Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) President and CEO Don Welsh today issued the following statement on the proposed budget framework agreement set forth by leadership from the General Assembly this morning.
“This budget proposal does nothing to address the critical funding shortfalls facing Pennsylvania’s environment. In fact, it continues the theme of making millions of dollars of cuts and diversions from agency budgets that are already insufficient.
“The proposed budget framework includes $100 million from expanded drilling on state-owned land, an approach opposed by environmental, conservation, recreation and sportsmen groups. Market prices for natural gas are significantly lower today from when the state leased 74,000 acres of public land in 2008. The idea of expanding drilling on state lands when the returns would be artificially low doesn’t make sense and isn’t good business for our state.
“Furthermore, any revenues generated by additional extraction under the proposed budget framework would go to the General Fund and not the state programs meant to help address the resource and infrastructure needs associated with extraction activities. This at a time when agencies, already straining to meet state and federal requirements, face unprecedented budget cuts and rising workload.
“Even in difficult economic times, you can only go so far before those charged with protecting our environmental and public health are unable to do the job they’ve been asked to do. This budget proposal does not address the very real needs facing our state’s resources, and in fact may only serve to make the situation much worse.”