Kuhlman, Keystone State News Connection

Study: Ethanol Mandate Adding to Carbon Pollution

The federal mandate to add ethanol to fuel has led to a big increase in climate disrupting pollution, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires about 17 billion gallons of ethanol, derived mostly from corn, to be blended into gasoline every year.

Since 2007, that has led to the conversion of more than 7 million acres of grassland and forest to agricultural production.

According to Seth Spawn, one of the researchers at the University of Wisconsin, that conversion is releasing massive amounts of climate pollution into the air.

“We found that expansion caused emissions of almost 30 million metric tons of carbon per year,” he states. “That’s roughly equivalent to emissions of 20 million cars.”

While cropland expansion is most prevalent in Corn Belt states, the highest amounts of carbon emitted per acre are found in New England, along the Eastern Seaboard and the upper Great Lakes.

Tyler Lark, co-author of the study, says the conversions to cropland in the U.S. are similar to the clearing of tropical rain forest in Brazil.

However, he notes that the carbon released there is mostly from trees and is easier to recapture.

“The emissions we see here in the U.S. are primarily from soil carbon stores, which can take hundreds of years or more to replenish and may never be fully restored,” he points out.

Cropland expansion under the ethanol mandate also has led to the loss of natural habitat for monarch butterflies, ground nesting birds and many other species of wildlife.

Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, says the findings of the study send a clear message to lawmakers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We have to act with purpose and urgency to fix the ethanol mandate and to confront climate change to protect our health, our environment, our economy and wildlife,” he stresses. “We have solutions and it’s absolutely time to use them.”

O’Mara adds that delay will only make the problems worse and much more costly to solve.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

The New PA State Amphibian

Senate Passes Bill To Designate Hellbenders As PA’s State Amphibian And Symbol Of The Importance Of Clean Water

The Senate Wednesday overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 658 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) 47 to 2 to designate the Eastern hellbender as Pennsylvania’s official state amphibian as a symbol of the importance of clean water in the Commonwealth.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and a member of the interstate Chesapeake Bay Commission, is prime sponsor of the bill.

“They are a natural barometer of water quality and they live where the water is clean,” Sen. Yaw said, recalling days as a youngster catching hellbenders in the local creek. “If they are surviving in the streams in this area, that is a good sign for the water quality. Here is nature’s own testing kit for good water quality.”

Much of what remains of a depleted hellbender population in Pennsylvania can be found in waters within the Senator’s district, which includes Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, part of Susquehanna and Union counties.

The campaign on behalf of North America’s largest salamander is the brainchild of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Student Leadership Council. The students have studied the hellbender extensively, wrote the first draft of Senate Bill 658, and are working for its passage.

“It’s about all species that rely on clean water, which essentially encompasses all wildlife in Pennsylvania, including us,” SLC President Anna Pauletta said of the campaign. “Being able to speak up for something that doesn’t necessarily have a voice and making impact on their survivorship through legislation.” She is a senior at Cumberland Valley High School.

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

Eco-friendly Vacation Destinations For 2018

Looking to be more eco-conscious on your next vacation?  Blue & Green Tomorrow has a list of some fun and оffbеаt eco-friendly dеѕtіnаtіоnѕ thаt уоu ѕhоuld соnѕіdеr fоr your nеxt vacation in 2018:

