Monday, October 3, 2011

Growing Greener Coalition Reaction To Corbett Impact Fee Proposal

The Renew Growing Greener Coalition today issued the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Heath in response to Gov. Corbett’s Marcellus Shale impact fee proposal.
“The Coalition is pleased that the Governor has come to realize there should be an impact fee on Marcellus Shale drilling and that he will strengthen certain regulations to protect Pennsylvania’s environment from the dangers of natural gas drilling.
“Moreover, the Coalition is pleased that the Corbett administration is setting aside funds for plugging abandoned wells, a function of the Growing Greener program, which has invested $14.7 million in plugging more than 2,100 wells across the Commonwealth.
“Unfortunately, however, the Governor’s proposal falls short of what is necessary to offset the conservation, recreation and environmental impacts that drilling will have throughout Pennsylvania. Though the Governor says all the revenue should be used for industry-related impacts, he ignores the fact that these impacts extend far beyond local communities.
“Consider that Marcellus development threatens our water quality by causing erosion and sedimentation of our wetlands, creeks and rivers. Moreover, pollution from spills, overflows or illegal dumping could be felt in downstream communities all the way to the Chesapeake Bay and other critical waterways.
“Also consider that loss of access to hundreds of thousands of acres of state game lands, forests and parks – which are some of our most important areas for outdoor recreation including hunting, fishing, camping and hiking – threatens our tourism industry as well as the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.
“Now that the Governor has made his proposal public, the Coalition looks forward to working with the House and the Senate to ensure funding be allocated to Growing Greener to help offset the impacts of drilling and protect water quality, preserve open space and farmland, and enhance parks, trails and other recreational opportunities.”
Growing Greener is a bipartisan program established in 1999 under Gov. Tom Ridge and later expanded by Governors Schweiker and Rendell. Since its establishment, Growing Greener has created a legacy of success, preserving more than 33,700 acres of Pennsylvania’s family farmland, conserving more than 42,300 acres of threatened open space, adding 26,000 acres to state parks and forests, and restoring over 16,000 acres of abandoned mine lands.
Moreover, Growing Greener has contributed and leveraged billions of dollars to the Pennsylvania economy by helping to boost tourism, create jobs and generate revenue.
Yet despite the program’s accomplishments, funding for Growing Greener projects and grants fell from an average of approximately $150 million per year for the last six years to $27.3 million in the current budget. This is an 82 percent cut at a critical time when the natural gas drilling boom poses significant threats statewide to our water, air and environment.
To date, 230 organizations and groups have announced their support for renewing Growing Greener. In addition, at least 90 Pennsylvania municipalities and 23 counties, representing more than 5 million Pennsylvanians, have passed resolutions urging the Governor and Legislature to renew Growing Greener funding.
The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of conservation, recreation and environmental organizations representing nearly 350 organizations and government entities.

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