90% Of Voters Want MORE Funding For Critical Environmental, Conservation Programs & Local Projects-- Whose Budget Proposal Does That?
90 percent of voters want MORE funding for critical environmental and conservation programs.
What budget proposal does that? None, so far.
The 90 percent came from a poll released last October by the Growing Greener Coalition and the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania that surveyed voters about how they felt about the environment, while deep into the COVID pandemic.
More than 90 percent of Pennsylvania voters want Harrisburg politicians to pursue important environmental priorities, including preventing oil and gas pipeline accidents, preserving farmland, cleaning up rivers and streams and protecting the quality of Pennsylvania’s drinking water.
91 percent of voters said we have a moral obligation to take care of our natural environment.
90 percent of those surveyed agreed that protecting water quality and land in Pennsylvania is critical to keeping the state’s economy strong.
89 percent said open spaces, parks and the outdoors have become MORE important to them because of the pandemic.
A poll released January 27 found 86 percent say parks, trails and the outdoors were essential-- again, essential-- to their physical and mental health during the pandemic. Read more here.
87 percent agreed that, even when the state budget is tight, we should still find the money to invest in protecting Pennsylvania’s land, water and wildlife.
Pennsylvania voters also overwhelmingly supported increasing funding for critical environmental priorities-- even if it means raising taxes and fees.
And when informed the state is facing a multi-billion-dollar shortfall that may necessitate budget cuts, 62 percent report preferring cuts to other items in the budget and not environmental and conservation programs.
Nearly 75 percent of voters support dedicating existing sales tax revenue generated from outdoor recreation activities like hunting and fishing to programs that improve water quality.
More than 60 percent of voters support ending the state sales tax exemption for bottled water and using the revenue generated to improve water quality. And 60 percent support a $10 a year tax increase to increase funding for conservation programs.
Backlog In Environmental Needs
The Growing Greener Coalition laid out just a few of the conservation funding needs--
-- 25,468 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams are unsafe for drinking, swimming, fishing, and boating [and $324 million a year is needed for Pennsylvania’s part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed alone];
-- More than 200,000 acres of abandoned mine lands and thousands of brownfield sites pollute our water and threaten human health and safety; and
-- State parks and forests require nearly $1 billion in necessary repairs. Read more here.
More than $3.468 Billion in environmental funding for DEP and DCNR environmental and conservation programs has already been cut or diverted to other purposes by the Senate and House and various governors over the last 14 years. The list is here.
Of particular concern have been attempts to divert, cut or freeze monies from the Keystone Recreation, Parks and Conservation Fund and Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund that support community-based environmental restoration, recreation, land conservation and water quality and habitat improvement projects.
In addition, over the last 17 years, state General Fund support for DEP environmental protection programs have been cut by more than 40 percent and the agency’s staff by nearly 30 percent, while still expecting the same level of protection for the environment and public health.
Visit the Growing Greener Coalition website for more on conservation needs and funding issues.
How Clean Is Your Stream?
DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.
(Photo: The iconic Rosie the Riveter was created by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller as a poster for Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company to promote a message to workers to work hard and not slack off.)
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[Posted: February 4, 2021]
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