More investment of environmental infrastructure needed


On Feb. 5, seventeen member groups of the Growing Greener Coalition released a statement saying while they are “heartened” by Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal, “there is a tremendous backlog of environmental infrastructure needs requiring the state’s attention and demanding much higher levels of investment.”

Those needs include-

— 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams are unsafe for drinking, swimming, fishing, and boating.

— State parks and forests require nearly $1 billion in necessary repairs.

— More than 200,000 acres of abandoned mine lands and thousands of brownfield sites pollute our water and threaten human health and safety

— The list goes on.

“The Coalition urges senators, representatives, and the governor to recognize that these real challenges require action– whether that’s via the governor’s Restore PA proposal or some other vehicle.

“Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to safe water and preservation of the natural environment. It is also, plain and simple, the right thing to do. The partner organizations of the Growing Greener Coalition are encouraged that Gov. Wolf’s executive budget upholds Pennsylvania’s traditional investments in projects that protect water, conserve land and enhance outdoor recreation.

“With the Governor’s budget:

— The Environmental Stewardship Fund (aka Growing Greener), established in 1999, will continue its tremendously successful support of tangible projects that protect and restore water quality, preserve farmland, and make other environmental improvements.

— The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, established in 1993 with nearly unanimous General Assembly support and overwhelming voter backing in a public referendum, will continue its extraordinarily effective investments in developing and improving parks and trails; protecting open spaces important to communities and restoring libraries.

“The governor’s budget also constructively addresses a number of other environmental funding matters: Proposing to recapitalize the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund with a $1-a-ton fee increase on disposing of waste in landfills; a capital program to remediate lead and asbestos threats; and funding badly needed positions at the Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources.”

The letter was signed by wildlife, land trust, farmland conservation, environmental, recreation, park, forest and watershed groups. The partner organizations include: Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA, Conservation Voters of PA, Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, Lancaster Farmland Trust, Natural Lands, PennFuture, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, PA Park and Forest Foundation, Pa Recreation and Park Society, Sierra Club of PA, Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy-PA Chapter, and The Trust for Public Land.