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Maryland Panel Releases Marcellus Shale Recommendations Report

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 7:56am - The AP (1/10, White) reports, "A Maryland panel recommended in a report on Monday that the General Assembly impose a fee on gas leases in the Marcellus Shale to fund studies about the impact of drilling in far western Maryland." The report, which is the "first of three," also suggested that legislators "should enact an appropriate state-level severance tax based on the value of the natural gas that is extracted. The panel recommends that revenue from the tax go into a Shale Gas Impact Fund to be used for continuing regional monitoring" and for assessing the "impact of gas exploration and production that cannot be attributed to a specific operator." The report cautioned, however, that more research needs to be conducted to "determine whether natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale in Maryland can be done without unacceptable risks to public health and the environment."


Chesapeake Bay Foundation Report Says Cleanup Will Create Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 7:10am Washington Post (01/02/12) -Embarking upon much-needed storm water and sewage plant upgrades for the Chesapeake Bay would create about 250,000 jobs, according to a new report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The report is a response to criticisms of the EPA’s major restoration project for the bay, which some said would hurt the economy and cut jobs. The truth, however, is that “environmental regulations will create jobs to reduce pollution, and sustain jobs that depend on clean water,” according to William C. Baker, the organization’s president. The “Debunking the ‘Job Killer’ Myth,” report found that sewage and storm water projects would create 240,000 jobs in engineering, construction, and other areas, as well as other jobs created due to economic activity arising from the upgrades. “Despite rhetoric to the contrary, environmental regulations have a documented history of causing no harm to the economy, with job losses often more than balanced by jobs created by environmental cleanup,” the report says. Years of neglect have left the bay with large dead zones with no life, depleted oyster stocks, and damage to other marine life, but critics balk at the cost of the project, which could cost more than $30 billion through 2025. It would include reducing farm and urban runoff as well as upgrades to systems that send polluted water into the bay.


Recent Quakes Could  Spur Changes in Ohio Fracking Policy

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 8:28am- The AP (1/4, Smyth) reports environmentalists and lawmakers opposed to hydraulic fracturing in Ohio are "seizing on a series of small earthquakes as a signal to proceed with caution." The 4.0-magnitude quake that occurred Dec. 31 near Youngstown was enough to prompt Gov. John Kasich (R), who is a "drilling proponent," to close down several wastewater wells "in the area" temporarily, for a seismic-activity review to be conducted. "Drilling's very important for our economy...but every single person in the Mahoning Valley felt this earthquake," said state Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D), who has called for a public hearing on the issue. Meanwhile, a "coalition of environmental groups is preparing a protest" in time for the resumption of Ohio's Legislature next week.
 

Marcellus Shale Activity Garners Area National Attention

Friday, December 30, 2011 at 9:14am- It is of interest to note that a battle has been under way for some time between local and state government in Pennsylvania over Marcellus shale gas drilling.  Hopefully this struggle will result in something good for Pennsylvanians.  It remains to be seen however if Pennsylvania's local and state governing officials can work together toward a solution of value to all Pennsylvanians.
Noting increased awareness about the Marcellus Shale, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (12/30, Crompton) reports, "The 400-million-year-old rock formation that few people had heard of five years ago is having a huge impact on southwestern Pennsylvania."  The Gazette notes, "This month, more than 200 local officials from 44 municipalities met to develop a response to state lawmakers trying to push shale-related bills through the state House and Senate" that would effectively strip localities from their unique oversight over drilling, and the revenues generated from taxing it.  Meanwhile, the Post-Gazette trumpets Pennsylvania's leading industry role in the industry saying, "President Barack Obama's Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, based most of its national best practices on regulations and efforts developed in Pennsylvania."


