Senate Approves Resolution Calling for Development of Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub

 

HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a resolution today introduced by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) encouraging Congress to support the development of an ethane storage hub in the Appalachian region.

Senate Resolution 375 urges Congress to pass several bills to help establish the hub and take advantage of the region’s deposits of natural gas, which are rich in ethane. Developing an ethane storage and distribution hub in the Appalachian region is projected to create as many as 100,000 new direct and indirect jobs and generate $28 billion in new economic output.

“The construction of Shell’s new ethane facility in Beaver County is already underway, and that project is expected to create thousands of new jobs. However, that does not mean our work is finished,” Bartolotta said. “We should be doing everything in our power to encourage ethane companies to come here, stay here and create family-sustaining jobs. In order to fully capitalize on the opportunities that are in front of us, we need to take strategic steps to ensure the responsible and sustainable development of our energy resources.”

Pennsylvania’s chemical industry currently supports nearly 80,000 direct and indirect jobs, resulting in $24 billion in economic activity and more than $410 million in state and local taxes. 

CONTACT: Katrina Anderson (717) 787-1463

PA Nuclear Energy Caucus Chairs React to FirstEnergy Nuclear Plant Deactivation Notices

HARRISBURG — Senators Ryan Aument (R-36) and John Yudichak (D-14) along with Representatives Becky Corbin (R-155) and Rob Matzie (D-16) issued the following statement concerning FirstEnergy Solutions’ notification to PJM Interconnection and the federal Nuclear Energy Regulatory Commission that it intends to deactivate two of its nuclear power plants in Ohio in addition to the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

“Yesterday’s announcement confirms what we have suspected for well over a year – and have been asking the federal government to assist us in addressing – that there are very serious and consequential underlying issues in the PJM wholesale electric markets which are being administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). 

In addition to the announced shuttering of Three Mile Island nuclear station, the premature closure of three more nuclear power plants now compound what will be a significant loss of family-sustaining jobs, high capacity baseload clean energy, and the many direct and indirect economic benefits that surround the production of electricity from nuclear power plants.

As state lawmakers, we take seriously our obligation to set energy policies that help promote Pennsylvania’s economy.  We equally are concerned about meeting the Commonwealth’s environmental goals.  The closure of Beaver Valley Power Station will make meeting these obligations even more difficult.

This is precisely why the Pennsylvania General Assembly nearly unanimously adopted Senate Resolution 227 and House Resolution 576 , which supported the federal Department of Energy’s efforts to address the continued and unabated loss of this type of electric generation.

It is also why the Nuclear Energy Caucus highly encouraged PJM Interconnection to take seriously the short and long-term impacts of these closures. 

In a letter dated February 9, 2018 to the PJM Board of Managers, we cautioned that:

Over the past several years, members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly have expressed concerns about the loss of baseload generation resources in the Commonwealth.

While Pennsylvania currently benefits from numerous sources of electric generation – including coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydroelectric, and renewables – we are losing confidence in the ability of the wholesale electric markets to ensure Pennsylvania maintains a diverse supply of baseload generation resources that ensure stable prices for our citizens and a reliable and resilient electrical grid.

Pennsylvania’s baseload power plants continue to face the risk of premature retirement, and we do not see expeditious and sufficient action being taken by PJM or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to correct the market flaws at the heart of this problem – flaws that PJM itself acknowledges.

Yesterday’s announcement that, in addition to Three Mile Island, an additional 4,000 megawatts (MWs) of nuclear power production may be lost elevates these concerns and demands answers from the federal government – specifically FERC – and PJM, who are ultimately liable for the responsible management of the bulk power system.

One of our top priorities in creating the Nuclear Energy Caucus was to focus on the value that each energy resource offers Pennsylvania and our citizens.  We remain committed to that goal and will continue to invite all members of the General Assembly to participate in this important discussion so that together, we can advance policies that promote long-term economic, environmental, and consumer benefits.

Today, however, we are mindful of how difficult this news is for the many workers and their families who are affected, as well as the communities in western Pennsylvania that will be directly impacted.”

