April 27, 2012

April 30 PA Environment Digest Now Available

April 30 PA Environment Digest now available.  Click Here to print this entire Digest.

Study Suggests Shale Gas Development Causing Rapid Landscape Change

As the Marcellus natural-gas play unfolds in Pennsylvania, several trends are becoming increasingly clear, according to researchers at Penn State.
            First, most of the development is occurring on private land, and the greatest amount of development falls within the Susquehanna River basin. Second, a regional approach to siting drilling infrastructure is needed to help minimize development in core forest and productive agricultural lands and to decrease the potential risk to waterways.
            Patrick Drohan, assistant professor of pedology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, was lead investigator on a study that examined the early effects of Marcellus gas development on landcover change and forest fragmentation in the Keystone State.
            Drohan estimates that slightly more than half of the well pads in Pennsylvania occur on agricultural land; most of the rest are on forestland, but many of those are on core forest that is privately owned.
            The loss of agricultural land to shale-gas development presents some concern because, in some areas, drilling is now competing with food production for space on the landscape, the study states.
            "Our results suggest," said Drohan, "that shale-gas development could substantially alter Pennsylvania's landscape. The development of new roads to support drilling could affect forest ecosystem integrity via increased fragmentation."
            The fragmentation of forestland, especially northern core forest, places headwater streams and larger downstream waterways at risk of pollution, the study suggests. Based on the intensity of development in the Susquehanna River basin, future expansion of shale-gas production in this basin could become a significant land- and water-management challenge for Chesapeake Bay water quality and ecosystem services.
            The concentration of existing core forest in the northern part of the state -- and the focus of drilling in this area, largely on private land -- led the researchers to conclude that remaining areas of public land are key refuges for the protection of wildlife, ecosystems and associated ecosystem services.
            "These areas should receive further protection," Drohan said. "An organized effort across government and private entities may be a way to manage development."
            Coauthors of the study, which was published in the March 25 issue of the journal Environmental Management, were Margaret Brittingham, professor of wildlife resources; Joseph Bishop, research associate in geography; and Kevin Yoder, former field assistant in the School of Forest Resources.
            The research was sponsored by the Heinz Endowments, Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research and the USDA-NRCS Soil Survey program.
            A copy of the study is available online. Professor Drohan can be contacted by sending email to: pjd7@psu.edu.

Friday NewsClips

Legislature Has $184 Million In Reserve Audit Shows
Chief Justice Decries Lack Of State Funding
Op-Ed: For Some, A Painful Primary
Unendorsed Win In GOP Senate Race May Reflect On Corbett
Tea Party Tour Leaves Western PA Today
Former Sen. Mellow Ordered To Repay State $21,000
Mellow Ordered To Pay $21,000
Mellow Guilty Plea Postponed Indefinitely
Editorial: Mellow's Service Costly To Support
Dent Faces Underdog Challenger
Another Round For PA's Wine And Liquor Store Fight
Maximum State-Funded College Grant Reduced To $4,210
Pitt Offers Voluntary Early Retirement To Some Employees
Former HBG Receiver Hires Attorney Appears In Court
HBG Mayor Seeks Damages From City Council Over Bankruptcy Appeal
Click Here for todays' Environmental News