  • Copenhagen:  Wіdеlу соnѕіdеrеd оnе of thе grееnеѕt, mоѕt livable сіtіеѕ in thе world, Cореnhаgеn is аn eco-tourist’s dream. Thе super-bike-friendly Dаnіѕh саріtаl wаѕ nаmеd the Eurореаn Grееn Capital, a dеѕіgnаtіоn that reflects the city’s соmmіtmеnt to efficient іnfrаѕtruсturе, green ѕрасеѕ, аnd ѕuѕtаіnаblе dеvеlорmеnt.
  • Cоѕtа Rіса:  Cоѕtа Rica іѕ a bеlоvеd trорісаl gеtаwау аnd іѕ wеll knоwn to mаnу rеѕроnѕіblе tourists. With lush rainforests, nаtіоnаl раrkѕ, and nаturе rеѕеrvеѕ, it’s a pillar оf sustainable dеvеlорmеnt wіthіn thе іntеrnаtіоnаl соmmunіtу. Thе country іѕ оn thе fоrеfrоnt оf есо-frіеndlіnеѕѕ with іtѕ nаtіоnаl rаtіng ѕуѕtеm thаt grаdеѕ lodgings оn thеіr еnvіrоnmеntаl conscientiousness.
  • Pаlаu:  Yоu саn be forgiven іf уоu’vе never hеаrd of Pаlаu, аn іѕоlаtеd аrсhіреlаgо аbоut 1,000 miles еаѕt оf the Phіlірріnеѕ. Aftеr аll, іt is home tо оnlу 20,000 реорlе аnd іt’ѕ nоt quite as bіg аѕ New Yоrk Cіtу. Pаlаu’ѕ mаrіnе rеѕеrvе, hоwеvеr, is bigger thаn Tеxаѕ and Alaska combined, and gіvеѕ рrоtесtіоn tо оnе оf thе world’s mоѕt diverse mаrіnе есоѕуѕtеmѕ.
  • Dоmіnіса:  While neighboring Saint Lucia and Bаrbаdоѕ are wеll-knоwn fоr their luxurу hotels and rеѕоrtѕ, Dоmіnіса hаѕn’t еxреrіеnсеd ѕuсh dеvеlорmеnt уеt. Hоwеvеr, thе island іѕ bесоmіng mоrе рорulаr among hіkеrѕ аnd аdvеnturеrѕ. It’ѕ probably thе wildest Caribbean іѕlаnd, wіth thісk rainforests, high wаtеrfаllѕ, milk-colored rіvеrѕ, ѕmоkу volcanoes and рrіѕtіnе соrаl reefs. The іѕlаnd іѕ becoming more ѕоlіd, есо-frіеndlу dеѕtіnаtіоn for nаturе lоvеrѕ, аnd it lооkѕ lіkе thе effort is succeeding.

Check out the full list here.

One country not on that list is the Philippines, but it might be soon because of this eco-friendly resort being planned:

“…Eco-friendly resort in the Philippines with shell-shaped hotels and rotating apartment towers.  The spiral layout of the stunning Nautilus Eco-Resort follows the Fibonacci sequence, employed by architects as a ‘golden ratio’ to create visually appealing designs.Over 500 guests will be able to stay at the resort at a time, and their accommodation will be entirely built from reused or recycled materials from the islands…

…amazingly, some visitors can expect uninterrupted rays throughout the day as the towers rotate to follow the course of the sun.  Impressively, the hotel buildings will also rise and fall as they rotate around a central coil and some of the rooms, if unused, will even disappear underground. Vincent Callebaut, 40, says his plans will help preserve the coastal area’s environment, and guests will have to either sail there or use electric boats.”

Read more about this eco-friendly resort here.


How Much Food Do You Really Need For Thanksgiving Dinner?

According to the New York Post, Americans throw away roughly $165 billion in uneaten food every year, dreamstime_xs_57983005according to government data. And about $277 million of that waste will happen during Thanksgiving.

Food waste causes severe damage to the world around us, so this year plan your Thanksgiving meal using SAVETHEFOOD.com.  You can estimate how much food you really need to buy based on the amount of guests you’ll be having for your Thanksgiving feast.  Enter the appropriate data and you’ll have enough food to keep your guests happy and full!

Get started here.

PA Trump Supporters Want National Monuments Protected

Most Trump voters in Pennsylvania think the president is doing a good job, but when it comes to protecting national monuments they have a sharply different opinion.

The president has announced that he wants to reduce the size of two national monuments that span millions of acres of wilderness in Utah. Others he’d like to open to commercial fishing, mining and grazing.

But according to David Kochel, co-founder of RABA Research, its survey of Trump voters in Pennsylvania found that 90 percent of them support preserving the size and number of monuments, or creating even more.

“The voters on the one hand support President Trump and on the other hand take a set of issues like this and say, ‘Well, that’s not exactly what I thought I was going to get or what I had in mind,'” Kochel states.

