CCEA delegates strategize

On Sept. 14, delegates of the Chester County Environment Alliance met productively for 2.5 hours.

Please Like the CCEA public Facebook page to stay up to date on local meetings, other groups you might find of interest, and upcoming events like the Clean Energy Open House Tour on October 19.

The Chester County Environment Alliance brings the representatives of its groups together three times a year to discuss the issues affecting our environment, help each other amplify our messages, coordinate events and campaigns, and use our resources jointly to help our shared mission to preserve and protect our environment and encourage sustainable choices in everyday life.

Please spread the word about this growing initiative as we work together with our friends and neighbors to preserve our environment on so many worthy fronts.

New study shows PA missing valuable opportunities to tap into clean energy

Penn Environment Release, August 22, 2019 [An important read! Some good news but overall, PA, “getting only 3% of its total energy from wind and solar today,” needs to do better!]

[Philadelphia, PA] — According to a new study released today by the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, Pennsylvania has seen major increases in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun and wind since 2009, but the report shows that the Commonwealth isn’t keeping up with many of the states that are more aggressively tapping into clean energy opportunities.

The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future, compares Pennsylvania to other states in the nation through a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the Commonwealth and nation with clean renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicles. Pennsylvania ranked 22nd for solar, 20th for energy efficiency, 16th for wind, and 8th in battery storage for growth between 2009 and 2018. The report showed encouraging progress over the last decade, while also highlighting the need for increased action at the state and federal level to make the Commonwealth a clean energy leader.

“Every day, there’s more evidence that a future fueled by renewable energy is within our reach,” said Flora Cardoni, Climate Defender Campaign Director for the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “The progress we’ve made in the last decade on renewable energy and technology, like battery storage and electric cars, should give Pennsylvanians confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level. But there is still a lot of work to do to catch up to other states around the country and become a clean energy leader.” …

There’s no time left for business-as-usual; the climate crisis is here

from DC Climate Strike, 9/20/19

On September 20th, hundreds of thousands of young people across the globe are taking to the streets to take a stand, many of whom were inspired by the actions and words of Swedish student Greta Thunberg. They include and will join Indigenous peoples, as well as Black and Brown communities on the frontlines, who have been leading the climate movement and building a regenerative future in the midst of the climate emergency. We are inspired by First Nations, who are waging some of the most powerful fights of our time against fossil fuel infrastructure.

People around the world are experiencing superstorms, floods, droughts, and wildfires at unprecedented rates, with low-income communities and communities of color hit first and worst. Cruelly, communities and regions being devastated already by the effects of climate change tend to be the least responsible for its onset. It is not a coincidence that climate impacts strike along the lines of race and class so starkly; climate change is a product of the same processes which cement racism and wealth inequality in our country and our world.

The transition off of fossil fuels is inevitable; justice is not. To achieve Climate Justice, we must not only decarbonize the atmosphere, but also decolonize and democratize our economies and our communities. Shutting down the nation’s capital could be our best shot at starting this justice-based transition; we need a broad-based coalition that emphasizes the overlap of our struggles. We look to the recent passage of the Climate & Communities Protection Act by New York Renews, a coalition led by Black, Brown, and labor organizations, for inspiration.

To achieve something as monumental as shutting down DC, we are going to need everyone to step up. We need everyone’s creativity, everyone’s energy, everyone’s insights, and everyone’s ideas. Every single person has skills and experience to contribute to the strike.

We do not take this action lightly. We know that this shutdown will cause massive disruption to people who bear little responsibility for the climate catastrophe we are facing. But we will also cause massive disruption for politicians, huge corporations and the lobbyists who control our government. We need to fundamentally change the power structure of the United States if we want to stop the climate crisis, and shutting down DC is a big step in the right direction.

This is the mass uprising that everyone with climate anxiety has been waiting for. This is an uprising for life itself, fighting back against the forces of destruction. This is your chance to take action to save the people, plants, and animals you love. Let’s rise up and shut down DC!

Dr. Jonathan Haidt on how moral psychology can inform climate advocacy

By Sara Wanous, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, 9/18/19 [Bad news from Dr. Haidt: data and reasoning don’t convince people! Briefly: we react by intuition before understanding; if a position doesn’t fit our own preconceived morality, it’s hard to convince us; our views hang together with those of the group we identify with. But isn’t our society’s underlying social ethos broadly shared? Not even close: “progressives give very high ratings to care and fairness as equality. Social conservatives rank care lower, view fairness as proportionality, and rank loyalty, authority, and sanctity higher.” Merits a detailed read.]

