Environmental Protection Triumphs: Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit a Winner

The recently enacted state budget package includes a critical new tax credit that will bolster efforts to reclaim land scarred by coal mining. The Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit is a victory for those of us who want to use both technological innovation and tax incentives to clean up the environment and produce affordable, homegrown energy.

Under the new law (Act 84 of 2016), electric generation plants that use coal refuse for fuel are eligible for a $4 per ton tax credit. In Fiscal Year 2016-17, $7.5 million in credits will be available. Beginning in 2017-18, the amount of tax credits rises to $10 million.

The tax credits are important on their own, but they are only part of the story. The coal refuse industry will be able to use the credits to leverage private dollars and exponentially grow their investments. In northeastern Pennsylvania, companies like Panther Creek Energy in Nesquehoning, Carbon County are poised to employ these new tax credits to clean up more coal refuse piles, restore more environmentally degraded land and create more jobs.

The energy generation tax credits provide another tool that can be used to spur environmental protection while creating new economic opportunities. Given that the waste coal electric generation industry is already an important part of our economic mix, the shrewd use of the new tax credits will likely increase employment in an industry that has 3,800 in its workforce today. Plus, with the tax credit serving as an incentive, we can build on the 200 million tons of refuse coal that has already been removed from land in Pennsylvania.

The ability of Pennsylvania to pivot from its course of accepting large swaths of mine-scarred land and piles of waste coal as an environmental fact and instead enter a new era focused on land recycling and restoration is important to our future. In both the anthracite and bituminous coal regions of the state, there is a real need to dive into policy solutions that reverse years of indifference in this regard.

The utilization of the tax credit for using refuse coal and recovering land is only one step that can be taken and will help us build upon the remarkable work being done by Earth Conservancy in Luzerne County. The Earth Conservancy has secured $40 million that has helped reclaim thousands of acres of former mine lands and restore miles of waterways polluted with acid mine drainage.

Our work with environmental advocates and economic professionals has challenged the myth that economic development and natural resource protection are mutually exclusive. We have demonstrated that the proper economic/environmental balance can be achieved when recovering mine scarred lands.

The new Coal Refuse and Reclamation Tax Credit will have a profound impact on our environment and our economic future, serving as a catalyst for robust economic development as well as increasing efforts to preserve and protect our environment.

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Yudichak Lauds Business Investment Bill in Budget Package

Wilkes-Barre, July 15, 2016 – Calling it a good way to boost the state’s economic growth, State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today praised an item in the new budget that makes state grant and loan dollars available for shovel-ready business expansion projects.

The measure, which was amended in the state’s fiscal code, funds the state’s “Business in Our Sites” (BIOS) program, which invests state dollars in shovel-ready sites to spur economic development. Yudichak said lawmakers were able to re-capitalize the program by transferring $75 million from the state’s “First Industries” and “Building PA” programs.

“The Business in Our Sites program will allow us to make significant new investments in efforts to grow businesses and create jobs,” said Senator Yudichak. “As I work with business leaders from throughout our region on innovative ways to diversify and build our economy, it is helpful when we have additional state resources available to strengthen our efforts.”

“CAN DO has successfully used the BIOS program for the development of several projects including the Humboldt Industrial Park North and Humboldt Station,” said W. Kevin O’Donnell, President of the industrial and economic development corporation serving Greater Hazleton.  “As a direct result, millions of dollars of private investment was made and thousands of jobs created in Greater Hazleton.”

“In this fast paced, competitive business environment, the need for developed and shovel ready sites is greater than ever,” said Joseph Boylan, Vice President for Economic Development at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce.  “The BIOS program is a vital resource to attract companies and drive economic development in our region.”

Administered by the state’s Commonwealth Financing Agency, Business in our Sites grant awards are limited to 40 percent of the financing awarded, up to $4 million. The program provides grant and loan investments to current and emerging businesses interested in locating, expanding and developing business sites in Pennsylvania. Up to a third of the program’s money can be used to provide grants.

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PA Budget Includes Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit to Help Create Jobs and Restore Mine Lands

Harrisburg, July 15, 2016 – The recently enacted Pennsylvania state budget includes the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit Program to assist companies who create jobs and help restore mine scarred land.

For the first time in Pennsylvania history, the coal refuse electric generation industry will be eligible for a tax credit of $4 per ton of coal refuse. In the 2016-17 state budget, $7.5 million in tax credits will be available and that number will rise to $10 million in 2017-18. No company will be eligible for more than 22.2 percent of credits available in any year.

