Friday, December 6, 2013

PA Environmental Council: SB 994 Diverts Funding From Farm BMPs That Work

The PA Environmental Council Friday sent a letter to Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), prime sponsor of Senate Bill 994, expressing its opposition to the bill saying it “establishes a mandatory nutrient reduction strategy that is not environmentally or economically sound.”
PEC joins the PA Farmers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the PA Municipal Authorities Association and PennFuture, in opposing this legislation.
The text of the letter follows--
“On behalf of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), I am writing to restate our opposition to Senate Bill 994 (P.N. 1209), which establishes a mandatory nutrient reduction strategy that is not environmentally or economically sound.
“Senate Bill 994 offers the promise of a fix for agricultural pollution without identifying where funding needed for the program will come from - now or in the future – while still mandating that PennVEST buy particular credits through a program administered by both PennVEST and the Department of Environmental Protection.
“It threatens to siphon funding away from thousands of farmers and conservation programs that we know can and want to get the job done, and re-direct it to treatment technology credits that are not even approved for established Chesapeake Bay reduction goals.
“Furthermore, these particular credits currently cost four times the market rate of proven reduction strategies that also support Pennsylvania farmers.
“Funding innovation is a great idea, but not when it fails to meet applicable environmental standards. Rather than setting up a separate state fund for that threatens to raid the coffers of agricultural programs, Pennsylvania should strengthen its existing state nutrient trading program.  
“A solid free market pollution credit trading program that gives potential buyers confidence in nutrient credits will help increase demand for credits and achieve the same results, or better, as Senate Bill 994.
“We need to make our existing nutrient trading program work, and we need to continue to support the conservation efforts of our farmers and conservation professionals who are already equipped to finish the job.”
Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Fact Sheets
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation PA Office has issued a series of fact sheets outlining the water quality problems and solutions being implemented in the Pennsylvania portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed--
-- A Primer On Pollutants Of Concern-- outlines the contributions Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed makes to nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution to the Bay.
-- Nearly 20,000 Miles Of PA Streams Are Polluted-- details the fact there are thousands of stream miles and hundreds of acres of lakes all across Pennsylvania that are considered “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act that either have or will require what is known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
-- Cost Effective Solutions Are Known, Documented For The Chesapeake Bay-- notes cost effective pollution solutions have already made significant progress in reducing pollution going to the Bay, particularly in Pennsylvania.
-- Lancaster County Plain Sect Farms As Clean Water Stewards-- provides a snapshot of the Buffer Bonus initiative from CBF to encourage the installation of stream buffers by Amish and Plain Sect farmers in Lancaster County.
-- Amish and Old Order Mennonite Farms Protect Streams And The Bay-- provides an overview of a CBF initiative to work with Plain Sect farmers in Lancaster and Chester counties to install best management practices under federal Farm Bill Programs like the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
In addition, Dr. Beth McGee, Senior Water Quality Scientist at CBF, gave a PowerPoint presentation October 16 on the status of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup in Pennsylvania and the challenges that remain.

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