PEC Sends Budget, Policy Recommendations to PA Legislators

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PEC sent the following letter on June 21, 2024 to the Pennsylvania General Assembly ahead of deliberation over the 2024-25 budget and legislative policies:

Dear Senators and Representatives:

As discussions coalesce around the 2024-2025 budget, we urge the General Assembly to address the following funding and policy priorities this month. Fulfilling these needs will help to maximize federal investment, drive economic development and energy investment, and provide long-term benefits for all Pennsylvanians.

Budget Funding Priorities

With a significant surplus projected for the forthcoming budget year, the General Assembly should prioritize the following funding opportunities in the budget.

Increase Funding for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

DEP has suffered from more than a decade of insufficient funding, leaving permitting and protection programs understaffed and preventing long overdue upgrades to the agencys information technology capacity. These shortfalls have harmed the public, the regulated community, and the environment. If Pennsylvania truly wants to compete, and if it wants the DEP to best serve the citizens and regulated community, it needs to properly support the agency. Particularly at a time when unprecedented federal dollars are on the table for programs like orphaned well plugging, manufacturing and industrial decarbonization, and helping communities, we should be doing all we can to position our state to maximize intake of those dollars. Every year we shortchange DEP, we reduce our competitiveness as a state to attract next generation development and opportunities, not to mention remediate the legacies of the past.

Increase Funding for the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)

As recently highlighted by the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation, our public lands and recreational resources are a tremendous driver of economic activity, supporting a $17 billion outdoor industry, and provide a direct benefit to all citizens of the Commonwealth. The Governor has called for increased funding for DCNR to further trail development and maintenance across the state, as well as expansion of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps, which offers training and valuable work experience to youth and young adults who assist DCNR in maintaining and improving public lands. With the budget surplus, now would be an opportune time to make a stronger commitment to funding existing programs and local capital projects to achieve the rehabilitation, improvement, and strategic expansion of parks, trails, and other outdoor spaces. 

Renew Funding for the Whole Home Repairs Program

The Whole-Home Repairs Program, adopted with bipartisan support in 2022, is an inventive program that funds health and safety repairs, accessibility improvements, and energy and water efficiency measures in qualifying households. The demand for this program has been overwhelming, with applications outnumbering accepted and funded homes more than ten-to-one in parts of our state. Repairs and improvements funded by this program stabilize homes and home ownership, help unlock additional Weatherization Assistance Program and utility assistance funds, create lasting energy efficiency and savings, and support local jobs for the contractors and tradespeople. This program deserves renewed support from the legislature, particularly as we experience more extreme temperatures and weather events.

Policy Priorities

In addition to the funding needs identified above, the following legislative policies are readily positioned to be considered and approved by the General Assembly before it adjourns for the summer:

Modernize the PA Energy Development Authority

The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) is an independent public financing authority that was created in 1982 by the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority and Emergency Powers Act to finance clean and advanced energy projects in the Commonwealth. House Bill 2338 would update PEDAs authority to help ensure Pennsylvania is able to maximize federal investment opportunities in energy development and job growth via the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. As displayed in the House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee hearing on this legislation earlier this month, there is strong bipartisan, environmental, labor, and business support for this legislation.

 Authorize Community Solar

Solar produces cost-competitive energy that reduces emissions, helps diversify and stabilize the electric grid, and delivers energy cost savings to residents. Community solar programs provide customers — including homeowners, renters, and businesses — access to the benefits of Pennsylvania solar energy generation, unconstrained by the physical attributes of their home or business, including roof suitability or residence ownership status. House Bill 1842 would provide a mechanism for establishing community solar for those customers and communities that want to pursue these benefits, while also setting safeguards for consumers who do not participate. Community solar not only provides tremendous environmental and energy benefits, it also supports local, skilled jobs. Like H.B. 2338, this legislation has bipartisan support.

Set the Stage for Robust Carbon Capture and Storage Management

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) could play a meaningful role in decarbonization of Pennsylvanias industry and electric generation, and even help reduce existing atmospheric carbon dioxide through direct air capture. However, Pennsylvania needs robust environmental and public health standards in place at the outset to prevent impacts to communities, landowners, vulnerable populations, public lands, and our environment. Senate Bill 831, now in the House, offers a starting point but should be amended to provide greater oversight authority to DEP, clarify the sufficiency and durability of financial assurance requirements, and prohibit any surface impacts or public land impacts associated with collective storage efforts.

Help Support Proper Management of Stormwater

House Bill 2147 clarifies that public entities that own property with impervious surfaces are equally responsible for payment of local stormwater management fees. This legislation, which clarifies legislative intent, is critical for municipalities and authorities struggling to deal with the rising incidences and costs of flooding and water quality degradation. 

Properly Manage Conventional Oil and Gas Waste

House Bill 2384 would explicitly prohibit road spreading and land application of production brine and wastewater from conventional oil and gas operations. Research from the state, academia, and industry itself has shown that this activity poses adverse health and environmental impacts, with no discernible public benefit for road maintenance. The conventional industry should not be given a pass with respect to the safe management and proper treatment and disposal of their waste.


While there are many proposals in the General Assembly worthy of consideration, we believe the items identified above — particularly given bipartisan support, clear economic and environmental benefits to citizens, and the potential to amplify federal investment — should be prioritized this month.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tom Gilbert, President
Pennsylvania Environmental Council