Each month, Citizens’ Climate Lobby hosts an online meeting featuring a guest speaker to educate listeners on topics related to climate change, carbon fee and dividend, and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Check out recaps of past speakers here.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is dedicated to bringing people across the political spectrum together on climate solutions. Our work on bipartisanship and relationship building is informed by experts committed to engaging more effectively with those who think differently than us, like Dr. Jonathan Haidt.

Dr. Jonathan Haidt is a professor of Ethical Leadership at the NYU Stern School of Business and the author of several books on the intersection of psychology and politics, including “The Coddling of the American Mind,” “The Righteous Mind,” and “The Happiness Hypothesis.” Most recently, Dr. Haidt has adapted one of his classes into an online learning platform called Open Mind to help people achieve just that. Dr. Haidt joined Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s September monthly call to share his expertise in moral psychology and how these lessons can help bring people together on climate solutions. …

read more and view video at Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Global Climate Strike in West Chester Sept. 20!

West Chester Green Team

By Katrin

Don’t forget to come tomorrow to the Global Climate Strike in West Chester. It starts at 11:00 am at the Chester County Courthouse. We want to show the politicians that there are people out there who care for the future of our planet and are even willing to skip school or work.

After the rally there is going to be an
information event from 1:00 – 2:30 pm at the Academic Quad on the Campus
of West Chester University. Bring your strike signs and a lot of
motivation!

And if you’re still motivated, join us during the International Peace march on Saturday. At noon there is going to be a peace commemoration at the Courthouse and at 2:00 pm the Climate Action and Peace Rally starts.

Grab some friends and come to these important events. Time is running out – we need to act now!

View original post

Stop the Attack on Pennsylvania’s Clean Energy Future

Our energy grid operator is impeding renewable energy; who knew? Here’s an easy way to ask Attorney General Josh Shapiro to safeguard Pennsylvania’s clean energy policies (which of course always need improving, and certainly not undermining!):

from Union of Concerned Scientists

It’s likely that the main connection you have to our electricity system is your local utility, which directly provides you with your electricity and bills you monthly. But behind the utilities, there’s another system made up of regional grid operators, which coordinate the transmission of electricity from generators to local utilities who then distribute the power directly to you.

Unfortunately, your energy grid operator, PJM Interconnection, has been advocating for a rule that would undermine state clean energy policies and prop up fossil fuels and make clean energy costlier for consumers like you.

It’s up to state attorneys general to defend state laws, including renewable energy standards and other clean energy policies, from attempts to undermine them like this.

Write today and urge your state attorney general to speak out against PJM’s proposed rule and to stand up for clean energy momentum in your state.

It’s crucial that state leaders like your attorney general speak out against this dirty rule and stand up for the voices of consumers and constituents.

Sign the petition to AG Shapiro at Union of Concerned Scientists

Solar energy on the ground

Chance to comment on pipeline transmissions by Aug. 27

See original post here.

Public Comment on Proposed Rulemaking regarding Hazardous Liquid Public Utility Safety Standards

This letter is intended to be a unified comment to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission from Pennsylvanians who have been impacted by pipeline construction across the state. Please read our letter and list of recommendations for regulations that will protect the health and safety of our communities and show your support by signing below!

If you would like to write and submit your own public comment to the PUC regarding new pipeline regulations, we also encourage you to do so! Learn more here.

THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT COMMENTS TO THE PUC IS WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2019. IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT YOUR NAME IS ADDED TO THIS LETTER, PLEASE RESPOND BY 5 P.M. TUESDAY, AUGUST 27.

Chairwoman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, Third Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Public Comment on Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Hazardous Liquid Public Utility Safety Standards (Docket L-2019-3010267)
CC: Governor Tom Wolf

Dear Chairwoman Brown Dutrieuille,

Thank you and the commission for soliciting public comment on new safety rules for hazardous liquid pipelines. This is a critical step in allowing the public to express concerns and have their input considered.

Pipeline construction and safety is of great concern in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Although much public and media focus has been on the Mariner East project, tens of thousands of miles of pipeline upgrades and installation is anticipated in the next 10 years, according to state officials. It is critical to enhance regulations now.

The safety of our families and communities is the single most important consideration in the pipeline discussion, and the PUC has ultimate responsibility to ensure that proper rules are in place.