Polling of Trump voters in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin produced similar results.

Supporters of the president’s plan say it would help the economy by boosting industries.

But Kochel points out that more than 70 percent of those polled have visited one or more national monuments or parks such as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty – and they see them as symbols of national pride.

“The ethos is very much America first,” he stresses. “We’re going to preserve our heritage, we’re going to preserve our monuments and our lands.

“They take a lot of pride in things that are uniquely American.”

Kochel adds that, even in these politically polarized times, support for national monuments is leading to coalitions that cut across the left-right divide.

A report by the president’s interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, proposed reducing the size of several national monuments and opening more for commercial extraction.

With midterm elections coming up next year, Kochel suggests this is an issue that could influence voters.

“It is something that voters would act on and it might spell a bit of trouble for some candidates who want to pursue policies like Secretary Zinke has talked about,” he points out.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Children Sue to Stop Climate Change

The federal government is ignoring the threats to life on this planet presented by climate change – that’s the claim of a lawsuit against Trump administration officials. The suit was filed in federal court in Philadelphia this week, on behalf of the Clean Air Council and two Pennsylvania children.

According to Joseph Minott, executive director and chief counsel of the Council, when Donald Trump became president, he took on the responsibility of protecting future generations from the effects of global climate change. But his executive orders and the actions of his appointed administrators are going in the opposite direction.

“They are using ‘junk science’ to undo environmental protections that were created to protect public health and the environment,” he challenges. “And that, we feel, is unconstitutional.”

President Trump has called climate change a hoax and has spearheaded a new emphasis on the development of fossil fuels, including coal and oil.

Trump is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but Minott points out that the president isn’t acting alone.

“The people that he’s appointing in very sensitive positions are the ones that will develop the rules and regulations going forward that will impact public health and the environment,” he explains.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry also are named as defendants.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent the administration from taking actions that would be likely to increase what it terms the life-threatening effects of climate change. Minott says the real science is well established.

“You don’t have a choice as to whether you want to believe it or not believe it,” he says. “And all regulations developed, all policies developed, should keep in mind the impact this will have on future generations.”

Last week, the National Climate Assessment was released, reinforcing the scientific consensus that human activity is the dominant contributor to climate change.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

How Will You Celebrate America Recycles Day Nov. 15?

aaDid you know when you recycle one aluminum can enough energy is saved to power a laptop for 5.2 hours? Celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15 and learn about the power of recycling.
America Recycles Day recognizes the benefits of recycling while providing an educational platform that helps raise awareness about the value of reducing, reusing and recycling – every day – throughout the year.
To celebrate, you can–
— Hold an event in your area to educate your community on the benefits of recycling.
— Attend An America Recycles Day Event near you.
— Take the Recycling Pledge to find out about recycling in your community, reduce the amount of waste you use and buy products made with recycled content.
“Keep America Beautiful is determined to end littering, improve recycling, reduce waste, and beautify America’s communities,” said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful. America Recycles Day is a key fall initiative to educate, motivate, and activate individuals and entire communities to better understand what to place in recycling bins and the many environmental, economic, and social benefits of recycling.”
America Recycles Day is an educational program of Keep America Beautiful and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful helps promote the initiative in the Commonwealth.
Visit the America Recycles Day website for more information and ideas for setting up events.
For more information about recycling in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Recycling webpage or contact your County Recycling Coordinator.
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.

Prepare Now For Your Cold-Weather Energy Bills

As part of its 15th year of “Prepare Now” education efforts, the Public Utility Commission Thursday urged utilities to help Pennsylvania consumers who may struggle with the cost of cold-weather energy bills.

The PUC’s 2017 Prepare Now campaign continues the focus on educating consumers about the availability of low-income programs; increasing awareness of ways to reduce winter heating costs; educating consumers on energy conservation; encouraging consumers to check electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts; and informing consumers about PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com as resources to shop for energy suppliers and learn more about efficiency and conservation measures.

