Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Senate Approves Resolution That Could Lead To Roll Back Of PA Environmental Laws

The Senate Tuesday voted 27 to 21, and without any debate, to approve Senate Resolution 385 (Brooks-R- Crawford) directing the Joint State Government Commission to identify environmental laws and regulations more stringent than federal law. The Commission has 18 months to do the listing.
No other legislative votes are needed for this study to begin.
The 27 to 21 vote was largely along party lines with Republicans supporting.
Only 2 Democrats voted for the Resolution-- Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
Five Republicans voted against the Resolution-- Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), Thomas Killion (R-Delaware), Thomas McGarrigle (R-Delaware), Charles McIlhinney (R-Bucks) and Robert Tomlinson (R-Bucks).
Two Senators were absent-- John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), who is running for Attorney General, and Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin), who is running for re-election.
The clear intent of the Resolution is to develop a “hit list” of regulations and laws to roll back in the future without any real analysis or review, just blind faith in the federal government to protect Pennsylvanians from environmental and public health harm.
It is also clear the words “find balance” and “make Pennsylvania more competitive” in the Resolution are code words for the continuing efforts by some members of the Senate and House to rollback Pennsylvania’s state laws protecting the environment and reducing state environmental programs to the lowest common denominator.
Republicans in the past have taken a much different approach to reducing compliance costs while achieving the same environmental protection goals.
Executive Order 1996-1 issued by Gov. Tom Ridge is still in effect and it requires state agencies to evaluate existing regulations using criteria related to cost and effectiveness and whether they go beyond federal requirements without justification.
At the Department of Environmental Protection, Executive Order 1996-1 resulted in a systematic review of regulations carried out over several years through the Regulatory Basics Initiative.
It worked through a transparent process with DEP’s advisory committees on section by section reviews of regulations and technical guidance.
The result of that effort was saving individuals, businesses and local governments $138 million in compliance costs, the elimination of nearly 5,000 pages of outdated regulations and more than 1,700 pages of unneeded technical guidance and 29 packages of regulatory changes.
Senate Resolution 385 requires no such transparent process or working with stakeholders.
This Resolution seems to be aimed at giving some members of the General Assembly cover for rolling back regulations, in particular environmental regulations, they do not like by having some other office point the finger at a rule or statute.
Stage Set to Roll Back Decades-Old Environmental Protection Measures

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