“The Coal Refuse and Reclamation Tax Credit will have a profound impact on Pennsylvania’s economy and environment,” said Senator John Yudichak (D – Carbon/Luzerne). “Coal refuse generation plants, like Panther Creek Energy in Nesquehoning, can leverage these tax credits with private sector funds to create more jobs, reclaim more land and produce more affordable electricity.”

Presently, the coal refuse electric generation and reclamation industry employs 3,800 Pennsylvania residents and the generation plants combined create 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy. The industry has removed approximately 200 million tons of refuse coal from mine scarred land in Pennsylvania.

“Panther Creek Energy and the coal refuse remediation industry are greatly appreciative of the General Assembly’s passage and the Governor’s signing of the Coal Refuse Energy Tax Credit legislation,” said Sean Lane, a representative from Olympus Power LLC, owner of Panther Creek Energy. “This signifies a deepening of the Commonwealth’s commitment to support an industry that cleans up the coal refuse piles in the anthracite and bituminous regions of our state. The program is also evidence of the continuation of our partnership with Pennsylvania as we address the environmental, human health and safety hazards posed by the refuse piles littering the Commonwealth.”

Luzerne County Legislative Delegation Announces $400,000 for SHINE After School Program

Harrisburg, July 13, 2016 – The Luzerne County Legislative Delegation today announced that the new state budget invests $400,000 in state funding in the SHINE After School Program of Luzerne County at Wilkes University.

Luzerne County SHINE is an evidence based, data driven program dedicated to improving academic performance, empowering families and developing a 21st century workforce. Luzerne County SHINE is modeled off of the successful SHINE program in Carbon and Schuylkill counties. SHINE After School Program of Luzerne County at Wilkes University was spearheaded by State Senator John Yudichak and Congressman Lou Barletta who have worked together to secure $3 million in federal, state and private funding to support the Luzerne County SHINE program.

“I appreciate the support of my legislative colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, who see the value of the SHINE after school program in our local school districts and who understand that an investment in our children is an investment in a better Luzerne County,” said state Senator John Yudichak.

The county’s legislative delegation includes: Senators John Yudichak, John Gordner, Lisa Baker and John Blake; and Representatives Aaron Kaufer,Gerald Mullery, Eddie Day Pashinski, Tarah Toohil, Michael Carroll and Karen Boback.

“I am thrilled that the Luzerne County Shine program is receiving $400,000 in state funding. We are truly grateful to the Luzerne County Legislative Delegation for all their collective efforts in securing this funding for the children of Luzerne County. This program is making a difference and will continue to make a difference in our schools. These additional funds will allow the program to grow and have greater impact on our students and their communities,” said Tony Grieco, executive director of the Luzerne Intermediate Unit.

Luzerne County SHINE currently operates educational centers in five school districts including: Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Nanticoke, Wyoming Valley West and Hanover.

Wilkes University serves as the educational host for SHINE of Luzerne County and provides administrative and educational support services for the program.

“I am so grateful to the legislature for seeing the value that the SHINE after school program brings to the children of our region. This investment in our children’s future will allow us to continue the work we have only just begun. This commitment to the program will allow us to provide academic enrichment for our children, allowing them to build a stronger academic foundation, and preparing them for the careers of the future,” said Carol Nicholas, director, SHINE of Luzerne County at Wilkes University.

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Bridge Opening Completes Coal Creek Flash Flood Recovery

Plymouth Township, July 5, 2016  − State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) was joined by federal, state and local officials this morning to cut the ribbon to open the Coal Street Bridge in Plymouth Township. The bridge was destroyed in a serious flash flood in July, 2011 that caused more than $1 Million in damage to the Coal Creek watershed. A temporary bridge was installed a few months after the flood, until a new bridge was designed and built.

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“The formal opening of the bridge marks the completion of a remarkable recovery on Coal Street and is a symbol of the tireless work, coordination and cooperation between citizens and officials at all levels of government,” said Senator Yudichak.“The disaster of 2011 could have broken the spirit of many communities, but here in Plymouth Township and Plymouth Borough it was a rallying cry.”

“I would like to thank the Plymouth Township supervisors for their leadership, dedication, and commitment to completion of this project,” said Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119th).

