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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Let's do this: Time to enact proposed revisions to PA oil and gas rules

While Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB) said YES on October 27 to moving proposed revisions to the state's oil and gas rules on to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB), it wasn't before asking for even more time to review a suite of standards that has been in the works for almost five years and already been subject to two public comment periods that generated over 30,000 comments.

The five voting members of the TAB, several of whom have ties to the oil and gas industry, floated a resolution after an exhaustive, five-hour briefing on the proposed rules by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The resolution would allow TAB to present a report to the EQB on the proposed rules at a later date, a report which will not incorporate comments from the TAB's four non-voting members, who represent community and environmental groups and other non-industry constituencies.

Are you keeping up? We can't blame you if you're not as the process to revise the state's oil and gas rules has been fraught with the threat of industry-backed lawsuits, needless delays, and the flat-out dismissal of the public interest by oil and gas industry lobbyists -- this despite strong public support for updated rules to cover everything from leaky centralized wastewater impoundments to the proximity of drilling activity to public resources that would include schools and playgrounds.

Oh yeah, did we say that these rules need to be finalized by March 2016 or the whole MULTI-YEAR-LONG process starts all over again?

The oil and gas industry, and those who are enabling its misguided efforts around these rules in Pennsylvania, need to stop delaying what has been a thorough and exhaustive process and move forward in support of updated standards that will help ensure clean air and water for Pennsylvanians while helping to protect public health and the environment.

Elaine Labalme is strategic campaigns director for PennFuture and is based in Pittsburgh.

Still time to weigh in on state forest planning

There's still time to make sure officials know your thoughts on future management of Penn's Woods. Why are public lands important to you? 

Rock Run stream, Loyalsock State Forest
As we posted in a recent blog, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is taking citizen input on how it manages our state forests in twelve public meetings -- happening now -- on the Draft State Forest Resource Management Plan (SFRMP). 

The draft plan, last revised in 2007, is the main tool the Bureau of Forestry uses to manage Pennsylvania's approximately 2.2 million acre state forest system. 

At each public meeting, DCNR staff will take input in a small group setting and record your comments. In our previous blog post you'll find more details and a full meeting schedule through November 18.

Do you camp, fish, or hike in PA's forests? Are you concerned about the environmental impacts of unconventional gas development? What kinds of conservation issues are important to you in preserving our state forest system and its natural and recreational treasures? 

This is your chance to be part of the public process and help protect these special places -- like the Clarence Moore Lands of the Loyalsock State Forest, pictured above -- for future generations.

Upcoming meetings include October 29 in Clarion, November 3 in State College, November 10 in Carlisle, and November 12 in Williamsport. All meetings take place from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. and we have the full details and locations

Can't make a meeting? Written comments are also accepted through November 30 at

Kate Gibbons is Northeastern PA outreach coordinator and is based in Wilkes-Barre.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Make it happen: sustainable solutions for Philly

This event is part of Young Involved Philadelphia's State of Young Philly Week, an annual event series held that brings together over 50 organizations and 1,000 young professionals, elected officials, and organizational leaders to examine the current state of young Philadelphia and to ask what we can all do to improve our city. 

Are you frustrated by the amount of trash on Philadelphia’s streets and in its waterways? Do you wish that we had safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians? Have you thought about how the city might reduce its carbon footprint? Most importantly – have you done something about it?

Clean Water Action and PennFuture are hosting an “advocacy 101” training session for those who notice problems in their neighborhoods and want to be an active participant in identifying and executing a sustainable solution. We’ll provide the framework and guidance for how to build out an advocacy campaign with an emphasis on real-life sustainability challenges in Philadelphia.

While the focus in this session will be on local sustainability issues, the skills being taught and practiced will be applicable to advocacy campaigns around any issue and on any level.

Event Details

When: Monday, October 19, 2015 from 5:30PM to 7:30PM
Where: SERC 108AB, Science Education and Research Center, Temple University, 12th Street and Polett Walk
Who: Hosted by Clean Water Action and PennFuture

Katie Bartolotta is southeastern Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture and is based in Philadelphia. She tweets @KatieBartolotta.