September 30, 2011

Oct. 3 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Oct. 3 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Press Reports: Gov. Corbett To Unveil Marcellus Legislative Proposals Monday

Press reports indicate Gov. Corbett will announce all or part of his Marcellus Shale package on Monday, October 3, but no details are available.
Speculation on what will be in a Corbett Administration drilling fee proposal has intensified in recent weeks since the Governor told a Philadelphia radio audience in mid-September any fee proposal he supported would have to go to compensating communities for impacts near drilling, not to the state General Fund or statewide programs.
Speculation continued this week as Department of Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said revenue from a drilling fee could reduce the financial burden PennDOT has to repair roads.
The Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission did recommend a drilling fee in July, but one narrowly drawn to "mitigate the uncompensated impacts caused to communities by natural gas development. Any fee should recognize on‐going nature of certain impacts. Attributable impacts identified by the advisory commission include: Environmental remediation; Public health evaluation and emergency response; Increased demand on social services; Infrastructure improvements; and Natural resource agency administration and oversight." Click Here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Corbett Announces Privatization Task Force
Corbett Names Privatization Panel
Editorial: Corbett Needs To Lead On Important Issues
Editorial: Even Leaders In Harrisburg Bemoan Failures
Corbett's Approval Rating Is At Highest Point Since Inauguration
Flood Response Boosts Corbett
Women Driving Surge In Corbett Popularity
PA Tax Revenue Increases 6.2 Percent Over Last Year
Editorial: Legislature Pulls Up Short On Distracted Drivers
PA Bringing Back 1,000 Inmates From VA Prison
Harrisburg Could Face Shake-Up In Leadership
HBG Council President Calls Move To Hire Lawyer Illegal
Op-Ed: City Of Harrisburg Gave Legislators Little Choice
Click Here for today's Environmental NewsClips

September 28, 2011

Wednesday NewsClips

A new Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday looked at the question of awarding electoral vote by Congressional District or the current winner-take-all system. By a margin of 52 to 40 percent, those polled said they favor continuing the current winner-take-all system. Democrats opposed the plan 63 to 30 percent, independents by 53 to 43 percent, but Republicans favor awarding electoral votes by Congressional Districts 48 to 44.
A Republican Presidential horse race poll by Quinnipiac University released Wednesday has Mitt Romney at 18 percent, Rick Perry at 16 percent and Rick Santorum at 12 percent. Nineteen percent of those polled are undecided. In an Obama-Romney race, Obama wins 45 to 43 percent, Obama wins a race with Perry 46 to 40 percent and Obama also beats Santorum 45 to 42 percent.
Op-Ed: Proposal More Fairly Awards Electoral Votes, Pileggi
Op-Ed: Maintain Sanctity Of Electoral Elections, Leach
Op-Ed: Rigging The Electoral College
Marcellus Shale Royalties Cold Help Fund Road Repairs
PennDOT Secretary Says Funding Plan Still Under Discussion
Corbett Awaits Transportation Secretary's Proposal
Chesco GOP Boss Resigns, Joins LCB
Tea Party, Former Coal Company Exec Jumps Into U.S. Senate Race
Judge Approves Joining Orie Cases
Editorial: States Should Decide Who Owns A Gun
Community Colleges Get Federal Job Training Funding
Harrisburg Mayor Asks Council To Vote Again On Recovery Plan
House Acts On Harrisburg Takeover Amendment
Piccola, Grell Agree On Harrisburg Takeover Bill
Lawmakers Seek To Push Harrisburg Major Aside
Paving The Way For State Takeover Of Harrisburg
Harrisburg Chamber Supports City Takeover
Click Here for today's Environmental NewsClips

