The Renew Growing Greener Coalition issued the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Heath in response to Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati's (R-Jefferson) release of his Marcellus Shale Impact Fee last week:
"The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is pleased that Sen. Scarnati is getting involved in the Marcellus Shale discussion – this is a positive step forward. We also appreciate that Senator Scarnati has made numerous comments in the press over the past year expressing the importance of funding Growing Greener.
"The Coalition has concerns about the legislation, but look forward to learning more about the environmental funding component and how the legislation will fund Growing Greener.
“Although the proposal does not specifically mention the Environmental Stewardship Fund, nor Growing Greener, we are hopeful that the Governor and members of the legislature will recognize the significant benefits of addressing environmental, conservation and recreation priorities at the same time that our environment and communities are being impacted by the rapid development of Marcellus Shale gas.”
Being offered as an Impact Fee, the Senator’s proposal is the first of its kind. Severance Tax proposals have been offered by Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Rep. Camille George (D-Clearfield), Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) and each include funding for the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener). Details on how Sen. Scarnati’s Impact Fee will fund Growing Greener are still unknown.
The Governor's proposed budget shows $27.4 million available for Growing Greener, an 82 percent reduction in funding from its average of $150 million a year over the last six years. The reduction is due to the Growing Greener II Bonds being depleted and the diversion of GrowingGreener I funds to pay the Growing Greener II Bond debt service payment.
Using funds from an impact fee or severance tax to fund the Environmental Stewardship Fund would ensure that Growing Greener continues to maintain the environmental health of our communities and to protect the natural resources that are critical to the future of the Commonwealth, its economic well being and quality of life for our citizens.
The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of conservation, recreation and environmental organizations representing more than 250 organizations and government entities.