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Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Wolf Administration Extends Pennsylvania Home Heating Assistance Program Deadline

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Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Pennsylvanians struggling to pay home heating bills will now have until April 13, 2018, to apply for financial help through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

 

The federally funded program was slated to end April 6, 2018, but the Wolf Administration decided that given the unpredictable weather this winter, Pennsylvania would extend the program, giving people extra time to apply for funding.

 

“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable were able to heat their homes this winter because of LIHEAP,” said Governor Wolf. “By keeping the program open longer, we hope to provide additional assistance to those who are struggling to keep their family warm.”

 

LIHEAP offers assistance in the form of a cash grant sent directly to the utility company or a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat. Some households are eligible for both types of assistance. Cash grants are based on household income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. In addition to proof of income and household size, applicants must provide a recent bill or a statement from their fuel dealer verifying their customer status and the type of fuel used.

 

“Everyone deserves a safe, warm home. I encourage Pennsylvanians to apply today to ensure they have the necessary resources to stay warm as the weather continues to be unpredictable,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller.

 

Individuals can apply for a LIHEAP grant online at www.compass.state.pa.us or in person at their local county assistance office. They may also call the statewide toll-free hotline at 1-866-857-7095 with questions about the program.

 

Eligibility for the 2017-18 LIHEAP season is set at 150 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines. The chart below shows the maximum income allowed for eligibility based on household size.

Household size Maximum Income
1 $18,090
2 $24,360
3 $30,630
4 $36,900
5 $43,170
6 $49,440
7 $55,710
8 $61,980
9 $68,250
10 $74,520

For more information about LIHEAP, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.

U.S. 202 SOUTH PERIODIC LANE CLOSURES SCHEDULED WEEKNIGHTS FOR UTILITY IMPROVEMENTS IN CHESTER COUNTY

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King of Prussia, PA – Westtown Township is planning overnight periodic lane closures on U.S. 202 between Robin’s Nest Lane and Old Wilmington Pike in Westtown Township, Chester County on Thursday, April 12, through Friday, April 20, from 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM the following morning, for utility work, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today.

Motorists are advised to allow extra time when traveling through the work area because slowdowns will occur during construction. The schedule is weather dependent.
Westtown Township will complete this project under a PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit.

Saturday Marks PA’s Second Mentored Youth Trout Day

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​HARRISBURG, Pa. – Saturday marks the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) second Mentored Youth Trout Day for 2018, an opportunity for kids to practice their fishing skills one week before the statewide opening day of trout season kicks off in 49 counties on April 14.

Now in its fifth year, the popular program provides adult mentors with an opportunity to take kids fishing before the traditional rush of the regional and statewide opening days of trout season. Participants can fish from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“Our goal is to get more kids involved in fishing and to keep them engaged,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “One of the best ways to do that is to make the experience as easy as possible for parents and mentors. The Mentored Youth Trout Days program does just that and has developed into the premiere spring event for kids, with more than 30,000 participating last year.”
“The program includes all Commission stocked trout waters so there are plenty of waters to fish within an easy drive of everyone’s home,” he added. “This is a great opportunity for kids and their mentors to get outside and enjoy the vast number of streams and lakes our Commonwealth has to offer.”
Last year, more than 30,000 kids signed up to participate, either by purchasing a $1 voluntary youth fishing license or by acquiring a free mentored youth fishing permit. The year’s first Regional Mentored Youth Trout Day was held on March 24.
Beginning at 8 a.m., participants can fish in any PFBC stocked trout water anywhere in the Commonwealth. Kids can keep two trout, which must measure at least seven inches. Mentors must have a fishing license and trout stamp. Because the program is focused on kids, adult mentors are encouraged to fish with the children and provide encouragement and tips, but they may not keep their catch and must release trout to the water unharmed.
Most trout waters are stocked in advance of the mentored youth days. But some of the waters may not be stocked in time due to weather, water conditions and scheduling logistics. Also, special regulation areas, like Catch and Release Fly-Fishing Only or Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only, are not included in the mentored youth program.
“It’s important for anglers to visit the PFBC stocking page for an updated list so they know exactly what waters are being stocked,” added Arway. “We want mentors and kids to have fun and to catch fish, so we don’t want them to inadvertently show up at waters which have not been stocked.”
For anglers with smartphones, an even easier way to view the stocking schedules is through the FishBoatPA app, which is available for free from the Apple App and Google Play stores.
To participate, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid fishing license and trout/salmon permit and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit, or a voluntary youth fishing license. Both are available at www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the more than 900 licensing agents across the state.
For every voluntary youth license sold, the PFBC will receive approximately $5 in federal revenue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Act program, which provides funds to states based on a formula that includes the number of licenses a state sells. All revenues earned from a voluntary youth fishing license are dedicated to youth fishing programs.
The PFBC annually stocks approximately 3.15 million adult trout in more than 720 streams and 126 lakes open to public angling. These figures include approximately 2 million rainbow trout; 640,000 brown trout; and 500,000 brook trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length.
In addition to these fish, the PFBC plans to stock about 8,700 trophy golden rainbow trout that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long. Also, PFBC cooperative nurseries run by sportsmen’s clubs across the state will add another 1 million trout to waters open to public angling.