September 26, 2011

Sen. Scarnati Tells PA Press Club Fall Priorities Reflect Common Sense

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) told a Pennsylvania Press Club audience Monday Senate Republican priorities for the fall legislative session include: reapportionment and redistricting, "rocks and roads"-- Marcellus Shale drilling fee and related environmental legislation and transportation infrastructure funding.
            He noted the House and Gov. Corbett may have other priorities.
            Sen. Scarnati said reapportionment was the only thing that absolutely had to get done this fall and thought they would meet the legal deadline.  He said he supported Sen. Pileggi's (R-Delaware) electoral voting reform measure as a co-sponsor because it helped voters in "the T," Pennsylvania's Republican mid-section.
            On the Marcellus Shale drilling fee, Sen. Scarnati said a proposal generating about $200 million a year was the "sweet spot" in the debate, noting some Democratic proposals would be equivalent to a moratorium on drilling.
            But he added, "I am tired of being here, holding the bag, year after year, trying to get this done.  October is the timeline I'd like to work in."
            The Senator said he thought Gov. Corbett's recent comments accepting a drilling fee were a step in the right direction.
            He said he felt the drilling fee and proposals to address safety and environmental concerns would move through the Senate as one package.  He also opposed having off-setting reductions in other state taxes to compensate for a new drilling fee saying those tax revenues were needed to off-set impacts in other areas of the state.
            Sen. Scarnati did say there was a need to address local zoning regulations on drilling operations and thought incentives for the conversion of school buses and other public transportation to natural gas made sense.
            On transportation funding, Sen. Scarnati noted the Governor's Transportation Funding Commission made very specific recommendations on where to get more funding, which he said is particularly needed in rural parts of the state where a closed bridge could force a 30 minute detour.  "We need real leaders to show Pennsylvanians Republicans can lead this state."
            Sen. Scarnati said he was not opposed to leveraging liquor store privatization for a drilling fee or broadening Small Games of Chance to help fund transportation improvements, because that's the way businesses is done.  He said he was not opposed to privatization, but said the public needs to understand what it really means.
            On school vouchers, Sen. Scarnati said it would be a big lift to get a vouchers bill to the Governor's desk this fall, noting the Senate was due to pass some school reform legislation this week.

Monday NewsClips

Capitol Agenda Could Include Marcellus Shale Fees, Vouchers
Op-Ed: What Happens If Electoral Reform Passes?
Op-Ed: The Case For Electoral Reform In PA, Pileggi
Lawmaker: Use Liquor Flood Tax For Disasters
Alcohol Tax May Help Flood Victims
State Borrowing Authorization Languishes In House
Corbett Continues To Review Transportation Recommendations
State Capitol Restoration Costs Questioned In Tough Times
Plan Could Sap Racino Success
Editorial: Don't Need Another Casino
Editorial: Help PHEAA Help More Students
Drink Tax Diversion Helps County Balance Budget
Column: Folmer Not Your Typical State Senator
House Likely To Look At Harrisburg Takeover
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September 23, 2011

Sept. 26 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Sept. 26 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Growing Greener Coalition: Impact Fee Must Include Statewide Environmental Programs

The Renew Growing Greener Coalition Tuesday issued the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Heath in response to Gov. Corbett's announcement last week that he will support an impact fee on natural gas drilling.
"We are pleased that the Corbett administration has said it will back an impact fee on Marcellus Shale drilling and that the Governor has specifically referenced the need to fund "environmental cleanup."
"But the devil is in the details.
"Without doubt, production and distribution of natural gas causes immediate and long-term environmental damage. Water and air pollution from construction and operations impact the communities where drilling occurs, but they also have impacts well beyond the Marcellus region, as pollution does not respect county or municipal boundaries.
"Likewise the impacts of truck traffic and pipelines have statewide impacts. The loss of public access to large areas of public forest, the damage to wildlife habitat, the conversion of productive farmland and the impending harm to the scenic and recreational quality of our state parks hurt every Pennsylvanian.
"Therefore, the Coalition strongly urges the Governor and legislature to use a significant portion of the revenues to restore funding for the state's award-winning Growing Greener program to offset the conservation, recreation and environmental impacts that will be felt across the Commonwealth. Click Here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Ex-House GOP Aide To Plead Guilty To Corruption
Blog: Strange Bedfellows Behind Electoral Colleges Changes
Education Chief: Variety Is Important
PHEAA Seeks 5 Percent Increase In College Grant Funding
PHEAA Ends Pay Freeze, Plans 2 Raises
Editorial: Justice Has DNA Of Own
Santorum's Google Problem
Lawyer: Mandate To Pay HBG Incinerator Debt Would Cripple City
Court Hearing On Harrisburg Debt As Takeover Looms
Click Here for today's Environmental and Flooding NewsClips

