Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Senate Committee Reports Out Bipartisan Bill Allocating $500 Million In American Rescue Fund Monies For Local Environmental Improvement, Recreation Projects

On September 28, the
Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee nearly unanimously reported out Senate Bill 525 (Gordner-R-Columbia, Comitta--D-Chester)-- bipartisan legislation allocating $500 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to fund Growing Greener watershed, farm conservation, mine reclamation and recreation projects.

The only negative vote on the bill was Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango).

This bill is being promoted by the Growing Greener Coalition and many other groups.  Read more here.

"On this legislation, I'm pleased with the broad bipartisan support, and I've been proud to work with a number of folks on this to date, specifically DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn," said Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia), prime sponsor of the bill. 

"There is a very large Growing Greener Coalition group I met with in my office  just a couple of weeks ago," said Sen. Gordner.  "Some of the partners are The Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Voters of PA, the Lancaster Farmland Trust, Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation, PennFuture, Ducks Unlimited, Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others that are very enthusiastic about this [legislation]."

"The legislation would take 500 million of the American Rescue Plan monies, and [provide] $225 million to DCNR, $200 million to DEP and $75 million to the Department of Agriculture," explained Sen. Gordner.  "Investments would be made in our state parks and state forests, for Chesapeake Bay [and statewide water pollution cleanup], which is very, very important, and for our nation-leading farmland preservation program."

"Hopefully by the end of this year, we can get this done, which would be a tremendous investment in our natural resources, Penn's Woods here in Pennsylvania," said Sen. Gordner.

Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, said, "This is a complete home run and I really appreciate all of your  hard work. I am an enthusiastic co-sponsor of your bill. And I look forward to moving it forward."

Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), who serves on this Committee and is Majority Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said, "What we're trying to do here in this investment would be a tremendous thing for the state. So I'm happy to be a co-sponsor to the bill and to support it today."

[Note: In June when the FY 2021-22 state budget was passed, House Republicans said $5 billion of the American Rescue Plan relief money was “preserved” to spend in future budgets  [Read more here]. Now, the AP is reporting only $2.4 billion in American Rescue Plan money is left [Read more here.]  Where did it all go?]

Other bills considered by the Committee included--

-- Senate Bill 832 (Yaw-R-Lycoming)  to allocate only $250 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to establish a Clean Streams Fund for Pennsylvania was amended and reported out of the Committee. Read more here.

-- Senate Bill 806 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) further providing for natural gas royalty interest payment transparency was amended and reported out.

The bills now go to the full Senate for action.

Informational Briefing

Also on the Committee agenda is an informational briefing on “PJM’s MOPR proposal and maintaining competitive and reliable energy markets.”

Providing comments to the Committee were--

-- Asim Z. Haque, Vice President – State and Member Services, PJM

-- Dr. Joseph Bowring, President, Monitoring Analytics

-- Glen Thomas, GT Power Group, LLC

Written comments were submitted by--

-- Pennsylvania Municipal Electric Association

-- Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee also held an informational meeting on this topic September 27.  They heard from these additional presenters--

-- Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, Chairman, PUC

-- Kevin Sunday, PA Chamber of Business and Industry

Click Here to watch a video of the meeting and briefing [when available].

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: gyaw@pasen.gov.   Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-5709 or sending email to: senatorcomitta@pasenate.com.


-- Utility Dive Guest Essay: PJM Cities & Communities Coalition To FERC - It’s Time For The MOPR To Go

Related Articles This Week:

-- Appalachian Voices: Congress Fails To Reauthorize Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program; People In Pennsylvania Have Worked For 5 Years So Far To Get Their Members Of Congress And General Assembly To Act On This Critical Issue  [PaEN]  [PA’s #1 Water Pollution Problem - Mine Drainage]

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Bay Executive Council Fails To Hold Pennsylvania Accountable For Its Water Pollution Cleanup Commitments [PaEN]  [PA’s #2 Water Pollution Problem - Agricultural Runoff]

Related Articles:

-- Senate/House Return Sept. 20 - Will They Fund Local Flood Prevention, Watershed Restoration, Recreation Projects With Part Of The $5 Billion That’s Laying Around?

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

-- DCNR Secretary: American Rescue Fund Dollars One Option To Address $1 Billion State Parks, Forests Maintenance Project Backlog, Paying Back Oil & Gas Fund

-- Growing Greener Coalition: Let’s Invest In Natural Infrastructure So We Don’t Have To Worry About Floods 

-- 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

-- PA Parks & Forests Foundation: Celebrate The Legacy Of Maurice K. Goddard By Investing In Free And Accessible State Parks & Forests

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

-- Green Infrastructure Offers Triple Benefits, Cost Effective Solutions To Stormwater Pollution, Reducing Flood Damage

-- Presidents Of PA Farm Bureau, Farm Groups: In Chesapeake Bay Watershed Call For USDA To Create $737 Million Resilient Farms Initiative

[Posted: September 28, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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