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Tom Wolf, GovernorPaTrick McDonnell, DEP Secretary


One Year Later, We Still Need Restore Pennsylvania


By Patrick McDonnell, DEP Secretary


Last year, Governor Tom Wolf outlined the ambitious Restore Pennsylvania proposal to address sorely needed funding for flood prevention, industrial site cleanup, high-speed internet for rural communities, and other critical needs across the commonwealth.

One year later, those needs are still there, and still unmet, and getting worse.

DEP staff have talked with residents and community leaders across Pennsylvania, hearing firsthand about the needs they have for better stormwater controls, restored streambanks and floodplains, and brownfield remediation that can pave the way, in some cases literally, for new economic development. I’ve personally toured sites with crumbling infrastructure, legacy groundwater pollution, and aging stormwater controls, and seen firsthand the needs of the communities.

Earlier this week I again stood with the Governor to support Restore Pennsylvania. These issues don’t just go away. We need Restore Pennsylvania.  


DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell discusses Restore Pennsylvania

DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell gives remarks on Restore Pennsylvania on January 28, 2020



Don’t Be Caught in the Cold - Take a Commonsense Approach to Home Heating Oil and Propane Supply

More than 2.5 million Pennsylvania households heat with oil or propane. Now that winter is in full swing, it’s important that these residents take a commonsense approach to maintaining their fuel supply for a safe winter.

Whether they’re on a delivery schedule or call as needed, Pennsylvanians should check their tank regularly and order fuel supply early to avoid emergencies and more costly fill-ups.

The same holds for backup generators filled by a delivery company. Owners should make sure their generator is full and has been serviced and load-tested in the last year.

Residents should not wait until there’s just a few days’ supply or less left before calling to schedule a delivery because a sudden cold snap or winter storm can occur, leaving a homeowner in the cold. Also, a heating oil or propane delivery can travel many miles to reach a residence or business. From a refinery, an oil tanker ship or pipeline transports it to a primary storage terminal. A truck takes it from the primary terminal to customers or to a secondary storage terminal, where another truck takes it on to customers.


A range of factors can affect the route. Although disruptions aren’t typical, they can and sometimes do occur, and the risk can increase in extreme weather, when there’s also increased demand.

Keeping a heating oil tank in safe condition is also important to protect health and safety, property, and the environment. Routine tank inspection, maintenance, and repair are key to preventing an issue. Inspection checklists and the steps owners should take if they experience a leak or spill are available at


Students Encourage Pennsylvanians to Test for Radon

Students at Dingman-Delaware Middle School in Pike County are helping to encourage Pennsylvanians to do a simple home test for radon in January, National Radon Action Month. This invisible, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon occurs from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings.

Because of Pennsylvania’s geology, there are high radon levels in locations around the state, putting residents at risk of exposure. Fortunately, it’s simple to determine the radon level in your home using an inexpensive test.

Students Brandon Maros-Moran, Youngeun Eunice Choi, and Anya Norwood earned the top three places in a statewide radon education school poster contest conducted this fall by DEP. Their posters will help DEP’s effort to educate Pennsylvanians on the importance of radon home testing.

Visit our website to learn how to test your home for radon today!

From left to right: Dingman-Delaware Middle School teacher Jessica Devine Gregorski and students Anya Norwood, Brandon Maros-Moran, and Youngeun Eunice Choi

DEP Reminds Residents to Check for Mine Subsidence Risks

Pennsylvania’s long history of coal and clay mining has contributed greatly to the economy and the defense of the nation. As a consequence of this underground mining, millions of structures in Pennsylvania are located over old abandoned underground coal and clay mines, and they are all at risk from damage caused by mine subsidence, which occurs when the ground above an old or abandoned mine cavity collapses.

DEP recognizes the need to mitigate these effects of historic coal mining activity to ensure that underground mining can coexist with those who live and work on the surface, and has been working with the industry to improve response times when an incident occurs.

That work is paying off. According to a new report prepared by the University of Pittsburgh and DEP, strict oversight of restoration of streams and other water supplies impacted by coal mining in western Pennsylvania led to a dramatic decrease in resolution times.

The report documents the impacts of underground coal mining on surface structures like homes and buildings and on water resources like streams, rivers, and lakes, as well as the actions taken to remediate them. 

The report found that mining operations were responsible, and the company liable, for 192 impacted water supplies from 2013-2018. This is down from 371 for the previous reporting period (2008-2013). The time to resolve operator-liable water supply issues dropped from 415 days in the 2008-2013 report to 302 days in the 2013-2018 report.