September 20, 2011

DEP Names Deputy Secretary For Oil And Gas, Other Officials

Scott Perry has been named the new Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management in the Department of Environmental Protection on heels of the announcement of a major agency reorganization on Tuesday.
            Also named were Denise Brinley as the new Director of the Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields and Marcus Kohl as the Director of the new Office of Program Innovation.  Both positions were created as a result of the restructuring of the department.
            Perry, an 11 year veteran of the agency, previously served as Director of the Bureau of Oil and Gas Management and was a former assistant counsel for DEP.
            Denise Brinley was the former Deputy Secretary for Community Revitalization and Local Government Services and has been with DEP for seven years.
            Marcus Kohl served as Executive Assistant to the Executive Deputy for Programs and previously worked as an Environmental Justice Advocate in DEP's Southcentral Regional Office and in the Office of Water Management.  He has been with DEP for 9 years.

DEP Secretary: Open Letter To Stakeholders On Reorganization

DEP Secretary: Open Letter On Reorganization

DEP Restructures To Focus More Attention On Marcellus Shale, Improve Efficiency

The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday announced the biggest change to the agency's organizational structure in 16 years due in part on the need to more effectively regulate Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
            Another major goal of the reorganization is to refocus the agency on its core mission-- to protect Pennsylvania's air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of the public.
            Over the last few years, the announcement said, the agency has strayed from that mission to take on responsibilities which took staff and funding away from inspections, permit reviews and taking compliance actions in basic pollution control programs.
            “These organizational changes will enhance the department’s ability to protect Pennsylvania’s air, water and land, and also will result in a consistent and predictable regulatory system,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said.
            Krancer said DEP will make decisions based on facts and sound science by providing enhanced, unified oversight to the natural gas industry; emphasizing the revitalization of brownfields; providing consistent, predictable decision-making; and delivering compliance assistance and pollution prevention education.
            “This is an installment of delivering what Governor Corbett promised during the campaign; and I, along with the governor, am committed to protecting the environment and public health for the future of all Pennsylvanians by strictly and vigorously enforcing our environmental laws,” he added. “Our commitment to protecting our state’s environment remains as strong as ever.”
            “I am directing agency management to analyze their operations and practices, so we can move to improve in that area, too,” Krancer said.
            Online Video: An Interview With Secretary Krancer On Reorganization
            Summary Of Changes
            A new Deputy Secretary of Oil and Gas Management will be created to manage Marcellus Shale drilling activities modeled in large part on the successful surface mining regulatory structure.
            The change would mean permitting, inspection and compliance activities would still take place in field offices, but would be managed by a Bureau of District Oil and Gas Operations in Harrisburg rather than reporting to one of DEP's six Regional Directors just like mining.  A separate Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management reporting to the new Deputy would develop the policy and regulations needed to manage regulatory activities.
            The existing Deputy for Mineral Resources Management would be renamed the Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations and refocused on regulating active surface and deep coal mines, industrial mineral mines and land restoration of abandoned mines as well as managing the Deep Mine Safety Program.
            Activities related to the treatment of acid mine drainage from abandoned mines would be transfered to the Deputy Secretary for Water Management so activities related to the restoration of watersheds would be housed under one roof.
            To make room for the new Deputy for Oil and Gas Management, the positions of Deputy Secretary for Community Revitalization and Local Government Support and the Deputy Secretary for Energy and Technology Development would be eliminated and their responsibilities assigned to other parts of the agency.
            The primary responsibility for brownfields redevelopment from the Deputy for Community Revitalization as well as the Storage Tank Cleanup Program will be moved to a new Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields under a slightly renamed Deputy for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation.
            Under the prior organization, cleaning up waste sites under the state Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, the federal Superfund Program and the Storage Tank Program were artificially separated from brownfields cleanup in two different offices.  This change consolidates similar programs in the same office to improve efficiency.
            Other programs assigned to the Deputy for Energy and Technology Development and some from the Deputy for Community Revitalization will now be supervised by the Special Deputy Secretary for External Affairs.
            These programs include those for the State Energy Office, the Office of Environmental Advocate, the Office of Local Government Liaison, the Small Business Ombudsman and the Environmental Education Programs.  The Special Deputy will be the point of contact for DEP's Citizens Advisory Council.
            The Special Deputy will also be responsible for a refocused Office of Pollution Prevention and Energy Assistance supervising programs promoting pollution prevention, energy efficiency and compliance assistance.
            The Climate Change Programs authorized by Act 70 of 2009 will be assigned to the Bureau of Air Quality since that office is charged with regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the federal program.
            To help improve program coordination and consistency throughout DEP, a new Office of Program Integration will be created under the Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs.  The new Office will be responsible for evaluating statewide program implementation, effectiveness and efficiency, developing metrics to measure progress and to provide oversight for special projects with department-wide significance.
            Also to improve coordination between the current Deputy for Field Operations and DEP's six major regional offices, the reorganization will require central office programs to designate specific staff to answer questions and clarify policy for the regions so there is one consistent interpretation of programs across the state.
            In addition to these changes, the Black Fly and West Nile Virus Control Programs will be moved to the Deputy for Water Management.  They are now housed with the Deputy for Field Operations.
            DEP said the reorganization will not involve any staff layoffs, unlike during the Rendell Administration when budget cuts forced DEP to eliminate 147 positions, including layoffs, and during the 1990-91 budget problems in the Casey Administration.
            Coping With Budget Cuts
            One of the unstated goals of the reorganization is to cope with the overwhelming $1.5 billion in cuts to environmental programs generally and the loss of over 600 positions in DEP specifically during the eight years of the Rendell Administration. 
            In addition to the cuts, about 100 DEP Air, Waste and Water Quality staff were required to used all or part of their time as managers for renewable energy project grants taking time away from permit reviews, inspections and compliance activities.
            A DEP Reorganization webpage with a fact sheet on the reorganization and a new organizational chart are available online.  A video interview with Secretary Krancer is also available.

