Harrisburg, Pa. – Action in the final days of the General Assembly’s legislative session enables dozens of communities to breathe a little easier knowing that the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund will not be bankrupt in the new year.
“This went down to the wire, but we’re pleased that the House and Senate came to an agreement that enabled this critical legislation to be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature,” said Brian Hill, President of PEC.
“We’re also pleased that the agreement is more than just a one-year fix — people who live near these hazardous sites need to know that efforts are ongoing to address these problems, and the Department of Environmental Protection can’t run an effective program if they see the money running out,” Hill said.
The state House today gave final approval to legislation, passed earlier by the Senate, that funds the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program for 3 ½ years. The bill funds the Program this fiscal year out of legislative accounts, and then for three more years with a portion of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax. With Program funding about to run out, the Department of Environmental Protection had begun the process of laying off program staff.
The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund is responsible for cleaning up nearly 150 toxic waste sites, cleanup of chemical spills emergencies responses, brownfield re-use of industrial sites, and investigations of illegal hazardous waste disposal and methamphetamine labs.
“We would have preferred that long term funding be identified to support this Program, but at least this legislation puts the Program on solid ground for the next few years,” Hill said. “We’re also pleased that funding wasn’t taken from other environmental programs to handle the hazardous sites program, as had been proposed recently. Hopefully the General Assembly can agree on a long-term dedicated funding source so that we don’t have the lingering concern about the long-term viability of this crucial Program.”