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“This is a great example of how state and local governments can work together on improving infrastructure.”

“Plymouth Township is grateful for everyone who contributed in any way to make this day possible and help in the construction of the bridge,” said Gail Conrad, Chairperson, Plymouth Township Board of Supervisors. “The tremendous cooperation from everyone – federal, state, and local officials, in addition to all the agencies – says it all. Special thanks to our neighbors in Plymouth Borough. It shows again good things happen when everyone pulls together – no one can do things alone.”

Representatives for Governor Tom Wolf, Congressman Lou Barletta, Senator Bob Casey and Pat Toomey were joined by Luzerne County officials, and Plymouth Borough officials at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Yudichak and Heffley announce Carbon County Multimodal Transportation Funds

 

JIM THORPE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today announced that two Carbon County projects will receive over $700,000 in state funding through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

“Passage of Act 89 created critical transportation dollars that fund not only large scale statewide job creation and economic development projects, but also important projects like the completion of Lime Street in Bowmanstown,” said Yudichak.

“These projects will enhance public safety by shortening EMS response times and provide our first responders the opportunity to obtain required hours of training without traveling hours to other parts of the state. Our infrastructure is in desperate need of an update and I’m pleased to see these projects are receiving funds to be completed,” said Heffley.

The larger of the two local projects is receiving $494,636 in funding for the completion and connection of Lime Street, located in Bowmanstown Borough. Lime Street would connect the lower portion of Bowmanstown with the Meadowcrest subdivision, which is located on the east end of the borough.

The subdivision contains approximately 100 homes with another 25 lots available for new home sites. The subdivision currently has just one access road. The completion of this project would most importantly offer a direct access road for emergency personnel to travel in case of an emergency and cut response time by 15-20 minutes to this area of the borough.

Yudichak and Heffley Announce $20,000 DCED Greenways, Recreation, and Trails grant for the Borough of Weatherly

JIM THORPE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today announced that the Borough of Weatherly will receive $20,000 in state funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development Act 13 Greenways, Recreation, and Trails program.

“The Greenways, Recreation, and Trails program is designed to fund projects that will develop, rehabilitate, and improve our local parks, trails, and recreation areas,” said Yudichak. “Tourism is a valuable economical asset to the residents of Carbon County and is an important job creator in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

“The Rails to Trails project is a wonderful resource for our area. It is great to see fitness, recreation and tourism come together to provide opportunities for family fun,” said Heffley. “It is important that we continue to expand our trail system to ensure that all Carbon County communities can access this wonderful resource.”

Weatherly will receive this funding to help complete a trail feasibility study. The borough plans to develop a five mile hiking/biking trail between the borough and the Lehigh Gorge State Park. The trail would create economic opportunities not only for the borough and its residents, but also for surrounding communities.

 

 

Yudichak and Heffley announce over $500,000 in Monroe County Local Share Account grants for Carbon County

JIM THORPE, July 1, 2016 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Doyle Hefley (R – Carbon) today announced that six Carbon County projects will receive $528,000 in state funding through the Monroe County Local Share Account.

“The Commonwealth’s investment in these vital projects will help local communities better protect and serve the residents of Carbon County” said Yudichak.

“I am pleased to see this money returning to Carbon County to supplement projects throughout the district to improve public safety, assist our volunteers and enhance our communities. I’m happy to work together with Sen. Yudichak to secure these funds for several much-needed projects in our area,” said Heffley.

Carbon County will receive $200,000 to help with the construction of the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center. The site will be a two building facility that will provide county first responders with live fire training sites, a drill tower, and classrooms where responders can receive instruction and training. The facility will also bring together all emergency personnel from Carbon County’s 23 municipalities and allow them to train together, which in turn will make them more efficient in any emergency situation.

The Carbon County Council of Governments will receive $100,000 to help with the purchase of an asphalt zipper as well as the purchase and construction of a pole building. The asphalt zipper will allow the CCCOG municipalities to save on paving project costs by enabling them to complete this work in house. The purchase and construction of the pole building will allow not only for the housing of shared equipment like the asphalt zipper, but will also allow for additional efficiencies and economies of scale associated with cooperative purchases and services.

The Borough of Nesquehoning will receive $160,000 for the Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1 building/property renovation project. The project will include excavating the existing embankment on the south side of the property as well as building a retaining wall. This will correct the drainage problem that produces water laying on State Route 209. In addition a 36’ X 60’ garage bay will be added to the existing fire house to adequately store the Hose Company’s equipment and vehicles.

