Pennsylvania and Water Testing

By Wil Cacciatore

Pennsylvania Calls for More Water Testsexplains how Pennsylvania wanted to run tests involving treatment plants and drinking water facilities to monitor for any radioactive pollutants that are ending up in the satellite rivers in that area. Since this article was written in 2011, Barack Obama had established a policy for stabilizing the environment regarding the water systems, air pollution from harmful fumes from factories, and also dumping grounds for sludges and other disastrous actions. Pennsylvania also made new guidelines for the factories for how to detect these harmful substances, so the E.P.A wouldn’t have to intervene with the regulators for the state. Although these policies and guidelines were set, E.P.A officials heard that a Johnstown plant was receiving biosolids sending them to fields for spreading them. During Barack’s terms, Pennsylvania and even the whole nation has seen an improvement in environmental regulation, but the overall contributing factor is not keeping up with regulations and not being aware of the surroundings. Regulators have to realize that long term effects can be prevented with one simple change. An example of this would be waste treatment plant operators didn’t define radium as a harmful containment for the production of fertilizer. This one arrangement could have conveyed a long period of change for the environment as a whole.

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Pennsylvania DEP Proposes Increase to Shale Gas Well Permit Fee

by Othniel T. Degahson, Jr.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is proposing an increase in the price of a shale gas well permit from $5,000 per well to $12,500 per well. The Department of Environmental protection justifies this as a necessity to keep the state’s oil and gas oversight program from operating at a deficit, as permit fee revenue has seen a large decrease since 2014-2015. As the DEP gets a large amount of its funding from permit revenue, they have had to decrease the amount of employees in their oil and gas program.

Permit fees for shale gas wells are paid once at a well’s birth and inspection responsibilities continue until the well is plugged decades later.

The state government under Governor Tom Wolf has known that the DEP needed more money, yet they delayed on permit fee increases due to state budget negotiations that had the possibility of a severance tax on shale, which would have a portion of those funds allocated to the DEP’s oil and gas program.

Industry representatives are generally supportive of a fee increase “to provide DEP’s oil and gas program with the resources it needs” but were blind sighted by the size of the fee increase, especially given what they viewed as excessive amounts of time for the permits to become approved. Marcellus Shale Coalition data shows the average permit wait time increase from 57 days in 2016 to 111 days in 2017.

http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2018/02/05/DEP-proposes-doubling-permit-fees-Marcellus-shale-drilling-permit-Pennsylvania-oil-gas/stories/201802050085

GOP Challenges to PA Gov Wolf’s Reelection Now at Four

Mike Turzai, the Speaker of Pennsylvania’s House, is the fourth candidate to announce a run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination next spring. He joins Scott Wagner, Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth in the race for the opportunity to unseat Democratic Governor Tom Wolf in November 2018.

Delco, Donald Trump & the 2017 Elections

by J. Wesley Leckrone

Delaware County (PA) Democrats had a good day at the polls on Tuesday November 7. They captured seats on the county board and a number of row offices. There are a number of explanations in this article from the Delaware County Times.  Here is some commentary related to how I interpret the results:

“I think one thing that’s really important to keep in mind here is that suburbs in general and Philadelphia suburbs, including Delaware County, have been trending Democratic anyway,” he said. “This is not the beginning of a trend. This is a trend in a sense that has been going on for more than a decade. Basically what Trump did was to accentuate and accelerate the Democrats against the Republicans.”

What occurred Tuesday, Leckrone said, was a long-term process coming to fruit.

“This is probably the beginning of a long term change that’s been following the voter registration,” Leckrone added. “I think a lot of it has to do with cultural and social values that people have … It’s almost as if geography determines the way people vote nowadays.”

On a cultural basis, Republicans tend to fare more conservatively with values centered on religion, marriage and guns while Democrats, a substantial number of whom live in metropolitan areas, are more cosmopolitan and less tied to these issues, but of course, he said, Republicans can be found in cities and Democrats can be found in rural areas.

