Thursday, October 23, 2014

PA Environmental Council Statement On Signing Bill Weakening Stream Buffer Rules

John Walliser, PA Environmental Council Vice President For Legal & Governmental Affairs, issued this statement Thursday in response to Gov. Corbett signing House Bill 1565 (Hahn-R-Northampton) that environmental groups say weakens DEP requirements for stream buffers in Special Protection Watersheds.
“Yesterday Governor Corbett signed House Bill 1565 into law as Act 162 of 2014. Act 162 amends Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law to weaken forested riparian buffer requirements in Pennsylvania’s most pristine watersheds.
“House Bill 1565 weakens our state’s ability to protect its most important waterways, and now calls into question Pennsylvania’s ability to comply with national anti-degradation and Chesapeake Bay restoration standards,” said John Walliser, Vice President of Legal & Government Affairs for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).
“The prior riparian buffer requirements only applied to new development requiring a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit in an already-designated High Quality or Exceptional Value watershed. Riparian buffers protect downstream landowners and communities from increased flooding and water treatment costs.
“Despite the tremendous work and investment made to date in restoring our waterways, this legislation pushes Pennsylvania a step back, and may result in unintended costs and consequences for landowners throughout these watersheds.”

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