DEP and Department of Health Joined by Lung Cancer Survivor To Encourage Home Radon Testing

Leaders from the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Health (DOH) were joined by a lung cancer survivor to encourage Pennsylvanians to do a simple test for radon in their homes as part of National Radon Action Month.
“Forty percent of homes in Pennsylvania have a higher level of radon gas than federal guidelines,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “Because radon levels vary from home to home based on local geology and house foundation type, all Pennsylvanians should test their home to protect themselves and their families. DEP offers many educational resources to help.”
Radon is an invisible, odorless radioactive gas that enters homes from the ground as a result of the breakdown of uranium and radium in rocks and soil. Due to Pennsylvania’s geology, some of the highest radon levels in the United States have been found in homes around the state. With long-term exposure, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.
"We should take radon awareness seriously, as it could pose potential health risks," Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. "The danger in radon exposure is that you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it. And you won’t have any symptoms to alert you, but over time if you are breathing in high levels of radon, it can cause lung cancer. I encourage you to get your home tested and fixed to improve your and your family’s health and safety."
Allegheny County resident Jackie Nixon was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago. She had never smoked and was a lifelong fitness practitioner. After cancer treatment, she learned about radon and discovered there were high levels in her condominium building. 
“There was no other explanation that made sense for my lung cancer,” said Nixon, who now helps educate youth and adults as part of the nonprofit Citizens for Radioactive Radon Reduction. “I’m happy to share my experience if I can help other Pennsylvanians learn about the risk of radon gas in their home.” 
Test Your Home for Radon: Jackie's Story
Snow on houses in a PA neighborhood

Winterize Your Home To Save on Utility Bills

With colder winter weather on the way, now is the time to save money on utility bills by winterizing your home. Home winterization can keep your home warmer while using less energy and costing less money.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average Pennsylvania family spends more than $2,000 per year on energy bills, and energy costs continue to rise. Half the energy consumed in Pennsylvania homes is for heating inside spaces. Fortunately, homeowners can take small steps to make their home safe and more efficient. Take the time now to prepare for the weather ahead by making simple changes to your home. This can help you to stay warm, save money, and save energy.
DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh

DEP Launches $12.7 Million Initiative to Electrify Truck Fleets for Cleaner Air

Projects serving environmental justice areas, high traffic density areas, and Act 47 financially distressed municipalities are a top priority for funding.
“Our newest Driving PA Forward initiative aims to support transformational scale electrification of local trucks to improve air quality in communities with some of the highest air pollution levels in Pennsylvania,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “A growing number of communities are proactively pursuing healthier air quality and greenhouse emission reductions. They’re interested in zero-emission electric options for the kinds of trucks that travel their neighborhoods on a regular basis. To help their transition to electric vehicles, DEP will provide at least 75% and, in some cases, 100% of funding to electrify local freight truck fleets.” 
Children board a school bus

Gov. Wolf Announces $34.6 Million for Clean School Buses

This is the first round of funding from the EPA Clean School Bus Program, which President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created with a historic $5 billion investment for low- and zero-emission school buses over the next five years. 
“Families rely on school buses to safely transport their children to and from school and related activities. We ensure that these buses are safe and that should include safe for our children’s lungs and environment. I thank President Biden for prioritizing pollution reduction and clean energy as part of his broad and comprehensive infrastructure investments,” said Gov. Wolf. “These new buses will decrease air pollution around schools and for schoolchildren.”  

