PA Biomass Energy Association Expands to Mid-Atlantic

Today, the Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Association (PBEA) announced that it has expanded its focus beyond the keystone state to the region and will now be known as the Mid-Atlantic Bioenergy Council (MABEC). The material focus of the organization remains the same: representing the use of biomass to produce clean heat, power, biogas and soil amendments, but now the organization is geographically expanded from Pennsylvania to the Mid-Atlantic region. The council remains dedicated to supporting the use of biomass in the residential, small business, commercial, institutional, agricultural, and industrial sectors.

MABEC Board Chair, John Costlow, President of the Sustainable Energy Fund remarked: “More than anything, this move is a reflection of our members’ business interests which have never been confined to one state.  This expanded focus will allow MABEC to better support the biomass energy industry, in all its forms, and create new opportunities for its businesses and our organization.”

MABEC can be found online at and Twitter @MABEC_.

About the Mid-Atlantic Bioenergy Council

The Mid-Atlantic Bioenergy Council (MABEC) is the non-profit trade association representing the use of biomass to produce clean heat, power, fuels and soil amendments throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. We educate and advocate for the use of biomass for all kinds of energy in the residential, small business, commercial, institutional, agricultural, and industrial sectors.  Find us on the web at, Twitter @MABEC_ and on Flickr.

You can view a PDF of this press release here.

Algae: The new antibiotic? Thought Just Made Ponds Green

To the average observer, algae may look like a slimy mess. But in the green-tech world, they’re versatile workhorses that can be converted to biofuels, air purifiers and electricity.

Now a Michigan startup is harnessing it as a feed additive to address the pervasive problem of unnecessary antibiotics use on healthy animals in factory farms—a problem that’s led to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (also known as superbugs) that are a threat to global public health.

Algal Scientific is extracting beta glucan—a chain of simple sugars—from algae for use as an immune system support and alternative to antibiotics. CEO Geoff Horst says that the substance works by supporting the immune system via stimulating the growth of white blood cells.

“Most [beta glucan] on the market now is extracted from yeast cell walls, and it’s very expensive as they end up paying for refined beta glucan,” he said.

Dubbed Algamune, Horst says that his product is more potent—as well as cheaper—than the versions derived from yeast, since it’s more bioavailable.

Algamune—which is now being produced on a commercial scale in the U.S. and used by shrimp growers in Ecuador and Vietnam, as well as by chicken producers that Horst declined to name—got approved for use in the U.S. last year, and a few months ago in the EU after clearing regulatory requirements. The decisions capped a three-year process of R&D and testing the product in chickens, pigs, fish and shrimp at Texas A&M University and commercial settings.

Just last week, the company announced it had received $7 million in a second round of venture capital funding, which Horst says will now allow Algal Scientific to start working on a beta glucan feed additive for cows, aquaculture and pet food.

The support is a timely shot in the arm at a time when the world is standing on what journalist Maryn McKenna recently described as “the threshold of the post-antibiotic era” during her TED talk in Vancouver a few weeks ago.

Currently, antibiotic resistance is responsible for the deaths of 700,000 people a year worldwide, and by 2050 could claim more lives than cancer at 10 million deaths annually, according to the British-funded Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.

At TED, McKenna told the story of her great uncle Joe McKenna, a New York City firefighter who died from a simple infection after getting hit by a fire hose—a few years before penicillin was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928.

“Most people died back then the way my uncle died because they didn’t live long enough to develop heart disease,” she said. “They died most of the time from infection. All of that changed when antibiotics arrived.”

Every time we use an antibiotic, we give bacteria billions of chances to crack the codes of the defenses we’ve constructed, she said.

Eighty percent of antibiotics used in the U.S.—or nearly 30 million pounds—are mostly dispensed at factory farms as a way to prop up animals’ immune system. This contributes to the spread in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which gets into the groundwater via the farms’ runoff. Overuse in humans is also part of the problem: According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to half of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary.

If the superbugs win, and nothing is done to address the problem now, we would return to that era when skin infections would cause fear, McKenna said.

“If we lost antibiotics, we’d lose cancer patients, AIDS, premature babies and transplant recipients as well as stents for stroke, pumps for diabetes and new hips and knees,” she said. “This is asymmetric warfare, but we can change the outcome.”

