House Environmental Committee Meets May 24 On Bills Attempting To Address Local Flooding, Extending Underground Tank Cleanup Programs

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to meet May 24 on a package of eight bills that attempt to deal with local flooding by digging out stream channels and not by taking actions to prevent flooding and restore floodplains.

Also on the agenda is House Bill 1780 (Armanini-R-Clearfield) which would extend the sunset date for the underground storage tank cleanup and pollution prevention programs to December 31, 2027.  The programs are due to expire on June 30, 2022.

This bill has been in Committee since August 12, 2021.

Digging Out Stream Channels

The package of eight bills to address localized flooding problems would emphasize digging out stream channels and not natural stream restoration techniques designed to prevent flooding and debris build up.

DEP, working with the Bradford County Conservation District and other districts, has developed Guidelines for Maintaining Streams to outline environmentally safe techniques for maintaining clear stream channels and simplified emergency permits they issue for the removal of debris that address short-term, localized flooding problems.

Through the Growing Greener Program, DEP has also been promoting natural stream restoration efforts that not only improve water quality but help prevent flooding and reduce the necessity and expense of repeated stream clearing activities.

DEP has also been working with Villanova’s Center for Resilient Water Systems to update its Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual to emphasize cost-effective green infrastructure solutions to manage stormwater and reduce flooding.

In other words, DEP, working with local partners, is looking at the problem of reducing flood damage in three dimensions and these bills look at only one.

The House Republican bills include--

-- House Bill 2404 (Owlett-R-Tioga): Would allow local government organizations to apply for a permit for continuing maintenance for a period of at least 10 years for the streams within their jurisdiction. This permit would grant an affirmative duty to the local government entity to properly maintain the streams and would not require the local government to get pre-approval for maintenance projects.

-- House Bill 2405 (Pickett-R-Bradford): Would create a program that allows counties to opt in to address hazards within their streams by allowing for emergency maintenance permits in consultation with their county conservation district. This is modeled after a pilot project that has proven successful in Bradford County

-- House Bill 2406 (Fritz-R-Susquehanna): Would create a permit specific to smaller maintenance projects for the mitigation of flood-related hazards of less than 250 linear feet. This permit would be reviewed and issued by the local county conservation district.

-- House Bill 2407 (Hamm-R-Lycoming): Would clarify that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has no authority for permitting or enforcement related to stream clearing or maintenance activities. This authority shall belong solely to DEP and the county conservation districts as appropriate.

-- House Bill 2408 (Armanini-R-Clearfield): Would declare that no permit or authorization shall be required for maintenance activities conducted on a culvert.

-- House Bill 2409 (O’Neal-R-Washington): Would state that no permit shall be required for the removal of flood-related hazards from streams that are deemed to be an emergency by a state or county.

-- House Bill 2410 (Smith-R-Jefferson): Would state that no permit shall be required for stream maintenance activities conducted 50 feet or less upstream or downstream of a bridge or culvert.

-- House Bill 2411 (Hershey-R-Mifflin) requires DEP to issue an annual report on flooding and stream restoration.

The Committee held an informational meeting on this legislation April 25.  Click Here to watch a video of the meeting.

The meeting will be held in Room 515 Irvis Building starting at 8:00 a.m.  Click Here to watch live online.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:

Related Articles:

-- House Environmental Committee To Hold May 23 Information Meeting On Bills Prohibiting Waste Landfills In Certain Areas

-- House Local Govt. Committee Meets May 25 On Bill To Prohibit Communities From Moving To Clean, Cheaper Energy Sources To Address Climate Change

-- Senate Democratic Policy Committee Holds June 2 Hearing On Health Impacts Of Shale Gas Infrastructure In Allegheny County

[Posted: May 19, 2022]


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