Harrisburg, PA (June 25, 2015) – The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Pennsylvania Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and Pennsylvania Environmental Council today issued the following statement concerning state budget deliberations now going on in Harrisburg.
As the official deadline of June 30 looms for completion of a State budget, overshadowing all is the stubborn and substantial deficit facing Pennsylvania, which will not be resolved by maintaining the status quo. It is clear that bold steps and difficult choices are necessary to protect important services while positioning the Commonwealth for new growth.
Pennsylvania can clearly signal its commitment to a healthier and more prosperous tomorrow by strengthening programs that protect public health and the environment and promoting initiatives that expand opportunities for clean energy.
Governor Wolf’s proposed budget makes important strides toward that goal by: (1) stepping up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, helping Pennsylvania grow a more diverse and robust energy economy; (2) boosting funding for monitoring and enforcement staff in the Department of Environmental Protection, improving the State’s ability to protect the natural resources on which we all depend; and (3) reducing the reliance of our Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on revenue from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, making more of this Fund available for the purposes originally intended—to support projects that benefit our State Parks and State Forests.
We strongly support these environmental funding priorities and urge that they be included in the Commonwealth’s FY15-16 budget package.
Governor Wolf has proposed using a portion of the revenue from a natural gas severance tax to support the new investments in clean energy and environmental enforcement—an appropriate use of such revenue, in our opinion. The proposed allocations represent a welcome down payment toward a more substantial future commitment to the protection and restoration of Pennsylvania’s air, water, land, and wildlife.
The environmental challenges facing Pennsylvania are many in number and daunting in scale—e.g., avoiding or minimizing environmental impacts from new energy infrastructure, accelerating efforts to meet the Commonwealth’s obligations to the Chesapeake Bay, and charting Pennsylvania’s path to cleaner and more efficient energy production and use, to name just a few.
We look forward to working with Governor Wolf and the General Assembly to realize both the promise of the Governor’s proposed budget for FY15-16, and the potential for more comprehensive environmental investments in the years to come.