DEP Awards $3 Million to Restore Watersheds Statewide

DEP awarded $3 million in grant funding to local governments and organizations to restore the health of local watersheds around the state by reducing water pollution.
“Reducing current and future nonpoint source pollution is critical to restoring the health of the water ecosystems Pennsylvanians depend on,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “It requires painstaking work based on understanding the impact that activities on land have on our streams and rivers. DEP is pleased to support communities across Pennsylvania who are working to improve their watersheds one stream segment, one land parcel, one best-practice project at a time.”
The grants target nonpoint source pollution, or pollution that enters streams and rivers from widespread sources, rather than from a single specific discharge point, such as a pipe. About 95% of water-quality-impaired watersheds in Pennsylvania are affected by the following types of nonpoint source pollution:
  • Nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution from agricultural activities, urban stormwater runoff, and streambank and shoreline erosion; and
  • Iron, aluminum, and acidity pollution associated with energy resource extraction and acid mine drainage (AMD).
Funding comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, authorized through Section 319(h) of the federal Water Pollution Control Act.
Quote graphic with above text and pictures of waterways
An electric vehicle in Harrisburg

Electric Vehicles: Learn What Pennsylvania Is Doing To Help Drive a Cleaner Future

For some consumers, the biggest reason to consider owning an EV is the benefit provided to the environment. Unlike an internal combustion engine vehicle, EVs have zero tailpipe emissions thereby improving air quality which will ultimately lead to better health for Pennsylvanians. But there are other reasons as well. In addition to improving air quality and helping to slow climate change, the switch to EVs provides other quality of life benefits such as the creation of well-paying jobs in clean energy industries. And unlike money spent on imported oil, money that drivers of EVs pay to electric distribution companies stays in the local economy.

Small Business Advantage Grant Now Open, $1 Million in Funding Available 

The Small Business Advantage Grant provides reimbursement grants ranging from 50% to 80% of eligible project costs to Pennsylvania small businesses to improve energy efficiency or reduce pollution or waste by: upgrading or replacing equipment or supplies; improving processes; or reducing runoff into affected waterways. Maximum grant award amounts will vary from up to $5,000 to up to $8,000, based on the environmental impact of the project and whether the project location is in an Environmental Justice Area in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania-based businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees are eligible. Eligible applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis, and must save the small business a minimum of $500 and at least 20% annually in energy consumption or pollution prevention related expenses (Natural Resource Protection projects are exempt).
Graphic for SBAG grants


Speakers at the podium during the LCAP event

DEP and Local Officials Kick Off 2022-23 Local Climate Action Program

DEP recently kicked off its 2022-23 Local Climate Action Program (LCAP) with a visit to Wormleysburg Borough in Cumberland County. The county and borough are participants in the program, which has helped hundreds of communities in Pennsylvania measure local greenhouse gas emissions and begin to reduce the risks of climate change.
Sixty-four entities, representing more than 440 municipalities, including 46 environmental justice communities, have participated in the DEP Local Climate Action Program since it launched in 2019. Nineteen communities have finalized, adopted, and begun carrying out their plans.  
Group photo at recycling event

DEP Urges Residents to Recycle Household Goods and Clothing PAReMaDe Circular Merchant App, Secondhand Retailers Offer Advice

DEP recently reminded Pennsylvania residents that recycling unwanted, gently used items commonly found in households, such as furniture and clothing, is an effective strategy to curb pollution. 
“Pennsylvanians have opportunity around them to curb pollution, and they can start by looking in their closets and around their homes,” said Acting DEP Secretary Ramez Ziadeh.
DEP estimates that approximately 10% of the municipal waste stream, or approximately 500,000 tons, is made up of textiles, furniture, and other household goods.
“The potential for recovering much of this waste for recycling/reuse is great,” said DEP Manager of Division of Waste Minimization and Planning Lawrence Holley.

DEP Tours Kettle Creek Stream Restoration Project, Highlights Countywide Action Plan Progress

DEP recently visited a stream restoration project today at the Lucky 7 Hunting Club property on Kettle Creek to view the recently completed work and discuss how it will improve water quality in this Exceptional Value stream as part of Clinton County’s Countywide Action Plan for the Chesapeake Bay. 
The project was designed to reduce erosion that threatens property, decrease pollution, and improve aquatic and riparian habitats. Project partners include the Clinton County Conservation District, Kettle Creek Watershed Association, Native Creations, Lucky 7 Hunting Club, and the Kettle Creek/Tamarack Sportsmans Club. 
“This project restored more than 400 feet of eroding streambank in the Kettle Creek Watershed,” said Toby Boyer, watershed specialist with the Clinton County Conservation District, who led the tour. “An estimated 17 tons of sediment per year will be reduced, and this section of stream will provide much needed habitat for trout and other aquatic species.”  
People tour the project site A tree is ready to be planted View of project site
Staff pose with the award plaque for a group photo