Kidder Township will receive $20,000 to help with the purchase of a 2016 Ford Utility Police Interceptor. Kidder Township is a resort community, which includes the I-476 and I-80 corridor, which deals with numerous vacationers. The addition of this unmarked patrol vehicle will assist patrolmen by allowing them to monitor highways for traffic law offenders and conduct undercover surveillance on the growing drug epidemic in Carbon County.

Lower Towamensing Township will receive $30,000 to help with the purchase of a roadside boom mower. The township is replacing their current mower, which is no longer able to cut overgrown vegetation on its 29.25 miles of roads. The new piece of equipment will be able to reach 24 feet to cut and clear vegetation along guide rails and steep banks.

Beaver Meadows Borough will receive $18,000 to construct a bathroom and storage facility at the Alfred J. Mitcho Playground.

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Yudichak Announces Act 13 Grants

NANTICOKE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today announced that six Luzerne County projects in the 14th Senatorial District will receive nearly $700,000 in state grants from two different programs under Act 13.

“The Marcellus Legacy Fund was created by the General Assembly under Act 13 of 2012 to ensure that all communities throughout Pennsylvania benefit from natural gas drilling,” said Senator Yudichak. “Investing in community recreational areas, parks, and educational facilities contributes to the vitality of Luzerne County, helping our region remain a beautiful place to live, work and play.”

Area state representatives Mike Carroll, Gerald Mullery, and Eddie Day Pashinski worked closely with Senator Yudichak to secure the funds.

The Luzerne County projects approved for funding are:

The City of Pittston will receive $250,000 for a new gateway to the Riverfront Park at the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Water Street.

 

King’s College will receive $130,000 to help with the construction of a multi-purpose track and field complex that when completed will also be available for public use.

The Huber Breaker Preservation Society in Ashley will receive $100,000 to help with the conversion of three acres of abandoned mine lands, once part of the Huber Breaker Colliery,

into a memorial park.

The Plymouth Borough Recreation Board will receive $75,000 to update the John Mergo Community Park.

Newport Township will receive $40,072 for construction of a walking trail around Wanamie Park.

These projects are funded by the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP).

Act 13 of 2012 established the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects.

The Earth Conservancy will receive $85,000 to upgrade the Askam Borehole Mine Drainage Treatment System project in Hanover Township.

This project is funded by the Abandoned Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment Program (AMDATP).   The Marcellus Legacy Fund also allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for abandoned mine drainage, abatement, and treatment.

 

 

Yudichak Announces Luzerne County Multimodal Transportation Funds

NANTICOKE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today announced that six Luzerne County projects in the 14th

Senatorial District will receive more than $3.9 million in state funding through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

“As a longtime advocate for responsible infrastructure investments and a backer of Act 89 of 2013, which created the Multimodal Transportation Fund, I am pleased to announce this approval of state funding. These projects will improve our local transportation network, business districts, and neighborhoods,” said Senator Yudichak.

Area state representatives Mike Carroll, Gerald Mullery, Ed Pashinski, Aaron Kaufer and Tarah Toohil worked closely with Senator Yudichak to secure the funds.

The Luzerne County projects approved for funding are:

Hazle Township will receive $1,000,000 for the extension of Hazle Township Boulevard.

The project will extend the boulevard and complete the construction of a link from State Route 309 to State Route 93.

City of Pittston Streetscape project will receive $560,000 for the continuation of a project on South Main Street. Proposed improvements include ADA compliant sidewalks, improved crosswalks and lighting to improve pedestrian and traffic safety.

Plains Township Main Streetscape project will receive $323,600 to improve the area along Main Street.The project will include installation of new sidewalks, curbing, handicap ramps, and period style lighting from West Carey Street to Henry Street.

Hanover Township will receive $550,000 for a road resurfacing project for several streets in the township. The work will also rehabilitate storm water drainage and ADA accessible curb ramps.

City of Nanticoke will receive $673,000 for a streetscape project that will improve traffic flow and traffic safety in the downtown corridor along East Main Street.

West Pittston Borough will receive $150,658 to help fund a cooperative road improvement project with Exeter and Wyoming Boroughs.

Wilkes University will receive $650,000 to help fund pedestrian safety improvements near the Henry Student Center at the corner of River and South Streets.