Tuesday NewsClips

House GOP Corruption Trial Could Last 8 Weeks
Guilty Plea Expected Of Ex-GOP House Aide
Coalition Gathering Support Of Increase Transportation Fees
Blog: Corman Puts Transportation At Top Of Fall To-Do List
Op-Ed: GOP Leaders Should Support Better Electoral Reform
Lawrence County Casino-Racetrack Plan Going Forward
Turnpike Toll Collectors Are Endangered Species
Op-Ed: Small Business Hampered By Regulations
State Confirms Pittsburgh Has Avoided Pension Takeover
Gas Rush Prompts DEP Shuffle
Senators Tout Bills In Response To Lee Flooding
Click Here for today's Environmental and Flooding NewsClips

September 19, 2011

Senators Unveil Bipartisan $250 Million Flood Relief Package

In response to the heavy flooding caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee earlier this month, five senators Monday announced they will introduce a comprehensive, bipartisan legislative package aimed at bringing relief to those affected by the disaster.
            Senators John Gordner (R-Columbia), Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Gene Yaw (R-Bradford), John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) and John Blake (D-Lackawanna) unveiled the seven-piece package at a news conference at the state capitol that combines financial assistance, infrastructure funding and tax breaks for affected areas.
            "Our goal is to provide financial assistance to communities affected by flooding and provide the resources to ensure that the recovery effort will take place as quickly as possible" said Sen. Gordner. "We've all toured our flooded communities and we have seen how hard-hit they have been by these storms."
            Sen. Baker, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said she is also planning to conduct several committee hearings on issues ranging from creating a state disaster assistance fund to the utilities' response to prolonged power outages after Hurricane Irene.
           "We have a bipartisan commitment to helping our residents and local officials get back on their feet," Sen. Baker said. "There is widespread damage so we need to have a good plan in place to jumpstart our recovery effort."
            Among the bills announced are measures to:
-- Establish a restricted account in the State Treasury to provide additional state grant monies to individuals and families based on income eligibility and damage losses.
-- Authorize $250 million for the state share of flood-related highway and bridge rehabilitation projects.
-- Allow local taxing bodies to abate real estate taxes for properties substantially affected by the flood.
-- Authorize a county-by-county list of highway, bridge, flood control and hazard mitigation projects that need rehabilitation.
-- Give the Secretary of Education the authority to waive certain requirements for public and non-public schools that were substantially affected by the flood.
            The Senators said the cost of the individual assistance programs would be paid for with the state's current budget surplus and the cost of repairing infrastructure would be funded through the issuance of state bonds under existing authority.
            "People in my district have lost their homes, their livelihoods and in one instance their life, as a result of this catastrophic flood," said Sen. Yaw. "This legislative package is a lifeline for those individuals, families, business owners and municipal governments who are in dire need of assistance."
            "Regardless of political party or municipal boundaries, the flood victims in northeastern and central Pennsylvania desperately need our help," Sen. Yudichak said. "This package of bills begins the process for Pennsylvania to supplement the aid provided by the federal government and will provide valuable resources to those heavily impacted by the flooding."
            "The amount of damage caused and the number of lives affected by this catastrophe is really disheartening," Sen. Blake said, who serves as the Democratic chair of the Senate Local Government Committee. "I knew, and my colleagues knew, that we needed to step up for those families and businesses that lost so much in this flooding event."
            A fact sheet on the proposal is available online.