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

Sustainable Seafood At Your Favorite Restaurant

Oceana recently posted an article about Smart Catch: A program from the James Beard Foundation that educates dreamstime_xs_101415995chefs about ocean-friendly seafood:

Smart Catch began two years ago in Seattle, as the brainchild of Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen, in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation and the nonprofit FishChoice, which connects seafood buyers to sustainable suppliers. The program was Seattle-based and included about 60 chefs until this summer, when it expanded nationally. Now, more than 300 chefs are involved.

Any professional chef can join Smart Catch, to help his or her restaurant become more sustainable. It’s free online through the FishChoice website. Every three months, chefs submit information about the seafood they serve, where and how each species was caught and how much of each they buy. Then FishChoice assesses each restaurant based on recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Chefs can talk with a sustainable seafood expert to identify problems with their menu and find alternatives. Essentially, it’s a green audit.

Read the full story from Oceana here.


Officials Salute PA Outdoor Corps Accomplishments At Pinchot State Forest

DCNR Bureau of Forestry Director Dan Devlin and state officials Thursday gathered at a state forest tract outside Wilkes-Barre to salute the contributions and successes of the PA Outdoor Corps at the Seven Tubs Recreation Area in Pinchot State Forest, Luzerne County.

“Closing out its second year of operation, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps certainly is emerging as a ‘win-win’ effort for all involved,” Devlin told the gathering of young workers. “Pinchot State Forest has profited greatly from the young workers’ spirit and commitment demonstrated here at Seven Tubs, and at other state forests and state parks across the state. Corps crews have helped DCNR chip away at a backlog of much-needed work, while gaining invaluable career direction and exposure to the outdoors.”

Transferred from Luzerne County to bureau ownership two years ago, Seven Tubs Recreation Area was designated for recent deployment of the young workers, who tackled heavy-duty trail restoration, picnic table assembly and other assignments.

The PA Outdoor Corps is an initiative offered through DCNR that offers paid work experience, job training, and educational opportunities to young people who complete recreation and conservation projects on Pennsylvania’s public lands.

The program is designed to protect and restore public lands, while providing young people with the knowledge to be good stewards of the state’s natural resources.

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

Ways You Can Help Polar Bears

It’s early November. It’s cold. It’s snowy. And polar bears are waiting for the sea ice to form. It’s Polar Bear Week! bear

Polar Bear Week coincides with the fall polar bear migration to Churchill, Manitoba, where polar bears gather to wait for freeze-up on Hudson Bay so they can return to hunting seals. This year Polar Bear Week is November 5th thru the 11th.  During Polar Bear Week, there is a focus on the importance of sea ice to polar bears–and why we all must take action on climate change.

The Polar Bear Connection
Using less energy produced by fossil fuels reduces carbon emissions and can slow and even stop global warming, saving the sea ice that polar bears need for efficient hunting. Without sea ice, polar bears will decline in range and numbers, making them vulnerable to extinction in the future.

Here’s what you can do during Polar Bear Week to help ensure their survival:

Sunday, November 5: Start the week by tuning in to the live Polar Bear Cam—watch the polar bear migration and get tundrified.

Monday, November 6: The COP23 climate talks begin today in Bonn, Germany. But it’s not just nations. Show your support for the many individuals, cities, districts, businesses, and universities stepping up to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord. Get involved in building on this momentum and encourage others to do the same. #SaveOurSeaIce #StrongerTogether

Tuesday, November 7: Help bring change to your community by reducing energy consumption at your home, workplace, or school. From light bulbs to ENERGY STAR appliances, we show you how.

Wednesday, November 8:  Make changes to the way you heat and cool your home, and work to inspire these changes on a community level.

Thursday, November 9: Power down at home, work, or school! Check out the Power Down Community Action Toolkit to learn how.

Friday, November 10: Pledge to VOTE with the climate in mind, in each and every election, and at every level of government. Let your representatives know you support action on climate—and urge your friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.

Saturday, November 11: Let your utility company know you want to subscribe to green power.

Learn more about Polar Bear Week from Polar Bears International here.

