One Year Later, We Still Need Restore
By Patrick McDonnell, DEP Secretary
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.
later, those needs are still there, and still unmet, and getting
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.
this week I again stood with the Governor to support Restore
Pennsylvania. These issues don’t just go away. We need Restore
Patrick McDonnell gives remarks on Restore Pennsylvania on
January 28, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 dep.pa.gov/homeheatingoil.
Students Encourage Pennsylvanians to Test for
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.
occurs from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It enters homes
through cracks in the foundation or other openings.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebates Available to Organizations and
Businesses to Install Electric Vehicle Chargers
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
the Small Business Ombudsman’s Office, call 717-772-5160 or email email@example.com.
NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
From an Empty Lot to a Soon-to-be Warehouse,
by Way of a Timely Remediation Plan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
should begin at the site next year.
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
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
Pennsylvania Department of
Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101