Gov. Corbett Announces 2011 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Gov. Tom Corbett this week announced 13 environmental projects from across the state will be awarded the 2011 Environmental Excellence Award.

            The projects include abandoned mine drainage reclamation, solar panel installation, and reducing the environmental impact of glass processing.
            “These businesses, schools and organizations have demonstrated a commitment to finding new approaches to reduce our impact on the environment,” Corbett said. “I commend them for their efforts, as these projects certainly raise the bar for all citizens, businesses, and organizations to be more environmentally conscious.”
            Any business, school, government agency, trade organization, non-profit or agribusiness involved in efforts to promote environmental stewardship and economic development in the state was urged to apply for the award program. Applications were then reviewed in conjunction by the Department of Environmental Protection and the non-profit Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
            The award winners were honored at a dinner hosted Thursday by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, with DEP Secretary Michael Krancer offering keynote remarks.
            “It is no secret that innovation is paramount to our ability to craft a sensible environmental policy,” Krancer said. “We applaud the forward-thinking of these organizations and businesses.”
             The winners include:
-- Allegheny County - Allegheny Land Trust: Allegheny Land Trust collaborated with the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and addressed a community need to improve and expand the park system on Mount Washington. 
            Formerly known as "Coal Hill" because of the many mines that operated there, Mount Washington was once stripped of vegetation. Now, Mount Washington embraces Pittsburgh with a unique urban forested natural backdrop, and provides a host of environmental benefits such as carbon sequestration and stormwater management ─ two very important natural functions for a city striving to improve air and water quality.

-- Cambria County - Vessels Coal Gas, Inc.Vessels Coal is a Denver-based company developing and operating coal mine methane producing properties in the Rocky Mountain and Appalachian coal basins. Vessels operates a coal mine methane recovery property in Cambria County that began production in May of 2008. The site of the operation is at the Cambria 33 mine, a very large abandoned underground coal mine where mining operations ceased around 1995. 
            The methane gas is collected from the mine workings, preventing its release to the atmosphere. The plant has since sold more than 330 million cubic feet of pipeline quality natural gas to Peoples Natural Gas, a Pittsburgh based natural gas utility. Through this process the project has produced over 120,000 tons of Certified Emission Reductions by reducing the same volume of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from being released to the atmosphere.
            As an extension to this project Vessels has recently installed an electrical generation unit capable of producing 750 kilowatts per hour of electricity. This phase of the project will further increase the volume of CERs from the project.

-- Columbia County - Rieter Automotive: Ninety percent of the residual waste generated from manufacturing carpet is carpet scrap. This includes the trim from molding and die-cutting operations, quality assurance samples, roll ends and excess primary backing. Rieter Automotive has used a recycling system for years to utilize carpet scrap as an ingredient in secondary backing. Rieter Automotive is capable of recycling 50,000 pounds of scrap carpet on a daily basis.
            Last year, the company’s team eliminated 6,000 tons of material from entering a landfill and saved over $3 million in raw material purchases. To date, the company has recycled 12 million pounds of scrap carpet. Rieter Automotive will continue to develop its recycling operations, which are a key component to the company’s environmental commitment and mission statement.

-- Crawford County - Optical Filters USA LLCOptical Filters was nominated for a project designed by their own in-house engineers that recovers waste water and heat from a glass-processing line. The process removes grinding debris and then cycles the recovered water through heat exchangers to warm the water used again in the glass processing line. The heat is recovered from the hot waste-cooling water from a glass laminating autoclave, enabling another recycling process of cooling water from the autoclave. The process was implemented in phases beginning in January 2010. Optical Filters continues to refine the process based on system performance.

-- Cumberland County - Carlisle Area School District: The Carlisle Area School District installed 5,178 solar panels and seven inverters on 6.2 acres of its main campus. The project is expected to generate 1.5 million kilowatt-hours per year, or 17 percent of the district’s annual electrical usage. It will also save the district $150,000 per year in energy costs and avoid air emissions from traditional electricity generation. 
            The district established a renewable energy lab and a website, to educate students and the community. The district has partnered with Dickinson College to share resources and expertise with respect to energy generation, efficiency, conservation and career development. The district matched a PEDA-ARRA grant of $1 million with more than $3.8 million of additional funds.

-- Erie County - Engineered Plastics, Inc.Engineered Plastics, Inc. developed a post-industrial materials recycling program that has helped the company weather a recession that forced many other plastics manufacturers to lay off employees, outsource jobs overseas or go out of business. 
            With the help of a Recycling Markets Infrastructure Development grant from DEP and technical assistance from Penn State’s Plastics Engineering Department, EPI developed and then expanded a plastics recycling program that has become an integral part of EPI’s business where it has not only filled a void in post-industrial recycling locally, but is expanding nationally. 
            EPI matched a $500,000 DEP grant with almost $700,000 of its own investment to purchase processing equipment and develop the facilities necessary to process plastic waste for reuse as manufacturing feedstock material, thereby reducing landfilling costs, helping customers meet environmental and cost reduction goals, and creating demand for new recycled materials.