Cracked foundations, collapsed walls, and even homes sinking into the ground are all possible impacts of underground mine subsidence, which is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance policies. A subsidence event can occur at any time and cause sudden, significant damage, often exceeding $100,000 or total loss of the structure.

Residents are encouraged to check to see if their homes could be at risk of subsidence related to historic coal mining activity.

DEP administers low-cost mine subsidence insurance (MSI) coverage through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The average policy of $160,000 costs about $7 a month, and senior citizens are eligible for discounted rates.


New Grant Program Available for Food Banks, Soup Kitchens 

Access to fresh food in underserved communities is a public health and quality of life issue, but it’s also an environmental justice issue, and DEP wants to address this issue in a meaningful, environmentally focused way. Nonprofit organizations such as food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters provide critical sustenance to those in need, so it’s critical that the food they provide is properly transported and stored.

DEP’s new Food Recovery Infrastructure Grant Program would address this issue by providing assistance to eligible nonprofit organizations such as shelters and food banks for proper food management.

Funded through the state’s Recycling Fund, grants of up to $200,000 are available to eligible nonprofit organizations to purchase equipment like refrigerators, freezers, refrigerant vehicles, and more to use food before it becomes waste for disposal. 

Protecting food and preventing food waste is also an important way to reduce landfill waste and address climate change, as rotting food produces methane, a strong greenhouse gas. This funding will help nonprofits afford the necessary equipment to transport and maintain food items so that they can not only continue their efforts to help those in need, but also reduce and prevent food waste.

Interested organizations are first required to meet with their DEP Regional Planning and Recycling Coordinator to apply. The grant application deadline is April 24, 2020.

More information about the grant program is available here. You can also contact contact Mark Vottero, grant coordinator for DEP’s Division of Waste Minimization and Planning, at 717-787-7382 or


Rebates available for Level 2 chargers

Rebates Available to Organizations and Businesses to Install Electric Vehicle Chargers

Planning to install Level 2 electric vehicle chargers at your organization, business, or multi-unit residential property? Be sure to apply for a rebate. Visit Driving PA Forward, go to the Grant and Rebate Programs dropdown menu, and click on “Level 2 EV Charging Rebate Program” for information. Schools, hospitals, businesses, community organizations, multi-unit residential property owners, and local and state government offices may apply. Through Driving PA Forward, DEP has awarded approximately $5 million to help organizations and businesses install electric vehicle charging stations at several hundred locations in Pennsylvania.

DEP to Mark Earth Day 50th Anniversary

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a worldwide environmental movement to focus on the health of our planet. DEP will play an active role in Pennsylvania Earth Day activities on April 22, but as the state’s environmental regulator, it is always our top priority to protect the environment.

DEP is focused on several key initiatives in 2020, including participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Last October, the governor signed an executive order instructing DEP to begin the process to participate in RGGI, a market-based collaboration among 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change while generating economic growth.

Participating states have agreed, either through regulation or legislation, to implement RGGI through a regional cap-and-trade program involving CO2 emitting electric power plants. These states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) set a cap on total CO2 emissions from electric power generators in their states.

It’s a unique opportunity for Pennsylvania to become a leader in combatting climate change and grow our economy by partnering with neighboring states. As a major electricity producer, Pennsylvania has a significant opportunity to reduce emissions and demonstrate its commitment to addressing climate change through a program with a proven track record.

Further, in December, the Environmental Quality Board moved forward our plan to cut down on methane emissions from existing oil and gas companies. Our proposed regulations would reduce methane emissions by 75,000 tons a year.

DEP looks forward to honoring Earth Day and its 50th anniversary and continues to address climate change in meaningful ways.

DEP Offering Grants to Small Businesses and Farmers

DEP recently announced the availability of $1 million in grant funding to Pennsylvania small businesses and farmers for energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and natural resource protection projects through the Small Business Advantage Grant program. New to the program this year is the opportunity for small business owners to install solar hot water heater systems for their business operations.

Eligible projects include adopting or acquiring equipment or processes that reduce energy use or pollution. Examples of eligible projects are HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency LED lighting, solvent recovery and waste recycling systems, and auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks.

Last year, around 200 small businesses were awarded more than $947,000 in grants for their projects. Natural resource protection projects may include planting riparian buffers, installation of streambank fencing to keep livestock out of streams, and investing in agricultural storm water management projects with the goal of reducing sediment and nutrient loads in our waterways.