Anyone Working To Restore Flood Damaged Streams Should Contact DEP First

Citing experience with 1972’s Hurricane Agnes, the Fish and Boat Commission is urging municipalities and residents impacted by the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee to contact the  Department of Environmental Protection before conducting any work to reconstruct damaged stream channels.
             “Hurricane Agnes in 1972 arguably caused the greatest flood-related destruction in recent memory state-wide, and the widespread damage sparked massive cleanup efforts across the state,” said Dave Spotts, chief of the PFBC Division of Environmental Services. “In that era, government regulatory agencies attempted to issue emergency permits that allowed municipalities and residents to clear debris and reconstruct stream channels in and around some of Pennsylvania’s streams.”
            “Unknowingly, well-intentioned restoration efforts often were unpermitted, ill-defined or excessive, which hindered the natural recovery of these waters,” he added. “However, it is important to remember that these sensitive aquatic ecosystems also have to recover from the wrath of Mother Nature, much like Pennsylvania’s residents.”
            Prior to conducting any work within stream channels, individuals must first contact a DEP regional office. Depending upon the scope and size of the proposed stream restoration project, as well as what kind of equipment is needed to be used in the stream, DEP will direct the applicant to acquire one of several waterway encroachment permits. The permits are classified as emergency, general, or a PA/Federal Joint.  DEP often seeks input from various resource agencies, such as the Fish and Boat Commission, to incorporate plans to help a stream recover.
            DEP recently released a fact sheet called “Permitting Options for Flood-Damaged Bridges and Other Water Obstructions and Encroachments.” To find your nearest DEP regional office, choose “Regional Resources” on the DEP's home page.
            “History has shown that large-scale flood events can dramatically change the landscape,” said Spotts. “During these events, it is difficult for a Pennsylvania resident to stand by and watch flood waters destroy property and possessions without taking action. When prioritizing a recovery plan for your property, we urge you to consult with DEP to obtain guidance in the recovery process.”

Monday NewsClips

Drilling Impact Fee, School Choice Top Fall Priorities
Op-Ed: Abolish The Electoral College
Editorial: Stop Trying To Suppress State's Vote
Orie Sisters' Woes Putting Heat On Justice Melvin
Personal Debt Soaring With College Tuition
Editorial: PA Judge Adds To Health Care Confusion
State To Consider Capital Takeover
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September 16, 2011

Sept. 19 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Sept. 19 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Harrisburg: What They Didn't Do On Their Summer Vacation

With the Senate returning to voting session September 19 and the House September 26, it will be back to business on a whole range of issues that didn't get done before the summer break. Here's a sampling of what's in store for the Fall--

-- Marcellus Shale: With the July 22 report of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission now on the books, complete with recommendations for 30 or more changes in state law and at least a dozen impact fee or severance tax proposals from both Republicans and Democrats still waiting, the General Assembly will have its work cut out for it.
Gov. Corbett has not yet said which recommendations he agrees with from the report, but has said that forced pooling to require landowners without natural gas leases to allow their resources to be taken with compensation but without a lease is a non-starter.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Corbett said he would have his own version of a drilling impact fee ready in a week or two, but the focus of the fee would be to compensate communities for damage to roads, bridges and other negative impacts from drilling. The funds may also be used by the PA Emergency Management Agency for environmental cleanup from drilling.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) have both said regulatory changes will be a priority in the Fall. They also said they hope to work with the Governor to pass a version of an impact fee proposal he will sign into law.
After drilling for Marcellus Shale natural gas for eight years, will the General Assembly now decide to update the 1984 Oil and Gas Act? Stay tuned. Click Here to read more…

