of Chester County, PA


Protect Our Planet - Engage the community and our government to keep the environment first

Page Editor - Mary Ciarrocchi

Sustainable Development

DEP Environmental Quality Board Hearing
January 9, 2014
Sykes Student Union Building, West Chester University

The public hearing at West Chester University was one of six to be held throughout the state to register public input ahead of the Chapter 78 regulations governing fracking wastewater disposal and containment and the effects of fracking wastewater on the surrounding environment.

Quoted from the DEP website:
The purpose of these proposed regulations is to:

  • Ensure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment
  • Protect public resources to minimize impacts from oil and gas drilling.
  • Modernize the regulatory program to recognize advances in extraction technology.
  • Specify the acceptable containment practices to prevent spills and releases

The audience of approximately 100 represented people from the Chester County area as well as those traveling from Bucks, Berks, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Some of the organizations giving testimony were Phila. Clean Air Council, Berks Gas Truth, Penn Future and the Pipeline Safety Coalition. The natural gas industry presented testimony from the Association of Petroleum Industries of PA and the Outreach Coordinator for the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Gubernatorial candidate and former head of DEP John Hangar also gave testimony.

This type of hearing allows a five minute speaking time and does not include any discussion, rebuttal of statements or a question and answer period.

John Hangar, accompanied by Rep. Greg Vitali, gave his testimony calling for stricter regulations, an increase in staffing for the DEP, 2500’ setbacks for drilling near state forests, game lands and parks, the banning of drilling pits, a moratoria for certain areas such as Dimock, and the necessity of addressing the air pollution issue. He also expressed his support for the recent PA Supreme Court decision on Act 13.

Many of the speakers appealed to the Board to remember the mission of the DEP to protect the environment, and there were several who also recommended the 2500 foot setback, a longer public hearing process, and more hearings in the areas most impacted by drilling.

Linda Farrell, founder of the Pipeline Safety Coalition stressed the importance of giving pipelines a primary consideration, as their safety is an integral part of the operation.

Another speaker reminded the Board of Pennsylvania's Superfund sites and the costs of remediation to the public that will be a certain consequence of drilling thousands of wells.

Since Chester County is impacted by pipelines rather than by fracking, there were comments on the proposal to ship fracking wastewater on barges on the Delaware River and the fact that Bakken Shale waste is being shipped through the old Sunoco site in Marcus Hook.

The comments ranged from factual to emotional, but the audience showed by their response to the comments that they were strongly supportive of stricter regulations, more transparency and oversight and the precautionary principal. The audience response to the industry comments was polite but minimal.

The DEP website provides the following information for anyone who would like to submit a comment but was not able to attend the hearing:
Email Comments

Comments may also be submitted via e-mail to RegComments@pa.gov. If an acknowledgement of comments submitted online or by email is not received by the sender within two business days, the comments should be re-sent to the EQB to ensure receipt.

All public comments must be submitted to the EQB regarding the proposed rulemaking by Feb. 12, 2014.

To view materials for the proposed regulation, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Proposed Oil and Gas Regulations” button.

Protecting Nature

Well Bee-ing: Your Move

On August 7th, as part of the annual Eastern Apicultural Society conference, West Chester University presented a program entitled Well-Bee-ing; Your Move.

Douglas Tallamy, professor at the University of Delaware and author of Bringing Nature Home, opened the program. The focus of his presentation was the vital role of specialization in the natural world. Specialization means that many species of birds, butterflies and insects rely on a particular plant to provide food for themselves and their young , and because of the spread of suburban landscapes and the subsequent introduction of non-native trees and shrubs, much of this chain has been broken. A striking example of this is the difference in the number of insect herbivores that inhabit the native white oak – in the hundreds – compared with few to none in many alien species.

The popular butterfly bush, an alien, while attracting butterflies for nectar, does not provide a food source for butterfly larvae, and would be much better replaced with native butterfly weed or Joe Pye weed.

His message was that we must make changes to our suburban landscapes if many species of birds, butterflies, insects and other animal life are to continue to be part of our world. Diversity and natives are the answer – in his words – “native plants are the foundation of terrestrial food webs”. What can we do? Ask your nursery to suggest native plantings; leave a part of your yard wild – create a meadow in your garden with lovely natives. The grass in our beloved lawns is an alien, requiring vast amounts of labor and money to maintain – if you have ever wished to be free of this chore consider planting some native shrubs, trees and flowers and the birds and butterflies will find you.

Brian Snyder is Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), the largest sustainable agriculture organization in the country.

Brian reinforced the vital importance of diversity in our foodshed, and described the three aspects of sustainable farming as economic viability, environmental protection and social responsibility. He explained that what sets sustainable agriculture apart from commercial farming are the key concepts of balancing scientific knowledge with indigenous knowledge, reclaiming the natural order, especially soil, continuous improvement and alignment – responding to, rather than manipulating nature.

With PASA’s annual Farming for the Future Conference, the largest such event in the country, and it’s Buy Fresh, Buy Local initiative, Pennsylvania’s farmers have a strong voice for sustainable farming.

