DEP CAC Told PA Must Reduce Nitrogen By Over 10 Million Pounds By 2017

Andy Zemba, Director of DEP’s Interstate Waters Office, told the DEP Citizens Advisory Council Tuesday Pennsylvania must reduce its nitrogen load going into our rivers and streams by over 10 million pounds, our sediment load by nearly 212 million pounds and our phosphorus pollution by 141,000 pounds if we are to meet our 2017 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones.

Wastewater plants and the forest sector have already met the 2017 nitrogen and phosphorus reductions. Wastewater plants have already met the 2017 for sediment/total suspended solids reductions.

Zemba said the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement will give Pennsylvania new responsibilities to develop management strategies to meet goals for specific outcomes like wetlands protection, stream health, fish passage, submerged aquatic vegetation, forest buffers, tree canopy and fish habitat over the next two years.

Zemba said DEP plans to involve the Chesapeake Bay Management Team and other stakeholders in the process.

Click Here for a copy of Zemba’s presentation.

Steve Taglang, Chief of the Conservation Division in the Bureau of Conservation and Restoration, said DEP has taken a number of steps to ramp up its efforts to get best management conservation practices on the ground to meet the Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones.  They included--

-- Revised Chapter 102 Erosion and Sedimentation Control Regulations that clarified and made more specific requirements covering agriculture in 2010;

-- Revised General Permit and other requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations and concentrated feeding operations in 2013;

-- Revised the Manure Management Manual in 2011 to make it more practical and user-friendly;

-- Worked with Penn State University and the State Conservation Commission to develop PaOneStep, an online tool to help farmers develop nutrient management plans which will be expanded to develop other farm conservation plans in the future;

-- Worked with county conservation districts to visit about one-third-- 11,114-- of the farms in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed since 2012 to make them aware they need to have conservation, erosion and sedimentation control and nutrient management plans and offering assistance to prepare those plans; and

-- Conducted targeted enforcement checks of farm operations in seven watersheds with DEP staff which did 951 inspections, took 415 enforcement actions and imposed $123,000 in penalties as part of a Regional Agricultural Watershed Assessment initiative.

Click Here for a copy of Taglang’s presentation.

The size of the reductions Pennsylvania must achieve to meet the 2017 milestones in the next three years will offer real challenges to the Commonwealth, particularly for needed reductions from agriculture, urban/stormwater runoff and on-lot septic systems

The size of the reductions needed for agriculture alone, at least according to the models, are approximately equal to more than all the reductions achieved by the Chesapeake Bay Program in Pennsylvania for the 27 years from 1985 through 2012.

As a follow-up to the presentations, Council members took a tour of a working dairy farm in Cumberland County Tuesday afternoon to get a first-hand look at best management practices on the ground.  The tour was arranged with the help of Council member Bill Fink who is the Environmental Manager for Country View Family Farms.  (Click Here for a video about the visit.)

Secretary’s Report

Hayley Book, Director of DEP’s Office of Policy, gave the Secretary’s Report at the meeting and updated Council on these items--

-- Oil and Gas Regulations: The June 26 meeting of the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board will be webcast live.  The Board will consider a summary of comments on the Chapter 78 drilling regulation changes and a conceptual overview of new, draft changes for a new regulation package covering well drilling standards, operations, plugging and underground gas storage.  Click Here for more information on how to register for the webinar when it becomes available.

Book also said DEP plans to finalize the Chapter 78 drilling regulations in 2015.

-- Auditor General Marcellus Shale Audit: DEP expects the Auditor General to release his final version of the Marcellus Shale water quality performance program audit in July.

-- EPA Proposed Carbon Reduction Rule: DEP expects to present testimony on EPA’s proposed carbon reduction rule for existing power plants at a July 31 hearing in Pittsburgh.  Book said, among other concerns, the proposed rule uses different baseline starting points for different states and does not give states enough flexibility to develop compliance plans to meet the requirements.

-- Waters Of The U.S. Proposed Rule: Book repeated what DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said last month to Council saying the proposed EPA/Corps of Engineers rule clarifying the federal definition of waters of the U.S. should not have an impact in Pennsylvania because our state laws have used a similar definition.

More information is available in DEP’s June Report to the Council.

Public Comments

-- Roberta Winters, PA League of Women Voters, said DEP needed more resources to ensure proper enforcement of water quality regulations to meet Pennsylvania’s clean water commitments, in particular the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement.  She also recommended Council become involved in reviewing the proposal to lease additional DCNR lands for natural gas development and said there should be tighter controls on air emissions from oil and gas operations.

Committee Reports

-- Nominations Committee: Cynthia Carrow reported the Committee recommended and Council then unanimously elected Terry Dayton to serve another one year term as Chair of the CAC.  Bill Fink was elected Vice Chair.

-- Policy and Regulatory Oversight Committee: Tim Weston reported the Committee recommended and the Council adopted a motion to recommend DEP move forward with two air quality regulations to the Environmental Quality Board for public comment-- VOC Emissions for Industrial Cleaning Solvents and VOC Emissions for Automobile and Light-Duty Truck Assembly Coatings.

-- Act 54 Longwall Mining Impact Review Committee: Terry Dayton reported that due to incomplete information, the Committee could not review the draft Act 54 report DEP gave the Council for review and recommended the Council wait for the final report to offer comments.  There were no objections to the recommendation.  Dayton said DEP expects to finalize the report by the end of August.  Click Here for a copy of the last report.

-- Public Participation Committee: David Hess reported the Committee recommended Council focus its future public participation efforts on reviewing and making improvements to DEP’s 1998 Advisory Committee Guidelines which outlines how the agency works with its advisory committees.

The Committee recommended a two step-process-- first ask each of DEP’s advisory committees a short series of questions about how DEP could make better use of their expertise, how well is the committee supported by DEP in getting timely agendas and meeting packages posted and solicit their ideas for improving the Advisory Committee Guidelines.

This step was refined to send the questions to each member of each DEP advisory committee.

A second step would be getting together with the Chairs of the Committees as a group in the fall to go over the information received and develop final recommendations.

The tentative schedule for these steps is having a deadline in September for advisory committee member responses, an October meeting with the advisory committee chairs and bringing recommendations to Council at its November meeting.

There were no objections to these recommendations.

Hess noted there apparently was some miscommunication over whether DEP was revising its Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy.  He said agency staff said they were not.

The next meeting of the Council is July 15 in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg starting at 10:00.  The Council does not meet again until September 16.

For more information and copies of handouts and presentations, visit the DEP Citizens Advisory Council webpage.


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