Thursday, April 24, 2014

In Memoriam: Former Sen. Ray Musto, Democratic Chair Senate Environmental Committee

Former Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne), long-time Democratic Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, passed away Thursday at the age of 85.
For many years Sen. Musto has been the regarded as a leading voice on environmental issues in the Senate and as a fierce advocate for his district. He has been involved in the passage of every major state environmental law and program for the last 30 years.
Among the notable environmental laws and initiatives completed as a result of Musto's work:
--Curbside Recycling: Legislation that created Pennsylvania's curbside recycling program in 1988, the largest in the country;
--Land Recycling: Pennsylvania's land recycling program--Acts 2, 3 and 4 of 1995 which has become the national model program for the effective re-use of abandoned industrial property;
--Growing Greener: Act 68 (1999) Pennsylvania's Growing Greener program that has led to the protection of open spaces and farmland preservation as well as water and sewer system upgrades;--Air Pollution Control:Helped adopt far-reaching changes to the Air Pollution Control Act (Act 95) that has led to steadily improving air quality;
--Infrastructure: Supported numerous bills to improve Pennsylvania's water and wastewater infrastructure, including a 1988 law creating the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority;
--Chesapeake Bay: Helped adopt the Chesapeake Bay Commission Agreement in 1985 committing Pennsylvania to cleanup the Chesapeake Bay;
--Water Resources: Helped pass the Water Resources Planning Act in 2002 to require a state water plan;
--Hazardous Sites Cleanup: Shepherded the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act in 1988 through the Senate;
-- Key ‘93 Program: Help create the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund to provide funding for Pennsylvania’s State Parks and Forests and local recreation projects; and
-- Establishment of Nescopeck State Park.
Of her colleague, Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango) said when he retired in 2010, "Being in public service is a tough job where criticism and cynicism come with the territory; but it is also a wonderful job because you can directly make a difference in the lives of people.  I congratulate Sen. Musto on his nearly 28 years of distinguished service in the state Senate. In addition to being a friend and true gentleman, Sen. Musto has been a passionate advocate for the environment.
"His imprint can be found on every major environmental accomplishment realized over the past three decades, including the state's landmark recycling, environmental education, Key '93, brownfields reuse, water resource planning, alternative energy and Growing Greener acts. None of these initiatives would be in place today without the guidance and support of Ray Musto.”
“Ray Musto was a devoted Democrat, but there was not a partisan bone in his body when it came to the environment,” said James M. Seif, former Secretary of DEP. “He worked with everyone to craft an enviable legislative record, and he always did so in a gentlemanly and good humored way. He provided strong support and good advice to many Pennsylvania environmental Secretaries. We will miss him, but his achievements will live on.”
“Without Ray Musto, Nescopeck State Park— a park jewel in Northeast Pennsylvania— would never have been a reality. He stood tall in the face of strong, but misguided opposition. It was an honor to be by his side,” said John C. Oliver, former Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“I was privileged to know and work with Sen. Musto first as legislative liaison with the former DER, as Executive Director of the Senate Environmental Committee and finally as Executive Deputy in DEP and during all those years he truly had protecting and restoring Pennsylvania’s environment as a focus of all his efforts,” said David E. Hess, former Secretary of DEP.  “His approach was always what was right and what was effective, not whether it was a Republican or Democratic idea.  It was a loss for me professionally and personally when he retired and for the environment.  But, he never did let me forget I beat him once in a lucky shot in bocce.”
Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said, “Sen. Musto was a lawmaker of depth, substance and compassion. He took time to learn issues and he used his experience and expertise to benefit the citizens of Luzerne County and Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“From legislation that established curbside recycling to Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program and the landmark legislation to spur the development of abandoned industrial property, Senator Musto played a significant role in crafting environmental policy in his nearly 40 years in the legislature.
“During his long years of public service, he achieved a great deal for Northeastern Pennsylvania. His contributions will live on and his policy footprint will continue to guide future generations. Pennsylvania is a better place today because of Senator Ray Musto’s service.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) issued this joint statement-- “Ray Musto will be remembered as a humble, compassionate and hardworking man who represented northeast Pennsylvania with a genuine desire to help his constituents and the communities they live and work in. During his time in the Senate, Ray was a strong advocate for countless environmental issues and worked effectively with members on both sides of the aisle.”
Sen. Musto is a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53. He is a 1971 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre. He holds Doctorate of Letters degrees from Kings and Wilkes Colleges. Musto has received many awards and honors for his work in the Senate.
The veteran lawmaker served in the state House from 1971 to 1980. He began his career when he was elected in a special election in 1971 to fill his late father James Musto's unexpired term. Musto was then elected to Congress in a special election in 1980. In 1982, he was elected to the state Senate. Musto has the distinction of being among only a few public servants to serve in the U.S.Congress, the state House and state Senate.

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