 

CONTACT:  Jake Smeltz (717-787-4420)

Op-Ed: Senate Game & Fisheries Chair: Fish and Boat Answers Just Raise More Questions

An Op-Ed By Senator Pat Stefano

Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway recently appeared before the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, which I chair, to provide his annual report to the committee. This is my fourth year serving on the committee and this normally routine meeting was unlike any I have seen.

Director Arway appeared before the committee amidst a swirl of controversy over his management of the Fish and Boat Commission and its resources.

The PA Senate has twice passed bills that would allow the Fish and Boat Commission and the Game Commission have more control over their fees with continued oversight by the legislature. The House had significant concerns with this approach and so negotiations to do a 3 year license increase schedule for both commissions were begun and nearing completion in September of 2017. That’s when Director Arway’s actions derailed the progress that was being made.

In September of 2017, Arway skirted the normal committee process of the Fish and Boat Commission and without public notice had the commissioners enact a 2 million dollar package of cuts to Fish and Boat services. These cuts included closing two hatcheries and reducing the amount of stocked fish throughout the state.

I personally cautioned Arway, and he was warned by some of the Fish and Boat Commissioners that day, that unilateral action could derail plans for license increases. He chose to ignore those warnings and then took his actions even a step further. It was at that point that Arway crossed a line that he cannot uncross.

Arway released a map showing where the reductions in stocked fish would take place and it became abundantly clear that he had targeted unsupportive members of the legislature for cuts. He further confirmed this in a meeting in my office with all 4 chairmen of the House & Senate Game and Fisheries committee and in media interviews.

This is an outrageous action that at the least is improper and may well be an illegal use of his power. It is highly inappropriate and unethical to use state resources to try and influence a legislative vote. Once Arway showed that he is willing to use state resources for political retribution he lost my confidence in his ability to lead this agency. For the sake of the future of the Fish and Boat Commission, he should step aside and allow new leadership to repair the damage that he has done.

Further doubt has been raised in regards to the fiscal condition of the Fish and Boat Commission. An economic analysis prepared for the FOP Lodge 114, which represents law enforcement within Fish and Boat and is currently in contract negotiations with the commission, raises serious doubt about the claims Arway has used to make his case. Despite the Fish and Boat having this report for about a month, Arway declined to answer questions about this report in our hearing and indicated that they would answer them in the near future. No matter their answers there are now serious doubts as to which numbers are correct and for that reason I am asking Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to undertake a thorough audit of the commission to get to the bottom of this.

When politics are injected into our wildlife management practices, it endangers one of Pennsylvania’s greatest treasures: Its wildlife. Unfortunately director Arway did just that when he chose to target specific legislators for their lack of support for his initiatives. This was an irrevocable action that should cause great concern to anyone who cares for our great outdoors.  I continue to believe that a license increase is necessary but it is clear that given the current climate the only way for that to happen is for Arway to step aside or be removed.

Senator Stefano Represents Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties and serves as the Chairman of the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee.

CONTACT: Carol Milligan  Senate Republican Communications (717) 787-6725  cmilligan@pasen.gov

Joint Public Hearing on Pipeline Safety

Joint Public Hearing

Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure
and Environmental Resources and Energy Committees

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
11 a.m. in North Office Building, Hearing Room #1
 

Joint Public Hearing on Pipeline Safety

 

11:00 AM
Opening Comments
 
Senator John C. Rafferty

11:10 AM
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Honorable Gladys M. Brown, Chairman

11:35 AM
Department of Environmental Protection
Domenic Rocco, Acting Environmental Program Manager, Regional Permit Coordination Office

12:00 PM   Environmental/ Safety Organizations
Environmental Defense Fund
Andrew WilliamsDirector of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, US Climate and Energy               

Uwchlan Safety Coalition
Rebecca Britton

Goshen United for Public Safety
Melissa DiBernadino

12:30 PM
Marcellus Shale Coalition
Keith Coyle, Chair, Pipeline Safety Workgroup

Written Testimony:

Department of Environmental Protection

Senate Approves Framework for Growing Greener III Program

HARRISBURG – The Senate approved legislation today that would create a framework for the Growing Greener III program to better protect Pennsylvania’s natural resources.

