Monday, January 2, 2012

Article: First Year Administration Accomplishments Compared

An article in today's Harrisburg Patriot News raised the issue of what new governor's accomplish in the first year of their administrations.
            The article noted a comparison by a Governor's Office staffer noted the failures in the first year of both Democratic and Republican Governors.  But it also failed to mention challenges these governors had like the melt down of Three Mile Island during the first three months of the Thornburgh Administration.
            The staff of every governor wants to put their boss in the most favorable light.  To provide more depth for the comparison of first year accomplishments, here's a list of first year environmental accomplishments under the Ridge-Schweiker Administration--

-- The Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act was passed creating the Land Recycling Program to encourage the cleanup and reuse of industrial sites. (Act 2 - May) Gov. Ridge signs landmark legislation which has received national and international awards. (Major campaign promise)
-- The Economic Development Agency, Fiduciary and Lender Liability Act exempts financial institutions and municipal agencies from cleanup liability for pollution they did not cause as part of the Land Recycling Program. (Act 3 - May) (Major campaign promise)
-- The Abandoned Industrial Sites Environmental Assessment Act provides funding for environmental assessments and cleanups on land in use prior to July 18, 1995 as part of the Land Recycling Program. (Act 4 - May) (Major campaign promise)
-- The Storage Tank & Spill Prevention Act is amended to deregulate consumptive use heating oil tanks, allow heating oil tanks to opt into leak cleanup coverage, requiring DEP to pay for testing for innocent tank owners, adding members to the Storage Tank Advisory Committee (Act 16)
-- The General Assembly passes a new law splitting the Department of Environmental Resources into the Department of Environmental Protection to house traditional environmental protection programs and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to house State Parks and State Forest programs. (Act 18 - June) (Major campaign promise)
-- John Oliver named first Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources and James Seif becomes first Secretary of Environmental Protection.
-- DEP is first state environmental agency in the U.S. to have a website. (May)
-- DEP creates Money Back Guarantee Program setting deadlines for reviewing environmental permits (July).
-- DEP begins Regulatory Basics Initiative to conduct the agency’s first comprehensive review of regulations and policies identifying potential changes that would save individuals, local governments and businesses $154 million in compliance costs without reducing environmental protection (August).  (Campaign promise)
-- The General Assembly passes legislation authorizing capital projects under Key '93 Recreation and Conservation Fund Program (Act 56)
-- Gov. Ridge forms Governor's Executive Council on Recycling and Waste Reduction (October).
-- DEP sponsored the first statewide Pollution Prevention Conference (October) (Campaign promise)
-- DEP creates first Pennsylvania Office of the Great Lakes naming Kelly Burch as its head (October).
-- A new law requires the Historical & Museum Commission to conduct archaeological surveys and prohibiting state agencies from delaying action on permits based on a request from the Commission (Act 70)
-- The General Assembly recodifies bicycle regulations and authorizing transfer of funds for the Envirotest settlement that buys out the contractor from the centralized vehicle emission inspection and maintenance program adopted by Gov. Casey. (Act 72) (Campaign promise)
-- The Phosphate Ban Act is amended to extend the ban on phosphates in detergent from 1995 to 1998. (Act 78)
-- A new law authorizes the transfer of $3 million to provide new funding for local Household Hazardous Waste Collection and the first funding specifically earmarked for Small Business Pollution Prevention Programs (Act 155)  (Campaign promise)
-- DEP Office of Minerals Resources Management undertakes Customer Needs Survey to evaluate the way its programs serve the public, local governments and mine operators (November).

            Every new administration faces significant challenges, but that's not a reason to belittle the accomplishments of any governor in the past.  The records should be compared on the facts.

           Here's a list of second year environmental accomplishments during the Ridge-Schweiker Administration.

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