Friday NewsClips

Corbett Backs Dividing Electoral Votes
Corbett Wants To Alter How PA Elects Prez
Blog: Electoral College Furor Builds
Column: Some Hoping To Outsmart The Electoral College
Orie Appeals To PA Supreme Court
State Budget Had Big Impact In Classrooms
Survey: PA Lost 14,000 School Jobs Due To Budget Cuts
Gaming Board Renews Rivers Casino License
English-Only Bills Spark War Of Words
Editorial: Stupid In Any Language
PA Unemployment Rate Vaults To 8.2 Percent
PA Unemployment Numbers Rise Again In August
Raja Proposals Would Boost Allegheny Community College
Op-Ed: Big Soda Won't Solve Obesity Problem
Harrisburg Mayor Meets With Piccola On State Takeover
Harrisburg Makes Debt Payments, Pays Employees
Click Here for today's Environmental and Flooding NewsClips

September 15, 2011

Vincent Brisini Named DEP Deputy For Waste, Air and Radiation Management

Vincent Brisini has been named Acting Deputy for Waste, Air and Radiation Management at the Department of Environmental Protection.
            Prior to being named to this position, Brisini served as Air Resources Environmental Manager at RRI Energy, Inc. for 11 years and held a similar position at GPU Genco for five years.
            In these positions he was responsible for air resources groups from Pennsylvania Electric Company, Metropolitan Edison and Jersey Central Power and Light to support generating assets in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This included all aspects of air quality management including compliance, technical, regulatory, policy and advocacy.
            He also served as Chair of the Electric Power Generation Association.
            He served on DEP's Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee for many years and has a Bachlors Degree in Environmental Sciences from Slippery Rock University.

John Stefanko Named DEP Deputy For Mineral Resources

John Stefanko has been named as Acting Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management in the Department of Environmental Protection.
John has been with DEP since 1987. Prior to his appointment he was Executive Assistant to Scott Roberts, the former Deputy Secretary for MRM, until his retirement in December 2010.
His prior service at DEP includes as a Project Designer for the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Division of Acid Mine Drainage Abatement where he performed, assigned or reviewed the engineering designs of department mine reclamation, water supply replacements, mine fire control, subsidence control, abandoned mine lands projects and other associated facilities.
He also served as Chief of the Bureau of Office Services, Division of Contracts, Procurement and Bonding.
John is a native of Portage, Cambria County, PA and holds an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, Altoona Campus and Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering Technology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He currently resides in Harrisburg, Pa.

Thursday NewsClips

PA Redistricting Panel Urged To Consider Gender
GOP Lawmakers Seek Change In Electoral Voting
Op-Ed: GOP Attack On PA Democracy
Editorial: Pileggi's Electoral Plan: Sound Merits
Orie Attorney Seeks New Judge
Musto Trial Postponed To February 1
Musto Trial Postponed To Unspecified Health Issues
Obama Campaign Appoints PA Coordinator
PA Welfare Benefit Cards Used In Virgin Island, All 50 States
Bills Would Make English Official State Language
Use English Only To Run State Government?
PA Turnpike Workers May Strike
Court Hears Testimony On Foxwoods License
Editorial: No-Fat City
Harrisburg Rejects Finance Plan, State Prepared To Take Over
Lawmakers Renew Threat To Take Control Of Harrisburg
State Takeover Looming For Harrisburg
Click Here for today's Environmental and Flooding NewsClips

September 14, 2011

Seven Flood Recovery Centers Opening Today

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency opened centers at the following locations:
--Tunkannock Area Administration, 41 Philadelphia Ave., Tunkhannock;
-- Towanda Fire Department, 101 Elm St., Towanda;
-- Luzerne County Community College, 1334 S. Prospect St., Nanticoke;
-- Harrisburg East Mall, 3501 Paxton St., Harrisburg;
-- Lycoming County, 740 Fairfield Road, Montoursville;
-- Columbia County Agricultural Center, 702 Sawmill Road, Bloomsburg; and
-- Loyalsock State Forest District Office, 6735 Route 220, Laporte.
           To qualify for aid you MUST FIRST REGISTER WITH FEMA.
           You can register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, or online at the FEMA Disaster Assistance website, or by web-enabled mobile device at People who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service call 1-800-621-3362.
           FEMA also plans to set up disaster recovery centers in the affected counties where people can go to apply in person. Stay tuned to local media for location announcements.
The following information will be required to register: Social Security Number; Address of damaged property; Description of damage; Insurance information; Contact information; Mailing address; Bank account and routing numbers (if you want direct deposit); and Household income information.
           After you complete the application for assistance, you will receive a FEMA application number. Keep your FEMA number for future reference and for checking the status of you application.