DEP Wins National Award for Mine Reclamation Project

DEP recently won the 2022 National Award, given by the federal Office of Surface Mine Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to recognize the highest-rated abandoned mine land reclamation project in the nation, for the “Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area – Bear Valley” project. This 88-acre project in Northumberland County reclaimed six abandoned mine land features and constructed 6,600 feet of extreme rock-crawling and more than 9,000 feet of all-terrain vehicle trails.
“It’s extremely exciting that Pennsylvania is being recognized for the National Award,” said John J. Stefanko, DEP’s Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations. “The project includes the largest man-made rock crawling feature of its kind, that we are aware of, anywhere in the country. The transformation from a hazardous AML site to a world class attraction is already showing local job creation and improving economic conditions fort this part of PA’s coal region. The project is a testament to DEP’s partners at the AOAA, the landowners, Morgan’s Excavating (the on-site contractor), OSMRE, and DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation staff who had a part in the project. It takes a team working collaboratively and cooperatively to achieve results like this.”
“The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards honor the best examples of AML reclamation in our nation,” said OSMRE Deputy Director Glenda Owens. “Our state and Tribal partners work diligently to address health hazards and mitigate environmental problems affecting coal communities. These awards showcase what is possible in reinvigorating those impacted coal communities.”
According to OSMRE, the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards were established in 1992 to recognize exemplary state and Tribal reclamation projects that reclaim coal mine sites abandoned prior to the enactment of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. The winning projects represent the nation’s highest achievements in abandoned mine land reclamation and demonstrate outstanding results in restoring previously mined lands. This year’s awardees helped to protect the public through the elimination of public safety and environmental hazards and bolstered local economies by creating new recreation opportunities and protecting local tourist treasures. 
View of the project site ATVs Educational signage

DEP Documents Farmers’ Efforts in 2021-22 to Improve Water Quality in Chesapeake Bay Watershed

DEP recently announced 2021-22 agricultural compliance data in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Visits to 2,670 farms documented superefficient nutrient use on 108,000 acres and 1,524 new structural best management practices (BMPs) to improve the health of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania’s largest watershed.
“Pennsylvanians’ actions on the ground continue to demonstrate our strong commitment to improving the health of the watershed,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “The data show that many farms have conservation plans and are putting in place best management practices to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution here in Pennsylvania and on down to the bay.”
“Pennsylvania farmers are managing their farms in ways that protect and improve our soil and water resources,” said Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “These numbers make it clear that the investments we are making in conservation on our farms is paying off for all of us – our farms are feeding our future.” 
Stream buffer planted on a farm
A newly planted riparian buffer is pictured at a farm in Pennsylvania
Erosion on Erie bluffs

Lake Erie Bluffs and the Effects of Erosion

​Imagine watching your backyard disappear 2 to 3 feet every year. Such is the case along the 76.6 miles of Lake Erie shoreline where some of the coastal bluffs are receding rapidly. Although increased lake levels over the last few decades may have sped up the loss, erosion of these bluffs is a natural occurrence and will ultimately occur without human influences. However, it’s the unnatural, man-made occurrences, that are playing key roles in speeding up this recession.
Erosion on Erie bluffs Erosion on Erie bluffs Erosion on Erie bluffs

DEP Awards $12.2 Million to Support Counties’ Progress in Restoring Chesapeake Bay Watershed

