Friday, October 8, 2010

CBF: Senate Inaction On Severance Tax Could Cost PA Taxpayers Billions To Cleanup Water

Matthew Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Office Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, sent this letter to all members of the Senate Friday saying if they don't meet their commitment to pass a Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax in time to cleanup Pennsylvania's rivers and streams, it will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers billions of dollars.

Dear Senator:

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, on behalf of our 16,800 members across Pennsylvania, asks that you fulfill the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s commitment to pass a Severance Tax. We urge you to pass a bill that provides the Environmental Stewardship Fund with level of support similar to Senate Bill 1155 as passed by the House.
This funding is critical to Pennsylvania’s ability to meet our obligations to the Federal Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law. Senate inaction on the natural gas Severance Tax could cost Pennsylvania billions of dollars.
Two weeks ago the EPA published its draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), or pollution budget, for the Chesapeake Bay States. They said very clearly that Pennsylvania’s draft plan to improve water quality to meet that TMDL was woefully inadequate, primarily because there was no documentation that the STRATEGIES and RESOURCES necessary to implement PA’s plan were available.
If the Commonwealth cannot improve its draft plan to demonstrate with reasonable assurance that implementation is possible, EPA clearly identified how it would use its legal authority.
In the absence of satisfactory assurance of implementation of the non-point source pollution controls for agriculture and suburban runoff, EPA has the authority and will require limit of technology upgrades at wastewater treatment plans and they will dramatically increase the requirements of the MS4 stormwater permits held by many of our local communities.
These actions will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers billions of dollars if we cannot provide a plan and resources to provide cost effective controls on our non-point sources of pollution.
Adequate resources in the Environmental Stewardship Fund is a critical component to provide EPA with the reasonable assurance that the Federal Clean water Act Requires. These resources are also critical to deal with impaired water resources throughout the Commonwealth.
A responsible Severance Tax is a keystone to building a plan that EPA will accept and avoiding tremendously costly upgrades to our wastewater infrastructure.
Please keep the commitment that was made this summer to pass legislation enabling a Severance Tax.

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