Category Archives: Environment

Apply by Oct. 18 to Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board

UPDATE to our Sept. 17 post: “Resumes and cover letters from people who are interested in being considered for a position on the Board… can be sent to Deputy County Administrator Kara Rahn at krahn@chesco.org by Friday, October 18, 2019.”

Chester County has just set up a Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board to make recommendations to the County, municipalities, the public, and businesses. The official description is below. The County will soon be taking steps to secure the needed 22 members. Citizens are entitled to 4 of the 22 seats.

The other 18 members are: 7 officials ex officio; 4 representatives of businesses; 2 each of land conservancies and utility companies; and 1 each of 3 other associations. When application and selection guidelines are published, we will know whether the organizations in each category will basically select the members, or recommend candidates to the Commissioners, or neither. Let’s hope that the Board will rapidly stimulate actual badly-needed changes in policy and practice.

COUNTY OF CHESTER ENVIRONMENTAL AND ENERGY ADVISORY BOARD

Purpose: The purpose of the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board is to provide recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, applicable County departments, municipalities, citizens, and businesses by:

Recommending best environmental and energy practices in the areas of buildings, facilities and operations; fuels, vehicles, and transportation; food; responsible purchasing; housing; energy sources; air quality; stormwater management; natural resource protection; and climate change.

Identifying environmental and energy policies the County has adopted and recommending ways to promote and educate about Chester County’s environmental and energy initiatives.

Identifying and recommending voluntary actions, projects, and programs for municipalities, businesses, non-profits, and other partners to implement county environmental and energy policies.

Reviewing and providing input into a Climate Action Plan.

Recommending environmental and energy related actions, projects, and programs to the Board of Commissioners for implementation

Membership: The membership of the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board shall be appointed by the Chester County Board of Commissioners and shall be selected so as to represent the citizens, businesses, and the County. The Membership of the Advisory Board shall include:

Four Chester County citizens

Four Chester County business representatives

One representative of Chester County Economic Development Council’s Smart Energy Initiative (SEI)

One representative of Chester County Association of Township Officials

One representative of Chester County Municipal Managers Consortium

Two representatives of Chester County’s land conservancies

Two representatives of Utility companies serving Chester County

Executive Director of Chester County Planning Commission

Executive Director of Chester County Water Resources Authority

Chester County Director of Open Space, Parks and Trails

Chester County Director of Emergency Services

Director of Chester County Conservation District

Director of Chester County Facilities Management

Director of Chester County Health Department

The Chairman of the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board may appoint experts to the Board, as necessary, however those appointed experts shall not have a vote.

Vacancies shall be filled by the Chester County Board of Commissioners. County staff board seats will be ex-officio members.

Terms: The term of each of the members of the board shall be two years, except that, when the board is first created, half of the members shall be appointed for three years and half for two years.

The Pennsylvania Common Conservation Agenda

In 2018, CCEA member PennFuture presented its Green in ’18 campaign, with an eye to securing commitments from the then gubernatorial candidates.

At the same time, a Pennsylvania Common Conservation Agenda was worked out by 25 environmental groups including CCEA members Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment PennFuture, and Sierra Club. Download that document here: Updated-Final-Version-of-the-PA-Common-Conservation-Agenda-5.1.18.

PennFuture explains:

PennFuture has been working with 20+ environmental, land, air, and water groups and organizations to identify the biggest environment challenges facing Pennsylvania. As a result, this coalition has created and agreed upon the most promising policy solutions to these threats. This process led to the creation of the first-ever Pennsylvania Common Conservation Agenda, a blueprint for restoring and preserving our life-sustaining natural resources.

Not only do these solutions promote a healthier environment and a stronger economy, they are publicly popular, fiscally responsible, and can be enacted by our next Governor using his or her executive authority. In virtually every instance, increases in state spending will be offset through job growth, revenue growth, energy savings, and/or lower healthcare costs….

The points in the Pennsylvania Common Conservation Agenda are:

1. Strengthen the 21st Century Workforce through Green Jobs
2. Champion the Great Waters of Pennsylvania from Source to Tap
3. Provide the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources with
the Needed Resources to Fulfill Their Missions
4. Improve the Department of Environmental Protection’s Ability to Protect the Public from Threats Posed by NaturalGas and Petrochemical Infrastructure
5 Ensure Environmental Justice for Vulnerable Communities
6 Boost Current Investments in Growing Greener
7 Bolster the Commonwealth’s Clean Energy Sector

These valuable goals remain works in progress. Two underlying principles from the Introduction are:

• a healthy environment renders possible the governance, education, business, and recreation that the people who live and work in our Commonwealth need, expect, and depend on

• a healthy environment is compatible with a strong business climate

And here are a few painful reminders of how much needs to be done:

• Pennsylvania has the third worst air quality in the United States

• Pennsylvania’s poorest residents are often the ones who live next to polluting industrial facilities, such as power plants, factories, transportation hubs, gas wells, and other sources of pollution

• Attracting greater clean energy investment to Pennsylvania will require the Commonwealth to solve numerous financing challenges that currently hinder the state’s clean energy industry

Read the full report!