DEP recently awarded $12.2 million in 2023 Countywide Action Plan (CAP) Implementation Grants to county teams across Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to support their progress in reducing nutrient and sediment pollution to restore the health of local streams, rivers, and lakes.
“In every county, local leaders and partners in agriculture, conservation, and other areas are carrying out measures they’ve determined will have the biggest impact in reducing pollution and bringing the benefits of a healthy watershed to their communities,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “DEP is committed to doing everything it can to support this unprecedented grassroots action and progress. The 2023 CAP Implementation funding will enable teams to build on their previous years’ successes and launch new projects, accelerating Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan.”
Bay watershed map in PA

Wolf Administration Announces Funding to Protect Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone

DEP recently announced that 12 projects, totaling $536,382, aimed at protecting and restoring the Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone would be funded through grants. This year’s projects emphasize environmental education, community outreach, and continued research on PFAS; all of which will benefit this critical habitat and ecosystem.   
“It’s exciting to see this grant money being put to good use in the Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone,” said DEP Southeast Regional Director Pat Patterson. “Local organizations that develop strategies and carry out projects to restore and protect our natural resources are of the utmost importance and the DEP is committed to supporting these partners with grant funding and technical assistance." 

Wolf Administration Announces Funding to Protect Lake Erie

DEP recently announced that seven projects received Coastal Zone Grants totaling more than $280,077. The grants, which are aimed at protecting and restoring the Lake Erie Coastal Zone, will be used toward projects that will benefit this critical habitat and ecosystem. 
“It’s exciting to see this grant money being put to good use in the Lake Erie Coastal Zone,” said DEP Northwest Regional Director, Erin Wells. “DEP is committed to supporting these partners with grant funding and technical assistance as they restore and protect our natural resources.” 


EJ Grants Available from EPA

EPA is announcing the availability of approximately $100 million in environmental justice grant funding – the largest amount ever offered by the agency. This funding, made possible through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, will advance environmental justice in underserved and overburdened communities across the country.
This funding will be distributed through two programs within EPA’s newly established Office of Environmental Justice & External Civil Rights. The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Program will provide $30 million in funding directly to community-based nonprofit organizations. The Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G) Program will provide $70 million in funding to state and local governments to partner with community-based nonprofit organizations.
Through both programs, EPA is giving special consideration to projects that address climate change or disaster resiliency, benefit rural areas, and conduct Health Impacts Assessments.
Applications are due by April 10, 2023. Applicants can visit to learn more about both programs and sign up for pre-application assistance webinars. The first webinar, focused on EJCPS, will take place on January 24 and the second webinar, focused on EJG2G, will take place on January 26.
This grant funding is a key step that will help build strong partnerships with communities across the country and move us closer to realizing a more just and equitable future for all. EPA is planning to announce additional environmental justice funding in early 2023.

Wetlands in Winter

​Wetlands are almost everywhere in Pennsylvania -- more than 400,000 acres, in fact. They are found near streams and rivers, along valleys, and even on top of mountains.
DCNR lands contain thousands of acres of these types of habitats, which are among the most biodiverse places in the state.
A large variety of life from microbes to otters can be part of a wetland ecosystem.
The high level of nutrients and large amount of life they hold is ideal for the development of the base of the food web.
Many species of fish, amphibians, shellfish, insects, birds, and mammals rely on wetlands for food, water, and shelter -- especially during migration and breeding.
Wetlands are important in urban and suburban areas too. They slow stormwater flow, capture runoff, and absorb excess nutrients.
When the water and ground freeze, these places once teeming with life tend to slow down to a crawling pace. But if you know what to look for, you can tell there is still much going on in wetlands during winter.
Old growth forest

New Resources Available for Forest Landowners and Managers for Climate Change Resilience

​More than 70 percent of the woodlands in Pennsylvania are owned by private landowners.
With the proper instruction, tools, and technical assistance, these landowners can manage their land in ways that enhance the production of wood, water, recreation, and wildlife and can mitigate the effects of a changing climate.
Making wise and informed decisions on how to manage land helps conserve the natural resources of Pennsylvania and ensure that forests are resilient and able to withstand future changes.


Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
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