Friday, June 30, 2017

Green program funding loses again under new Pa budget

Matt Stepp reports in PennFuture's blog: 

At the 11th hour, the House, Senate, and Governor’s office agreed to a General Appropriations budget for FY2017-18 that continues a funding crisis for environmental protection that started more than a decade ago. 
The chief environmental protection agencies – Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) - have been systematically underfunded. Under the auspices of tough budget times and belt tightening, key programs have been cut or eliminated. Staffing has been reduced, putting public health at even greater risk. Yet, the environmental challenges impacting Pennsylvania continue to grow.
For example, the Commonwealth’s water pollution challenges are growing in every corner of the state, yet the DEP’s Operational Budget, which supports water programs, was cut another 3.85 percent from the previous year. Since 2002-03, DEP’s Operations Budget is down nearly 34 percent. Growing Greener investments through the Environmental Stewardship Fund have decreased by 75 percent. And the budget deal cut the critical water commissions, including the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), by a whopping 50 percent.
There is truly only one way to describe the overall budget deal: it’s awful for Pennsylvania’s environment. It ensures that the biggest challenges facing our public lands, water, air, and climate will not be addressed for at least another year, and probably longer.

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