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Pa Environment Digest Aug. 19, 2013

Pa Environment Digest Aug. 19, 2013

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A weekly newsletter on environmental issues in Pennsylvania, including Marcellus Shale natural gas.
A weekly newsletter on environmental issues in Pennsylvania, including Marcellus Shale natural gas.

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Published by: www.PaEnvironmentDigest.com on Aug 17, 2013
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08/17/2013

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PA Environment Digest
An Update On Environmental Issues In PA
Edited By: David E. Hess, Crisci Associates
Winner 2009PAEE Business PartnerOf The Year Award
 
Harrisburg, Pa August 19, 2013Proposed Drilling Regulations Will Be On Aug. 27 EQB Meeting Agenda
The proposedChapter 78 drilling r egulations implementing the environmental protection provisions of Act 13 Marcellus Shale drilling law have been posted and will be considered at the August 27Environmental Quality Boardmeeting. It will be the only item on the agenda.The future of the proposed regulations was in doubt after the five members of DEP’s Oil andGas Technical Advisory Boardwrote a letter to DEPand members of the Environmental Quality Boardsaying the proposed regulations were not ready for public review. The Advisory Board had given their go-ahead to publishthe proposed regulations for comment in April.The EQB meeting will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building starting at 9:00.Click Herefor all available Chapter 78 handouts, including for the first time, the RegulatoryAnalysis Form for the proposal.
TAB Subcommittee Meeting
At the DEPOil and Gas Technical Advisory Boardsubcommittee meetings this week in StateCollege, John Walliser,PA Environmental Council, raised concerns with the TAB’s July 18 letter to theEnvironmental Quality Board and its implications for the subcommittee process.As a result of the letter, which establishes TAB's final recommendations to the EnvironmentalQuality Board with respect to the rulemaking proposal, Walliser requested that TAB cede facilitation of the process to DEP.The subcommittees were charged with having an open dialog on important provisions related to: public resource protection, pre-hydraulic fracturing assessment, waste management at well sites, andwater supply restoration standards.DEP declined to assume management of the subcommittee process, but Scott Perry, DEPDeputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, said DEP will weigh all comments it receives throughthe subcommittee process equally, including any recommendations from the TAB.To the extent DEP can get consensus on the issues, great, he said; where they do not, DEP willmake the decision on how best to proceed and the comments they received through the subcommittee process will be helpful in informing their judgment.
September Meeting Change
At the end of the Advisory Board meeting Thursday, it was announced the subcommitteemeetings planned for September 18 and 19 would likely be reduced to one day, but they did not saywhich day.For more information, visit the DEPOil and Gas Technical Advisory Boardwebpage.
 
