Pennsylvania’s long-standing budget impasse came one step closer to an end yesterday when Governor Wolf announced that he will not stand in the way of supplemental appropriation legislation passed by the General Assembly. The Governor did, however, convey his intention to veto corresponding fiscal code legislation that contained a number of bad environmental riders unrelated to the budget process.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council has consistently opposed use of the budget process to effect substantive changes to environmental law, and we commend Governor Wolf for vetoing House Bill 1327. This legislation would have negated environmental rulemaking for conventional oil and gas operations that has been in development for more than four years through an open public process. It would also have placed further delay on state preparation for Clean Power Plan implementation.
While the budget process is a difficult and unenviable task for the Governor and General Assembly, they now must return to the table and advance a definite budget plan for our Commonwealth. That plan should not include rollbacks of environmental protections. What it must include is necessary funding for the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, and sufficient resources to address mandatory environmental restoration requirements across the state. There is no more time to waste.