Read the Full Original Article

Comment – About 10 years ago – I said “One day we may be making some of our waters green – to increase productivity and harvest the benefits of algae”.

Learn More About Natural Gas Energy Environment Development, Fracking, Fracking Terms, and Sustainability

Everything we do began with an idea.

We have offered “Free” Assistance to this effort, but if you are a private well owner that needs assistance we are happy to help.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.  Follow us on Twitter 

Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.    Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission), but we also do local educational workshops and local cellphone/small electronic recycling programs. If you would like to set up a program to help recycle cellphones at an event, business, or other organization.  Through our program we can recycle  cell phones, iPods, game systems, and small digital cameras.  If your interested, please contact us.  Our new PSAs.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).  Keystone Clean Water Team!

Alternative and Renewable Energy Energy Options for Pennsylvania

The Academy is a S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) magnet school in the Hazleton Area School District. The academy offers a variety of learning opportunities in the sciences, including onsite college courses at reduced tuition rates, project-based learning, individual and group work, and many creative ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge.    Mr. Brian Oram of the Keystone Clean Water Team and the owner of B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. conducted an education outreach effort as part of Earth Day.
During the presentation on April 22, 2014, Mr. Oram focused on:

The Importance of Conservation and Energy Efficiency
Need for the Use of Renewable Energy Where it Works Best
Need for State-wide Use Of Biomass and Groundsource Heating and Cooling
Regional/ National Wind and Solar Projects
Role of Nuclear Energy and
The Role of Fossil Fuels (Coal, Natural Gas, and Oil).

We learned that if we just recycle cellphones we could save the energy equivalent to 18,500 houses per year.

The presentation was fact based and highlighted the need for a State and National Energy Policy over a “Carbon” Plan.


We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.  We look for people that can forward solid articles, help coordinate local education efforts, and more.  Become part of the Keystone Clean Water Team!.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Waiting on Official Name change to the Keystone Clean Water Team by the IRS.  Unsolicited donations are appreciated.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).



Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Updates about the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) work to study the occurrence of polycythemia vera (PV) in three northeastern Pennsylvania counties (Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill), or you are one of the researchers involved in this work.  When updates are available, my goal is to share this kind of email update with you periodically.  If you are not interested in these updates from me, please just let me know and I will remove you from our contact list.  Thank you!


In 2004, using state cancer registry records, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) found a PV cluster in northeast Pennsylvania. PV is part of a disease group called myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), which is a group of slow-growing blood cancers where the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets.

In 2006, ATSDR was asked to help study PV patterns in the area. From 2007-2008, ATSDR reviewed medical records, conducted genetic testing, and confirmed this PV cluster.

In 2009, Congress funded ATSDR to continue this investigation. ATSDR is overseeing 18 projects with PADOH, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and various universities and private organizations. These projects are based on recommendations from an expert panel. The panel identified four areas for investigation; epidemiology, genetics, toxicology, and environmental studies.


As of October 1, 2013, all but one of the contracts for the 18 projects have ended.  The one exception is the tissue bank, which will remain open through May 2014.

In meetings with community members this summer, ATSDR was asked to share a summary of the status of final products anticipated from the 18 projects of the overall PV investigation in northeast Pennsylvania.  The graphic with this email provides this summary as of October 2013.  I’ve attached this graphic as a  PV Research Projects Status Graphic October 2013 (pdf).  Projects highlighted in “green” in the attached graphic have work complete and a final product available (if applicable).  Projects highlighted in “yellow” have final products in progress and undergoing clearance.  Projects highlighted in “red” have final products that are anticipated but not yet started.

As of October 30, 2013, work is complete and a final product is available (if applicable) for 5 projects.  Final products for another 9 projects are in progress.  Final products for 4 projects are anticipated but not yet started.

For more information:

Visit ATSDR’s web page on PV:

Call ATSDR’s toll-free PV information line: 866-448-0242 or email jcx0@cdc, which will connect you to Dr. Elizabeth Irvin-Barnwell, ATSDR Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences.

