The PA Growing Greener Coalition Monday called on the Wolf Administration and state lawmakers to boost funding for the Department of Environmental Protection, citing concerns that inadequate technology and bare bones staffing levels are putting Pennsylvania's environment at risk.
In addition, the Coalition urged the Governor and legislators to also provide adequate funding for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture to address Pennsylvania's growing environmental needs.
"If we want to improve and protect the quality of our water and air, the state must stop short-changing environmental protection," said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition. "Inadequate funding directly threatens the health of Pennsylvania's land, air and water and consequently, our communities."
As discussed in Monday's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, DEP simply cannot absorb further budget cuts without sacrificing the ability to enforce regulations that protect the Commonwealth's environment, and in fact, the state should be putting more money – not less – toward programs that protect and preserve Pennsylvania's open spaces, family farms, parks and trails, waterways and historic sites.
"With hundreds of acres of open space lost to development each day in Pennsylvania, we need to be doing more to protect our natural resources, not less," said Heath. "As the Environmental Stewardship Fund continues to shrink, now is the time for lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to come together to advance a Growing Greener III initiative and continue Pennsylvania's conservation, recreation, and preservation legacy."
Funding for the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund has decreased from an average of $200 million in the mid-2000s to approximately $60 million in 2014.
The Coalition also called for restoring funding for the state Department of Agriculture, which along with DEP, plays a critical role in ensuring Pennsylvania meets its commitments to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and urged the Wolf Administration to save DCNR's Heritage Areas Program from being eliminated.
The PA Growing Greener Coalition is the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth.
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