Energy Help for Low-Income Pennsylvanians Still Precarious

With cold weather on the way, programs that help low-income Pennsylvanians keep warm are still in jeopardy in Washington.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services has begun distributing funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for the 2018 fiscal year. But the Trump administration has said the program is no longer necessary, and wants to eliminate it and other energy assistance programs from the budget.

According to Patrick Cicero, director of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project, so far, Congress is keeping those programs in place.

“I think they still remain politically precarious, to the extent that they’re targeted for future reductions,” Cicero said. “But for this year, the funding for them has been preserved.”

Funding for LIHEAP is included in the Continuing Resolution passed by the House and Senate, which expires on December 8. That sets the framework for negotiating the final 2018 budget.

Also at risk is the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps low-income families cut energy costs. As Cicero pointed out, these programs mean many families won’t be forced to choose between food or medicine and staying warm.

“In the absence of these programs, there would be households who would go without heat and who would become, as a consequence of their loss of utility service, homeless,” he said.

Cicero said some low-income families spend more than 20 percent of their household income on heat and electricity, far above the national average of 2.7 percent.

Pennsylvania is receiving more than $178 million in LIHEAP funding alone. Cicero said energy assistance and energy-efficiency programs do more than help keep people warm.

“They provide local jobs, they provide local support to communities, and they provide assistance to very, economically and otherwise, vulnerable communities,” he said.

Applications for LIHEAP assistance in Pennsylvania can be filed beginning November 1.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Where Is All That Plastic Trash Going?

The average American throws away an estimated 185 pounds of plastic each year. Scientists say a third of our plastic trash ends up in a fragile ecosystem like the ocean.  Check out this video from CBS This Morning tracing the flow of plastic trash:

PA Strongly Supports Fuel-Efficiency Standards

Overwhelming support for keeping federal fuel-efficiency standards cuts across party lines in Pennsylvania, according to a new poll.

In August, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he’d opened a review of the rules that were put in place to further reduce carbon emissions from new cars and trucks. But according to pollster Elizabeth Sena, a partner with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the poll – commissioned by a coalition of environmental groups – shows almost three in four Pennsylvanians support requiring the auto industry to meet the cleaner standards.

“It’s true across the demographics within the state,” she said, “but I think, most importantly it’s true across partisanship, and it maintains support and has support even among Trump voters.”

Car manufacturers say the standards would increase prices and don’t take into account the growing demand for larger vehicles. However, former EPA administrator Carol Browner pointed out that the manufacturers were involved in the process of setting the standards.

“And they’re important standards,” she said. “You’ll have a cleaner car, you’ll have a more efficient car. It means that families will save money at the pump. When they fill up, a tank of gas will go even further.”

The standard requires cars and light trucks to get an average of 40 miles per gallon by 2025.

Support for higher standards isn’t confined to Pennsylvania. The poll was conducted in five states and Sena said all showed similar results.

“Even among Republicans, we have majority support across all five states,” she said. “It’s 69 percent among Republicans in Michigan; it’s 56 percent among Republicans in Ohio, as an example.”

She said almost half of those who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election also back the increased fuel-efficiency standards.

The poll is online at sierraclub.org.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Abandoned Mine Turned Into Community Asset

PA Environment Digest reported that Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell Monday toured the 88-acre reclamation Curry Hill-Avondale Abandoned Mine Reclamation project in Plymouth Township, Luzerne County:

“Projects like Curry Hill-Avondale will make land that was once dangerous and unusable a viable asset for outdoor lovers,” said Secretary McDonnell. “Through the Abandoned Mine Land grant program we are able to support the important reclamation work of the site, which was once part of the Glen Alden Coal Company.”

The federally funded reclamation work involves grading more than one million cubic yards of on-site material to eliminate more than 6,000 feet of dangerous highwall that existed within abandoned strip mining pits.

As part of the work, one mine opening was filled and three other openings were closed with bat gates to protect habitat for bats roosting at the site. The work includes seeding the site and planting trees. Nine detention ponds were also installed to control stormwater runoff.

The project also involves creating two acres of wetlands.