Contact Lora Siegmann Werner, ATSDR Region 3, by phone at 215-814-3141 or by email at

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss this information further, or you have suggestions on how I might improve this update in the future.  I know this is a detailed graphic, if you would like me to mail you a hard copy of a larger version I would be happy to do that, just let me know your mailing address.

Save the Date – April 15th – Sewage Facilities Planning Module Webinar

DEP invites you to participate in an important upcoming webinar about Draft Technical Guidance for DEP’s review of Sewage Facilities Planning Modules for onlot sewage systems proposed in Pennsylvania’s High Quality and Exceptional Value Watersheds. 

 The proper location and management of community and individual onlot septic systems is key to safeguarding public health and Pennsylvania’s water quality resources.  The new draft technical guidance will ensure cost-effective and reasonable best management practices (BMPs) for nonpoint source control are achieved to maintain and protect water quality when reviewing sewage facilities planning modules for proposed individual or community onlot sewage systems in high quality and exceptional value watersheds. 

 During the one-hour webinar, DEP staff will describe BMPs for individual and community onlot sewage systems that can achieve nonpoint source control in High Quality and Exceptional Value waters, and review the process for selecting appropriate BMPs to achieve such control.

 The webinar will be held from 2-3 p.m., Monday April 15.  The webinar is free but registration is required.  To register, visit

 The Draft Technical Guidance can be found here:   Public comments regarding the Draft Technical Guidance are due to DEP May 1. 

Some Personal Thoughts on this Proposed Policy

DEP calls for further probe of wildcat sewers
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
By JACOB SEIBEL TN Correspondent

Unpermitted sewer lines that discharge untreated sewage, known as wildcat sewers, have officially delayed the nearly decade-long Act 537 project for West Penn Township and Walker Township.

With the plan supposed to be finished by the end of December before what supervisors hoped to be the start of the implementation process of fixing defective sewers in the township, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has called for further investigation into the wildcat  sewers.

Although an investigation of the wildcats was unavoidable, West Penn Township Solicitor Gretchen Sterns and Township Engineer Ronald B. Madison, PE hoped that it could be done while the project was being worked on. They said there is no sense to delay the project to investigate a problem that they already know is there.

“I find that it is unbelievable, quite frankly,” Sterns said at last evening’s supervisor meeting, “that DEP showed great concern that there are areas where these wildcat sewers are where you literally have black water is coming out, causing a huge pollution concern, but their response is not to fix it. Their response is lets study it some more. I’m appalled, frankly, by that result.”

“Unfortunately, it’s more time and more expense,” Madison said.

The estimated cost for West Penn and Walker Township since the planning phase of Act 537 began in 2003 up this point has been $356,107.

A West Penn Township board of supervisors reorganization meeting will be Monday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in the municipal building.

Pennsylvanians want more electricity to come from renewable sources
Thursday, August 30, 2012

There is broad support for increasing the amount of renewable energy production from sources such as wind in the state.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — There is broad public support among Pennsylvania residents for increased renewable-energy generation, according to a study recently conducted by researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

The research found that Pennsylvanians rate hydropower, solar electricity and wind power highest among electricity generation technologies, followed by nuclear power and natural gas. The results indicate that the average Pennsylvania household is willing to pay an extra $55 per year to increase renewable-energy production by an amount equal to 1 percent of Pennsylvania electricity consumption.

The study, “Pennsylvanians’ Attitudes Toward Renewable Energy,” was conducted by Clare Hinrichs, associate professor of rural sociology, and Richard Ready, professor of agricultural and environmental economics, with assistance from doctoral students John Eshleman and James Yoo. The project was funded by a grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

“The dominant message that came across was that there is broad support for increasing the amount of renewable energy production in the state, and there is broad support for the state taking an active role in encouraging that,” Ready said. “The majority of Pennsylvanians support strengthening the state’s alternative-energy portfolio standard that mandates that a certain amount of electricity comes from renewable sources.”

Ready noted that researchers were surprised they did not find a single group of respondents who disagreed. Read more

Energy a focus at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days
Monday, July 30, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Energy — be it solar, wind, biofuels from plants or natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale — again will be a focus at Ag Progress Days, Aug. 14-16.