GAME COMMISSION HAS CURE FOR CABIN FEVER

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HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Game Commission is inviting you to explore the Canadian wilderness – simply by stopping Sunday at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.

The Game Commission on Sunday, April 8 will host another in a series of Cabin Fever Sunday events, this one focused on canoeing Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forestry John Norbeck will join state game wardens and others at an event featuring canoeing displays and a presentation on Algonquin Provincial Park, a destination that boasts thousands of lakes, hundreds of miles of canoe, hiking and biking trails, two museums, an art center, 14 campgrounds and several lodges.

By presenting glimpses of past trips, Dirk Dixon, a longtime member of The Canoe Club of Greater Harrisburg, will provide insight into the excellent opportunities Algonquin has to offer.

Members of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association also will be available to discuss paddling adventures and the variety of traditional wooden canoes and modern kayaks available for your outdoor enjoyment.

Displays and doors open at 12:30 p.m. The roughly 40-minute presentation starts at 2 p.m.

The Game Commission’s headquarters is located at 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg 17110.

State Museum of Pennsylvania, Partners, Present Program on Lorraine Hansberry, Author of A Raisin in the Sun

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Harrisburg – The State Museum of Pennsylvania, in cooperation with WITF Public Media and The Film Posse, will present a special program on the new documentary film Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at 6 pm.

Harrisburg native Tracy Heather Strain, producer of the new documentary, will show excerpts from the film. Scott LaMar, host of WITF’s Smart Talk radio program, will interview Strain on stage and discuss the film.
The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made online at witf.org/events or by calling Janee Corbin at The State Museum, 717-783-5736. Seating is limited.
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, which launched the 2018 season of the PBS series American Masters in January, explores the fascinating life of the first-ever black woman to author a play performed on Broadway, A Raisin in the Sun. Although the play is considered a groundbreaking work of art, the timely story of Hansberry’s life is far less known.
The documentary portrays Hansberry’s lifetime commitment to fighting injustice and how she found her way to the theater as a medium for activism at a crucial time for black civil rights. The film also explores the writer’s concealed identity as a lesbian and the themes of sexual orientation and societal norms in her works. The film title comes from Hansberry’s view that “one cannot live with sighted eyes and feeling heart and not know or react to the miseries which afflict this world.”
Filmmaker and Peabody Award–winner Tracy Heather Strain grew up in Harrisburg and was inspired as a teenager to explore Hansberry’s story when her grandmother took her to a local performance of a play about the writer. Strain has produced several documentaries (Unnatural Causes, I’ll Make Me a World, and American Experience: Building the Alaska Highway, among others) for national public television. She and her husband, filmmaker Randall MacLowry, founded The Film Posse, a documentary production company based in Boston.
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is a production of the Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project, LLC, in coproduction with the Independent Television Service and Black Public Media, in association with The Film Posse, Chiz Schultz Inc., and American Masters Pictures.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, is one of 24 historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission as part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History. The State Museum offers expansive collections interpreting Pennsylvania’s fascinating heritage. With exhibits examining the dawn of geologic time, the Native American experience, the colonial and revolutionary eras, a pivotal Civil War battleground, and the commonwealth’s vast industrial age, The State Museum demonstrates that Pennsylvania’s story is America’s story.

For more information about the museum, visit www.statemuseumpa.org.