Officials In Upstate New York Push For Continued Operation Of River Gauges

Monday, January 9, 2012- To engineers, river and stream gauge data is invaluable.  Whether we are determining available water supply for drinking water or whether we are assessing the potential for flooding impact on homes, having the historical data provided by field gauges is of vital importance.  We believe that maintenance and operation of river and stream gauges is one activity that needs to continue at the federal level.  The news release below is just one example of the river gauge shutdown occurring
across the country.
North Country Public Radio (NY) (12/29) reports on its website that the
planned shutdown of "river gauges on the Ausable and the Boquet Rivers is
drawing criticism from scientists and politicians. The US Geological Survey
says it no longer has the money to operate the gauges, but speaking earlier
this month on the public radio program Capitol Pressroom, Congressman Bill
Owens says the devices are crucial for towns in flood-prone areas. Madeleine
Lyttle, a fisheries biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service who does
work on the Ausable River, says the gauges are also important for
researchers."


Impact Of New Light Bulb Efficiency Standards Explained

Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 8:53am- USA Today (12/29, Koch) reports, "The nation's light bulbs begin facing new efficiency and labeling standards starting Jan. 1, but don't expect old-fashioned incandescents to suddenly disappear from store shelves." The article goes on to explain that "the first to go, beginning Sunday, is the traditional 100-watt, followed in January 2013 with the 75-watt version and in January 2014 with the 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs," but "the bipartisan law mandating the phaseout, which President George W. Bush signed in 2007, says the bulbs can't be manufactured or imported after Jan. 1 but lets stores sell them until stock runs out." It took several months for the bulbs to disappear from store shelves in California, which implemented the new rules a year earlier. The article also points out that although Congress included language in its year-end spending bill, barring DOE enforcement of the regulations until September 2012, manufacturers have said they will still adhere to the new guidelines.


Colorado's Municipalities Place Limits On Fracking

Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 8:51am- The Denver Post (12/22, Illescas, 385K) reports that Colorado's local communities and cities are quickly developing ordinance to ban hydraulic fracturing with Aurora township's legal team putting together a six-month moratorium for the City Council to evaluate over the next thirty days. Localities, according to the Post, learned about the legal limits of how to restrict statewide initiatives from medical marijuana laws a couple of years ago, and thus is looking into ordinances to restrict fracking such as land use, traffic, noise, and visual impact ordinances. The Post adds that local communities have expressed no shyness in using the courts to resist potential drilling companies.


West Virginia Passes Regulatory Legislation For Marcellus Drilling

Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 9:27am- The AP (12/15) reports on regulatory legislation in West Virginia which will require "$10,000 and $5,000 permit fees" in order to conduct "large-scale drilling for natural gas" within the state's "Marcellus shale deposit." The Wednesday-approved legal package stipulates "buffer zones around wells and advance notices to property owners and the public." West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin "heralded the measure at a packed Capitol news conference shortly after the House of Delegates passed it 92-5 and the Senate then voted unanimously to send it to his desk, ending a four-day special session." According to the AP, "Wednesday's measure increases permit fees from around $400 to $10,000 for an initial well," providing "$2.4 million annually that the Department of Environmental Protection needs to close a deficit in its oil and gas division." Also, the measure "requires state agencies to examine the jobs and payroll arising from Marcellus operations.


Water & Wastewater Authority Electricity Bidding

Monday, December 5, 2011 at 5:48pm- Now is the time to consider bidding your 2012 electricity purchasing.  Uni-Tec can guide you through this process.


Pennsylvania Committee Votes To Advance Bill Imposing Fee On Natural Gas Drilling.

Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 8:10am.  The AP (11/3, Scolforo) reports, "Pennsylvania House Republicans on Wednesday passed a measure out of committee that would impose a local impact fee on natural gas drilling and establish new state regulations on the growing industry."  Expecting a floor vote before Christmas, the state Republicans' "proposed impact fee language would allow counties to impose and collect up to $40,000 per well in the first year, $30,000 in the second year, $20,000 in the third year and $10,000 in years four through 10."  The proposed bill would also "establish regulations that pre-empt local zoning rules."  Democratic opposition led by Rep. Phyllis Mundy of Luzeme County called the proposal "weak" and the "Drill Baby, Drill Bill." Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, said Marcellus Shale drilling is "the life blood of a couple of the areas I represent."
  Similarly, Reuters (11/3, Shade) reports, the Pennsylvania House committee's advancement of a bill to impose a one percent fee on natural gas drilling, noting Governor Corbett's claim that it could lead to $120 million in additional revenues in its first year.  Reuters notes Democratic bill opponent Rep. Bill DeWeese, hailing from the Marcellus Shale region, said, "If Arkansas can realize 3.5 percent and Texas can realize 5 percent, Pennsylvania's 1 percent impact fee is a searing factor in my negative vote."   Noting the specific revenue benefits to counties and municipalities, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (11/3, Bumsted) reports, "The Marcellus shale bill by Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler County, leaves it to counties to decide whether to impose a fee on each natural gas well."  The Tribune-Review adds that Gov. Corbett's "plan calls for counties and local governments to keep 75 percent of the fees."
 
