January 1, 2016

Jan. 4 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The January 4 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

Since June of 2004, the PA Environment Digest has printed nearly 1,000 stories about thousands of individuals, businesses, farmers, schools, local governments, students of all ages, nonprofit groups and organizations just like you honored for doing great things to protect and restore Pennsylvania’s environment in every corner of the Commonwealth.

Harry Campbell, PA Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued this statement Wednesday following Gov. Tom Wolf’s line-item veto of parts of the state budget for 2015-16, specifically relating to funding the Department of Environmental Protection.
The Governor’s action earmarked $87.2 million for environmental protection operations within the DEP.
“The $87.2 million funding for environmental protection and improving water quality represents a three percent increase above last year’s level, but is more than $2 million less than what the Governor asked for.”

Even with the recent increases in state funding, General Fund support for the departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources still remains below where it was more than two decades ago.  While DCNR’s general operation funding has been made up with significant revenues from the Oil and Gas Fund, DEP’s funding has not.

Commonwealth Court Tuesday ruled the Department of Environmental Protection does have to file responses to a challenge from the PA Independent Oil and Gas Association challenging DEP right to review conventional oil and gas drilling permits for their impacts on rare and endangered species, parks, drinking water supplies and other public resources.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday EQT drilling won a procedural ruling from the PA Supreme Court saying the company did not have to exhaust its administrative remedies before challenging a $4.5 million penalty levied by DEP in 2014 in court.  The Supreme Court reversed a Commonwealth Court ruling on the issue and returns the case to that court for a full hearing.

The Commonwealth Court Wednesday issued a ruling upholding the ability of a Governor to line-item veto provisions in a Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 278-- vetoed by Gov. Corbett in 2014.   The Court found provisions related to state funding in the Fiscal Code bill  “correlate(d)” with the General Fund appropriations bill, citing appropriations for DCNR reduced by line-item veto in the General Fund bill and a provision line-item vetoed in the Fiscal Code bill.

Carol Collier, from the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, had a front row seat at the Paris Climate Conference at the beginning of December.  She captured her experience in a series of blog posts this week for the Academy--

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has scheduled two webinars to help applicants apply for Community Conservation Partnership Grants--
-- January 21: This webinar is designed for applicants who were unable to attend one of the in-person grant workshops held last fall.  It will be held from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Click Here to register; and
-- February 11: This webinar is designed for those interested in grant funding to support public recreation, conservation or heritage initiatives across a statewide or regional landscape.  It will also be held from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Click Here to register.

By Tim Herd, Executive Director, PA Recreation and Park Society
Parks draw people. We visit for recreation, refreshment and renewal. We go to play sports or cheer our teams. We breeze through to walk our dogs and improve our health. We drop in to swim, bike, eat, golf, watch birds, sail, sled, read, ride, hunt, ski, paddle, snorkel and a thousand other important reasons.

King’s College and the Anthracite Heritage Foundation are helping to coordinate the regional observance of Mining History Month in January with programs in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Pittston, Port Griffith, Plymouth, Nanticoke, Ashley, Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre Township.  
The annual event seeks to remember and honor the area’s anthracite mine workers, their families and communities.

Straight Talk, By John A. Arway, Executive Director, Fish & Boat Commission
On March 30, 2016, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) will commemorate and celebrate the 150th anniversary of our founding in 1866.

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