(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy (ERE) Committee today approved three bills designed to create significant environmental programs and increase the transparency for lease agreements with natural gas operators.
“Today’s actions will have a generational affect,” said Senator Yaw, chair of the ERE committee. “By establishing these two funds, we will ensure an impact for years to come as we provide the resources needed to protect our natural resources.”
- Senate Bill 525 – establishes the framework for a Growing Greener III program to protect Pennsylvania’s water, land, forests and other natural resources; stimulate economic growth in our communities and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.
Since its inception in 1999, the state’s Growing Greener program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 80,000 acres of threatened open space, and restored hundreds of miles of streams and waterways. The program has also protected more than 78,000 acres of farmland, restored more than 1,600 acres of abandoned mine land, and helped reduce flooding and water pollution through 400 watershed protection projects and more than 100 drinking and wastewater treatment improvements.
Funding will come from an infusion of $500 million appropriated from the recently adopted federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
- Senate Bill 832 – establishing a Clean Streams Fund for Pennsylvania, dedicated to water quality, specifically focused on mitigating “non-point” sources of pollution, such as agricultural runoff and acid mine drainage.
Pennsylvania has been blessed with over 85,000 miles of rivers and streams, a density of surface water unmatched in the continental United States. Unfortunately, a legacy of intensive land use has left almost one-third of those waters unsafe for either humans or fish. By restoring these waters, we will reduce the cost of drinking water treatment and invest in our top two industries – tourism and agriculture – by helping farms improve soil health and increasing recreational opportunities throughout the Commonwealth.
- Senate Bill 806 – ensuring landowners are afforded a clear and distinct assessment of royalties paid to them through lease agreements with natural gas operators; it would require entities making payments to landowners to provide more description, clarity and uniformity on their royalty check statements. This proposal is designed to help ensure all parties feel their lease agreements are executed as intended, and it will help mitigate concerns that have developed in recent years.
“We have acted to provide the tools to landowners to reassure them that the agreements which they entered into with natural gas operators are what they seem,” Senator Yaw said. “As we continue to develop our state’s natural gas assets, landowners will know exactly what they are getting in exchange.”
All three bills will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
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Contact: Nick Troutman