Wednesday, May 31, 2023

House Committee Holds June 5 Hearing On Bill Requiring Environmental Impact Reports On Certain Electric Generation, Waste, Major Air Pollution Sources Locating In Already Burdened Communities

House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hold a June 5 hearing on legislation requiring environmental impact reports on certain electric generation, waste management, sewage treatment  and other facilities that are a major source of air pollution proposed in already burdened communities.

The scheduled speakers include--

-- New Jersey State Sen. Troy Singleton

-- Patrick Henderson of the Marcellus Shale Coalition

-- Maurice Sampson, Eastern PA Director of Clean Water Action

-- Fernando Trevino, DEP Special Deputy for Environmental Justice and Justin Dula, Director DEP Office of Environmental Justice

“For too long, environmental racism has plagued burdened communities. Incinerators, landfills, sewage plants and the like are often built in low-income areas because the residents of these areas typically lack the clout necessary to influence decision-makers,” said prime sponsor Rep. Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia).  “As a result, the people in these communities are powerless to stop facilities that pollute the local environment, drive down property values, and even poison the citizens as chemicals seep into the water they drink and air they breathe.”

“To help address this issue, the legislation would require a more transparent and open process before certain facilities are built or expanded within areas defined as “burdened communities,” said Rep. Bullock.  “Builders of these facilities seeking permits would first have to prepare an environmental impact statement that includes any potential negative impacts a facility may have on the surrounding area. 

“After the completion of this process, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would have the power to deny a permit application if it finds that the cumulative impacts of the facility on the community would be too great to justify its approval.”

“The constitutional right to a clean environment is guaranteed to all, not only to those with the funding to lobby government officials. This legislation would be another step towards upholding that right,” said Rep. Bullock.

House Bill 652 defines burdened communities as census tracts ranked in the bottom 33 percent of census tracts in the Commonwealth for median annual household income.

These proposed facilities or expansions of these facilities would be required to have a report assessing the environmental impact, including cumulative impacts, on a burdened community--

-- Electric generation facility of more than 10 MW;

-- Resource Recovery facility or incinerator and a  sludge combustor or incinerator;

-- Sewage treatment plant with a capacity of 50 million gallons a day or more;

-- Waste transfer station, recycling center or other solid waste facility with a monthly volume in excess of 25 tons;

-- Landfill, medical waste incinerator; and

-- A major source of air pollution.

The legislation spells out a public participation process for the impact report and for its consideration by DEP.

In October 2022, the House Democratic Policy Committee and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus held a hearing on ways state government can refocus its efforts on environmental justice and racial equity in order to help communities where they discussed similar legislation introduced by Rep. Bullock in November of 2021 as House Bill 2043.    Read more here.

The June 5 hearing will be held in Room G-50 of the Irvis Building starting at 10:00 a.m.  Click Here to watch online.

Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to: Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-5075 or by sending email to:

Related Articles:

-- PA Assn. Of Environmental Educators June 29 Webinar On Implementing JEDI - Environmental Justice In Environmental Education  [PaEN]

-- Things Are Different In The House: Hearing On Hydrogen Hubs Became ‘Democracy’ vs. ‘Open Mic Night’  [PaEN]

[Posted: May 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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