The final speaker was Dennis vanEngelsdorp, world –renowned honey bee expert, who is associated with the University of Maryland and is Project Director for the Bee Informed Partnership. He addressed the catastrophic decline in the honey bee population world-wide, known as colony collapse disorder, and stated that one in every three colonies has been lost every year for the past six years. Given that one third of our diet is directly and indirectly pollinated by bees, this situation could not be more critical.

Though several factors have been blamed, Dennis pointed to the use of pesticides and herbicides and devastation of colonies by parasitic varroa mites as the main culprits. Another factor has been the steady decline in food sources for bees due to the spread of monoculture on American farms. Millions of acres previously left fallow or planted in vegetables and fruits are now planted almost exclusively with corn and soybeans treated with herbicides and pesticides, dealing bees a double blow.

Asked what we can do to help the honey bee, Dennis urged everyone in the audience to become a beekeeper. If that isn’t possible then buy local honey and spread the word to the suburban world to make meadows, not lawns.

The unmistakable theme of the evening was that diversity is the key to a healthy natural world, and that we can help by our choices in what we eat, plant and grow, and even in what we consider beautiful.

To learn more about the speakers and their work, contact them at:
Douglas Tallamy – www.plantanative.com
Brian Synder ‘s blog – Writetofarm.com
Dennis vanEngelsdorp - Beeinformed.org

Food Safety

March Against Monsanto

Saturday, May 25th saw over two million people from all over the globe "March Against Monsanto". In our area rallys were held in Philadelphia and West Chester. Nearly 1,000 people attended the rally at Independence Mall, and heard speakers from GMO Free PA and GMO Free New Jersey, as well as local representative Daylin Leach. As representative Leach said, he is not asking that GMO's be banned; just that they be labeled, and that we be given the right to know what is in the food we feed our families.

There was music and food and a march down Market Street to Love Park. The rally draws attention to a bill in the PA Senate that would require labeling of GMO food; one of several bills pending all across the country. The message is clear - over 90% of Americans, across party lines, want to know what is in their food, and believe that it is the right of each state to make this determination.

In West Chester people gathered on the court house steps with signs declaring our right to know if GMO's are in our food.

Momentum is building everywhere to make our government respond to our demand for labeling; a second worldwide rally is already being planned for 2014. In the meantime, please contact your state senators and representatives and ask that they support labeling of GMO's. Here in Pennsylvania it is disappointing that both senators Casey and Toomey voted against introducing an amendment by Sen. Merkeley that would have rescinded the Monsanto Protection Act. The amendment will be presented again, and hopefully this time our senators will support it.

GMO Labeling

The Alliance for Natural Health, USA reports that "Over 65 bills concerning GMOs have been introduced in 2013. None so far has been enacted into law. Consumers are being misled every time they go to the grocery store. When food isn’t labeled, you have no way to differentiate GE foods from non GE foods."

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 653 would require that all food sold in the state that contain genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled. Let your legislator know that you support this bill by clicking here.

Helping Farmers

Brian Snyder, director of Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) writes on his blog about the state of the 2012 Farm Bill being considered in congress. That's right, the 2012 Farm Bill. Brain says: "Despite all the energy and theatrics, however, there’s a palpable sense, at least to outsiders like me, that the Farm Bill as we know it is either on its last victory lap or perhaps already defunct."

Read more ...

Protecting Open Space

Pennsylvanians Demand: “Keep Public Lands Public"

With Gov. Corbett still considering opening pristine areas of Loyalsock State Forest to gas drilling, his Administration continues to keep public input out of the process—including failing to keep record at a massive public hearing in opposition to Andarko’s proposed plan to drill near Rock Run.

A coalition of conservation and outdoor recreation groups will deliver an outpouring of support calling for Gov. Corbett to hold multiple hearings from the public about the use of public lands for fracking. In addition, citizens will call on the Corbett Administration to keep drilling out of this pristine area.

Where: State Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg, PA

When: Thursday, August 22, 11:30 AM

Who: State Rep. Greg Vitali (Delaware)
Adam Garber, PennEnvironment
Steve Stroman, PennFuture
Jeff Schmidt, Pennsylvania Chapter Sierra Club
Curt Ashtenfelter, Keystone Trails Association
Paul Zeph, Audubon Pennsylvania

Beaver Valley

For more than 60 years, untold numbers of outdoor enthusiasts have enjoyed the magnificent Beaver Valley with its 325 acres of forests and rolling meadows on PA/DE border. This area is now slated for "development" in the near future despite the fact that everyone who has ever used the land believed it was a protected park. The Woodlawn Trustees, the owner, has promoted itself over the years as a benevolent land trust and wildlife refuge creator. Of course, this is pure greenwashing. The IRS sued Woodlawn in the 60s for fraud, the result of which is that they are no longer a non-profit, but a not-for-profit. Their books and the names of the actual trustees are a well-kept secret. This video and the google drive link to an essay explain the central issues in this fight to save Beaver Valley.

Help save Beaver Valley in Concord Township from "development."

This posting was prepared by:
Ken Hemphill
For more info go to Savethevalley.org, Savebeavervalley.org, facebook.com/savethevalley
Google Drive - Why Beaver Valley Must Be Saved