Wednesday NewsClips

27 PA Counties Cleared For U.S. Disaster Aid
Expect More Budget Cuts As State Pays Its 25% Share Of Federal Aid
Editorial: Table Games, Slots, Now Board Games
Jobs Bill Proposes More Than $900 Million For PA Schools
Western PA Schools Talk Of State Budget Impact
Auditor General: State Stores Should Stay In State Hands
State Won't Buy Court Building From Pittsburgh
Top Republicans Pushing Change In Presidential Elections
PA's Political Clout On The Line
John Vernon Announces GOP U.S. Senate Candidacy
PA Supreme Court Televises First Arguments
PA Federal Judge Rules Against Federal Insurance Mandate
Western PA Home Sales Rise In August
Offer Of Soda Industry Funds Fall Flat
Harrisburg Council Again Rejects Mayor's Fiscal Recovery Plan
Click Here for today's Environmental and Flooding NewsClips

September 13, 2011

How To Obtain Federal Flood Damage Assistance

Residents and business owners in the 27 counties designated as a Federal Disaster Area can apply for federal assistance to recover from flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee.
            The counties include: Adams, Bradford, Bucks, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wyoming and York counties.
            Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured or underinsured property losses, and other programs to help people recover from the flooding.
            To qualify for aid you MUST FIRST REGISTER WITH FEMA.
            You can register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, or online at the FEMA Disaster Assistance website, or by web-enabled mobile device at  People who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service call 1-800-621-3362.
            FEMA also plans to set up disaster recovery centers in the affected counties where people can go to apply in person.  Stay tuned to local media for location announcements.
            The following information will be required to register: Social Security Number; Address of damaged property; Description of damage; Insurance information; Contact information; Mailing address; Bank account and routing numbers (if you want direct deposit); and Household income information.
            After you complete the application for assistance, you will receive a FEMA application number. Keep your FEMA number for future reference and for checking the status of you application.

Tuesday NewsClips

Senate GOP Gives Investigators Thousands Of Documents
GOP Bill Would Shake Up PA Electoral Vote Count
GOP Plan Could Jeopardize PA's Political Clout
Change Proposed For State's Electoral Vote Process
PA Owed Millions In Fines
Pitt Vital To Region, Steep Cuts Must End
Lawrence County Facility Casino Securing Financing
Proposal To Toll Route 422 Discussed
Philly Turns Down Industry Funds For Anti-Obesity Program
Corbett Appoints Central PA Flood Cleanup Task Force
Click Here for today's Environmental and Flooding NewsClips

September 12, 2011

September 9, 2011

Sept. 12 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Sept. 12 PA Environment Digest now available. Click Here to print this Digest.

Sen. Pileggi: Marcellus Shale Legislation, Possibly An Impact Fee Will Pass This Fall

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) told a natural gas industry conference on Thursday he thought broad Marcellus Shale regulatory legislative and possibly a drilling impact fee will pass the General Assembly this Fall.
At the same conference, Rep. Mike Hanna (D-Centre) was quoted as saying the Marcellus Shale industry should release Gov. Corbett from his "no-tax pledge" so the state could pass a natural gas severance tax.
Sen. Pileggi said he intends to work with the Governor to find something he could sign.
The Tribune Review also reported this week legislation to give the state more authority to regulate the safety of natural gas pipelines was also going to be a priority, according to comments by Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna). Click Here to read more…

Friday NewsClips - Flood Edition

State Offices, Capitol Complex, Other Offices Closed Friday
Taxpayers' Tab For Orie: $1.2 Million
Bonus Probe Legal Fees Have Cost Legislature $12.5 Million
WCCC's Latrobe Plan Proceeds
Editorial: Rate Hikes Show Need For adultBasic
Corbett: Crisis Will Continue Through Weekend
Click Here for today's Environmental NewsClips

