Local Leaders Leach & Gerber: Getting Gas Right

One of the most objectionable items in the new Pennsylvania budget is deep cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection – over $165 million. How can this be? Hydrofracking is ramping up at a record pace, particularly in the watersheds in the Northeast. The DEP has approved a record-breaking 2,461 new drilling permits since January 2011, and with 1,512 overall inspections in 2010, we totaled 2,754 known violations. Clearly, the need for stronger regulation and enforcement has never been greater.

Even DEP Secretary Michael Krancer has insisted that he intends to be known as “The Enforcement Secretary.” So how does he feel about the budget cuts? And how will his agency of 3,000 adjust? Exactly what will be eliminated? And what about the eye-popping $1.1 billion 2010 tax revenue figure now claimed by the industry-backed Marcellus Shale Coalition? Couldn’t some of that windfall be used to maintain DEP funding, at least?

So many questions, so little vision in Harrisburg these days. The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Report is a start but, environmentally, it’s not a very good one. And even Republican leaders like Senator Joe Scarnati (25th District) appear to be growing impatient with the governor’s protracted timeline. Similarly, Democratic state leaders have suggested an early return to Harrisburg from summer recess to begin sorting through the difficult shale gas issues facing our state.

Many people I speak with think we’re a Post-Empire nation in Pre-Empire denial. I don’t necessarily agree. I think we have no idea where we’re heading – and Pennsylvania has no real energy plan yet. It’s fallen to citizen action groups to ensure that public policy protects us. I also think we need to hurry up and get busy, and to demand better funding for programs like Growing Greener II. That budget was whittled down to a mere $6 million, a drastic reduction from its peak funding levels of over $50 million in 2001.

So when I see that our local leaders, State Senator Daylin Leach and Representative Michael Gerber, took a stand and voted against Corbett’s environmentally unfriendly 2011 budget, I’m once again encouraged to believe in the power of the people. These gentlemen educated themselves on complex issues, took the temperature of their constituencies, and cast their votes. And I’m not the only one who appreciates this brand of representation. If you live in their districts, take a moment to thank them!

Thank You Very Much, or Very Little?
To find out how your representatives voted on the 2011 PA Budget and other current environmental issues, visit: Clean Water Action PA

~

Sen. Daylin Leach

Senator Daylin Leach (D-17th Senatorial District)

601 S. Henderson Road | Suite 208
King of Prussia, PA 19406

Tel: (610) 768-4200
Fax: (610) 768-4204

Rep. Mike Gerber

Representative Michael Gerber (D-148th Legislative District)

527 Fayette Street
Conshohocken, PA 19428

Tel:(610) 832-1679
Fax: (610) 832-1684

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