For Immediate Release: August 15, 2011
Renew Growing Greener Coalition Urges Legislators to Allocate Portion of Impact Fee on Drilling to Protect State’s Environment
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Renew Growing Greener Coalition today urged state legislators to allocate a portion of any impact fee on natural gas drilling to renew funding for the state’s Growing Greener program and protect Pennsylvania’s environment.
“The Growing Greener program has shown Pennsylvania, and the nation, how you can improve environmental conditions, preserve open space and farmland, and protect public parks while continuing to grow local economies,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Renew Growing Greener Coalition. “The General Assembly needs to identify funding sources for this program and the most obvious one at this time is an impact fee on natural gas drilling.”
Heath made his remarks as the House Democratic Policy Committee met in Wilkes-Barre to hold a hearing on Marcellus Shale hosted by Chairman Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) and Rep. Eddie Day Pashinksi (D-Luzerne).
Growing Greener is a bipartisan program established in 1999 under Governor Tom Ridge and later expanded by Governors Schweiker and Rendell. In 2002, a dedicated source of revenue for Growing Greener was identified in an increase in the state’s “tipping fee,” the fee charged for dumping trash in Pennsylvania’s landfills. Those funds were supplemented by a $625 million bond approved by voters in 2005, called Growing Greener II. Growing Greener I funds are largely exhausted, with most of the tipping fees going to the debt service on the Growing Greener II bonds.
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 billions of dollars to the Pennsylvania economy by helping to boost tourism, create jobs and generate revenue. Yet despite its overwhelming success, the availability of Growing Greener funding is 80 percent lower in this year’s budget.
“Somewhere along this discussion we have lost sight of the fact that we are a Commonwealth. We share our common wealth and we share our common burdens,” said Heath. “When we disrupt our state forestlands with deforestation, it makes sense to conserve land elsewhere. We are heading down a dark path, trying to isolate revenue, impacts and benefits.”
To date, more than 225 organizations and groups have announced their support for renewing Growing Greener. In addition, at least 85 Pennsylvania municipalities including 22 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 over 300 organizations and government entities. For more information on the Coalition, visit www.RenewGrowingGreener.org.