Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pick up the phone! Start up that email!

At a time when PA is attempting to balance the state's budget by leasing out our state parks and forests to drilling, they're also proposing to slash the budget of the organization that oversees said drilling (see following article).  The DEP is *already* understaffed and with the amount of current and future wells being drilled, they need *more* funding, NOT less.  The oil and gas industry does not want federal oversight and thus far they've had enough money and clout to get their wish.  The only people charged with making sure the industry abides by the the DEP.  So unless the goal is to hand the keys over to the drilling companies, it behooves every single one of us to either pick up the phone or email our legislators to voice our profound displeasure at this latest course of events.  Links to contact your senators/representatives can be found both on the Endless Mountains blog along the right sidebar under "Local Info" or on our facebook page under the "Local Info" tab.

Please take a moment out of your day to do this.  EVERY voice counts.

State budget continues to slash Environmental Protection; Over 1/3 of DEP budget cut over two years.

(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.


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.

Click HERE to access this original post as it appeared today on Young Philly Politics.

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