Thursday, August 15, 2019

Senate Environmental Committee Sets Sept. 11 Hearing On MS4 Stormwater Program; General Assembly Fails To Give Communities The Help They Need

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the federal MS4 Stormwater Water Pollution Reduction Program September 11 in Greencastle, Franklin County.
Greencastle Borough and Antrim Township have been considering the adoption of stormwater management fees as have most communities required to implement the MS4 Stormwater Water Pollution Reduction Program.
The fees would pay for local stormwater management projects designed to reduce flooding and cleanup stormwater runoff.
Sen. Judy Ward (R) represents the Borough and Township.
The hearing will start at 1:00 p.m. at the Antrim Township Municipal Building, 10655 Antrim Church Road in Greencastle.  Click Here to check to see if an agenda is posted.
No Help From State
The local fees are necessary because the General Assembly has failed to adopt any new funding initiatives to help communities pay for these costs.
At a June 19 hearing by the House Environmental Resources and Energy and Local Government Committees on the MS4 Program, local government associations again asked the General Assembly to provide additional financial support for their stormwater pollution reduction and flood reduction efforts.  
That help did not come, in fact the FY 2019-20 state budget cut $16 million in funding that could have helped them.
In March, the stakeholder-driven PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee reported communities and farmers needed an estimated $1.467 billion over the next 6 years in new funding to meet the Bay water cleanup requirements, starting with a $257 million down payment in the FY 2019-20 budget.
Without the additional funding, the 43 counties in Pennsylvania that are part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed would not meet the 2025 pollution reduction goals until 2044-- 19 years late.
That help, obviously, did not come.
More than two and a half years ago-- January 24, 2017-- the bipartisan Pennsylvania members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission dramatically wrote to all members of the Senate and House to spotlight the need for many more resources to address water pollution cleanup obligations across the state.
They highlighted the need for a dedicated Clean Water Fund.
The letter was signed by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Sen. Rich Alloway (R-Franklin)- now retired, Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York) and Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster).
What happened?  Nothing.
These failures by the General Assembly fly in the face of overwhelming public support for funding green infrastructure projects designed to reduce water pollution, flood damage and cleanup Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams.
So what were Senate and House members proud of in the FY 2019-20 budget? They were proud they passed an on time budget... but meanwhile in the real world it continues to rain, continues to flood and our streams are still polluted.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to:   Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7105 or sending email to:
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