Harrisburg, PA – Construction for the North Farmersville Road (State Route 1025) bridge, spanning the Conestoga River in West Earl Township, Lancaster County, is scheduled to begin during the week of April 16 as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. Replacement of this bridge will allow PennDOT to remove it from Lancaster County’s structurally deficient bridge list.
During construction, drivers will be directed to follow a detour along Main Street (Route 23), Route 772 (Glenbrook Road/State Street), Route 272 (Oregon Pike), Old Akron Road (SR 1041), and Tobacco Road/Diamond Station Road (SR 1022). Construction should be complete in late June.
In the event of unfavorable weather or unforeseen activities, this schedule may change.
This bridge is referred to as JV-265 and is one out of the 558 bridges being replaced under the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. JV references the joint-venture partnership between Walsh/Granite, which is leading construction for the entire project.
The Rapid Bridge Replacement Project is a public-private partnership (P3) between PennDOT and Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP), under which PWKP will finance, design, replace, and maintain the bridges for 25 years. The P3 approach will allow PennDOT to replace the bridges more quickly while achieving significant savings and minimizing impact on motorists.
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.
By: Andrea Sears
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Medicare is sending out new identification cards that no longer display enrollees’ Social Security numbers. Pennsylvania residents will be among the first to receive the new cards that assign each person a randomly generated eleven-digit number.
Joanne Grossi, president of AARP Pennsylvania, points out that Social Security numbers are the keys for access to personal financial records, medical information and legal documents. So if a card with a Social Security number on it was ever lost or stolen, the enrollee could easily fall victim to identity theft.
“Every time you’re giving over that personal Social Security number, it’s an opportunity for either an individual or a hacker to use it for opening credit cards or getting a loan,” she warns.
She says once the new card arrives, the old card should be destroyed. But if you’re on a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription plan, those are separate so be sure to keep those cards.
Pennsylvania Medicare enrollees should receive their new cards by June 30. Grossi adds that it won’t be necessary to memorize the new identification number.
“One of the benefits of this new card is if you leave it at home, you’ve forgotten it, the doctor’s staff is going to be able to look up your new Medicare number on a secure computer site,” she explains.
The new numbers are linked to existing Medicare accounts, so all your current information will still be available to your doctor.
Finally, it’s important to know that the new cards will be mailed out automatically. Grossi cautions everyone to be on guard against scams that may try to get personal information.
“Medicare will never call you,” she adds. “So if anyone phones you claiming to need additional information from you in order to get your new Medicare card, this is a scam and they are attempting to commit fraud.”
Nationally, the transition to the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers should be complete by April of next year.
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.”
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.
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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
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
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