Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Gov. Tom Ridge On Leadership: I Call For Pennsylvania To Be A Showcase Of Well-Reasoned And Inspired Environmental Leadership

Tom Ridge served as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001 and said during his first campaign he was the “congressman no one's ever heard of from a place no one's ever been to.”

But, it was his personal connection to his hometown of Erie and the beauty of Presque Isle State Park that made a big impression on him growing up.

As a young boy, many of his summers were spent on Presque Isle’s beaches. Later, as a young man, he worked in the maintenance department at the state park. 

As a father, he brought his own children to Presque Isle’s sandy beaches to enjoy its water, its trails and something it’s most famous for-- incredible sunsets. 

Presque Isle taught him the value of our natural resources. Read more here.

During his first inaugural address in January 1995, he called for a partnership-- the most advanced partnership in the nation-- to promote and enhance our natural resources.  

He called for Pennsylvania to be a showcase of well-reasoned-- and inspired-- environmental leadership.  It was part of his promise to make Pennsylvania "a leader among states and a competitor among nations.”  Read more here.

He started by working with a Republican House and Senate to enact the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act to clean up and make productive thousands of old industrial brownfields sites..

He refocused Pennsylvania’s environmental protection efforts by creating the Department of Environmental Protection charged with preventing pollution and restoring the state’s environment and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to enhance the state’s natural resources and support local, regional and state recreation initiatives.

The Growing Greener Program was established to fund community-based watershed restoration, mine reclamation, land conservation, recreation, and water infrastructure projects that still stands as the largest single state investment in these initiatives.

A Good Samaritan Law was passed to encourage nonprofit groups and others not connected to causing abandoned mines or abandoned oil and gas wells to clean them up.

He opened DEP to new levels of public participation in the development of environmental policies and regulations, including stakeholder groups, promoted environmental education and recognized environmental leadership through a series of Governor’s Awards.

DEP reviewed over 13,000 pages of its regulations, with citizen participation, and made changes that saved the regulated community over $154 million without sacrificing environmental protections.

DEP also offered a precedent setting Money Back Guarantee on permit reviews where applicants were given a deadline for agency action on an application and if it was not met they would get their application fee back.

Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to put the results of its environmental inspections online for the public to see and set up a system to let the public know when permit applications were submitted in their neighborhoods.

 DEP established the Office of Pollution Prevention and Compliance Assistance to not only help business and local governments comply with environmental requirements but also help them strive toward a goal of zero pollution to make their operations more environment-friendly and economically sustainable.

At the ceremony for the first winners of the Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence, Gov. Ridge said--

“The industrial revolution spurred Pennsylvania’s economy. But while we reaped great benefits, we the succeeding generations have paid a price. 

“Back then, we didn’t look at progress with the global, environmental perspective we have now. That naive view left our landscape scarred. Forests were clear cut without replanting. Sediment choked streams. 

“Toxic pollution was commonplace. And environmental policy was non-existent. 

“Thankfully, we are making better choices now. 

“We are making better choices because employers and workers and government finally recognized the inherent link between progress and a healthy environment.”

He recognized environmentally sound practices make good business sense.

“We all want to honor the tradition of environmental stewardship.  In Pennsylvania, that’s a tradition which dates back 300 years to our founding father William Penn.

“Our Constitution itself appropriately requires that Pennsylvania’s state government, as trustees of our natural resources, “shall conserve and maintain them for the people.”

“And we should remember, as an old Indian proverb has said of both land and water, “we don’t inherit it from our grandparents. We borrow it from our children.”

Click Here for more on accomplishments.

Click Here for national and international awards for programs during the Ridge and Schweiker Administrations.

Click Here for more environmental remarks.

(Photo: Bill signing for the Growing Greener Program in 1999.)

Conservation Leadership:

-- Gov. Gifford Pinchot On Leadership: Collaboration And Honesty Are The Foundation Of Effective Leadership In Public Office

-- Mira Lloyd Dock On Leadership: The Old Selfish Minds Must Go. Obstructive Reactionaries Must Move On. The Young Are At The Gates

-- Ralph W. Abele On Leadership: Do Your Duty And Fear No One!

-- Rachel Carson On Leadership: The Human Race is Challenged More Than Ever Before To Demonstrate Our Mastery, Not Over Nature, But Of Ourselves

-- Gov. Dick Thornburgh On Leadership: People Living In The Chesapeake Bay States Should Not Have To Wait Another 30-Plus Years For Clean Water

-- Gov. Robert P. Casey On Leadership: Our Problems Have Taught Us That We Cannot Continue The Mindless Practices Of The Past

-- Op-Ed: New Year's Resolutions For Pennsylvania Legislators - Fair Districts PA, PA League Of Women Voters

-- 233 Stories: These Conservation Leaders Gave Us Cleaner Water, Land & Air In 2020! They Deserve Our Thanks, Our Support! 

-- Lebanon Valley College's Commitment To The Environment

[Posted: December 29, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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