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

Child’s App Boosts Gardens for Pollinators

Conservation and gardening groups are getting help from a nine-year-old Pennsylvania boy in their efforts to stop the dreamstime_xs_90817844decline of pollinating insects.

Pollinators are responsible for one third of our food supply, but loss of habitat, parasites and pesticides have severely reduced their numbers in recent years.

The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge was launched in 2015 to help reverse that trend. And that effort has gotten a boost from Kedar Narayan, a young coding whiz from Nazareth, Pa.

“I created an app called Pollinator for a Pet to teach us how to create native pollinator gardens so that we can provide the pollinators food, water, shelter and safety,” Kedar explains.

In two years, some 650,000 pollinator gardens have been created nationwide.

Mary Phillips, senior director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program, says from window boxes to garden plots and converted lawns, every little bit helps.

“It’s very small to very big,” she states. “Some of these are creating tremendous acres of habitat and others are kind of connecting corridors across urban settings. So both of those approaches are equally valuable.”

The project hopes to reach its million-garden goal by the end of this year.

Kedar, who won national recognition for his smartphone app, says he sees adults doing their part to help, and that inspired him to put his talents to work to bring younger generations in on the effort.

“I see potential in us kids to do our part, too,” he explains. “And together we can create a new ecosystem. One that will become the United States of Pollinators.”

More than 50 national partners, including seven federal agencies, are now involved in the challenge to create pollinator gardens and restore critical insect populations nationwide.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

DEP Warns Public to Not Dispose Tires at Luzerne County Business

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is warning the public to not dispose of old or recycled tires at Nationwide Tire Recycling, Inc. (NTR) in Duryea, Luzerne County. The company does not have the proper department-issued permit to accept the tires and anyone who does dispose of tires there could be participating in unlawful activity. In addition, the accumulation of the tires at the site poses environmental issues.

“DEP wants tires disposed at locations that have the proper permits. When the public drops old tires off at volunteer tire-recycling events, they should be sure the tires are going to approved facilities,” said Mike Bedrin, Director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre. “We are offering this advice so people won’t put themselves in danger of violating state regulations.”

NTR’s most recent waste management permit allowing it to accept waste tires expired in 2016. Since that time, DEP inspections at the business have determined that more than 10,000 waste tires have been dumped at the site, which is considered a violation of the Solid Waste Management Act. People who dispose of tires at the site could be contributing to the unlawful activity at the site.

In October 2016, DEP issued a Compliance Order to NTR that required it to remove all tires at its location within 90 days. The company has not responded, and DEP is evaluating enforcement options.

The accumulation of waste tires poses the potential for a tire fire, which could burn for extended periods of time, causing the rubber to decompose and pollute ground and surface water, and create air quality issues from noxious fire fumes. Rainwater also accumulates in tire piles, creating an ideal environment for mosquitoes, which are known to transmit West Nile Virus.

For a list of DEP-permitted waste tire processors in Pennsylvania, visit http://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Land/Waste/SolidWaste/Tires/Pages/Processors.aspx. Please note that inclusion of a facility on this list does not constitute the department’s recommendation or endorsement.

Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality During Healthy Lung Month

Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, recently shared her knowledge with us here at [1THING] in a great feature article for Healthy Lung Month.  She has some interesting information about indoor air pollution and offers ways to improve the air quality in your home and office, which can also improve your health.  Check out what she recommends:

Though it’s what most are aware of, outdoor land and air pollution like that from exhaust and industrial waste are not the only factors impacting the health of the environment, which in turn affects the health of our bodies. Indoor air quality is composed of the number, or lack-thereof, of pollutants, both natural and man-made, that contaminate the air of homes, workplaces, and other enclosed buildings. Americans spend on average 20 hours per day indoors where they are inhaling oftentimes stale, unfiltered air, so it is essential that those spaces are just as clean and pure as we hope and expect our outside air to be.