New this year is the Renewable Energy Showcase, a series of presentations on energy resources and conservation practices, to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the Learning Center Tent at Main and East 9th streets (below the Pasto Museum).

“These will be short, informative presentations by industry experts and Penn State Extension energy specialists,” said Ed Johnstonbaugh, extension educator, who is coordinating the showcase. “The topics will focus on conservation, solar and wind energy, and biogas and biomass energy. We have a great lineup of educational and thought-provoking presentations.”

Topics will be presented all three days at the following times:

Noon — Conservation
–Travel Adventures on a Solar-Powered Canal Boat
–Energy Efficiency and Conservation to Lower Costs
–Southwest Pa. Renewable Energy Incubator Project Update

1 p.m. — Solar and Wind Energy
–Solar Energy 101, Financing Options, System Design, and Combination Benefits
–Why Wind? Developing the Partnerships

2:15 p.m. — Biogas and Biomass Energy
–Manure Cures: Benefits of Biogas
–Switchgrass Pellets for Fuel
–Warm Season Grasses as Bioenergy Crops and for Environmental Benefits
–Woody Crops as Biomass Energy Resources

Ag Progress Days visitors also will have the opportunity to talk with commercial exhibitors involved in alternative-energy opportunities and conservation in the Energy Conservation Area on West 9th Street.

In addition, energy crops and biofuels will be the subject of an exhibit in the new Joseph D. Harrington Crops, Soils, and Conservation Building at the end of East 5th Street. Information will be available about several varieties of plants that can be grown by farmers in the Northeast and converted into energy.

“Our team is working to develop bioenergy cropping systems that provide value-added co-products and soil-conservation benefits in addition to bioenergy,” said Dan Ciolkosz, extension associate who  specializes in energy crops. “This work will be on display at Ag Progress Days.”

Show attendees also can collect fact-based and timely information on issues related to Marcellus Shale exploration, leasing and drilling from Penn State extension educators and commercial vendors at the Marcellus Center on West 10th Street.

“The development of the Marcellus Shale has impacted the agricultural community in many ways,” said Tom Murphy, extension educator and co-director of Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.

“Our focus this year at Ag Progress Days will be to present science-based information on topics ranging from the latest research on industry workforce development to remediation techniques after pipeline installation, and many other related subjects in between.”

Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 14; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 15; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 16. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress.

Tamaqua residents seek help in connecting to sewer line

By LIZ PINKEY TN Correspondent
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Daniel Lattanzi, who could be facing a $25,000 bill to connect to the sewer main, called the wildcat sewer situation in Tamaqua a "moral issue" and requested that the borough provide some relief for residents facing large bills as they connect to the sanitary sewer.

Members of Tamaqua’s Borough Council got an earful last night from several citizens who are unhappy about the fact that they are responsible for footing the bill to connect to the sanitary sewer, after years of illegally, and in most cases, unknowingly, discharging waste into the Wabash Creek.

Although the project and its expense have people upset, one of the other issues that came to light at last night’s meeting is the fact that by delaying the investigation of the problem the borough may have caused citizens to miss out on opportunities to seek outside funding or loans to help finance the project.

Anna Brose, of 249 West Broad St., said that the first letter she received regarding the problem and explaining that dye testing would be completed in the future was in 2008.

“It has taken three years to have the dye test done. I have a problem with that,” she said. “There is no financial aid available. Two years ago, three years ago, there was money available. Now there is nothing.”

Brose went on to say that she had received a letter from the borough stating that there was money available through the USDA and through Schuylkill Community Action.

“That money has dried up,” she said. “Schuylkill Community Action said their funding dried up two years ago.”

Brose said she could take a low interest loan through the borough, but still balked at the cost.

“I have paid a lot of money to the borough, as have a lot of people in this room,” she said, referring to the estimated $9,200 she has paid in sewer bills over the last 30 years. “We just can’t absorb this amount of money, when this could have been done how long ago and money would have been available,” she said.

Borough President Micah Gursky agreed that the situation is not a good one. However, he stood by the borough’s process.

“Everyone agrees that it should have been done a long time ago,” he said. “Our initial plan was to dye test the properties, but the cost was much higher than we could afford as a borough. That was the delay. We were trying to figure out options, how to figure out who needed to hook up.”

