State Budget Continues to Slash Environmental Protection -Over 1/3 of DEP budget cut over two years

UPDATE: We did a report on DEP funding, adjusted for inflation, for the last ten years. You can see it here

(Harrisburg) – Clean Water Action issued a strong statement today calling for restoration of large cuts to the budget for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The proposed state budget deal released yesterday by the Governor and legislative leaders cuts DEP’s budget by 9.2%. This is on top of last year’s budget cut of 26% for DEP. [ATTACHED - PDF of 2000-2008 budgets in actual numbers, not accounting for inflation]

Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action stated, “I don’t see how any legislator can pretend that the DEP can do what they are required to do with this level of funding. Lawmakers that support protecting Pennsylvanians from air and water pollution need to stop this year’s budget cut, and restore funding cut last year.”

Noting that Pennsylvania is currently experiencing a boom in natural gas drilling, Arnowitt continued, “The state is giving out 5,000 new Marcellus Shale gas drilling permits this year alone. This is an industry that is notorious for its lack of controls on both air pollution and water pollution. It is the height of irresponsibility to continue handing out permits while decimating the one agency that has any oversight on gas drilling.”

Despite the new budget cuts to DEP proposed for this year’s budget, overall state spending is increasing 0.6% to $28 billion a year. DEP’s portion of the state budget represents only ½ of one percent of the total budget (o.5%).

Brady Russell, Eastern PA Director for Clean Water Action stated, “Even before this round of budget cuts, there has been a steady decline in state support for DEP over the past ten years. If this year’s cuts go through, the state will be giving DEP almost 60% less than they did in the 2000 – 2001 budget.”

Although legislative leaders have agreed to enact some level of severance tax on natural gas extraction in the fall, no dollars have been allocated to any environmental protection programs in this year’s budget. “If the state legislature refuses to use general funds to support DEP’s budget, it must direct a portion of the severance tax to restore DEP’s budget to reasonable levels,” asserted Arnowitt.

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Clean Water Action is an organization of 1.2 million members working to empower people to take action to protect America's waters, build healthy communities and to make democracy work for all of us. For 36 years Clean Water Action has succeeded in winning some of the nation's most important environmental protections through grassroots organizing, expert policy research and political advocacy focused on holding elected officials accountable to the public.

-30-

good thing...

...that there aren't any imminent threats, like somebody doing a fancy new kind of drilling in a big swath of shale. or anything like that. [head-desk]

acm

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

yes, good thing...

Of course the Department's spin is that they are hiring more inspectors with fees, but it's not clear that they are doing a lot of inspecting beyond putting out the big fires.
Worse, they can't levy hefty fines because the energy industry has them outgunned, lawyer-wise.

Further, when you look at the numbers of inspections being done on the boring old economy facilities (like wastewater treatment plants), they have dropped precipitously.

We did a report about the funding that you can see: You can see it here.

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This Too Will Pass, for the guts in your cerebrum.

Good homes for sale in Centralia

hey, at least their water won't be affected by this. But if Marcellus ever meets Centralia....

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