April 11, 2022
Re. Growing Greener III
Never a Better Time for a Boost to Conservation Investments
Dear Pennsylvania Senators, Representatives, and Governor Wolf:
On behalf of the 70 member organizations of WeConservePA, I write to express our appreciation for the leadership of the senators and representatives who are working to increase state investments in Growing Greener-type projects. We ask all members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s office to work to ensure that this spring’s legislative efforts include a much needed boost to state conservation investments. These are capital investments, not operational expenditures that have to be repeated (and supported out of the general fund) after the federal money is gone.
Senator Gordner’s SB 525 invests $500 million of ARPA funds into a “Growing Greener III.” The bill enjoys sponsorship by a bipartisan majority of 28 senators and has received second consideration by the Senate. Representative Culver’s counterpart, HB 2020, is presently collecting sponsors (24 Republicans and 13 Democrats so far).
Complementing these bills is the creation of a Clean Streams Fund and Agriculture Conservation Assistance Program as provided in Senator Yaw’s SB 832 (which has also received second consideration) and Representative Hershey’s House version, HB 1901.
Additionally, earlier this year Governor Wolf called for a $450 million boost in state conservation investments.
These proposals will judiciously invest in capital projects that can be implemented now and deliver huge returns for decades to come. From nature-based solutions that prevent flooding and stream degradation to rehabilitation of state and local parks and trails that underpin a large part of the commonwealth’s tourism and outdoor recreation economies, ARPA dollars can make a tremendous difference in the lives of Pennsylvanians.
Our various natural infrastructure needs are immense, but the economic payoff in addressing them is huge. ARPA dollars applied to natural infrastructure would support myriad small businesses and good-paying jobs. It is well established that state environmental investments provide tremendous rates of return—whether the measure is job creation and economic activity, avoided costs (such as public health and flooding), net tax revenues, or the wellbeing of people and communities. (See the numerous studies documenting the benefits in the Economic Benefits section of https://conservationtools.org.)
Past Growing Greener investments have accomplished tremendous good, supporting projects to restore polluted waterways, protect water supplies, and conserve productive farmland and open space important to communities. The investments have also improved community parks, trails, State Parks and Forests, and more.
A Growing Greener III is crucial to restoring the thousands of miles of Pennsylvania streams still unsafe for drinking, fishing, or swimming; using natural infrastructure to reduce flooding; addressing the tremendous infrastructure needs in our parks and other public lands; and delivering other environmental benefits. It is also needed to leverage hundreds of millions in federal dollars available to address abandoned mine drainage and other environmental concerns.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Andrew M. Loza