Friday, September 29, 2017

11 Senators Urge Appropriations Chairs To Devote A Portion Of A Severance Tax To Growing Greener

On Friday, a bipartisan group of 11 Senators wrote to Senators Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), the Majority and Minority Chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging them to devote a portion of any natural gas production severance tax to the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund.
The Senators included: Tom Killion (R-Delaware) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) (who initiated the letter), Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), David Argall (R-Schuylkill), John Blake (D-Lackawanna), Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware), Charles McIlhinney (R-Bucks), Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), Judith Schwank (D-Berks) and Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia).
The Senate did pass a severance tax as part of its budget package in July, but it did not dedicate funds to the Growing Greener Program. The House this week failed, so far, to get enough votes to bring a severance tax bill out of committee and to a Floor vote.
The text of the letter follows--
Chairmen Browne and Hughes:
We are writing to request that a portion of any severance tax on natural gas extraction is dedicated to the Environmental Stewardship Fund for the Growing Greener Program.
We believe this dedication is essential for the future health of our communities, we also fully understand the current financial challenges facing the Commonwealth.  Because of this, we support enacting this allocation starting in the next fiscal year (2018-2019) and continuing on in perpetuity.
If the state decides to enact a severance tax, then protecting the environment and strengthening our communities must be a part of the state’s priorities supported by such an assessment.
Since its inception in 1999, the state’s Growing Greener program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 80,000 acres of threatened open space, and restored hundreds of miles of streams and waterways.
The program has also protected more than 78,000 acres of farmland, restored more than 1,600 acres of abandoned mine land, and helped reduce flooding and water pollution through 400 watershed protection projects and more than 100 drinking and wastewater treatment improvements.
Our natural, recreational and historic resources support thousands of jobs across our state, and our two biggest industries-- agriculture and tourism-- depend on them.
For the sake of our economy and the health of our families, we must continue to invest in cleaning our streams and rivers, preserving our family farms, protecting our open space and ensuring access to community and state parks, trails and other recreational opportunities.
The allocation of a portion of any severance tax to the Environmental Stewardship Fund is an important first step towards the goal of ensuring the long term success of the Growing Greener program.
Thank you for your consideration.
Click Here for a copy of the letter.
Almost all the Senators signing the letter are sponsors of Senate Bill 705 (Killion-R- Delaware) that would expand the Growing Greener Program, however, it lacks a funding source.
For more information on the Growing Greener Programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Growing Greener Coalition website.  The Coalition is the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth.  Click Here to sign up for regulation updates, Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter.  Click Here to support the Coalition’s work.
(Photo: Senators Tom Killion (R-Delaware) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne))
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