-- Lebanon County - Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority: The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority  is responsible for managing a comprehensive solid waste disposal system for the county, and must be in accordance with the 2000 Lebanon County Solid Waste Management Plan. The GLRA operates the county's solid waste disposal facility.
            In fall of 2009, GLRA worked with PA Cleanways/Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful to complete an inventory of illegal dumps in Lebanon County. In July 2010, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful released the Illegal Dump Survey for Lebanon County that identified 43 dumps with 36 tons of trash. GLRA systematically cleaned up all 43 dumps with the aid of volunteers solicited through its newsletter. 
            The authority also took action to prevent future dumping with video cameras and media coverage. Throughout the process the authority involved the local media which included several newspaper articles and a television news clip.

-- Lehigh and Northampton counties - Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation: In 2010, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative was awarded one of only six EPA Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grants for $1 million. 
            The effort also secured $1.2 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds through EPA Cleanup RLF Grants for the region. LVLRI brings together the two counties, three cities, and the development community. It fosters large projects such as Sand Island Park in Bethlehem, the Simon Silk Mill in Easton and assists on smaller projects like Sal’s Spaghetti house. LVLRI provides the technical assistance that is often needed for a municipality to deal with the environmental concerns on brownfields. 
            LVLRI balances economic growth with the environmental health of the Lehigh Valley. In 2009, LVLRI was awarded Program of the year by the Northeast Economic Development Association. In 2008, LVLRI won an Environmental Achievement Award by the EPA Region 3 for the work that is done in partnership in the Lehigh Valley.

-- Lycoming County - East Lycoming County School District: The East Lycoming School District  has taken several steps toward a reduction in its carbon footprint and carbon emissions, saving money and providing educational resources for their students.
            The district’s mission is to reduce its impact on the environment, save taxpayers money by lowering heating costs and help other schools and businesses become greener by providing a local example in energy efficiency. The district also wants to use the new technology to educate and involve the students in the growth of the community.
            The utilization of biomass will allow the district to grow its own energy source on school grounds and burn them to heat the high school. The district is harnessing wind power to provide a completely carbon-neutral solution that uses the natural resources of the earth. The district has invested in geothermal power to heat and cool Ferrell Elementary. 
            ELSD has teamed up with PPL Renewable Energy as part of a power-purchase agreement. The company will provide $1.4 million in matching funds to the school’s $1 million already invested in the project to install a new, ground-mounted solar field near Hughesville High School. The solar facility will have a generating capacity of 700,000 kilowatt-hours per year, according to PPL Renewable Energy, supplying about 50-percent of the school’s energy usage.

-- Monroe County - Pocono Raceway: Roughly 4,000 American-made solar panels spread across 25 acres comprise Pennsylvania’s largest solar farm, as well as being the world’s largest-such project at a sports venue. This 3-megawatt (3,000 kilowatt) solar farm was funded without state incentives and largely done as a hedge against increased electricity costs in the post-rate cap era of energy deregulation, which held the potential to increase the annual electric bill at Pocono Raceway by as much as $500,000. 
            The project went online generating electricity in August, 2010. By December 2010, the project had already produced one-million kilowatt hours of electricity and is expected to produce more than 72-million kilowatt hours of electricity in the next 20 years. Beyond meeting the needs of Pocono Raceway, this project will supply enough electricity to meet the needs of 1,000 homes and will displace the production of more than 3,400 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

-- Philadelphia County - Philadelphia International Airport: The Philadelphia International Airport’s Ground Service Equipment Electrification Project, which is part of the airport’s comprehensive Green Airport/Environmental Stewardship Program. It partnered with airlines to replace 48 diesel-powered ground service equipment vehicles (baggage tractors) with electric baggage tractors and install 15 recharging stations to service those vehicles. This project will greatly reduce fuel use and will avoid over 250 tons of nitrogen oxides, 16 tons of volatile organic compounds, and 15 tons of fine particulates over the lifetime of the equipment. The emission reductions achieved at the airport will allow the state to continue to make progress in attaining and maintaining the health-based ozone and fine particulate matter national ambient air quality standards. This voluntary program has also reduced the exposure of airport employees, travelers, and the local community to harmful diesel exhaust emissions and has reduced fuel use.

-- Schuylkill County - Schuylkill Headwaters: The Schuylkill Headwaters Association, working with a multitude of partners, has implemented several innovative projects. These projects use both anoxic and oxic limestone drains, retaining basins, and/or wetlands to greatly reduce AMD flow by thousands of gallons per minute into the Schuylkill headwaters. By decreasing acidity and iron sedimentation in this water resource, these projects will restore and protect aquatic habitats, and ensure eco-based economic security and recreational enjoyment for present and future generations. Partners include the Schuylkill Action Network (SAN) Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Workgroup - the Schuylkill Headwaters Association, the Schuylkill Conservation District, the United States Geological Survey, and the state Department of Environmental Protection, with support from the Philadelphia Water Department, Aqua Pennsylvania, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

-- Washington & Jefferson counties - Oxford Mining Company: The Oxford Mining Company project involves full reclamation of mining site including abandoned, pre-law highwalls and wetland restoration.
            Prior to mining, the site had approximately 2,800 feet of abandoned highwall and water impounded in abandoned mine pits. Highwalls were removed and reclaimed to stable slopes and a wetland was temporarily dewatered to allow mining without flooding the active operation. The wetland was enlarged and restored as part of the site reclamation.
            Benefits to the landowner and local community include safer site conditions and increased wildlife habitat. The site is located on the Pennsylvania/ West Virginia border. The project required coordination among state environmental agencies.
            NewsClips: Pocono Raceway Wins State Environmental Award


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