HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today advanced four measures providing funding to enhance urban forestry programs and riparian forest buffers, compensating landowners living within the Delaware River Basin, creating a nutrient procurement program and legislation amending the definition of “pollution” in the Clean Stream’s Law.
Senate Bill 108 establishes the “Keystone Tree Fund”, sponsored by Senator Yaw and Minority Committee Chairman John Yudichak (D-14). The legislation would add “Keystone Tree Fund” as a voluntary checkoff box to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s driver’s license application (original and renewal) and the vehicle registration renewal application. This checkoff box would allow applicants to voluntarily donate $3 to the fund. The funding would be allocated to two programs within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, a Tree Vitalize Program and Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program. The bill is supported by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, who helped craft the legislation.
Another measure approved by the Committee today included legislation, sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), requiring compensation for landowners living in the Delaware River Basin who are losing valuable property rights to a ban on natural gas drilling. The ban, imposed by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), has prevented impacted landowners from realizing the economic benefits that accrue to landowners in nearly every other part of Pennsylvania. As approved today, Senate Bill 305 provides that impacted landowners would be entitled to compensation calculated in the same manner as is used to determine value in any other eminent domain action.
In addition to Senate Bill(s) 108 and 305, two additional measures were reported from Committee.
Senate Bill 575 establishes the Pennsylvania Clean Water Procurement Program providing for the purchase of verified nutrient and sediment reductions through a competitive sealed proposal procurement procedure. The legislation also creates the Watershed Innovation and Improvement Fund within the State Treasury. The program will enhance Pennsylvania’s efforts to reduce nitrogen runoff into state waterways, as well as the Chesapeake Bay.
Senate Bill 619 amends the definition of “pollution” in the Clean Streams Law adding that an accidental discharge, spill or release that does not cause a violation of any of the numeric water quality criteria under 25 Pa. Code does not constitute pollution.
All bills now move to the full Senate for consideration.
Archived video, and the full list of reported bills are available on the committee’s website.