For Immediate Release: September 19, 2011
Renew Growing Greener Coalition: Impact Fee Must Address Statewide Environmental Impacts
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Renew Growing Greener Coalition today issued the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Heath in response to Governor Corbett’s announcement that he will support an impact fee on natural gas drilling.
“We are pleased that the Corbett administration has said it will back an impact fee on Marcellus Shale drilling and that the Governor has specifically referenced the need to fund “environmental cleanup.”
“But the devil is in the details.
“Without doubt, production and distribution of natural gas causes immediate and long-term environmental damage. Water and air pollution from construction and operations impact the communities where drilling occurs, but they also have impacts well beyond the Marcellus region, as pollution does not respect county or municipal boundaries.
“Likewise the impacts of truck traffic and pipelines have statewide impacts. The loss of public access to large areas of public forest, the damage to wildlife habitat, the conversion of productive farmland and the impending harm to the scenic and recreational quality of our state parks hurt every Pennsylvanian.
“Therefore, the Coalition strongly urges the Governor and legislature to use a significant portion of the revenues to restore funding for the state’s award-winning Growing Greener program to offset the conservation, recreation and environmental impacts that will be felt across the Commonwealth.
“Addressing the cumulative impacts of drilling requires a broad-scale, statewide approach – an approach for which Growing Greener has been recognized as it is a proven mechanism for plugging abandoned wells, cleaning up polluted waterways, protecting wildlife habitat, preserving farms and conserving open spaces throughout Pennsylvania.
“The Coalition looks forward to discussing the details of an impact fee with the Governor, his administration and the Legislature and will continue to push on behalf of all Pennsylvanians for restoring funding for Growing Greener.”
Growing Greener is a bipartisan program established in 1999 under Governor Tom Ridge and later expanded by Governors Schweiker and Rendell. Since its establishment, Growing Greener has created a legacy of success, preserving more than 33,700 acres of Pennsylvania’s family farmland, conserving more than 42,300 acres of threatened open space, adding 26,000 acres to state parks and forests, and restoring over 16,000 acres of abandoned mine lands.
Moreover, Growing Greener has contributed and leveraged billions of dollars to the Pennsylvania economy by helping to boost tourism, create jobs and generate revenue.
Yet despite the program’s accomplishments, funding for Growing Greener projects and grants fell from an average of approximately $150 million per year for the last six years to $27.3 million in the Governor’s proposed budget. This is an 82 percent cut at a critical time when the natural gas drilling boom poses significant threats statewide to our water, air and environment.
To date, 230 organizations and groups have announced their support for renewing Growing Greener. In addition, at least 90 Pennsylvania municipalities and 23 counties, representing more than 5 million Pennsylvanians, have passed resolutions urging the Governor and Legislature to renew Growing Greener funding.
About the Renew Growing Greener Coalition The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of conservation, recreation and environmental organizations representing nearly 350 organizations and government entities. For more information on the Coalition, visit www.RenewGrowingGreener.org.