Harrisburg Legislators Aim to Sell Out Pennsylvania’s Clean Air and Water for Political Points

On July 27th, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a Tax Code, House Bill 542, which limits the Constitutionally-directed rights of the Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate and regulate air and water pollution. This language, buried in the state’s budget, would establish a new, legislatively-appointed review board that has primary authority to disallow air permitting controls for the unconventional gas industry. Additionally, it would authorize oil and gas companies to hand-pick their own third party consultants to review and approve environmental permits. Currently,there are no provisions made to assess the qualifications of these private interests, ensure the right for public comment, or protect against self-dealing.In response, Joanne Kilgour, Pennsylvania Chapter Director, issued the following statement:

“Folks can dress this up anyway they’d like it, but the fact remains that this bill sells out Pennsylvania’s clean air and water just so legislators and the Governor can claim they got something accomplished. But voting for or signing something that threatens the people you were elected to represent isn’t called an accomplishment, it’s called selling out.

Governor Wolf must oppose these unconstitutional riders in the Tax Code that pose an illegal threat to our public health and democracy. This radical bill amounts to the privatization of oil and gas permitting and puts our public health and air quality in the hands of political appointees rather than trained professionals. We call on the Governor to fulfill his essential duty as governor: protect Pennsylvanians’ public health.”

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