We welcome the opportunity to comment and appreciate the fact that the PUC is looking at all aspects of pipeline safety, from construction methods to leak detection, from public notification to the role of land agents in seeking property rights-of-way.

Our comments on enhancing rules for hazardous liquid pipelines are attached. Thank you for considering these as well as the comments of many other citizens across the Commonwealth.

Sincerely,

Danille Friel Otten
PA State Representative, District 155


• Cover Over Buried Pipelines

According to Pipeline Safety Trust, federal regulation pertaining to pipeline transmission depth requires that transmission lines such as Mariner East be buried 48 inches below the surface. Some other locations, such as railroad crossings and certain bodies of water, require deeper pipelines. This federal regulation is concerning because depth requirements only apply to installation and do not need to be maintained over time and apply only to pipelines installed since 1970. This standard must be changed so that existing highly volatile pipelines are required to meet modern depth requirements, and the depths must be adjusted further to ensure public safety. According to the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center, the maximum soil freeze depth in Pennsylvania is 54 inches. Pipelines should be at least six-foot-deep to put them below the freeze line.

• Pipeline Conversions

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has found that it is extremely dangerous to convert oil or gas pipelines to highly volatile gas liquids. Regulations must state that gas and oil pipes shall not be converted to highly volatile gas liquids pipes since it is contraindicated by the industry. Furthermore, regulations must state that pipes made with substandard steel or deteriorated, or defective protective coatings shall not be used on any Pennsylvania pipelines. This information was detailed in Pipeline Safety: Guidance for Pipeline Flow Reversals, Product Changes and Conversion to Service published by PHMSA in 2014. More information can be found at http://www.phmsa.dot.gov.

Also, of concern regarding pipeline conversions are the property rights of landowners who have existing easements. Generally, incident risk is greater for highly volatile gas liquids pipelines than for traditional oil and gas pipelines. A certificate of convenience and necessity and easement agreements should not be transferable. Whenever they propose changing the product that runs through an existing pipeline or adding a new pipeline to the easement, pipeline operators must be required to obtain new certificates and easement agreements.

• Warning Systems & Public Notification

On May 30, 2019 Timothy Boyce, director of the Delaware County Department of Emergency Services testified before the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee at a public hearing. In his remarks, Boyce noted the lack of state funding for emergency preparedness around potential pipeline incidents and the lack of plans in place for a community-wide evacuation especially in the first 30 minutes of an incident.

“You know, we have firefighting plans, we have hazard control plans, we have air monitoring plans, but we don’t have a commonality people plan,” Boyce said. “Not everybody has a smart phone. Not everyone can self-evacuate.” 

It is imperative that leak and incident detection systems are integrated with County Emergency Services in order to properly understand and mitigate risk. Integrated leak and incident detection systems must be installed prior to pipeline operation, and a notification system must be in place to warn the public in the event of a pipeline emergency. Emergency response plans need to be developed to adequately prepare the public in the event of an emergency. These plans must be created in coordination with all levels of government including local municipalities and be tailored to individual communities. Emergency notification and evacuation plans must include individuals with disabilities and be compliant with the American Disabilities Act.  

• Public Education and Preparedness

The Commission should work to develop plans that provide the general public with proper comprehensive information and education regarding pipeline safety. The public should be provided with resources that unambiguously explain any risks posed by pipelines and how to respond in the event of an emergency. A lack of transparency regarding pipeline risk will undermine public safety and trust.

As an example, the Exelon nuclear power plant in Limerick, PA provides an annual communication that outlines the risks, how to know when to follow emergency procedures, exactly how they will be notified, complete with a map of escape routes, and shelters based on the location of evacuees. If, for example, a parent is at home or at work when an emergency response is required and their children are at one of the schools within the potential impact radius, they will know where their children have been evacuated to and how to most safely be reunified with their family members.

• Definition of Public Utility

The term “public utility” must be redefined to clarify and designate that the majority of the product or service must be essential, and the end user must be the public. Public utility status should not be a designation given to corporation for the purpose of manufacturing and/or export of non-essential consumer products. Mariner East was designated as a public utility even though only a small percent of the pipeline capacity is providing resources to Pennsylvania consumers for energy and most of the capacity is being sold to the plastics manufacturing industry. This would give local governments greater ability to regulate public health and safety issues when it comes to infrastructure expansion, especially in high consequence areas.  