Department of State Invites Bids on New Paper Record Voting Systems

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Harrisburg, PA — The Department of State today will take the next step toward modernizing Pennsylvania’s elections by issuing an Invitation for Bid (IFB) to voting system firms.

“This IFB marks the beginning of the commonwealth’s transition to state-of-the-art voting equipment,” Acting Secretary Robert Torres said. “The new requirements will ensure that our voting systems will provide enhanced standards of resiliency, auditability, and security for Pennsylvania citizens.”
The IFB includes requirements for increased documentation, security and reporting capabilities. It follows a February directive the department sent to counties that all voting systems purchased from Feb. 9 forward must employ a voter-verifiable paper ballot or voter-verifiable paper record of votes cast by the voter. It also reinforces enhanced standards for security, including physical security, confidentiality, data encryption, audit logging, and reporting.
The IFB updates an existing state-negotiated agreement with vendors and can be used by counties to purchase voter-verifiable voting systems that meet the department’s requirements for certification.
Douglas Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, welcomed the move.
“Today’s announcement gives counties guidance they need as they prepare to replace voting equipment,” Hill said. “The work by the Department of State to accelerate certification of equipment means that counties will have available to them the latest technology that satisfies accessibility and security concerns and better enables participation by our voters.”
The department is notifying vendors that they should not plan to renew contracts in 2019. Instead, they should move to the updated agreement if they are interested in providing voting systems in Pennsylvania. Any voting system purchased from this date forward must meet the requirements of the IFB.
Counties will continue receiving maintenance and training under existing contracts until they procure new voting equipment.

Interfaith Protesters Call for Investment in PA Solar Jobs

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By: Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA, – Interfaith protests and arrests marked the week before Easter as clergy and congregants demanded investment in a clean-energy grid for Philadelphia’s low-income communities.

Twenty-five people with the Power Local Green Jobs campaign were arrested for acts of peaceful civil disobedience over three days this week as they demanded more investment in local solar energy.

Greg Holt, communications manager for the Earth Quaker Action Team, points out that PECO, the Philadelphia Electric Company, gets almost two-thirds of its power from fossil fuels in a city where dirty air contributes to high rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“Solar is an opportunity that can bring a lot of jobs and other economic benefits, and health and life benefits, to residents,” says Holt, “and PECO needs to lead the way.”

The demonstrators want the company to aim for getting 20 percent of its energy from solar by 2025. PECO says it agrees with the goals of the campaign, but questions the timeline.

PECO did give a grant for solar jobs training in North Philadelphia last year. But Holt notes that the company is still only getting one-half of one percent of its power from solar, the state-mandated minimum.

“When one in four families are experiencing deep poverty in Philadelphia, that’s not a time to wait,” says Holt. “That’s a time when action is needed, when vision is needed, and investment.”

The campaign organized the three demonstrations this week under the title “We Won’t Wait.”

While the protests are over for now, Holt says they will return, putting their bodies on the line for clean energy and economic opportunity.

“The company’s dirty energy business won’t go unchallenged,” says Holt. “And we will stand in the way until it’s changed direction and commits to a future for green jobs and for justice in our communities.”

Environmental Groups Sue to Close EPA Loophole

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By: Andrea Sears

Harrisburg, Pa. – Clean-air advocates want the federal courts to stop a new rule that would allow major polluters to turn their pollution controls off.

Since 1990, the Clean Air Act has required major sources of pollution to reduce their emissions by the maximum amount possible.

But, according to Tomas Carbonell, director of regulatory policy and lead attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, a new rule issued in January, with no opportunity for public comment, allows those major polluters to reclassify themselves as smaller sources.

“In doing so, they avoid complying with the most protective emission standards that EPA has issued to reduce emissions of pollutants like Mercury, benzene, arsenic and other dangerous compounds,” he says.

The EPA claims the rule is required by its new interpretation of the Clean Air Act. But environmentalists say Congress intended tighter emission controls to be permanent.

Carbonell says under this new interpretation of the Clean Air Act, once polluters achieved required emission reductions, they may be subject to weaker standards or none at all.

“Simply by virtue of complying with these standards, under this new loophole these major sources can avoid those standards entirely and actually increase their emissions up to the point where they would become major sources again,” he explains.

