Friday, September 8, 2017

DEP: House GOP Raid On Funds Threatens Environment, Breaks Promises To PA Communities

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday sent a letter to the House and Senate Environmental Committees saying a proposal by the House Republican caucus would postpone or cancel cleanup of toxic sites and projects in coal communities, halt mine land reclamation and a major manufacturing project, and possibly violate the Pennsylvania state constitution.
“This proposal will create serious threats to the health and safety of Pennsylvanians and our environment,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Taking money from these funds – which were not filled with taxpayer dollars to begin with – breaks a promise to the people of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians expect that DEP’s resources are used to restore watersheds affected by abandoned mine lands, clean up brownfields and restore them to good use, and teach our children the importance of a healthy environment.”
“There is no reason to trade the proposed one-time transfers for long-term environmental degradation,” McDonnell said.
In a letter to the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy committee chairs, McDonnell outlined the consequences of taking money from these funds, including the likelihood that some of the proposed transfers would be unconstitutional.
Consequences include:
-- Cancelling or postponing projects to clean up and rehabilitate hazardous and industrial sites across the state by draining the Hazardous Sites Cleanup and Industrial Sites Cleanup funds, including these projects:
  -- Intercourse TCE, Lancaster County
  -- Keystone Metal Reduction, Allegheny County
  -- Furlong Mfg, Bucks County
  -- Schuylkill Haven MGP site, Schuylkill County
-- Overdrawing the Energy Development Fund by nearly $300,000, and would immediately halt a solar power manufacturing project by Summit Steel Manufacturing Co. in Muhlenberg, PA.
-- Halting projects already underway and cancelling future projects in Pennsylvania’s coal fields to restore watersheds, including:
  -- Cresson (Under Construction - $10 million in Capital Budget Funds) – Cambria County
  -- Wehrum/Blacklick Creek Restoration ($9 million in Capital Budget Funds) – Indiana County
  -- Little Conemaugh River Restoration – Cambria County
  -- Quakake Tunnel Discharge/Quakake & Black Creek Restoration – Carbon County
  -- Audenreid & Green Mountain Tunnel Discharges/Catawissa Creek Restoration – Schuylkill County
  -- Gladden Discharge/Chartiers Creek Restoration – Allegheny County
  -- Dark Shade Creek Restoration – Somerset County
  -- Morris Run/Tioga River Restoration – Tioga County
  -- Mill Creek – Jefferson & Clarion Counties
  -- Mill Creek – Schuylkill County
  -- Yellow Creek – Indiana County
-- Taking more than $1 million from youth education by eliminating grants to schools and educational organizations for environmental education.
-- Undermining cleanups for about 1,000 sites where toxic and highly carcinogenic chemicals from petroleum products threaten residents.
“It doesn’t matter if it is $1 or $1 million – these funds are not a piggy bank. These funds have been strategically dedicated to projects that are making a difference for Pennsylvania communities,” said McDonnell.
Click Here for a copy of the letter.
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