Friday, October 9, 2020

New Poll Shows 90% Of PA Voters Want Senate, House Members To Address Environmental, Conservation Priorities, Provide More Funding For Critical Programs

A new poll shows 90 percent of Pennsylvania voters want Senate and House members to address important environmental priorities and 89 percent say open spaces, parks and the outdoors has become more important to them because of the pandemic.

The poll was conducted September 20 - 27 and sponsored by the Growing Greener Coalition and the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.

More than 90 percent of Pennsylvania voters want Harrisburg to pursue a number of important environmental priorities, including preventing oil and gas pipeline accidents, preserving farmland, cleaning up rivers and streams and protecting the quality of Pennsylvania’s drinking water.

“The poll sheds light on the oft-ignored moral aspect of land, water, and wildlife conservation: 9 in 10 Pennsylvanians say we need to take care of our natural environment for the sake of our children and grandchildren, the vast majority of these feeling quite strongly about this,” said Andy Loza, Executive Director of WeConservePA, the facilitating partner of the Growing Greener Coalition. “And 9 in 10 Pennsylvanians believe that even in these tough times, state government still needs to find the money to invest in protecting our land, water, and wildlife.”

Nearly 85 percent of voters say that the ongoing pandemic has made open spaces and parks more important than ever, according to the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

“While the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly dominating this election cycle, it is also highlighting in voters’ minds the importance of robust environmental protections that preserve Pennsylvania’s open spaces,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, which, along with the Growing Greener Coalition, sponsored the poll. “As Harrisburg is forced to make tough decisions in difficult fiscal circumstances, voters demand that our elected leaders prioritize policies that protect clean air and drinking water.”

Pennsylvania voters also overwhelmingly support increasing funding for critical environmental priorities — even if it means raising taxes and fees.

And when informed the state is facing a four-billion-dollar shortfall that will necessitate budget cuts, just 13 percent of Pennsylvania voters report preferring cuts to conservation and environmental protection priorities, as 62 percent report preferring cuts to other items in the budget.

Nearly 75 percent of voters support dedicating existing sales tax revenue generated from outdoor recreation activities like hunting and fishing to programs that improve water quality. 

More than 60 percent of voters support ending the state sales tax exemption for bottled water and using the revenue generated to improve water quality. And 60 percent support a $10 a year tax increase to increase funding for conservation programs.

Click Here for a summary of the poll results.

Backlog In Environmental Needs

In February, the Growing Greener Coalition estimated the backlog in just a few of the conservation funding needs were--

-- 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams are unsafe for drinking, swimming, fishing, and boating [now increased to 25,468 miles, $324 million a year needed for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed alone over the next six years];

-- More than 200,000 acres of abandoned mine lands and thousands of brownfield sites pollute our water and threaten human health and safety; and

-- State parks and forests require nearly $1 billion in necessary repairs. Read more here.

In addition, over the last 17 years, state General Fund support for DEP environmental protection programs have been cut by more than 40 percent and the agency’s staff by nearly 30 percent.

More than $2.93 billion in environmental funding for DEP and DCNR environmental and conservation programs has been cut or diverted to other purposes.  Read more here.

Visit the Growing Greener Coalition and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania websites for more information.

Related Articles - Budget:

-- Growing Greener Coalition: Tremendous Backlog Of Environmental Infrastructure Needs Demand Much Higher Levels Of Investment By State

-- PA Parks & Forests Foundation Launches New Protect Our Parks And Forests Website

-- State, Regional, Local Outdoor Recreation ‘Through The Roof’ Across Pennsylvania

-- Analysis: 2020 Is A Make Or Break Year For Environmental Funding

-- House Speaker Cutler: Republicans Will First Raid Dedicated Funds To Balance Budget In November

-- House Republicans Pass Bill To Freeze Funding For County Conservation Districts, Local Parks, Farm Conservation, Watershed Restoration Projects; Will Hurt Local Economies

-- House Republicans Moving Bill To Reallocate Keystone Fund, Damage Vitality Of PA’s Outdoor Economy

-- Analysis: Why Republican Freeze On Funding For Local Parks, Trails, Farm Conservation, Mine Reclamation, Recycling Is Bad For The Economy, Communities, The Environment

-- Senate Environmental Committee Puts Spotlight On Funding Needed To Implement PA Clean Water Plan At Chesapeake Bay Briefing

[Posted: October 9, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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