September 8, 2011

State Offices Closed Friday, Evacuations Continue, Region Braces

State offices and the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg will be closed again on Friday in Harrisburg due to flooding. State offices in Reading, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton will also be closed. In addition, DEP's Southcentral Regional Office in Harrisburg and DEP's Sunbury offices will be closed Friday.
Corbett: Crisis Will Continue Through Weekend
Governor's Mansion Art, Furnishings Moved To Avoid Flooding
UGI Shutting Down Gas Service In Wilkes-Barre Area
Electricity Cut Off In Wilkes-Barre, Surrounding Area
UGI Shutting Off Gas Service In Harrisburg Area
Amtrak Suspends Service From Harrisburg
Harrisburg Evacuates 10,000 Residents
Travelers To Alabama-Penn State Game Should Find Other Routes
Turnpike Closed Between Reading And Harrisburg
Photos Of Flooding In Harrisburg Area

Mandatory Evacuation Of 100,000 In Wilkes-Barre Underway

100K Evacuating In Notheast PA, Corbett Skips Gas Conference
Susquehanna To Reach 40.7 Feet, Inches Below Levee In Wilkes-Barre
Corps Of Engineers Dispatched To NE PA To Watch Dams, Levees
Crews Put Sandbags Around Governor's Mansion In Harrisburg
Follow Live Tweets On Central PA Flooding

Corbett, PEMA Urge Residents To Prepare For Flooding, Possible Evacuation

Gov. Tom Corbett Thursday urged residents in central and eastern Pennsylvania to remain vigilant in light of continued rain, quickly rising rivers and streams, as well as dangerous flash flooding resulting from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.
            “This is not a time to panic; this is a time to prepare,’’ Corbett said during a media briefing at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Harrisburg. “Also, if you must drive, slow down, and never try to drive through standing water on roadways or around barricades.’’
            The governor noted that the emergency proclamation he issued on August 26 in anticipation of Hurricane Irene is still in effect. It’s important to note that the governor’s proclamation does not automatically institute a ban on travel, but motorists should be aware that municipal and county officials can do so where necessary.
            The governor spoke with the media after receiving a briefing from emergency workers who have been continuously monitoring the situation at PEMA headquarters.
            Hundreds of roads across the central portion of the state were closed Wednesday because of flooding and emergency personnel had to rescue stranded motorists and residents.
More than 500 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard have been alerted to help in the rescue efforts, along with a number of Swiftwater rescue vehicles.
            “People need to know that this threat is real, and they need to follow the guidance of their local emergency officials,” said PEMA Director Glenn Cannon. “If you’re told to leave, grab your emergency kit and leave. Flood water can rise, even when the sun is shining.”
            If residents are told to leave their homes, they are free to travel to the destination of their choice, but should follow the directions of local law enforcement to ensure the safe and steady flow of traffic.
            Anyone who needs to go to a shelter can find out where to go by contacting their municipal emergency management office. To find contact information for your township, borough or city, look in the government section (Blue Pages) of your local telephone directory or search online.
            Hundreds of roads are closed throughout the area because of flooding, according to state police. Specific information about major state road closures is available by calling 511 or by
            In addition to driving cautiously, motorists should also expect delays and allow extra time in their travel schedules.
            When it’s raining or when roads are wet, motorists should also turn on their headlights and increase the following distance between vehicles. Pennsylvania law dictates that headlights must be turned on any time a vehicle’s wipers are on.
            Residents are encouraged to visit - a state resource that encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency or natural disaster:
-- Be Informed: know what threats Pennsylvania and your community face.
-- Be Prepared: have an emergency kit with at least three days’ worth of essentials at your home, including food, one gallon of water per person per day, medications and specialized items such as baby or pet supplies. Create an emergency plan so family members know where to meet if everyone is separated when an incident occurs.
-- Be Involved: Pennsylvanians have a long history of helping one another in times of need. Specialized training and volunteer opportunities are available so citizens can help others in their community in a disaster.
            Information such as checklists for emergency kits and templates for emergency plans, as well as other information and volunteer opportunities, is available at or by calling 1-888-9-READYPA (1-888-973-2397).