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (11/3, Olson) reports, "After an hour of heated discussion, a state House panel approved a Republican-backed drilling impact fee bill on a party-line vote this morning," paving the way for "quick floor votes when the General Assembly returns to session on Nov. 14."  The Post-Gazette notes that "Republicans on the panel defended the move as similar to how the state regulates construction activities," with Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville arguing "if the state beefs up its Oil and Gas Act provisions to address issues like excessive noise and light, localities would feel less of a need to strengthen their own rules."


Interior Evaluates Fracking Rules In Preparation For Final Rule Proposal

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 10:01am  Bloomberg News (11/1, Klimasinska) reports that, noting a proposed set of regulations for production of natural gas and oil form shale on federal lands, David Hayes, deputy secretary at the Interior Department said a final proposal should be released in "a couple of months."  Hayes adds that his bureau seeks "full disclosure of the chemicals used in the hydraulic-fracturing process, with necessary provisions related to" trade secrets. Hayes also said, "Extending existing well-bore integrity standards to the hydraulic-fracturing phase of development' to protect against leaks will also be a focus of the proposed rules."
 
Reuters (11/1) similarly reports that the Interior Department expects that following the final proposal of the rule, it will then receive comments before being finalized within roughly a year.  The Department also notes that approximately 14 percent of natural gas output occurs on federal land, according to 2010 data.
 
Platts (11/1) reports that Hayes announced that Interior expects to issue a proposed rule on chemical disclosure for fracking before the end of the year.  Platts also notes that "Hayes said Interior may introduce a certificate system where drillers certify that they are in compliance with state and local standards regarding water management to avoid duplicating state regulatory efforts."  It adds that the EPA is actively engaged in rulemaking regarding air emissions limits at new gas wells and regarding standards on flow back water treatment before it can be sent to a public water treatment facility.
 
The Houston Chronicle (11/1, Dlouhy) reports, "The government's forthcoming proposal also likely would extend existing rules governing the integrity of wells on roughly 700 million acres of public lands in a bid to better protect nearby groundwater supplies, Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said Monday."  Hayes said "the new rule likely would require operators to fully disclose the chemicals used in hydraulically fracturing wells located on public lands," adding that they hope to do "more to verify the integrity of wells once they are hydraulically fractured," and increase "oversight of how companies are managing water used and produced at the sites."  Hayes also emphasized that "Interior Department officials are working with state and local regulators, as well as industry leaders, to develop the new regulations and incorporating the industry's best practices where possible."


Deficient Bridges Remain A Challenge for Pennsylvania.

Citing FHA data, the Philadelphia
Inquirer
(10/21, Nussbaum) reports, "The Philadelphia region has the
third-highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges among large US
metropolises, behind only Pittsburgh and San Francisco," with 20 percent
showing "significant deterioration." According to the outlet,
"Six of the troubled Philadelphia bridges are on I-95 between the Betsy
Ross Bridge and Port Richmond," and paying for their repairs "will be
one of the biggest challenges for the [Pennsylvania Governor Tom] Corbett
administration." The report also features criticism by Transportation for
America of the federal government backlog in bridge repair spending and says
the group is calling for "a fundamental shift in policy to ensure that we
take care of our existing infrastructure."


EPA To Develop Fracking Wastewater Standards.

