PEC Calls on House to Reject Fiscal Code Amendments

To: Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
From: John Walliser, Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Re: Opposition to Fiscal Code Amendments (House Bill 1327, P.N. 2650)

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), I am writing to convey our strong and continued opposition to use of Fiscal Code legislation to subvert important environmental programs and protections. We believe this practice, which has been used with increasing frequency by the General Assembly, runs counter to the principles of good governance, is against the public interest, and is unconstitutional.

House Bill 1327 (P.N. 2650), hurriedly amended and passed by the Senate yesterday, includes a number of new provisions adverse to the environment:

  • Abrogating proposed rulemaking by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection with respect to conventional oil and gas operations, despite the fact that this rulemaking is the product of legislation already passed by the General Assembly and has been vetted through unprecedented public dialog.
  • Expanding the timeframe for legislative review of the state’s implementation proposal for the Clean Power Plan, risking failure to submit the plan on time and thus subjecting Pennsylvania to a federal implementation plan.
  • Establishing a new Natural Gas Infrastructure Development Fund by transferring funds purposed for alternative energy investment.
  • Reducing the amount of monies dedicated to the Environmental Stewardship Fund (more commonly known as Growing Greener).

The first two amendments are particularly egregious because they are not appropriations – they are substantive changes to existing statutory provisions wholly unrelated to the budget. The public was denied any notice or opportunity to comment. There are serious questions as to whether these amendments violate the single subject rule of the Pennsylvania Constitution; not to mention the Environmental Rights Amendment of Article I, Section 27.

We call on you to remove these inappropriate provisions from House Bill 1327.