Tuesday, December 28, 2021

In 2021 Initiatives By The Biden Administration, Congress Make Historic Investments In Cleaning Up PA’s Environment; How To Invest $11 Billion Remains Up In The Air

In 2021, passage of the federal American Rescue Plan in March and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in November made historic, long-term investments in cleaning up Pennsylvania’s environment.

But, decisions have yet to be made on how to invest most of the $11 billion in remaining state and local American Rescue Plan funding allocations in Pennsylvania.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law - Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Thanks to the passage of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Pennsylvania is in line to receive an estimated $3.8 billion over the next 15 years to reclaim abandoned coal mine lands in the state.

The Law also reauthorizes the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee for the next 13 years, something Pennsylvanians have fought for the last five years to accomplish.  

This largest-ever investment in reclaiming abandoned mine lands and treating mine discharges will address Pennsylvania’s #1 water pollution problem.  [Read more here.]

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law - Plugging Abandoned Oil & Gas Wells

The second major component of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make another unprecedented investment in the plugging of thousands of oil and gas wells abandoned by the industry to taxpayers to take care of.

Pennsylvania is set to receive an estimated $400 million over the next 15 years to plug these wells that are frequently leaking methane and oil and create a conduit to pollute ground and surface water.

Over the last 30 years, Pennsylvania was only able to spend $37 million to plug 300 abandoned wells, when there are hundreds of thousands in the state.  [Read more here.]  [DEP Gets Headstart On Spending These Funds]

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law - Lead Pipe Replacement, Other Provisions

Many other provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will also benefit Pennsylvania’s environment and public health, including--

-- Replacing lead pipes, addressing drinking water contamination by PFAS, wastewater facilities;

-- Cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites [$38.7 million already announced];

-- Making infrastructure resilient against impacts of climate change and extreme weather;

-- Increase funding for Chesapeake Bay Program by $238 million over 5 years [Read more here];

-- $26 million for Delaware River Basin Restoration;

-- Modernizing electric grid and expanding the use of renewable energy;

-- $171 million to expand PA’s EV charging network and address [Read more here]; and

-- Electric, hybrid school buses.

Investing American Rescue Plan - State Funds

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has yet to decide how to invest approximately $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds that were meant to be economic stimulus funding to counter the economic impacts of the pandemic.

In March, a bipartisan group of Senators including John Gordner (R-Columbia), Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) and Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, proposed legislation-- Senate Bill 525-- was introduced in June to allocate $500 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to fund Growing Greener watershed, farm conservation, mine reclamation and recreation projects.  Read more here.

The bill was reported out of the Senate Environmental Committee September 28 and then into the Senate Appropriations Committee on November 10, where it is now sitting.

There has been no action in the House.

Investing American Rescue Plan - Local Funds

Just like state government, the federal American Rescue Plan provided Pennsylvania counties, cities, boroughs, and townships with $6.15 billion in funding.

Hardly any local governments have decided how to invest these funds.

Localities have wide latitude in how they invest ARP funds, including for land conservation, waterway restoration, and recreation projects.

Click Here to find out how much your local government received and then contact them to ask how they plan to invest it.

Click Here for guidance on how these funds can be invested to support local conservation efforts.

Related Article This Week:

-- Let’s Pass Some Good Environmental & Energy Legislation In 2022 - Instead Of Just Dog Whistles

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

-- Guest Essay: Communities Should Invest Federal American Rescue Plan Funds In Conservation

[Posted: December 28, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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