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Thursday, June 15, 2017

DEP Secretary: House Republican Budget Proposal Put Public Health at Risk

Proposed cuts would affect air and drinking water quality

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) warns that cuts to environmental and public health programs in the proposed budget from House Republicans could put air and water quality at risk. In a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committees, Secretary Patrick McDonnell outlined six key ways the proposed budget would impact public health, safety, and economic development.

“A spending cut of this magnitude -- unfocused and on top of the changes we have already proposed and the cuts we have received, including a reduction of 754 positions over the past decade -- would put Pennsylvania’s environmental and public health at risk,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

Among the impacts of the proposed budget would be:
• 600 fewer inspections of public water systems, which provide clean drinking water to 83% of the Commonwealth population
• Fewer underground mine inspectors that ensure safe working conditions for Pennsylvania’s coal miners
• Longer wait times for permit reviews, slowing down economic development and undercutting improvements that DEP has made to the permit review process

A fee package that would increase and implement new fees on public water systems has been introduced to fund additional staff for the program. In December 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned DEP that continued staff shortages and underinvestment in the program could lead to Pennsylvania losing primacy over the program. Loss of primacy for the program would strip DEP’s authority to regulate drinking water, as well as remove millions of dollars of funds for communities to upgrade their safe drinking water facilities.

In addition to the cuts outlined in the letter, Sec. McDonnell noted that possible cuts to DEP’s budget from federal sources would further exacerbate these issues. Combined, funding cuts at the state and federal level would hamper infrastructure projects and the jobs that those projects create.

Along with the effects that funding cuts at the state level would cause, DEP also outlined the impacts of federal budget cuts in a letter to the Pennsylvania congressional delegation. Copies of that letter can be found here: http://www.dep.pa.gov/About/Testimony_and_Letters/Pages/Testimony.aspx


Anonymous said...

If only any government agency could be believed. Their primary goal is always growth. The worse thing that can happen to any government department is people realize they don't need them......even a little.

Anonymous said...

It is insane that an organization dedicated to things that really matter (the only earth and environment that we have) gets gutted by shortsighted pursuit of economic growth at all costs and damn the consequences. Pogo had it right. So 3:18 if you really think we don't need DEP then the first thing you need to do is educate yourself and the second is to refine your education to history and the consequences of not giving a damn about environmental consequences. Live for today? WTH?!?!??!!

Anonymous said...

I just died thinking about this bill.

Anonymous said...

As I read the article all I kept saying is "good, good, good" with every cut and reduction.
Its time for the incompetent , overpowered, and wasteful DEP to be brought under control.
I'm glad that the DEP has finally had a bucket of COLD water thrown on it.
I'm sure it will be a bucket of crystal clear, fresh mountain spring water which is abundant in the Commonwealth and does not need the DEP to regulate it.

Anonymous said...

Don't need no stinkin' reg-laters. We can trust everyone to always do the right thing. Imbecile....