April 24, 2012

More Incumbents Retired By Voters, Tea Party Loses Challenges

Voters took matters into their own hands to make changes in Harrisburg as five incumbent House members lose in today's Primary and incumbent Democratic Congressman Tim Holden was defeated at the polls.
            The House members retired included Rep. Rick Geist (R-Blair), Majority Chair of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Joseph Preston (D-Allegheny), Minority Chair of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, Rep. Kevin Murphy (D-Lackawanna), Rep. Ken Smith (R-Lackawanna) and Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia).
            House Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson) survived an early scare by a determined challenger and a Tea Party activist.
            Tea Party candidates also lost in their bid to unseat Republican veterans Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland), Rep. Ron Miller (R-York) and Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York).
            Overall, House Republicans lost one seat as a result of the six special elections for House seats with Democrat Ed Neilson winning the seat in Philadelphia County to replace Rep. Dennis O'Brien (R-Philadelphia).
            D. Raja has beaten Rep. Mark Mustio, the Republican endorsed candidate, in the race to replace Sen. John Pippy after Mustio ran a commercial against Raja that many interpreted to be racist.  Mustio was also running for his House seat at the same time.
            In the hard-fought race for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General, Kathleen Kane has a comfortable lead over Patrick Murphy.
            In the 5-way race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, former coal mine owner Tom Smith has a significant lead over his four other opponents.  The endorsed candidate-- Steven Welch-- is in third place.
            And in the Presidential Primary, no surprise, Mitt Romney won the Republican nomination, with Rick Santorum, who dropped out of the race, coming in second, Ron Paul third and Newt Gingrich fourth.
           With more than 88 percent of the votes counted--
U.S. Senator:
Former coal mine owner Tom Smith is leading with the endorsed Republican candidate Steven Welsh  running in third place with former Rep. Sam Rohrer in second place.
Congressional Races:
District 4-- Scott Perry has won a 7-way race for the Republican nomination; 
District 11-- activist Gene Stilp has beat Bill Vinsko for the Democratic nomination;
District 12-- in the battle of the incumbents, Mark Critz beat fellow-incumbent Jason Altmire for the Democratic nomination;
District 14-- incumbent Mike Doyle is an easy winner over challenger Janis Brooks for the Democratic nomination;
*District 17-- challenger Matt Cartwright has beaten incumbent Tim Holden;
District 18-- incumbent Tim Murphy has won over Evan Feinberg.
Interesting Races In the House:
*District 24-- incumbent Joseph Preston lost to challenger Ed Gainey;
District 39-- incumbent Rick Saccone has a signifiant lead over challenger Shauna D'Alessandro;
District 66-- incumbent and Speaker Sam Smith has a growing lead over Chris Dush with a third Tea Party candidate a distant third;
*District 79-- incumbent Rick Geist was defeated by challenger John McGinnis;
District 93-- incumbent Ron Miller beat Tea Party challenger Ernie Merisotis;
District 94-- incumbent Stan Saylor beat Tea Party challenger Kelly Hensaw;
*District 112-- incumbent Ken Smith lost to challenger Keven Haggerty;
*District 113-- incumbent Kevin Murphy lost to challenger Marty Flynn;
*District 182-- incumbent Babette Josephs lost to challenger Brian Sims;
Special House Elections:
District 22-- Democrat Martin Schmotzer won the seat vacated by Rep. Chelsa Wagner (D-Allegheny), 
District 134-- Republican Ryan MacKenzie won the seat in Lehigh/Berks counties to replace Rep. Doug Reichley (R-Berks)
District 153--  Democrat Madeleine Dean defeated Nicholas Mattiacci in Montgomery County and to replace Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery)
District 169--  Democrat Ed Neilson won the seat in Philadelphia County to replace Rep. Dennis O'Brien (R-Philadelphia)
District 186-- Democrat Harold James won the seat vacated by Rep. Kenyatta Johnson (D-Philadelphia);
District 197-- Democrat Gary Williams won a 3-way race to replace Rep. Jewell Robinson (D-Philadelphia).
Interesting Races In the Senate: 
District 15-- John McNally beaten two other challengers to win the Republican nomination;
District 29-- incumbent David Argall had no trouble with challenger Brian Rich;
District 31-- incumbent Pat Vance beat Tea Party challenger Andrew Shaw;
District 37-- D. Raja beat the endorsed Republican candidate Rep. Mark Mustio who is actually running third in this 3-way race;
Attorney General: 
Kathlen Kane has a significant lead over Patrick Murphy for the Democratic nomination
Auditor General: 
Rep. John Maher had no trouble winning the Republican nomination over his opponent Frank Pinto
Presidential Primary:
No surprise-- Mitt Romney is winning the Republican Primary, but Rick Santorum, who is still on the ballot but not running, is coming in second with Ron Paul third and Newt Gingrich fourth.
            You can get the latest election results at the official Department of State Election Results webpage.