The AP (10/21)
reports that EPA "regulators signaled Thursday they want to increase
oversight of the natural gas extraction industry, announcing they will develop
national standards for the disposal of polluted wastewaters generated by"
fracking. Yesterday, the EPA "announced that it will draft standards for
fracking wastewater." EPA said that "new standards would also apply
to wastewater produced by coalbed methane." Environmental groups applauded
yesterday's move. Meanwhile, Republicans and industry groups ridiculed the
move, saying that states already regulate wastewater disposal.
       
The Miami
Herald
(10/21, Banerjee) reports that the EPA "will try to
determine what to do with water used during fracking, as well as water that is
already underground and flows back up the well." Meanwhile, EPA
Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "The president has made clear that
natural gas has a central role to play in our energy economy. We can protect
the health of American families and communities at the same time we ensure
access to all of the important resources that make up our energy economy."
The Independent Petroleum Association of America's president, Barry Russell,
offered caution praise of yesterday's announcement.
       
The Wall
Street Journal
(10/21, Solomon, Subscription Publication) reports that EPA's
announcement is an attempt to respond to worries that fracking wastewater is
causing water contamination. The agency said it would finalize the rules by
2014.
       
The Hill (10/21,
Geman) reports in its "E2 Wire" blog that the rules will be
"Clean Water Act standards." EPA's announcement comes "at a time
when Republicans and industry groups are alleging that federal regulations,
especially EPA rules, are inhibiting the energy industry and other
sectors." Independent Petroleum Association of America CEO Barry Russell
said, "We stand ready to work with EPA and other stakeholders on the
development of these guidelines."
   
The Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette
(10/21, Olson) reports that EPA "said the proposal reflects
recommendations in the US secretary of energy's advisory board report. Among
that panel's August suggestions was that agencies 'should review and modernize'
rules regarding protection of ground and surface water." To draft the new
standards, EPA said it would seek stakeholder input.
        The New York
Times
(10/21, Brown, Subscription Publication) and Reuters (10/21,
Rascoe) also report this.


PA Prevailing Wage Reforms – A Boost To Local Government

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 6:23pm
PSATS (NewsBulletin Sept/Oct 11)  On October 3, a package of bills that would make historic reforms to the Prevailing Wage Act was approved and reported out of the House Labor and Industry Committee.  The legislation is now before the House and efforts are underway to try to pass these bills during the fall session.
The bills represent the first real opportunity in 50 years to make meaningful and positive changes to one of the most financially burdensome mandates that townships face.  The package includes the following bills:
         HB 1329 (PN 2468) would increase the current prevailing wage threshold from$25,000 to $185,000 and would be adjusted annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.
         HB 1191 (PN 1304) would exempt local governments from the provisions of the Prevailing Wage Law unless the “opt-in” to its provisions.
         HB 1271 (PN 2467) would amend the Prevailing Wage Act to clarify the definition of “maintenance work” related to rehabilitation of roads, highways, and bridges.  The bill would exclude the following from compliance with the act: replacement of guiderails and curbs, pavement overlays of up to 3 inches, road widening that does not result in additional lanes, and bridge cleaning and resurfacing.
         HB 1541 (PN 1890) would amend the definition of “public work” to require that at least 51 percent of a project’s financing must be public funds for the work to fall under the provisions of the Prevailing Wage Act.
         HB 1367 (PN 1608) would require the state Department of Labor and Industry to determine the prevailing wage rates for each county based on occupational wage rate data as determined by the department’s Center for Workforce and Analysis.
         HB 1685 (PN 2469) would require the Secretary of Labor & Industry to base the scope of a craft or workmen classification on the most recent version of the federal occupational classifications, using the description of the craft or classification in the “nature of work” subsection for each category.
For copies of these bills, log onto www.legis.state.pa.us and type in the bill number in the upper right corner of the page.   
PSATS strongly supports these bills and urges township officials to contact their state representative today and urge them to support these common-sense reforms.  If passed, these bills will reduce townships’ cost of doing business and allow them to make better use of taxpayers’ funds.  

