Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Gov. Wolf Proposes $450 Million Growing Greener III Initiative Funded By Federal American Rescue Plan; Bipartisan Support Building For Conservation Allocation

On February 2, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed allocating $450 million from the federal American Rescue Plan recovery funding to make investments in cleaning up our rivers and streams, repair and expand recreational facilities and other local conservation projects.

Gov. Wolf’s plan proposes new funding for the Growing Greener conservation and recreation program as well as for agriculture conservation programs, such as the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program [Read more here.] and the existing Agriculture Conservation Excellence Grant Program.  

Gov. Wolf said after experiencing record-breaking rainfall and flooding events this past year, this program would make Pennsylvania more resilient in the face of more extreme and frequent weather events caused by climate change. 

He added, it would support our economy, enhance our communities, and improve quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.

“I’m proposing to invest in conservation, recreation, preservation and community revitalization projects to address the threat of Climate Change,” said Gov. Wolf.  “Climate Change is already hurting Pennsylvania communities, and we cannot afford to delay our work to lessen that damage.

"Today I'm proposing a Growing Greener III initiative. A $450 million investment to support projects that fight climate change and protect Pennsylvanians from climate threats,” said Gov. Wolf. “Growing Greener I and II were bipartisan efforts done in the past. I think the first one was done during the Ridge administration. 

“We can do this without borrowing any money, using ARP funding to actually get this money-- $450 million-- out to do things that we know because of the pandemic people want. 

“They used our parks. They want to be outdoors. They want a clean environment. Those things were important during the pandemic and I think we learned how important they really are to Pennsylvanians.

“So, my plan not only helps Pennsylvanians recover and rebuild financial security for themselves and their family, it looks ahead and makes serious investments that will help improve quality of life for the Commonwealth for generations to come. 

“While this is how I believe our Federal dollars should be used to help Pennsylvanians, I know that my Democratic colleagues in the House and the Senate also have great ideas and great proposals, too.

“And I am open to any plan that puts dollars back in the pockets of Pennsylvanians who are struggling right now.

“The most important thing for us is to take action. Get this funding out the door to people who need it most right now.”

The 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.

The federal American Rescue Plan also provided Pennsylvania counties, cities, boroughs, and townships with $6.15 billion in funding in March of 2021 and many have yet to decide how to invest the funding.

Click Here for the complete announcement.

Bipartisan Agreement On Allocation

With Gov. Wolf’s new proposal, there now appears to be bipartisan support for allocating significant funding from the federal American Rescue Plan to support local conservation, watershed restoration and recreation projects.

So far, the preferred bills on allocating American Rescue Plan funding are these bipartisan proposals now pending in the Senate--

-- $500 Million For Local Conservation Projects:  Senators John Gordner (R-Columbia), Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester) and others have introduced bipartisan legislation proposing to allocate $500 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to fund Growing Greener watershed, farm conservation, mine reclamation and recreation projects in Senate Bill 525. A companion House bill is being introduced shortly.  Read more here.

-- Farm Conservation Cost-Share: Senate Bill 465 (Yaw-R-Lycoming, Comitta-D-Chester) establishes a new program to pay for on-farm conservation measures administered by the State Conservation Commission. Read more here.

Click Here for more information on these bills.


Andy Loza, Executive Director of WeConservePA, issued this statement about Gov. Wolf's announcement--

“WeConservePA thanks Governor Wolf for calling for a $450 million boost in state conservation investments (a “Growing Greener III”) in his address today,” stated Andy Loza, executive director of WeConservePA. 

“The $450 million Growing Greener III proposal was a major component of the Governor’s plan for using unspent state American Rescue Plan dollars.

“With his announcement, Governor Wolf joins PA senators in seeking to invest PA’s American Rescue Plan dollars in water restoration, park rehabilitation, and other environmental conservation needs. 

“Senator Gordner’s SB 525 (Growing Greener III) and Senator Yaw’s SB 832 (Clean Streams Fund) have each received second consideration by the Senate and only need final votes in that chamber.

“WeConservePA also recognizes that Representatives Culver and Quinn are sponsoring Growing Greener legislation (HB 2020) and Representative Hershey is leading a Clean Streams Fund (HB 1901) in the House.

“Past Growing Greener investments have accomplished tremendous good, supporting projects to restore polluted waterways, protect water supplies, conserve productive farmland and open space important to communities, improve community and state parks and trails, and more. 

“A Growing Greener III is crucial to improving the 25,468 miles of Pennsylvania streams unsafe for drinking, fishing, or swimming; using natural infrastructure to reduce flooding; addressing the tremendous infrastructure needs in our parks and other public lands (which are seeing more public use than ever during the pandemic); and delivering other environmental benefits. 

“A Growing Greener III is also needed to leverage hundreds of millions in federal dollars available to address abandoned mine drainage and other environmental concerns.”

Related Articles:

-- Two Bipartisan Bills Just Sitting In Senate Waiting To Address Record Number Of Water Quality Impaired Streams Reported In 2022

-- General Assembly Diverted $3.602 Billion From Environmental Infrastructure Projects And Programs Into State Budget Black Hole 

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

-- WeConservePA: Water & Green Infrastructure - A Good Fit For PA American Rescue Plan Funding

-- $11 Billion In Federal American Rescue Plan Funding To PA State Government, Local Governments Has Yet To Be Invested.  What’s Your Community Doing?

-- South Mountain Partnership: Sign On To Letter Asking Counties To Invest Federal American Rescue Plan Funds In Local Conservation, Recreation And Place-Based Revitalization

-- Guest Essay: Commonwealth Budget Should Fully Fund Environmental Protection - By Rep. Greg Vitali, Minority Chair House Environmental Committee 

-- Dept. Of Revenue: January State Revenue Collections $376.8 Million Over Estimate; $1.8 Billion Over Estimates Fiscal Year-To-Date  

-- Independent Fiscal Office: January Revenue Collections $440.6 Million Over Its Estimate; $2.2 Billion Over Fiscal Year-To-Date

-- Witnesses Unanimously Support Allocating American Rescue Plan Funding For On-Farm Conservation Projects At House Committee Meeting; Rep. Metcalfe Calls It ‘Welfare’ 

-- Poll Shows 90% Of PA Voters Want Senate, House Members To Address Environmental, Conservation Priorities, Provide More Funding For Critical Programs

-- Spotlight PA: Gov. Wolf’s Final Budget Address Will Seek To Cement His Legacy

-- PG: Frick Park Reopens As Crews At Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse Pull Vehicles From Wreckage

DEP/DCNR 2022 Priorities:

-- DEP Outlines 2022 Priorities: Make Up Deficit In Oil & Gas Funding; Get Resources Needed To Invest New Federal Mine Reclamation, Oil & Gas Well Plugging Funds

-- DCNR Secretary Outlines 2022 Priorities To Conservation & Natural Resources Advisory Council, Including Need For $1.4 Billion In Infrastructure Improvements

[Posted: February 2, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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