DeWeese Sentenced To 30-60 Months, Forfeits Pension

Former Rep. Bill DeWeese (D-Greene), a longtime power broker in the state House, was sentenced this afternoon to 30 to 60 months in state prison on his convictions for using state-paid employees on his election campaigns.
          Dauphin County President Judge Todd A. Hoover imposed the sentence, plus $25,000 in fines and $116,000 in restitution, little more than two months after a county jury convicted the 35-year Democratic legislator from Greene County of multiple counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest.  Click Here for full story.
DeWeese Sentenced To 30-60 Months
DeWeese Sentenced After Resigning From House
DeWeese Resigns An Hour Before Sentencing

Tuesday NewsClips - Primary Election Day

Only A Quarter Of Voters Expected To Vote In Primary Today
Editorial: Voter ID, Integrity Trumps Fraud
Editorial: Vote Without Your ID For Last Time
$572,000 Spent By Outsiders In Holden Race
Labor, Tea Party Impact Under Scrutiny In Western PA
Editorial: Public Deserves Greater Voice In Redistricting
DeWeese Aide Sentenced In Corruption Case
DeWeese To Learn His Fate Today
AG Urges Long Prison Term For DeWeese
Musto Too Ill To Withstand Stress Of Trial
Musto Too Sick For Trial, Defense Says
Budget Woes May Close 40 Philadelphia Schools
Editorial: Corbett Budget Cuts Could Increase Spending
State Joins County, Mayor To Block Harrisburg Bankruptcy Appeal
2 Years Late, 2009 Harrisburg Audit Nears
Click Here for today's Environmental News

April 20, 2012

April 23 PA Environment Digest Now Available

April 23 PA Environment Digest now available.  Click Here to print this entire Digest.

On Earth Day, Explore Pennsylvania's Natural Resources
By Susan Corbett, First Lady of Pennsylvania

To honor Earth Day on Sunday, I am excited to take a moment to recognize some of the amazing educational facilities and outdoor attractions in Pennsylvania that showcase our continued conservation efforts and make the commonwealth a premier destination for eco-tourism and environmental education.
            Pennsylvania is home to 117 state parks and more than 2 million acres of forests, along with national parks and recreational areas. We have been a model for forestry and conservation throughout our nation's history, beginning with former Gov. Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot was Pennsylvania's 28th governor and first ever chief forester of the U. S. Division of Forestry. 
            Today, our state continues that tradition, offering access to top-notch educational facilities and programming, as well as developing new sites and conservation centers that highlight the efforts to protect and conserve our natural resources.
            For instance, visitors can experience nature firsthand at the Pocono Environmental Educational Center located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the scenic Pocono Mountains. 
            That center is one of the most respected and recognized residential environmental education centers in the northeastern United States, promoting sustainable living, environmental education and appreciation for nature. The center offers educational programming for visitors ranging from outdoor enthusiasts to the novice traveler looking to learn more about the region's natural surroundings.
            Another premier destination for eco-tourism and environmental education is the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie. Known as the "gateway to Presque Isle," the center serves as a visitor center and research facility, offering interpretive exhibits, a theater, research laboratories and more, all with the goal of teaching visitors about the unique eco-systems of Presque Isle State Park. 
            A scenic, 3,200-acre peninsula on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Presque Isle is a National Natural Landmark with sandy coastlines, picturesque views of Lake Erie and numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation including swimming, boating, fishing, birding, hiking and bicycling.
            In addition to the diverse outdoor activities, the state offers a variety of options to sleep under the stars in our parks. Visitors will find many different options from traditional camping and Mongolian-style yurts to a unique stay at the new, eco-friendly Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park near State College.
            The first of its kind in Pennsylvania's state park system, the Nature Inn invites visitors to enjoy an inside alternative to camping with the cozy feel of a bed and breakfast. The Nature Inn recently received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for the project's reduced storm water runoff, habitat restoration, rainwater harvesting system, guest room energy monitoring and programs that focus on outdoor recreation and stewardship.
            Inside, the inn features work by local artisans and prints by John James Audubon, the world-renewed ornithologist, naturalist and artist, as well as themed rooms that correspond with the premier interpretive birding opportunities in the park. Outside, visitors can step into Bald Eagle State Park to hike, boat, fish, hunt, view wildlife and more.
            Pennsylvania is truly blessed with rich natural resources and successful conservation facilities. As we celebrate Earth Day, I hope you will take a moment to get outside and explore our great Commonwealth.

Friday NewsClips

Poll By Kane Shows Her Winning Leading Race
Truce Called In Turbulent 17th District Race
Ron Paul Takes Presidential Campaign Thru PA
Alcohol Industry Says There's Need For Regulation
Editorial: Prevailing Wages, End Them
Editorial: Legislature Is Fiddling On Assessment Fix
PA Labor Force Increased By 16,000 In March
Harrisburg Mayor: I Am Still CEO Of This City
Dauphin County Court Seeks Fees From HGB Council Attorney
Click Here for today's Environmental News