The original version of Senate Bill 799, sponsored by Senator Rich Alloway (R-33), creates a new nutrient trading program to help Pennsylvania meet federal pollution reduction goals and improve drinking water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The legislation was amended to add a proposal introduced by Senator Tom Killion (R-9), Senator Chuck McIlhinney (R-10) and Alloway to authorize a new Growing Greener program to support critical environmental and quality of life projects in communities throughout the state.

The original Growing Greener program, which was created in 1999, has funded hundreds of environmental projects, including local parks and trails, open space preservation, farmland preservation, flood mitigation, stream and waterway restoration, watershed protection initiatives, and drinking and wastewater treatment improvements.

“Growing Greener is a critically important program that has a successful track record of preserving Pennsylvania’s natural resources, and Growing Greener III will continue to protect our land and waterways,” Killion said.  “This legislation is the first step in renewing our commitment to the environment and enhancing the quality of life for Pennsylvania’s families.”

Funding for the program has declined from approximately $200 million in the mid-2000s to just $57 million last year. Senate Bill 799 would establish a framework to ensure the program will continue to fund vital environmental projects well into the future.

“Few state programs have enjoyed the incredible success of Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program, but declining funding for the program threatens to halt the incredible progress we have made over the past two decades in terms of protecting our environment,” McIlhinney said. “Passing this bill reaffirms the importance of protecting our drinking water supplies, open space, farmland and trails.”

Senate Bill 799 drew overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle and was approved by a 47-2 margin.

“The success of the Growing Greener program is a result of a strong cooperative effort between lawmakers, state and local government officials, environmental advocates and many other stakeholders who worked together to identify the most pressing needs in our communities,” Alloway said. “Finding a way to continue this program is one of the best ways that we can ensure we pass along a cleaner and healthier Pennsylvania to future generations.”

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

CONTACT:  Jeremy Shoemaker (717)787-4651 (Senator Alloway)
                         Shannon Royer (717)787-4712 (Senator Killion)
                         Heather Cevasco (717)787-7305 (Senator McIlhinney)

Measure Supporting Beneficial Use of Steel Slag Sent to Governor

Legislation introduced by Senator Elder Vogel supporting the beneficial use of steel slag — a byproduct of the steelmaking process — received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor for enactment into law.

Steel slag’s environmentally friendly properties make it very useful for a number of uses. PENNDOT has used slag in road construction projects for more than 80 years because it is reliable, versatile, and cost effective.

However, current state law dictates that slag is considered to be “waste.” Therefore, mills and slag processors must seek special classification from the state Department of Environmental Protection to sell the product.

Senator Vogel’s bill, Senate Bill 497, removes requirements for “waste” classification of steel slag for piles produced after January 1, 2007 that have not been commingled with residual or hazardous waste. This legislation would help to remove the “waste” stigma associated with steel slag and promote its environmental and cost-savings benefits over other materials.

“I am pleased to see this legislation move forward to the Governor for his approval,” Senator Vogel said. “This bill will help to support our slag manufacturers, encourage environmentally friendly practices, and could generate significant cost savings for taxpayers by encouraging the reuse of steel slag in Pennsylvania’s road projects.”

Scavello Lauds Solar Energy Jobs Law During Bill Signing Ceremony Today

Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) joined Governor Tom Wolf at a ceremony in Harrisburg today to sign into law his legislation that would promote clean energy by boosting the use of solar energy credits in Pennsylvania.

Senator Scavello’s Solar Energy Jobs legislation, Senate Bill 404, was included in House Bill 118, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature last month. He thanked the legislature and clean energy advocates for their support of the legislation, which will help to bring businesses to Pennsylvania, create new jobs, and promote a positive footprint on the environment.

“Passage of this law demonstrates that solar energy is fast becoming a viable addition to our diverse energy portfolio,” said Scavello. “We have the best fabrication, engineering, manufacturing and distribution networks in the country. The solar energy industry and the clean energy sector in general, offers communities – both rural and urban – the opportunity to retool, reposition and modernize our economy to attract additional 21st century jobs.”

The 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards requires that increasing percentages of electricity sold in Pennsylvania be generated through alternative energy sources like solar energy. Solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) are used to demonstrate compliance with the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act through the purchase of these credits from homeowners and businesses with solar panels.