NewsClips:
Delaware River Drilling Future Embroils StatesRep. Brooks Looks To Repeal New Gas Pooling LawTownships: State Prematurely Appeals Act 13 Drilling LawCorbett Listens To Royalty Complaints From Bradford County$3M+ Dormant Oil And Gas Royalties Held By State TreasuryDrillers May Opt For Federal Air Quality RulesWashington County Gas Well Accord Restored To Court RecordComplete Drilling Case Settlement Files Now Open To PublicFacts About Washington County Drilling Settlement Gag Order Residents Head To DC To Ask EPA To Return To Dimock  New Look Sought At Dimock Water Issue By EPA
CBF Supports Proposed Nutrient Trading Program Changes By DEP
TheChesapeake Bay Foundation-PAsupports the discussed enhancements to the Commonwealth’snutrient trading regulations, presented Wednesday by the Department of Environmental Protection totheWater Resources Advisory Committee.(Click Herefor a copy of DEP’s presentation to WRAC.)Pennsylvania’s nutrient trading program was designed to provide sewage treatment plantdischargers with a cost-effective alternative to meeting pollution discharge limits while promoting pollution reductions from agriculture and other nonpoint pollution sources.The improvements will help assure the program will be consistent with theChesapeake BayBlueprintand federal Clean Water Act requirements and guidance.“Pennsylvania needs a robust and successful trading program to not only addressPennsylvania’sClean Water Blueprint, but also the over 8,700 miles of sediment impaired and 2,600 miles of  phosphorus impaired streams in the Commonwealth,” said Harry Campbell, CBF’s PennsylvaniaExecutive Director. “The discussed changes assure a real, quantifiable, and defensible nutrient trading program that strengthens Pennsylvania’s efforts to address local stream pollution as well as ChesapeakeBay restoration.”The changes, if adopted, will address a number of concerns that CBF, other stakeholders, andEPA have raised about Pennsylvania’s program. The discussed changes include:-- enhanced calculation methodologies that will add greater precision and accuracy to projects proposing the creation of nutrient credits,-- increasing participation in the program by including polluted runoff from urban areas, and-- shifting DEP staff focus towards greater verification of credit generating projects to ensure they are properly implemented, being maintained, and are functional.One area of reservation is the possible elimination of manure hauling as a credit generating practice, even where the manure is used as a soil amendment in the reforesting abandoned mine land.There are roughly 180,000 acres of abandoned mine lands in Pennsylvania. Soils in these areasdo not have the organic matter or nutrients to support growth of vegetation. Given that reforestation is amajor component of the Blueprint and Milestones, careful consideration of eliminating this incentive is
 
warranted.In total, CBF believes the discussed improvements will result in a strong, more scientifically justifiable, and therefore defensible, program. Nutrient trading improves water quality by using market-based mechanisms to produce overall pollution reductions at lower costs. It is a voluntary program that enables sources that exceed pollutionreduction requirements to generate pollution reduction credits that may be traded to others.“A nutrient trading program that relies on creating credits that meet scientific and verificationrequirements defined in regulation, will result in real pollution reduction,” said Campbell.The approved credits can be sold to off-set the cost of upgrading local sewage treatment plants,and to meet state Clean Streams and federal Clean Water Act discharge permit limits. They can alsogenerate valuable income for family farmers and be used as economic incentive for third partyaggregators who work with several farms to generate credits offered for sale as a package.Importantly, the nutrient trading program offers an economic incentive for farmers to meet andexceed long-standing state regulations on soil erosion as well as nutrient and manure management.They can also increase local efforts to implement projects that yield multiple benefits—likereduced flooding, drinking water protection and improvement, wildlife habitat, and even communityrevitalization.Pennsylvania’s trading program allows those who can create verifiable credits to offer thosecredits for sale at market-based pricing. Bidding on these practices occurs regularly atPennVESTauctions.DEP maintains a NutrientNet platformwhere buyers and sellers can exchange information. In both cases, the marketplace determines which pollution reduction practices are the most cost-effective,not a government agency or the legislature.The discussed enhancements would not change the program, which will remain market-based.A March 2013 auction of nitrogen credits yielded $2.98 to $3.05 per credit.“Many of these sorts of projects, particularly those on small farms and in urban communities,not only help meet local impairment issues, but they are also “conservation that counts,” because theycan be counted towards Pennsylvania’s incremental 2-year Milestones for the Chesapeake Bay CleanWater Blueprint requirements for agriculture and polluted urban runoff if not sold to a regulateddischarger,” said Campbell.“Although the effort to update the program is ongoing, CBF commends DEP for their work toaddress a number of areas of concern raised by stakeholders and the U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency,” Campbell continued. “We believe these enhancements, if adopted, will result in a more vibrantand defensible nutrient trading program for Pennsylvania.”Click Herefor a copy of DEP’s presentation to the Water Resources Advisory Committeeoutlining proposed changes in the Nutrient Credit Trading Program.
NewsClips:
Op-Ed: State Misses Chesapeake Bay MilestoneUnderwhelming Spawn Class For Smallmouth On SusquehannaLancaster County Looks To Change Stormwater Ordinance
PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference A Success, Watershed Heroes Recognized

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