2011-2012 Legislative Agenda
Pennsylvania needs to lead the way toward a cleaner energy future: one that relies on clean, homegrown renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, and prioritizes energy efficiency and conservation.
Breaking our dependence on oil, coal and other polluting fossil fuels will help build a green economy, create thousands of new jobs, make our air healthier to breathe, and help tackle the severe threats posed by global warming. PennEnvironment supports:
- Making our buildings more efficient through “green building” legislation that requires new construction to meet much-needed green building standards.
- Promoting renewable energy in Pennsylvania by increasing the requirement for the cleanest sources of energy in the Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), such as wind and solar power.
- Promoting offshore wind energy in Pennsylvania by allowing for the environmental testing, development and construction of wind off the shores of Lake Erie.
- Reducing air pollution by passing legislation that will lower the emissions of dangerous sulfur pollution from home heating oil and vehicles.
- Addressing the dramatic funding shortfall for the state’s public transit systems in order to cut down on air pollution and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
Protecting our forests, farms and open spaces
Pennsylvania’s forests, productive family farmlands and important open spaces—the places that make Pennsylvania special—continue to disappear to sprawling strip malls and subdivisions and destructive activities like gas drilling.
PennEnvironment supports policies that will protect and preserve our open spaces and wild places. We support:
- Reauthorizing funding for Growing Greener—Growing Greener has preserved thousands of acres of threatened family farms and open spaces, yet its funding has nearly run dry. The Legislature must renew Growing Greener.
- Maintaining laws that allow local citizens and elected officials to make local zoning and land-use decisions.
- Protecting Pennsylvania’s public lands by halting further leases for gas drilling in state forests and preventing drilling activities in state parks.
Protecting Pennsylvania from gas drilling
Drillng for gas underneath Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale has already contaminated local streams, rivers and drinking water supplies, threatened our state forests, and caused localized air pollution concerns that endanger our environment and public health.
With Marcellus gas drilling expected to escalate, the state Legislature must act swiftly to implement policies that will protect Pennsylvania’s natural heritage and public health. PennEnvironment supports:
- Enacting a commonsense natural gas severance tax on gas drillers, with a significant portion of the revenue directed to renew environmental programs, including Growing Greener.
- Updating Pennsylvania’s existing laws to protect our waterways and land from gas drilling.
- Preserving recent clean water regulations meant to address Marcellus Shale pollution. This includes updates to Title 25, Chapter 78 and Chapter 95 which limit gas drilling wastewater pollution and increase protection of groundwater from faulty wells.
- Opposing efforts to pass harmful forced pooling policies related to Marcellus Shale gas drilling, which would implement a system of eminent domain for private gain in Pennsylvania.
Defending our environmental programs
Pennsylvania’s natural heritage can only be protected if our state environmental departments and regulators are given tools and resources to do their jobs properly. Unfortunately, the state’s environmental programs have been chronically under-funded—and are often the first to see budget cuts.
The Legislature must not allow further cuts to our critical environmental programs. PennEnvironment supports:
- Reauthorizing funding for Pennsylvania’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund (HSCF), which provides the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with the finances and authority to clean up the state’s worst hazardous waste sites and toxic brownfields.
- Maintaining funds for Pennsylvania’s environmental program. Legislators must stop raiding Growing Greener, the Oil and Gas Lease Fund and other environmental programs year in and year out.
- Properly funding our environmental departments. Legislators must ensure the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are properly funded and halt the annual budget cuts that have plagued these agencies.