Sunday, December 26, 2021

Scranton Times-Tribune Editorial: Preserve State's Clean Streams Law

This editorial was first published in the
Scranton Times-Tribune on December 26, 2021--

Pennsylvania environmental law requires anyone who dumps something toxic or potentially toxic into a waterway to report it to the Department of Environmental Protection. The agency’s job is then to identify the substance, determine whether or the degree to which it is harmful, and decide what to do about it.

That sensible standard apparently is too heavy a burden for the state’s industrial and agricultural interests, according to state House members who have passed a bill that makes more pollution possible by asking the DEP to do the impossible.  [Read more here.]

It would give the agency one year to determine an acceptable level for every possible pollutant, even though the standard period to develop far less complicated regulations is two years.

And the agency can’t possibly know in advance every pollutant that might find its way into a stream or water supply. Some substances are benign on their own, for example, but toxic in combination with others. 

And given the secrecy in which lawmakers have allowed the drilling industry to enshroud the chemical combinations that they use in fracking fluids, the DEP has little choice but to analyze the substances after the fact to determine if a spill is dangerous.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency produces such standards for known pollutants, but it doesn’t claim that to be all-inclusive.

Protecting Pennsylvania’s environment would be better served by preserving the existing clean streams law. 

If the Senate passes the bill, Gov. Tom Wolf should veto it.


-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: House [Republicans] Pass Change To Clean Streams Law, Critics Say It Will Weaken Enforcement

Related Articles:

-- House Republicans Pass Bill Making Fundamental Changes In Clean Streams Law, Letting Companies Decide When To Report Spills

[Posted: December 26, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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