“Act 40 of 2017 essentially ‘closes the borders’ of the Commonwealth on SREC purchases, similar to many neighboring states,” said Scavello. “Under Act 40 of 2017, electric distributors will now be required to purchase their credits from within the Commonwealth, protecting Pennsylvania-based solar credits and putting us in line with many of our neighboring states,” Scavello said.  “In addition, ‘closing the borders’ ensures that PA rate-payers are supporting jobs, investment and tax revenue here in Pennsylvania.”
You can follow Senator Scavello on Twitter and Facebook.

CONTACT: Christine Zubeck czubeck@pasen.gov (717) 787-6123

Scavello Provision to Boost Solar Energy in Pennsylvania Becomes Law

Harrisburg – Legislation drafted by Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) to boost the use of solar energy credits in Pennsylvania is now law.

Provisions from Senator Scavello’s Solar Energy Jobs legislation, Senate Bill 404, were amended into House Bill 118, the 2017-18 Administrative Code signed into law Monday.

“Solar energy isn’t a niche industry anymore, it is a viable addition to our diverse energy portfolio,” said Scavello. “We have the best fabrication, engineering, manufacturing and distribution networks in the country. The solar energy industry and the clean energy sector in general, offers communities – both rural and urban – the opportunity to retool, reposition and modernize our economy to attract additional 21st century jobs.”

The 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards requires that increasing percentages of electricity sold in Pennsylvania be generated through alternative energy sources like solar energy. Solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) are used to demonstrate compliance with the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act through the purchase of these credits from homeowners and businesses with solar panels.

However, Pennsylvania remains at a competitive disadvantage when compared to our neighboring states. Pennsylvania currently allows out-of-state systems to sell SRECs in the Commonwealth.

“Act 40 of 2017 essentially ‘closes the borders’ of the Commonwealth on SREC purchases, similar to many neighboring states,” said Scavello. “Electric distributors will now have to purchase their credits from within the Commonwealth, protecting Pennsylvania-based solar credits and putting us in line with many of our neighboring states. In addition, ‘closing the borders’ ensures that PA rate-payers are supporting jobs, investment and tax revenue here in Pennsylvania.”

You can follow Senator Scavello on Twitter and Facebook.

CONTACT: Christine Zubeck czubeck@pasen.gov (717) 787-6123

Senate Passes Langerholc Resolution To Review Removing Cambria County From Emissions Testing

 

Listen

HARRISBURG – The State Senate today passed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) directing a Senate commission to review removing Cambria County from vehicle emissions testing requirements.

Langerholc said passage of the measure by the full Senate is an important step in determining if the 14-year-old requirement, which costs motorists on average $40, is still necessary, given the fact that the region has been consistently meeting air quality standards.

Cambria County is one of 25 Pennsylvania counties where vehicles are required to undergo emissions testing as part of annual safety inspections – many of them are in heavily populated areas near Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Senate Resolution 168, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, directs the Joint State Government Commission to perform a detailed study of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing requirement.

The testing requirement was first implemented in 1997 and expanded to include Cambria County in 2003.  However, Langerholc noted that it was based on air quality data from the 1990s.  Local air quality has steadily improved since that time, leading Cambria County to be designated as an attainment area in 2008.

“The emissions testing requirement made sense 20 years ago to ensure the worst-polluting vehicles were removed from our roadways, but advances in vehicle emissions technology have helped to ease many local concerns regarding air quality,” Langerholc said. “For nearly a decade our region has met federal air quality standards, so it makes sense for local motorists to no longer have to pay for testing that may not be necessary.”

“To remove the emissions testing requirement,” Langerholc said, “the state Department of Environmental Protection is required to submit a revised State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.”

Langerholc’s resolution includes a requirement for the Joint State Government Commission to provide recommendations for lawmakers regarding the cost of submitting a revised SIP and any potential loss of environmental credits or other financial impacts resulting from the removal of the emissions requirement from Cambria County residents.

CONTACT:

Gwenn Dando
(717) 599- 1164
gdando@pasen.gov

Sen. Aument and Sen. White to FERC: Fuel-Secure Baseload Generation at Real Risk

HARRISBURG – Citing the need to maintain a highly reliable and resilient power grid, Senators Ryan Aument (R-36th) and Don White (R-41st) today introduced a concurrent resolution to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to act quickly to adopt a recent federal Department of Energy proposed rule that would address the loss of “fuel-secure” power plants from the bulk power system.