Yet, Leckrone warned Republicans still have traction, adding that even in this environment, Delaware County’s election results were relatively close.

“If you take a look at the numbers – county council, it’s only 2,000 votes,” Leckrone said, adding that the Libertarian candidate received 2,040 votes. “I think you still have remnants of people voting Republican.”

Leckrone said this election showed that Democrats do come out to vote.

“I think for the Democrats, it’s a good sign that they were able to get their voters out,” he said. “It’s one thing to have a voter registration edge, it’s another thing to get them out.”

“If they can continue to turn people out and they can tap into anger against the Republicans, they could potentially have a shot at next year,” he added, although he said that will be tough because of the way the district is drawn.

However, if voters retain a large feeling of angst, that could translate at the polls.

“People are more motivated by what they oppose,” Leckrone said. “That could be a big driving factor next year.”

Governor Thornburgh at Widener’s 1983 Commencement

Pennsylvania Governor Richard Thornburgh spoke at Widener University’s 162nd Commencement on May 21, 1983. His address focused on how to successfully navigate the challenges of the economic changes of the early 1980s.

His advice was to “build a new generation of competence” to adapt to “an economy in transition.” He said

“Competence — just plain old-fashioned competence — is what is most required of the generation that would make our state and nation work again. Those who display it will be the real heroes of our time.”

Thornburgh urged the students to

“Tackle the challenge of an economy in transition by working harder, thinking deeper, managing better, producing more abundantly, and caring more intensively than you ever have done before.”

In Cold War parlance he stated that “the quiet and competent heroes of this particular struggle will claim their rightful places as keepers of freedom’s flame.”

Governor Thornburgh congratulated Widener University on helping with the transition to the new economy by adding a Computer Science major for the 1983-84 academic year.

Material from this post comes from a May 21, 1983 Press Release from The Dick Thornburgh Papers at the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Governor Ridge Bet Himself in Temple-Penn State 2001 NCAA Sweet 16 Matchup

Its traditional for governors to make bets when teams from their states meet in sports championships. Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge had a number of occasions to make these wagers (see 1997 NHL Stanley Cup Finals and Super Bowl XXX). However, Governor Ridge faced a dilemma when Temple played Penn State in the 2001 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. As the two teams faced off in the “Sweet 16” Ridge “raised the stakes by announcing his decision to make a bet with himself.”

A March 22, 2001 press release from Ridge describes the stakes:

“When a great Pennsylvania team is putting it all on the line, it’s the Governor’s job to step up and take a little risk himself — to stand tall and make a friendly wager in support of your team,” Gov. Ridge said. “And I’m not going to shirk that responsibility, just because Penn State [sic] and Temple are playing each other. So I’m making a bet with myself. If Temple wins, I give myself a gallon of Penn State’s famous Creamery ice cream. If Penn State wins, I’m getting myself a big ol’ Philly cheesesteak.”

The bet was especially interesting since he stated that the old cheesesteak bet was too boring during the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals between the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings.

Federal Dollars & State Budgets – New Pew Study

Pew States is out with a new study analyzing fiscal federalism trends in the United States. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State Government Finances they found that 30.0% of state budgets funds come from the federal government. The study states:

As the nation emerged from the Great Recession, federal dollars made up a bigger proportion of states’ revenue from fiscal year 2009 to 2012 than at any other time in the past 50 years. After peaking at 35.5 percent in fiscal 2010, however, the share fell back within its historical range in fiscal 2013, dropping to 30.0 percent.

Even at 30.0 percent, the federal share of 50-state revenue was above its 10-year prerecession average of 28.5 percent. Federal dollars remained the second-largest source of states’ money, accounting for approximately $513.5 billion of the $1.7 trillion collected by state governments in fiscal 2013.

Pennsylvania ranked 29th with 30.4% of its budget coming from the federal government. Historically Pennsylvania’s share of federal dollars as a percentage of its revenues has been slightly below average.

Pew - PA vs All States Federal Funding

Click here for the report.