Pennsylvania-based small business owners with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees are eligible. Projects must save the business a minimum of $500 and 25 percent annually in energy consumption or pollution related expenses.

Businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds of up to $7,000 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. Only costs incurred between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 are eligible.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2019-20 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2020, whichever occurs first. All applications must be submitted through the commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance website. Printed, faxed, and mailed applications are not accepted.

The complete grant application package, which includes step-by-step instructions and instructional videos for completing the online application, is available by visiting the DEP Small Business Ombudsman’s Office website.

To contact the Small Business Ombudsman’s Office, call 717-772-5160 or email




From an Empty Lot to a Soon-to-be Warehouse, by Way of a Timely Remediation Plan 

If there is one thing that stands in the way of redeveloping an empty lot, it’s contamination. Whether it’s petroleum, heavy metals or volatile organic compounds (VOC), if it’s in the soil and poses an environmental threat, redevelopment can sometimes stall or take a long time to bring to fruition.

However, in the case of an empty lot that sits in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton, it took just two months for DEP, a developer and the land owner to develop a sound plan for the space.

For decades, the 50-acre lot was used as a dumping ground for fly ash and fill material contaminated with heavy metals. The soil was impacted with lead, chromium, manganese, nickel, VOCs and other heavy metals. It also was used for strip mining and part of it contained an old cogeneration plant, where some contaminated soil was transferred to the lot. It almost appeared as if no developer would touch it because it seemed too expensive and too much involved to remediate.

But when Bluewater Developers approached DEP in September 2019 with an idea to build a 470-thousand-square-foot industrial warehouse on the site, DEP’s Environmental Cleanup & Brownfields and Waterways and Wetlands programs worked together along with the site owner, Humboldt Industrial Park, to come up with a remediation plan in a matter of two months that would bring the site, and the soil on it, up to statewide standards and bring jobs to the area.

The work involved the developers submitting a soil sampling plan to get a base-line analysis for contaminants. DEP reviewed it and made some recommendations. After that, Bluewater submitted its work plan for actual remediation. DEP handled the soil analysis and soil management plan, as well as issues with erosion and run-off from work on the site. 

By mid-November, a Consent Order was signed with Bluewater agreeing to do soil sampling, remove whatever contaminated soil remained at the site, and a follow-up sampling plan that met the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act criteria as a Special Industrial Area. No groundwater is going to be used at the site.

Work should begin at the site next year.

The northern end of the property at Humboldt Industrial Park. This space will be used to build the warehouse.

DEP Highlights Radon Awareness, Electric Vehicles and More at PA Farm Show

The 104th PA Farm Show, which was held this year Jan. 4 - 11 in Harrisburg, celebrates Pennsylvania’s rich agricultural influence, but it’s also an important opportunity for state agencies to interact with the thousands of visitors who meander through the expansive Farm Show Complex.

Every year, DEP participates in the Farm Show to provide valuable information about how everyone —whether they’re in the farming community or not — can protect the environment. This year, our booth featured an electric vehicle and helpful resources on conservation, pollution prevention, sustainability, radon awareness, and more.

Bob Lewis, DEP’s Radon Program manager, gave a presentation on “Radon Gas in the Home: What All Pennsylvanians Should Know.” Michelle Ferguson of DEP’s Energy Programs Office and Ed Boito of DEP’s Small Business Office gave a presentation on “How to Save Money and Energy on Your Farm.” And, back by popular demand, Bert Myers, our director of Environmental Education, shared the unique history of our office building’s famous falcons during his presentation, “Comeback Story: The Harrisburg Peregrine Falcons.”

Secretary Patrick McDonnell always enjoys the friendly competitions that are held throughout the week. This year, he once again participated in the Celebrity Rabbit Hopping competition.


DEP Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at MLK Day Events

DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) participated in two MLK Day celebrations this year. OEJ Director Allison Acevedo and Environmental Justice Advisory Board (EJAB) member, Rafiyqa Muhammad, provided opening remarks at the Central PA MLK Day celebration in Harrisburg. DEP staff also had interactive displays and educational materials at the event. OEJ’s Eastern Coordinator Justin Dula participated in a panel discussion at an MLK Day celebration at Penn State Abington Campus in Montgomery County. In addition to the panel discussion, the campus faculty and students in attendance worked in small groups to further discussions on the links between sustainability and environmental justice in their campus community.




Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 






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