Report Confirms Growing Greener II Money Is Gone With No Replacement In Sight
A report issued this week by the Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee confirms virtually all of the $625 million in Growing Greener II bond funds have already been committed to projects, significantly reducing project funding for abandoned mine reclamation, watershed restoration, farmland preservation, recreation and other projects for the future.
Funding available from the Environmental Stewardship Fund for these projects will drop from $54 million to just $15 million once all the Growing Greener II bond funds are spent, the report said. In addition, debt service payments will increase from $30 to more than $50 million a year, cutting further into available Environmental Stewardship project funding.
The report was issued by the as a result of House Resolution 17 sponsored by Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery).
"This program, which the voters approved, has made a lasting positive impact on our environment by saving thousands of acres of parks and open spaces, and by helping to preserve farming in Montgomery County and across Pennsylvania," Rep. Harper said. "The results of this report prove that we must find a continuing funding source for these projects."
"Thanks to Growing Greener II, we have made a great deal of progress and restoring and protecting our environment in our region and throughout Pennsylvania," Rep. Harper said. "We cannot afford to let up on this effort. Our natural resources are simply too valuable."
The report found, as of June 30, 2009, Growing Greener II funds have been spent on 1,500 projects including--
-- Agriculture- 316 farmland preservation projects, which preserved 33,713 acres of farmland in perpetuity;
-- Community and Economic Development- 66 projects that created 1,500 jobs, improved 41 buildings, leveraged $140.4 million in private dollars, remediated 1 site, and con- structed 4 new buildings;
-- Conservation and Natural Resources- 441 projects, including improvements in 234 community parks, 132 state park and forest infrastructure projects, and the purchase of 42,357 acres of open spaces;
-- Environmental Protection- 685 projects in- volving abandoned mine reclamation (46), acid mine drainage (16), brownfields (25), drinking/wastewater (104), energy devel- opment (72), watershed protection (400), gas and oil well plugging (13), stream im- provement and dams (9);
-- Fish and Boat Commission- 9 projects, pri- marily to improve state hatcheries; and
-- Game Commission- 29 projects for various purposes.
Growing Greener II also created the $90 million County Environmental Initiative Program, which has funded 509 projects. The report lists the CEIP projects, including 36 farmland preservation, 20 community revitalization, 139 community parks and recreation, 90 drinking water/wastewater, and 198 watershed protection projects initiated by the counties. The CEIP monies are exhausted for most project categories.
The report goes into more detail for each agency and the county program listing types of projects funded and all the individual projects funded by county.
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