PA Senate Approves Bidding Legislation – Victory for Municipalities

October 19, 2011 at 6:21pm
PSATS (NewsBulletin Sept/Oct 11) The Senate amended and then unanimously approved legislation to increase bidding limits in late September.  The bill package, which had been stalled in the Senate since April, will reduce the cost of local government and positively impact all municipalities.
 For townships, these bills include House Bill 278 (PN 2419), which has passed the House and is before the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senate Bill 283 (PN1585), which has passed the Senate and is before the House Appropriations Committee.  Both bills would raise the minimum purchase amount that requires the advertisement of bids from $10,000 to $18,500 and increase the minimum purchase amount for telephone quotes from $4,000 to $10,000.  In both bills, the state Department of Labor and Industry would be required to adjust these amounts each year based on the Consumer Price Index and advertise the new rate in the Pennsylvania Bulletin before the end of each year.
 This is a significant victory that will restore some common sense to this requirement of local government.  To get the bill package approved, legislators worked out a compromise that dropped the proposed bidding amount from $25,000 to $18,500 but retained the annual cost of living adjustment.
 The legislation is expected to receive final approval within the next several weeks.  Township officials are encouraged to thank their legislators for passing the legislation and urge them to make sure the bills receive final approval shortly.
For copies of these bills, log onto www.legis.state.pa.us and type in the bill number in the upper right corner of the page.



Pennsylvania Natural Gas Industry – Marcellus Shale Drilling

Monday, October 17, 2011 at 11:45am
The drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale geologic formation continues to gain momentum in Pennsylvania.  The industry promises to bring many good paying jobs to the State as well as economic enhancements that will benefit Pennsylvanians’ for many years to come.  While many see the natural gas boon to be a much needed “shot in the arm” for the Pennsylvania economy, others fear the potential negative environmental consequences.  We bring you several news reports today focusing on both the optimism and pessimism surrounding this evolving industry.

Pennsylvania Congressmen Tout Shale Gas Drilling To Administration

Monday, October 17, 2011 at 11:44am
The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News (10/17, Gilliland) reports, "A bipartisan group of 13 members of the Pennsylvania delegation to the US Congress sent a letter Thursday to President Obama's director of the National Economic Council advocating the economic benefits of shale gas drilling." The letter to Gene Sterline expressed concern that "the economic benefits of shale gas to ordinary citizens in states such as Pennsylvania and across the country are not part of the discussion" taking place in Federal agencies currently reviewing the issue. The letter touted the benefits of the industry and cites to a Penn State University study which claimed that "Marcellus Shale development will lead to the creation of over 256,420 good-paying Pennsylvania jobs in the coming years."


Democratic Reps. Plan To Introduce Fracking Legislation In Ohio

 Monday, October 17, 2011 at 11:42am
The Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer (10/17, Ballas) reports that Ohio state Reps. Denise Driehaus (D) and Tracy Maxwell Heard (D) are proposing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing while Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D) and Teresa Fedor (D) are preparing separate legislation that will set up a regulatory framework to govern the practice when it does occur. "Due to the potential environmental hazards and dangers to the surrounding land and drinking water, it is vital that we allow the EPA to complete a study on hydraulic fracturing," said Rep. Driehaus, who wants to ban the practice until the EPA study is completed. "Once the report from that study has been published, we will have a better understanding of how this procedure of fracking affects our drinking water," he added.

Municipalities and MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System)

Friday, October 7, 2011 at 8:02am
DEP has administratively extended the expiration of the current NPDES Phase II MS4 general permit (PAG-13) by nine (9) months to midnight, March 15, 2013. The Notice of Extension for PAG-13 was published in the PA Bulletin on September 17, 2011. If you are using PAG-13, you do not need to file an application for the extension at this time. It is anticipated that your coverage has been automatically extended.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So what is MS4? (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Untreated and uncontrolled stormwater runoff is the number one cause of impairment in local Pennsylvania waterways.  Polluted runoff is often transported through municipal stormwater systems where it is eventually discharged into streams.   The US EPA has established a municipal stormwater management program known as the MS4 program that is intended to improve water quality of the waterways of the United States by reducing the quantities of pollutants that storm waters can carry into storm sewer systems during storm events. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The US EPA and the PA DEP have had difficulty coming to terms on how the MS4 program should be implemented.  As noted in the first paragraph above, the result of the US EPA and PA DEP difficulties has continued to cause delays in certain aspects of the program implementation. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you are affected by MS4 and need assistance or just need assistance to figure out if MS4 pertains to your community, please call Uni-Tec toll free at 1-888-238-8223. Let us explain the regulations in understandable terms and guide you through the permitting process.