Otten introduces plan to amend Pa. constitution for local self-government

[Why is this important for environment and sustainability? The US says states can’t protect themselves (e.g., by setting their own gas mileage standards) and the state says counties and municipalities can’t protect themselves (e.g., by regulating petroleum products pipelines). It’s time for municipalities to take back the right to work for the health, safety and welfare of their own residents. If the state of Pennsylvania cannot adequately implement its own constitution’s environmental rights amendment, then the levels of government closer to the grassroots need to do the job.]

Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, October 3, 2019 | 5:13 PM

Area officials support efforts

EXTON, Oct. 3 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, today announced a proposal for an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution.

Otten’s amendment, H.B. 1813, would allow municipal governments to enact laws protecting the health and safety of their communities without interference from corporations or pre-emption by the state or federal government.

“Today, I stood with local elected officials and members of our community to announce a proposal for an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution that would recognize the fundamental right of the people to local self-government and place the rights of citizens over the interests of private corporations,” Otten said. “Under current law in Pennsylvania, corporations can sue state and federal governments to override community attempts to protect themselves from projects with the potential to cause great personal or environmental harm. It is time we correct that failure.”

Otten was joined by Uwchlan Township Supervisor Bill Miller, West Chester Mayor Dianne Herrin, community organizer and Downingtown Area School Board director Rebecca Britton, PA Community Rights Network President Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck and a volunteer leader with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action, Erin Buchner.

Miller noted the current inability of townships to regulate the proliferation of cellular towers, the presence of guns in local parks or the sale of fireworks within township borders.

Uwchlan Township Supervisor Mayme Baumann also expressed support for the proposed amendment, stating, “Pennsylvania is a diverse patchwork of rural townships, suburban areas, small towns, and cities. This amendment would help us create a government that better reflects the values of our communities and gives municipalities the ability to protect their residents’ health, safety and natural resources.”

Britton discussed the importance of the legislation for communities living with pipeline construction, noting that “we the people can no longer protect our property as guaranteed us by the Pennsylvania constitution, because a private entity is shipping off our natural resources for plastics production, and in turn has put our private property at risk.”

Buchner commented on the need for the amendment as it relates to gun safety.

“Pre-emption laws override commonsense. In Pennsylvania, the state legislature has prohibited guns in the state Capitol and on state properties, while at the same time it pre-empts local governments from restricting guns in municipal buildings or in any city or town hall.”

Herrin described the ways that pre-emption ties her hands as a mayor on issues including gun safety, environmental initiatives, and taxing authority.

“We have a $20 million unfunded pension liability in West Chester because we have a large police force,” Herrin said. “I can’t protect my constituents from carrying the tax burden because the state will not allow us to generate revenue in any other way than through three very limited taxing authorities.”

Harnish Clatterbuck discussed the impact when a pipeline project called Atlantic Sunrise came through her Lancaster County community.

“We discovered that a company in Oklahoma had more power to do on our property what they wanted than we had the right to stop them. We were overruled by the regulatory agencies and by pre-emption, which has allowed our elected officials in Harrisburg and Washington to violate the health and safety of the people they have been elected to represent.”

For more information, those interested can call Otten’s office at 484-200-8259.

Investing in the environment has paid off for Chester County

By Steven Hoffman, Chester County Press, 5/07/2019

Last week, Chester County officials and the region’s leading land conservation and economic development partners unveiled a new study on the economic benefits of the county’s efforts to preserve open space.

The study, “Return on Environment: The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Chester County,” coincides with the 30th anniversary of the county’s open-space preservation efforts. In November of 1989, Chester County voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum that allocated resources for open space preservation. The funding has continued ever since. When Chester County launched its open space preservation program in 1989, it was the first county in the region to formally set aside funds for an open space preservation program based on the economic, environmental, and public health benefits that open space preservation provides.

Back in late 1980s, the county was experiencing strong commercial and residential growth, prompting fears of suburban sprawl, and all the societal issues that come with it. Since that time, county officials, as well as land conservation groups throughout the area, have consistently supported preservation efforts. The study outlined what the 30 years of commitment has produced, and the results are impressive…

read more at Chester County Press

Plan to build housing on contaminated Bishop Tube site in Chester County faces major setback

by Frank Kummer, philly.com, April 29, 2019

Plan to build housing on contaminated Bishop Tube site in Chester County faces major setback

A Pennsylvania environmental board has essentially scrapped two state actions that would have paved the way for developer Brian O’Neill to build housing on a contaminated Chester County site.

The ruling on Friday appears to be a major setback for Constitution Drive Partners, a limited partnership involving O’Neill. The company wants to build housing at the defunct Bishop Tube site, contaminated by a variety of hazardous compounds.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board concluded that amendments to an agreement with the developer stretching back to 2007 and 2010 not only are “arbitrary and capricious, ” but also “are void.”

“This is yet another environmental David and Goliath story,” said Maya van Rossum, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network….

read more at philly.com

Earth Year

The patient bee
comes to the blueberry
bush in bloom.
They haven’t heard
the bad news,
climate and storms.
Nor have the ferns,
the squirrels, the spruces.
One species
among the endangered
knows all about it,
knows it and doesn’t.