Gursky also said this is not the first time that the borough has had to deal with properties where the owners believed that they were connected to the public system and were in fact, not.

“It happens from time to time,” he said. “Unfortunately, everyone is required to hook up.”

Councilman Tom Cara said that the borough was willing to “let this thing go on because we didn’t want to put the burden on you.” However, Gursky disagreed.

“You can’t flush your toilet into the creek,” he said.

Resident Kevin Kellner, who lost his home at 5 South Lehigh St. in a fire on July 5, was one of the property owners who was notified that he was not connected. Kellner said that his lawyer had advised him that the residents will be required to pay to connect to the sewer, however, he told him that he should recoup the money that he has paid to the borough over the years in sewer bills.

Gursky said that the borough has “been down that road before” and does not expect that the borough will be required to reimburse residents. Kellner also asked why DEP has not been held accountable for the cleanup of local waterways, including the Wabash and the Panther Creek.

Another unfortunate issue with the timing of the project has to deal with the Streetscape project that was recently completed along sections of Broad Street. Many of the property owners will be required to dig through the new sidewalks and pavers and replace them in order to connect to the sewer main.

“Yeah, we’re kicking ourselves because we’re going to have to cut into new sidewalks,” said Gursky.

One resident could be looking at an even larger project. Daniel Lattanzi, of 403 E. Broad St., is facing an estimated $25,000 in bills as he would need to connect to a main located on the other side of Broad Street, which would necessitate digging all the way across Route 209. Lattanzi has lived at the seven unit apartment complex since 1950 and owned it since 1962. Although he said he could pursue a cheaper alternative and install a grinder pump and avoid crossing 209, he has no control over what is going into that pump and is not willing to risk incurring more expense for the continual upkeep of the pump.

“I can’t get a bit of help. We’ve been hung out to dry,” he said, calling it a “moral issue.”

“I feel the borough should do something,” he added.

Another resident, Maria Burke, of Rowe Street, asked what will happen to residents who cannot comply with the Aug. 31 deadline. Burke expressed the frustration that many residents feel at being told they are breaking the law.

“I don’t want my crap going in the freaking creek. Who does? We want to do the right thing,” she said, but she indicated that with a newborn at home, she may not be able to find the money and additionally, trying to find a plumber to complete the work by Aug. 31 is going to be difficult with more than 40 properties needing to be addressed.

“We’re begging you,” she said to council members, “be an advocate for us.”

Councilman Brian Connelly said that the borough will contact other offices, including U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, to see if there is any aid that can be made available to residents.

However, he and other council members are not optimistic that funding will be forthcoming, especially not by the Aug. 31 deadline.

Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that the borough will definitely need to ask DEP for an extension. The Tamaqua Public Library has already missed its deadline to connect to a lateral on a neighboring property and will need to look at another alternative.

Steigerwalt said that DEP has been advised of that situation and has not approved or denied an extension request, it has just asked that it be corrected as soon as possible.

Tamaqua properties illegally discharging into Wabash Creek
Reported on Friday, May 20, 2011

Fifty six properties in the borough of Tamaqua have been identified as having active or once active illegal sewer connections to the Wabash Creek.

Those that were once active may need further investigation to determine if they will need to be addressed. Council president Micah Gursky announced the findings of a recent study at this week’s borough council meeting, stating that property owners have already been notified by certified mail.

“As sad as it is that we have illegal discharge, it’s nice to see a list finally verifying who is illegally connected,” said Gursky. “There have always been rumors.”

The list is now available to the general public and can be viewed at the borough building.

“This is just the beginning,” said Gursky. “There are a lot of folks who have to connect and a lot of work to be done over the next several months to connect them.”

The majority of the properties are located along S. Lehigh, W. Broad, Rowe, S. Railroad and Nescopec streets. Gursky added that

The borough has until August to address the problems to avoid further issues with DEP, which has already cited the borough for the illegal discharge. Property owners have 60 days to connect to the sewage system.

Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt asked borough residents for their continued cooperation in the matter.

“So far, the people have have contacted us with questions have been very cooperative. We appreciate that,” he said.

The borough does have a revolving loan program that could be available to property owners who need financial assistance to have the work completed. More information on that program is available from the borough.