Finished Water Storage - Managing Your CT Times and Requirements

Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 12:14pm 
It can be difficult for a public water supply system to meet the DEP CT requirements.  Some water systems believe they are fortunate because they have large finished water storage facilities before their first user, and that these large facilities solve their CT issues.  Unfortunately, not much credit is given by the DEP for large water storage facilities unless they are properly baffled to avoid water flow short circuiting.  So the problem of meeting the CT requirement can still  persist.
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Baffling a large water storage facility seems relatively simple at first glance.  But it is not easy to do while still maintaining all the desired functionality of the storage unit.  Uni-Tec can solve this conundrum for you.  For advice and guidance on strategies for meeting your CT requirements and for optimizing your large finished water storage facilities, please call us at 1-888-238-8223.
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We can help turn your challenges into solutions!

Governor Corbett Announces Plans to Implement Key Recommendations of Marcellus Shale Advisory CommissionMonday, October 3, 2011 at 5:04pm
Proposed Impact Fee Would Benefit Host Communities, Aid Public Protection   Governor Tom Corbett today announced his plans to implement numerous recommendations of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, including changes to enhance environmental standards, an impact fee, and a plan to help move Pennsylvania toward energy independence.   “This natural resource will fuel our generating plants, heat our homes and power our state’s economic engine for generations to come,” Corbett said. “This growing industry will also provide new career opportunities that will give our children a reason to stay here in Pennsylvania. We are going to do this safely and we’re going to do it right, because energy equals jobs.”   As a result of the public Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission meetings, we now have a sensible and fair plan to put before the General Assembly, Corbett said. The plan will make sure that Pennsylvania’s economy benefits from developing this new source of wealth and energy independence, while also ensuring that the environment and natural beauty of this state are protected.   As a part of this proposal, Corbett announced a series of prudent standards related to unconventional drilling, including:   · Increasing the well setback distance from private water wells from the current 200 feet to 500 feet, and to 1,000 feet from public water systems; · Increasing the setback distance for wells near streams, rivers, ponds and other bodies of water from 100 feet to 300 feet; · Increasing well bonding from $2,000 up to $10,000; · Increasing blanket well bonds from $25,000 up to $250,000; · Expanding an unconventional gas operator’s “presumed liability” for impairing water quality from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet from a gas well, and extending the duration of presumed liability from 6 months after well completion to 12 months; · Enabling DEP to take quicker action to revoke or withhold permits for operators who consistently violate rules; · Doubling penalties for civil violations from $25,000 to $50,000; and · Doubling daily penalties from $1,000 a day to $2,000 a day.   This plan will also allow for an impact fee, which will be adopted by counties for use by local communities experiencing the actual impacts of the drilling. The fee will be used by local governments, counties and state agencies that respond to issues that arise as a result of Marcellus Shale gas drilling.   “Estimates show that this impact fee will bring in about $120 million in the first year, climbing to nearly $200 million within six years,” Corbett said. “As the number of wells grows, so will the revenue. Almost all of the money it brings in will go to benefit the places experiencing the impact.”   Each well will be subject to a fee of up to $40,000 in the first year, $30,000 in the second year, $20,000 in the third year and $10,000 in the fourth through tenth years, adding up to a potential total of $160,000 per well.   Under this proposal, a county may provide for a fee credit of up to 30 percent if the driller makes approved investments in natural gas infrastructure, which include setting up natural gas fueling stations or natural gas public transit vehicles.   The impact fee revenues will be split with 75 percent being retained at the local level, with 36 percent of that number retained by the county, 37 percent distributed to municipalities that host the drilling pads and 27 percent distributed to all the municipalities within a Marcellus drilling impacted county. The distribution formula will be based on population and highway miles.   The remaining 25 percent of the fee would be divided, with 70 percent of that number going to PennDOT for road, bridge, rail and other transportation infrastructure maintenance and repair within counties hosting Marcellus natural gas development, 4.5 percent to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for emergency response planning and training, and 3.75 percent to the Office of State Fire Commissioner for training programs for first responders and for specialized equipment necessary for emergency response.   In addition, 3.75 percent will go to the Department of Health for collecting and disseminating information, and for health care and citizen provider outreach and education, and for investigating health complaints and other activities associated with shale development, 7.5 percent to the Public Utility Commission to enhance pipeline safety and increase inspections, and 10.5 percent to a restricted account at the Department of Environmental Protection to be used for plugging abandoned and unused gas wells, plus other natural gas related regulation and enforcement.   Corbett said that under this plan, counties and municipalities may use these funds on various expenses related to impacts from natural gas development, including:   · Construction, repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and other public infrastructure; · Water, storm water and sewer system construction and repair; · Emergency response preparedness, training, equipment, responder recruitment; · Preservation and reclamation of surface and subsurface water supplies; · Records management, geographic information systems and information technology; · Projects which increase the availability of affordable housing to low-income residents; · Delivery of social services, including domestic relations, drug and alcohol treatment, job training and counseling; · Offsetting increased judicial system costs, including training; · Assistance to county conservation districts for inspection, oversight and enforcement of natural gas development; and · County or municipal planning.   Corbett’s proposal also seeks to help secure energy independence and reduce reliance on foreign oil by developing “Green Corridors” for natural gas vehicles with refueling stations at least every 50 miles and within two miles of key highways; by amending the PA Clean Vehicles Program to include “bi-fuel” vehicles (diesel and natural gas); by helping schools and mass transit systems to convert fleets to natural gas vehicles; by stabilizing electric prices by using natural gas for generating electricity; and by encouraging the development of markets for natural gas and natural gas byproducts, such as within the plastics and petrochemical industries.   The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission issued 96 recommendations. About one third require legislative changes; more than 50 are policy-oriented and can be accomplished within the state agencies.   The legislative priorities outlined today will be submitted to the legislative leadership in the near future. The governor has instructed the relevant Cabinet Secretaries to create implementation plans for the policy-oriented recommendations and to submit them to his office within 30 days.   Corbett made his announcement during a tour of the Carpenter’s Training Center in Pittsburgh with Congressman Tim Murphy and Council of Carpenter’s Executive Director Bill Waterkotte. During his visit the governor spoke with representatives from a number of building trades about their efforts to ensure Pennsylvania workers are trained to fill the new jobs coming to the state from the natural gas industry.

