News from the Associated Press - August 1, 2014

Associated Press
August 1, 2014

PPL proposes 725-mile power line network in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - PPL Corp. wants to spend billions of dollars to build a 725-mile system of electric transmission lines that will bring energy from the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas fields to customers on the heavily populated eastern seaboard.

The Allentown-based utility said Thursday the 500-kilovolt line would span Pennsylvania and reach New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

The company says the cost would exceed $4 billion and it'll probably take a decade to build.

The proposal requires regulatory approval and the precise route hasn't been determined.

A rough map produced by the company shows a line running from Pittsburgh through Pennsylvania's rural northern tier and into New York.

A second branches south through the Susquehanna River corridor into Maryland. A third spur runs through the Lehigh Valley and into New Jersey.


Forests agency adds public step to drilling plan

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania state lawmaker says it's an important victory that parks and forests officials will accept public comments on the terms of agreement to allow two natural gas exploration companies to drill in Loyalsock State Forest.

Still, Rep. Rick Mirabito told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette on Wednesday that he wished the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources had agreed to accept comments for 30 days, rather than just 15.

Agency officials say there's no deadline to come to terms.

They say the state doesn't own the subsurface rights on a 25,000-acre tract known as the Clarence Moore lands and cannot prevent Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum and Southwest Energy from drilling there. But officials say they hope to minimize the environmental damage.

Drilling opponents argue that the state has more power than it says to prevent the drilling.


NY applications open for $20M land bank funding

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Attorney General's Office says it will take applications to help Land Banks restore abandoned properties with up to $20 million.

The office says that follows $13 million allocated in the initiative last year.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is dedicating money from the 2012 national settlement with five major mortgage lenders over foreclosure practices.

New York's Legislature passed a bill in 2011 establishing land banks that could acquire vacant, abandoned, or foreclosed properties, and choose to rebuild, demolish, or redesign them.

Currently there are nine land banks in New York, though up to 20 are authorized.

The nine are authorized for Newburgh, Rochester, Schenectady/Amsterdam, Albany County, Suffolk County, Buffalo and Erie County/Niagara County, Chautauqua County, Broome County, Syracuse and Onondaga County.


Coal dust limit to try to combat black lung

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Obama administration's push to reduce black lung disease by limiting coal dust in mines is taking effect.

Initial requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor's coal dust rule become effective Friday. It was proposed in 2010.

New requirements include increased dust sampling in mines and citations when coal operators don't take immediate action for high levels.

In February 2016, better monitoring equipment will be required. In August 2016, the allowable concentration of coal dust will drop.

Ohio-based Murray Energy and the National Mining Association sued separately over the rule.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says black lung has killed more than 76,000 miners since 1968.

It is an irreversible and potentially deadly disease caused by coal dust exposure, where particles accumulate in the lungs.

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