February 17, 2017

Feb. 20 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The February 20 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

The Environmental Hearing Board Friday denied a request for a supercedeas by environmental advocacy groups appealing DEP’s issuance of permits for Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline.
A temporary supercedeas would have prevented Sunoco from beginning construction of the pipeline until the merits of the case were decided.  Sunoco is still waiting for additional permits for the project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

PennEast Pipeline Company announced Monday it has received notice from the Department of Environmental Protection the Company’s request for Water Quality Certification, as required by section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act, has been granted, marking receipt of a significant state permit.

Seismic events that occurred in western Lawrence County on April 25, 2016, were likely correlated to natural gas hydraulic fracturing by Hilcorp Energy Company, according to a report issued by the Department of Environmental Protection Friday.

Matthew Hough, Executive Director of the Game Commission, told the House Game and Fisheries Committee Tuesday up to 40 percent of the Wildlife Conservation Officer Districts in the state will be vacant by 2019 due to the lack of funding to support the Commission.  Hough said the Commission has 85 Conservation Officers when it should have 136.

John Arway, Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission, told the House Game and Fisheries Committee Wednesday rising pension and health care costs, without any revenue relief, will force the Commission to drastically cut programs by FY 2018-19.  Arway said despite the measures taken by the Commission to live within its means, it must either cut programs or increase revenue to continue functioning.

Following a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force Tuesday, the Department of Environmental Protection announced two counties remain in drought warning status, six improve from warning to watch status, and 11 improve from watch to normal status.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, its local affiliates and partners held community improvement events in 2016 resulting in engaging over 171,000 volunteers to pick up and properly dispose of over 5.5 million pounds of trash, 1.6 million pounds of electronics waste and over 42,000 tires.

The Winter Update is now available from PA Envirothon featuring articles on--

For the 17th consecutive year, Harrisburg peregrine falcons continue to use the 15th-floor ledge of the Rachel Carson State Office Building as a nest site that provides shelter, ready food sources and the doting attention of admirers around the world.

To read the Digest, visit: www.PaEnvironmentDigest.com.  Click Here to print the entire Digest.

PA Environment Digest is edited by David E. Hess, former Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and is published as a service of Crisci Associates.

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Questions?: Send email to David Hess at: DHess@CrisciAssociates.com

Bipartisan Bill To End Gerrymandering Introduced In Senate

Senators Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh) and Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) have introduced bipartisan legislation-- Senate Bill 22 (not yet online)-- to establish an independent commission to draw up Pennsylvania’s legislative maps.
“It’s time to take the stakeholders out of the redistricting process and turn it over to the people,” Sen. Boscola said. “We can’t fix how we’re governed until we fix how we choose who governs us.”
“I am looking forward to working with Senator Boscola to move this legislation forward,” Sen. Scavello said. “It is important that legislators on both sides of the aisle uphold a system of voting districts that best represents our citizens and the regions in which they live.”
Senate Bill 22 would establish an 11-member independent commission comprised by four individuals registered with the largest political party in the Commonwealth, four registered with the second-largest party, and three people not affiliated with either major political party.
The commission would draw up both Congressional and state legislative district maps. It would take a majority of seven – with support from a qualified majority of Commission members — for a redistricting plan to win approval.
Commission members would not be allowed to hold political or party office, be related to those who hold office, or work for those who hold office. Scavello and Boscola said state legislative districts would be redrawn using modern technology and software, and focus on standards such as ideal population balance in accordance with existing federal and state laws.
Senators Boscola and Scavello said it is crucial that the legislature act quickly if it hopes to have their bipartisan reform plan in place for the next round of reapportionment in 2020. The lawmakers pointed to the state’s 2010 redistricting battle as an example of how politics can interfere with the redistricting process.
“As I said when I first introduced the independent commission proposal years ago, we need an independent system where voters select their leaders, not the other way around,” Sen. Boscola said. “The current process invites gerrymandering, robs citizens of competitive races and spurs the kind of partisan polarization that has stymied legislative work in both Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg.”
A number of organizations including Common Cause of PA and Fair Districts PA have endorsed the Boscola/Scavello bill.