Selling Water to Marcellus Gas Well Drillers – Negotiating the Maze Friday   September 30, 2011 at 5:25pm

As the drilling and fracking of Marcellus gas wells gain momentum in Pennsylvania, the demand for water from Pennsylvania water and wastewater authorities has significantly increased.  Some authorities have realized lucrative and vital income from healthy partnerships with gas well drillers.
Is your Authority supplying water to the gas well drilling industry? 
Are you in the process of negotiating contracts for the sale of water?
Are you frustrated by the DEP process required to sell water?
Do you know if you are negotiating a fair deal?
Uni-Tec has worked with Pennsylvania authorities to negotiate contracts to sell water to Marcellus gas well drillers.  We understand the negotiating and contracting process, and we can guide you to a beneficial business relationship with drilling operations.
Uni-Tec has worked closely with the DEP to resolve many of the obstacles that stand in the way of authority water sales and truly extraordinary revenues.  
Selling water to gas drillers, if done correctly, can safely bring much needed revenue to your authority and can benefit your rate payers.
Uni-Tec works for municipal authorities, and we represent your engineering and financial interests.
We would welcome the opportunity to assist you in your efforts to establish a successful relationship with those working in the gas drilling industry.  Please call (888) 238-8223 or email info@uni-tec.com to explore how we can assist you.
 
PENNDOT Official Says Gas Well Impact Fee Could Help Repair Roads  Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 8:21am
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (9/28, Olson) reports Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said Tuesday that "royalty payments from gas wells on state-owned land, expected to total hundreds of millions annually in the coming years, possibly could help the state pay for infrastructure updates." At a joint House and Senate committee hearing the Secretary said that royalties, as well as a portion of any impact fee could help improve the state's road system. Lawmakers however noted that they are still waiting on a proposal by the Governor before moving on any impact fee.