• Leak Detection

HB 1735, introduced in May 2019 by Rep. Danielle Friel Otten with nine co-sponsors to date, would provide standards and a fee-generated funding mechanism to cover the cost of real-time leak detection systems that communicate directly with the appropriate first responders. The bill takes into account the size of the pipeline within the municipality, miles of pipeline, pressure in the pipeline, volume of product flowing through the pipeline, population density within potential impact radii, setbacks, report of the pipeline operator on pressure, contents and location of pipes to other pipes in the easement, in establishing a fee imposed on the pipeline operator.

This board would also enhance public notification as outlined above in “Public Education and Preparedness”.

The PUC should consider implementing such a program and funding mechanism for local municipalities within this rulemaking procedure in order to shift the cost burden of early detection and public warning systems off the taxpayers to where it belongs, the pipeline operators.

• Land Agents

Some land agents used by drilling/pipeline companies have harassed, bullied, and misled landowners. With this in mind, we recommend that the Commission require the Real Estate Commission to certify and register land agents engaged in the acquisition of oil, gas and mineral rights (including rights for a pipeline), and those acting to secure right of way for public utilities. Landowners will have the peace of mind that they are negotiating with a state-certified individual. In addition, they will have recourse and a place to turn if the land agent behaves in an unprofessional manner.

• Safety Setbacks

Although the PUC does not have jurisdiction over pipeline routes or siting, we urge the Commission to coordinate with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding ensuring that routes are approved with community impacts in mind, particularly looking at health and environmental impact.

Safety setbacks are critical in preventing damage from pipeline malfunctions. There should be a minimum setback for new volatile pipelines that meet or exceed the potential impact radius. For example, if based on a risk assessment the potential impact radius for a pipeline is 1,500 feet, the minimum setback should be no less than 1,500 feet. There are currently no setbacks in place for Pennsylvania pipelines, and this imposes an involuntary risk upon many residents of the Commonwealth.

Federal law (49 U. S. Code § 60112) provides for sanctions against pipeline facilities deemed “hazardous to life, property or the environment”. The PUC should take the lead in defining what is unsafe and hazardous to the public in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This would establish a standard to define what is a reasonable risk to the commonwealth.

The PUC should develop a formula that takes into account the size of the pipeline within the municipality, miles of pipeline, pressure in the pipeline, volume of product flowing through the pipeline, population density within potential impact radii, setbacks, report of the pipeline operator on pressure, contents and location of pipes to other pipes in the easement and determine statistical value of life equation and threshold. If that threshold is met, the operator should be required to re-route, discontinue service, or increase setbacks by procuring additional easements and land rights.

• Accident Liability

Regarding insurance, Sunoco and other Highly Volatile Pipeline Operators have a limited liability partnership. Sunoco has indemnified their parent company, Energy Transfer, until 2032 for all environmental and hazard damages. Regulations must be amended to include proper insurance requirements for incidents on NGL and other volatile pipelines.

According to HMCRP Report 5: A Guide for Assessing Community Emergency Response Needs and Capabilities for Hazardous Materials Releases, written by PHMSA and DOT, unmitigated risks that expose one thousand lives to death could result in a billion dollars in damages. It is imperative that pipeline operators are prepared to pay for these damages. The financial burden must not be placed on the impacted community experiencing potential catastrophic loss at the hands of a corporation.

• Violations

Fines on pipeline violations must never be waived. Pipeline operators must be held accountable, and they will not be accountable if fines are waived. Additionally, the PUC should develop a threshold for the number of violations a single operator can incur before operations are stopped. The burden of the pipeline must be placed on the operators and not the people of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the cost of certain fines for pipeline violations should be increased.

• Line Markers

Failure to place Line Markers on extensions of pipelines often creates a risk of those pipelines being unintentionally damaged by digging. Line markers should display the depth of the pipe and should be checked annually for compliance.

• Pressure Testing, Operating Pressure, and Valves

Current regulations do not account for the differences between regular oil and gas pipelines and volatile gas liquids pipelines. Standards should be set to account for pressure and flow differences. This review should include minimum and maximum pressure testing values, operating pressure maximums, emergency shutoff valve locations, valve placement and security and construction standards.

• Environmental Justice (Vulnerability Scale and Cumulative Impact)

Regarding the heavy environmental impacts of pipelines, the PUC must work extensively with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to assess the cumulative impact of pipeline projects in accordance with Delaware Rivers Network v. FERC. This could encompass use of the Environmental Justice Protocol (EJP) and Vulnerability Scale as advocated by the Public Interest Law Center.

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