New Bill Supports 100% Renewables for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Environmental Digest Blog reports that a new bipartisan bill introduced in both houses of the state legislature seeks to create a plan to make the Commonwealth reliant on 100% renewable power by 2050. Here’s more information on this bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Robb and Senator Charles McIlhinney: http://paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.no/2018/04/bipartisan-senatehouse-bills-would.html

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Responsibility for Keeping the Chesapeake Bay Healthy in PA Shifts from State to County

According to Lancaster Online‘s Ad Crable there is a policy shift going on in Pennsylvania.

Lancaster County farmers and residents will have a new taskmaster as the state tries a significantly different approach to make up ground to remove nutrients and sediment polluting the Chesapeake Bay.

The state will now rely on private and public sector leaders in Lancaster County itself, hoping for a more cooperative approach to vastly step up removal of the pollutants.

Farm-related runoff of manure, fertilizer and soil, as well as trying to capture stormwater, will be the focal points for the new initiative.

Is this new “localism” a good idea?

https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-county-leaders-to-take-charge-of-chesapeake-bay-cleanup/article_66efca3c-3d9e-11e8-9731-877c05f4ccb0.html

Pennsylvania Poll on Climate Change

According to a new poll from State Impact PA and Franklin & Marshall, 40% of Pennsylvania respondents stated that they have been personally affected by climate change. See why here.

PA Clean Transportation Infrastructure Bill Approved By House Committee

by Nadirah Wilson

On March 12th, the PA Clean Transportation Infrastructure Bill was approved by the House Committee. Under this bill establishment; “House Bill 1446”, there will be more encouragement and support on infrastructure for electric and natural gas fueled vehicles. Pennsylvania will create a state goal of expanding our electric transportation usage by at least 50 percent over baseline forecasts by 2030. Also, the state will direct the development of regional transportation plans so Pennsylvanians will be able to continue to live, and work all the while transitioning to electric. The requirements includes utilities to submit infrastructure investment proposals based on the regional frameworks that help cost-effectively build out backbone charging infrastructure that meets their local needs. In the proposal they must complete a statewide interstate and turnpike fast electronic natural gas refueling networks, and create opportunities to increase the exportation of natural gas vehicles to support fleets and other high-value uses. The main sponsor of the bill, Representative Marguerite Quinn stated that electric powered cars are becoming more affordable for both business and personal use. Although electric powered cars are on the rise, people have been reluctant on consuming these products because of the lack of charging and refueling stations. Fortunately, with the new legislation and passing of the new bill there will be more stations available in the future. This new legislation is very beneficial to the economy and the environment, because alternative fuel vehicles provides a great opportunity to obtain a clean environment. Pennsylvania will be a leader in adopting these new technologies, succeeding in environmental friendliness.

PA’s Constitutional Amendment on the Environment Gets Some Recognition

This article by Donna Morelli outlines how two recent court cases in Pennsylvania have bolstered the strength of environmental rights in the Commonwealth.

She argues that

twice in the last four years, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has rendered decisions putting teeth in the environmental rights amendment — first, in a lawsuit over whether communities have the power to bar hydraulic fracturing and, later, over how the legislature is spending revenue derived from leasing state forestland for “fracking,” as the controversial natural gas extraction method is known.

Read more here: http://www.circleofblue.org/2018/world/pennsylvanias-environmental-rights-amendment-grows-teeth/

Pennsylvania’s Fight Over the Eastern Hellbender

by Matthew White

Last year Pennsylvania Senator Yaw of Williamsport advocated for the instatement of the eastern hellbender salamander as the state amphibian for Pennsylvania. This bill easily passed through senate, but has been contested in the house. The eastern hellbender is an evasive species to PA so some believe that it is not fit for the job of state amphibian. The eastern hellbender is a freshwater salamander that is very sensitive to the purity of the water it lives in. Some states have already put this salamander on their endangered species list because they have been dying due to unclean waterways. The main reason for the advocacy of this salamander is to cause awareness of the pollution in Pennsylvania’s waterways. Although being evasive, this amphibian has been found all over western PA waterway, but that has been cut in half because of pollution.

http://www.philly.com/philly/health/hellbender-snot-otter-pennsylvanias-official-amphibian-20171116.html

PA Legislature Dealing with Environmental Issues this Week

by Nicholas A. Dulepski

The PA General Assembly is making determinations on several state environmental policies this week. H.B 1237, sponsored by Rep. Dawn Keefer- R- York, allows the General Assembly to now either vote on an “economically significant” environmental regulation or simply do nothing, which would disallow the regulation’s enforcement (Hess, 2018). A house committee approved and amended the bill, along with similar bills, such as House Bill 209, a bill cosponsored by Keefer (Hess, 2018). H.B 209 establishes The Independent Office of the Repealer, whose sole purpose is to review both old and new environmental regulations and suggest to the GA or governor’s office that they be repealed (Hess, 2018). The committee is yet to act on H.B 1959 (Rep. Rothman- R) which would roll back state agency permit- issuing authority on hazardous waste, underground mining, safe drinking water, oil and gas, sedimentation and more by instead giving the authority to a third- party. The bill hopes to cut long wait times for permits from the DEP. Reading through the bill, Rothman defines a third- party as “any individual in the Commonwealth who possesses the requisite certifications and qualifications of an occupation relating to a permit administered by a state agency.”.

It’s hard to make sense of these bills especially after Duke University, in January of this year, released a report on damages to water sediments downstream of PA oil and gas sites. The report confirmed that these sediments were 650 times more radioactive than the control sediments (Lucas, 2018). I understand that some will argue restricting environmental regulations is necessary for good business, but do these laws put our health at risk?

https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2017/10/13/bill-would-overhaul-pennsylvanias-regulatory-process/