Johnsonburg Wastewater Treatment Plant -
Successful State-of-the-Art Upgrade
Designed by Uni-Tec, the $14 million dollar upgrade of the Johnsonburg, Elk County, PA state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant is in successful operation producing high quality effluent and biosolids.  Equipped with a fully computerized and automated SCADA system, the treatment processes can be closely monitored, fine tuned and optimized for alternative treatment modes and widely varying operational conditions. Remote monitoring and control allows for this facility to be operated and managed with a minimum of staffing.
Salient features of the new facility include:
Influent Delivery Facilities: Raw sewage is delivered to the plant site via a triplex submersible pump station and influent force main that passes under the Clarion River.  The pump station inlet is equipped with a submersible sewage grinder and pump output is controlled by an automated control system utilizing variable-frequency drives.  An auxiliary emergency generator assures a reliable power supply for facilities.
Pretreatment Facilities: Influent wastewater passes sequentially through an automatically-cleaned fine screen and a vortex grit removal chamber.  Screenings are processed by a washer/compactor and captured grit is pumped to a grit cyclone and classifier for cleaning and dewatering.  All controls and monitoring for facilities are fully automated.
Flow Equalization Tanks: After pretreatment, wastewater enters two rectangular concrete tanks for automated downstream process flow regulation and temporary storage of up to 0.5 MG of influent flows.  Tank contents are mixed and aerated by three variable output positive-displacement blowers which are regulated automatically in regard to monitored tank levels.
Aeration Basins: Biological treatment for organic and nutrient removal is provided by two multi-mode, partitioned activated sludge aeration basins.  Aeration for these basins and aerobic digestion tanks are provided by fine-bubble diffused aeration networks that are supplied by three variable-output centrifugal blowers, which are regulated automatically to provide desired mixing and dissolved oxygen levels.
Clarification Tanks and Mechanical Room: Aeration basin effluent is clarified by two circular tanks that incorporate influent energy-dispersing feed wells and hydraulic rapid-uptake sludge collection mechanisms.  A subterranean room between the two clarifiers and an associated tunnel house mechanical, electrical, and control equipment related to the operation of the clarifiers and aerobic sludge digesters, including return activated sludge pumps, waste activated sludge pumps, utility water system, and automated controls.
Chlorine Contact Tank and Chlorine Building: Clarified wastewater undergoes disinfection in a chlorine contact tank with influent static mixer, two independent serpentine flow channels, and discharge basin for utility water intake.  Chlorine storage facilities, automated chlorine dosing equipment, and safety monitoring devices are housed in the adjoining chlorine building.
Aerobic Digestion Tanks: Waste activated sludge is processed in four aerobic digestion tanks in preparation for dewatering by a belt filter press.  Dewatered sludge is ultimately disposed of at a permitted landfill.
Plant Monitoring and Control System: A plant-wide SCADA network allows plant operators to control pertinent plant functions and monitor performance of plant equipment and processes.  Control and monitoring activities can be conducted from several onsite locations or by remote access. 
 
 

 

Purchasing Electricity and Saving Money

by Uni-Tec Consulting Engineers, Inc. on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 8:47am
I think by now, we are all aware that electricity pricing has been deregulated in Pennsylvania.  This means that each of us is free to go shopping for our electricity supplier and to compare prices.  Yes, prices vary between suppliers and can be substantially different, costing you or saving you significant sums of money.  If you shop at the right time, you can save a lot.  Uni-Tec provides professional electricity price shopping services.  We provide this service to municipalities, authorities, and industries at no cost to you.  We meet with you face to face to discuss the process and options - at your location - at a time convenient to you.  We guide you through the purchasing process, we obtain competitive quotes for you, and we review your offers to be sure the contract you sign with an electricity supplier is giving you the promised services and prices.  Contact Uni-Tec today to find out about this money saving service we can provide to you.  Call us toll free at 1-888-238-8223 and ask for our expert - Harry Bower.