Friday, September 3, 2021

After More Than A Decade Of Warnings Significant Funding Was Needed, Floods Are Again Devastating Pennsylvania

Since 2010, the
Growing Greener Coalition, hunting and fishing, farm and local government groups have been urging the General Assembly and the Governors to come together to provide significant funding to protect people from flooding, restore watersheds, support the installation of green infrastructure, improve our parks and trails and preserve open space.

Those calls have been ignored except for the adoption of the Act 13 drilling per well impact fee in 2013-- after the General Assembly and Gov. Corbett repeatedly rejected proposals for a severance tax on natural gas production.

But this revenue source for some environmental projects is declining.  This year, impact fee revenue will drop by over $55.5 million and overall has dropped by over 42 percent in the last two years.  Read more here.

Overall, the politicians who run the Senate and House have diverted over $3 billion in environmental funding over the last 18 years from the Environmental Stewardship-- Growing Greener-- Fund and other sources that support local flood prevent and watershed restoration projects to non-environmental restoration purposes.  [FY 2021-22 - FY 2020-21]

They did these diversions even in years with good state revenues and when billions of federal aid was available.

They also made these cuts and raids on funds set aside for environmental restoration in the face of overwhelming voter support.  Polls have repeatedly shown 90 percent or more of voters want more funding for critical environmental and conservation programs.  Read more here.

Hurricanes and tropical depressions and micro-storms have repeatedly lashed out at communities and caused significant damage and deaths in Pennsylvania over the last 10 years.

In 2011, it was Tropical Storm Lee, in 2017, it was Tropical Depression Harvey, in 2018 it was micro-storms causing flooding in communities all over the state and again just this week.

Several reports issued over the last 10 years show there has been a 71 percent increase in very heavy precipitation events in the last 54 years in Pennsylvania [Read more here] and that trend is likely to continue into the future with the impacts of climate change [Read more here].

It’s not like we haven’t been warned…. repeatedly.

Time For Action

The General Assembly now has over $5 billion in American Rescue Fund money laying around doing nothing.  They are not investing it to make Pennsylvania better and to prevent flooding, restore watersheds and support local recreation and other environmental improvement projects. Read more here

The Growing Greener Coalition, hunting and fishing, farm and other environmental groups have vigorously urged legislators to invest some of those funds to prevent flooding, for local watershed restoration, recreation, open space and farm conservation projects.  Read more here.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, has proposed to allocate $250 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to establish a Clean Streams Fund for Pennsylvania.  Read more here.

Senators John Gordner (R-Columbia) and Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) have proposed allocating $500 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to fund Growing Greener watershed, farm conservation, mine reclamation and recreation projects.  Read more here.

The Senate and House also have over a $200 million surplus in their legislative operating accounts.  Read more here.

But the General Assembly has failed to act.

State legislators are awash in money… they need to get off their butts and invest it.

The question is-- how many more people have to die and how much property damage and pollution must happen before the people who run the General Assembly act?

I guess we’ll find out.


-- MCall: Flooding Kills Stranded Driver In Bucks County, At Least 3 Dead In Montgomery County

-- Inquirer: Ida’s Legacy: 5 Deaths, 7 Tornadoes Record Flooding, Hundreds Of Water Rescues, One Incredibly Soggy Mess

-- PennLive: Parent Of PA Student-Athlete Drowns In Flood While Driving Home From Match

-- CourierT: Ida Claims Lives In Bucks, Montgomery Counties; Bucks Sees Widespread Flooding, Damage

-- Inquirer: ‘It Came Too Fast’ Record Floodwaters Brought Rescues, Damage, Terror, Grief

Related Articles:

-- Growing Greener Coalition: American Rescue Plan For Water & Green Infrastructure

-- WeConservePA Urges Groups To Work With County, Local Govts. To Invest Federal Rescue Funds For Watershed Restoration, Land Conservation, Park & Trail Improvement Projects

-- 90 percent Of Voters Want MORE Funding For Critical Environmental, Conservation Programs & Local Projects-- Whose Budget Proposal Does That?

-- New Poll: 86% Say Parks, Trails, Outdoors Are Essential To Their Physical, Mental Health During Pandemic; State Parks Saw 26.6% Increase In Visitors

-- Learn More About $1 Billion State Parks, Forests Maintenance, Infrastructure Backlog At New Website; Then Take Action

[Posted: September 3, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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