Indoor air pollution can lead to multiple health issues from simple eye, nose, and throat irritation, to pneumonia, cancer, and even death, dependent on what one is exposed to. Mold growth, for instance, can cause respiratory issues and enhance the effects of asthma or COPD for those who already suffer through those afflictions. Meanwhile something seemingly minor like cooking and heating the home with solid fuels (wood, charcoal, peat, pellets, etc.) is attributed to 4.3 millions premature deaths each year. Identifying recurring symptoms like dizziness or headaches while in your home or place of work is the first step to combating and preventing a serious health hazard. However, some illnesses like mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, don’t develop noticeable symptoms for years, so taking steps to improve air quality is recommended no matter the current state of your health.

Often produced from what is brought into the home, pollutants come in the form of particulate matter, toxins and chemicals. Ultimately, improving indoor air quality comes down to source control, and improving or installing a ventilation system. Sources like dust collecting in a long pile carpet, pollen from flowering indoor plants, second-hand smoke, or an unnatural ingredient in an air freshener have simple fixes of cleaning more often or removing certain products from the building. Other sources, however, are more complicated and may require renovation. Mold is usually caused by water damage or a leak; asbestos is found in old homes where products containing the mineral are deteriorating; and radon is most often a result of a leak in the basement and requires a pipe to reroute the gas away from the home. If symptoms persist even after finding what you believe is the source, natural ventilation like opening windows, or a more costly approach like an HVAC system may be necessary.

We only have one body and one life, so take notice of any changes to your health when you move into a new home or office, or start frequenting a new building. Indoor environment is equally as important as outdoor when it comes to health.


An increasing number of bald eagles have been admitted to wildlife-rehabilitation centers across Pennsylvania exhibiting signs of illness such as weakness, lethargy, emaciation, labored respiration and drooping wings. Blood tests often reveal that the eagles are suffering from lead toxicity.

Lead poisoning occurs when toxic levels of lead are absorbed into the body.

Raptors are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning because when they ingest lead particles, the acidic nature of their stomach causes rapid absorption of the metal, said Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Veterinarian Justin Brown.

“Lead poisoning is a debilitating disease in bald eagles,” said Brown. “You have this powerful bird and you find it in the field – limp and weak. You can pick it up and it doesn’t even know you are there. “

After a blood test reveals that a bald eagle has lead toxicity, intensive treatments can begin. Drugs treatments can take the metal out of the body’s tissue and blood. And if metal is detected in an eagle’s digestive system, it can be flushed out and removed. But treatment often is unsuccessful because the eagles have already absorbed too much lead.

In the past year, wildlife-rehabilitation centers statewide have treated 12 bald eagles with lead toxicity, and only one of them survived, said ​Red Creek Wildlife Center director Peggy Hentz

“As there are more eagles in the wild, we are getting more eagles in the wildlife-rehabilitation centers and the problem has become evident,” Hentz said.

Since 2006, the Game Commission has been conducting necropsies on bald eagles that die to monitor causes of death and potential diseases. The data from 2006 to 2016 reveals that approximately one-third of the state’s known bald-eagle mortalities are associated with a toxin, with lead being the most common. In fact, lead toxicity is a significant cause of death in all raptors, not just eagles.

Lead is a heavy, relatively inexpensive, malleable metal, which often is used in fishing lures, ammunition and other materials. Research has shown that fragments of lead can be found as far as 18 inches from a bullet’s point of impact. In addition, 30 to 40 percent of the lead can remain in the target after the bullet has passed through. Small-game carcasses and big-game entrails that remain in the field could contain lead that might be ingested by opportunistic scavenging eagles and other wildlife.

The main source of ingested lead has not been clearly identified. However, hunters can help to reduce the potential that bald eagles ingest lead fragments from the remains of harvested game animals by burying the carcasses and gutpiles, or by covering them with branches. Doing so will make it less likely that aerial scavengers will find and consume the remains, which might contain lead particles. Hunters also could consider eliminating lead from their harvests by using non-lead ammunition.

Although lead toxicity has been identified as a leading cause of mortality among the state’s eagles, the eagle population continues to thrive and increase in number. In the early 1980s, there were only three active bald eagle nests in Pennsylvania. Today, thanks to the restoration efforts of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and partners, there are more than 250 active bald eagle nests in the state. Bald eagles met the requirements for removal from the state threatened species list in 2014 and are now classified as a protected species.

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