The Environmental Integrity Project estimates the loophole will allow a dozen large industrial facilities they studied to more than quadruple their emissions of toxic pollutants.

Carbonell points out that eleven years ago the EPA proposed a similar interpretation of the Clean Air Act, and EPA’s own staff and regional offices submitted comments raising concerns about the change.

“They raised the same concerns that we’re raising now about the potential for this policy change to lead to significant emission increases at major industrial facilities across the country,” he adds.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Comment Period on Delaware Watershed Fracking Regulations Ending

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The Delaware River watershed provides drinking water to 17 million people. (Perkons/Pixabay)

The Delaware River watershed provides drinking water to 17 million people. (Perkons/Pixabay)

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The period for submitting written comments on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s draft natural-gas drilling regulations ends Friday.

Environmental groups are enthusiastically supporting the commission’s proposal to ban all high-volume hydraulic fracturing in shale within the boundaries of the Delaware River watershed. But according to Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, they are adamantly opposed to draft regulations that would let gas and oil companies withdraw millions of gallons of Delaware watershed water for fracking in other locations, and allow the treatment, storage and disposal of fracking wastewater within the watershed.

“Fracking wastewater is so toxic that even the industry barely knows what to do with it. For the most part, they either re-frack or they send it off to places where they try to inject it into the ground to try to hide it away,” she says.

The Commission says the new rule actually would tighten restrictions on bringing fracking waste into the watershed. Help in filing written comments is available through the Delaware Riverkeeper website.

Van Rossum points out that even the Commission’s material supporting the proposals clearly says all aspects of fracking are dangerous, so allowing any waste to come into the watershed, or water for fracking to be removed, makes no sense.

“It would allow our watershed to be used to induce and support drilling and fracking in other watersheds,” she says, “wreaking the horrible havoc on communities and on the environment that’s happening there.”

In 2010, the Delaware River Basin Commissioners voted to delay any decisions on gas drilling in the Basin until new regulations were adopted.

Van Rossum says that constituted a moratorium on all fracking activity in the watershed that has been in effect ever since.

“We want the moratorium that we have in place today to be turned into a complete ban, which means a complete ban on all aspects of the industry,” she says.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service – PA

Eastern Panhandle Pipeline Expansion Raises Concerns

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A TransCanada pipeline extension is the subject of protests from Pennsylvania through Maryland to West Virginia. It would enter Maryland just west of Hancock. (Stacy Miller)

A TransCanada pipeline extension is the subject of protests from Pennsylvania through Maryland to West Virginia. It would enter Maryland just west of Hancock. (Stacy Miller)

March 28, 2018

BALTIMORE – A natural-gas pipeline expansion that would run from Pennsylvania through Maryland and into West Virginia is raising concerns about its potential environmental impact.

TransCanada wants to build the Eastern Panhandle Expansion, and says increasing the natural-gas supply in the area will support growth.

Opponents call it the “Potomac River Pipeline” because it would run underneath the river, with the potential of affecting the drinking water in and around Washington, D.C.

Rianna Eckel, a Maryland organizer for the group Food and Water Watch, said reliance on fossil fuels is moving backwards from a healthier environment.

“We believe that further investing in pipeline infrastructure, natural-gas infrastructure, locks us into a system where we are then dependent on fossil fuels,” she said.

Food and Water Watch called on Gov. Larry Hogan to begin an investigation into whether the pipeline would negatively affect water quality, but the governor declined. Emergency legislation has been filed in Annapolis to require that the more extensive Water Quality Certification be conducted, and currently is in the House Rules Committee.

If the legislation doesn’t pass, only the federal government would have the ability to halt the pipeline’s progress.

Environmental groups are worried about the method known as horizontal directional drilling that TransCanada would use to dig under the Potomac. They have said that on previous pipelines, thousands of gallons of drilling fuel leaked into water sources. In this case, Eckel said, that would affect millions of local residents.

“The Potomac River is the main drinking-water supply of more than 6 million people who live downstream,” she said, “so anything that happens to that water can quickly impact the drinking water of almost 6 million people.”

The pipeline would connect with the Mountain Valley Pipeline that begins in northwestern West Virginia, which also has been the subject of recent protests by environmental groups.

Information about House Bill 1826 is online at mgaleg.maryland.gov.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service – MD