“We join the federal Department of Energy in its concern over the loss of some of our nation’s most highly reliable, best performing baseload power plants,” said Sen. Aument.  “There is a growing awareness among many people that the wholesale electric markets are undervaluing these strategic assets which may lead to their premature retirement, which not only threatens reliable power production, but Pennsylvania’s energy economy as well.”

“The federal rule finally recognizes what I have been working hard to promote for many years – our people benefit from energy policies which recognize and value all our resources – including coal and nuclear power production – which are in real danger of disappearing unless action is taken,” said Sen. White.  “Because Pennsylvania is a top producer from both these sources and they provide over two-thirds of our power, we must take action now before it is too late.”

On September 28, 2017, the federal Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled the “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule,” which directs the FERC to use its authority to impose rules on independent system operators, such as PJM Interconnection, to ensure that certain reliability and resilience attributes of electric generation resources are fully valued.  Noting the urgency of the issue, DOE directed the FERC to take final action on the proposal within 60 days or to issue the rule as an interim final rule immediately.

In its filing, DOE relied on its exhaustive study of the electricity markets that was conducted in August 2017, which became the basis for the current proposal.  DOE noted that:

The resiliency of the nation’s electric grid is threatened by the premature retirements of power plants that can withstand major fuel supply disruptions caused by natural or man-made disasters and, in those critical times, continue to provide electric energy, capacity, and essential grid reliability services.  These fuel-secure resources are indispensable for the reliability and resiliency of our electric grid-and therefore indispensable for our economic and national security.  It is time for the Commission [FERC] to issue rules to protect the American people from energy outages expected to result from the loss of this fuel-secure generation capacity.

“Common sense tells us that if you lose highly reliable power plants that can store their fuel on-site for long periods of time – like baseload coal and nuclear power plants – we are more likely to experience problems,” said Sen. White. 

Sen. Aument cited the 2014 polar vortex as evidence that there is a problem.  “Just a few years ago we nearly lost power in PJM during the polar vortex because of the inability of some generators to produce power when we needed it the most.  While there ultimately were no disruptions, sixty-five million people could have been affected and because power prices skyrocketed, consumers experienced real rate shock.”

The issue of fuel-secure premature retirements has also been raised by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), which is the FERC-designated Electric Reliability Organization whose mission is to assure the reliability and security of the bulk power system in North America. 

Citing the rapid and significant transformation of the North American electric power system and ongoing retirements of fossil-fired and nuclear capacity, as well as the growth in natural gas, wind, and solar resources, NERC warns that, “Premature retirements of fuel-secure baseload generating stations reduces resilience to fuel supply disruptions.”

Through the concurrent resolution they introduced, Senators Aument and White are encouraging FERC to take seriously what the loss of fuel-secure resources would mean not only to the overall grid, but to Pennsylvania as well.

“Our Commonwealth is a top power producer and fuel-secure baseload generation plants employ thousands of workers in high-paying jobs, contributing significantly to our state and local economies,” said the Senators.

Sen. White noted that Pennsylvania’s coal industry, including coal power plants employs 36,100 full and part-time jobs and adds $4.1 billion in total value to the state’s economy.  He also praised coal plant operators who have spent billions in upgrades to meet stringent environmental standards, helping make the use of coal for power production cleaner.

Sen. Aument offered that Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry, including the state’s five nuclear stations employs 15,900 in-state full time jobs and contributes $2 billion to the Commonwealth’s gross domestic product.  He also noted that Pennsylvania’s nuclear fleet provide more than 93% of the of the state’s emissions-free electricity.

“We are hopeful that FERC will recognize the real value that these resources offer and take the necessary steps to ensure that we consider the long-term impacts to the economy, the environment and consumers should these assets be lost,” said the Senators. 

“While we support competitive energy markets, we also believe that a robust, highly reliable ‘all of the above’ energy policy also makes good sense.  FERC has the ability and responsibility to resolve this issue and it is time for them to act.”

CONTACT:           Jake Smeltz, (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument’s Office)

                                Joe Pittman (717) 787 8724  (Senator White’s Office)