Oppose HB 1659- Limiting environmental permitting
May 21, 2012
On behalf of PennEnvironment’s citizen members I am writing to ask you to oppose House Bill 1659 in tomorrow’s Environmental Resources and Energy (ERE) Committee.
On the heels of deep budget cuts that have occurred year after year, HB1659 adds one more nail in the coffin towards ensuring that PA-DEP will be unable to properly do its job to protect Pennsylvania’s residents and our environment.
As I’m sure you are aware, HB1659 will severely limit—or potentially eliminate—the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection’s (PA-DEP) ability to properly review permits that control pollution and emissions that threaten our environment and public health.
This legislation would constrict PA-DEP’s timeline and hinder the agency from properly reviewing permits.
At the same time, HB1659 allows industrial polluters to contract with consultants and other companies—businesses that could have a financially vested interest in slowing down or diluting Pennsylvania’s environmental permitting processes—to review their permits and promote permit language. To add insult to injury, PA-DEP would be required to accept these recommendations if PA-DEP can’t keep up with this shortened timeline for permit reviews.
After slashing PA-DEP’s budgets, it’s incredible to think that legislators would think that our environmental regulators would need less time to review permits instead of more time to properly implement this important step in environmental protection.
HB 1659 is the equivalent of taking away legislators cars and telling them to get to the capitol in half the time—the math just doesn’t add up.
Moreover, with the rise of Marcellus Shale gas drilling and related activities—arguably the most environmentally intensive activity in the Commonwealth in recent memory—it’s clear that Pennsylvania needs permits that are properly reviewed and vetted by regulators whose sole purpose is to safeguard the public’s health and environment, not special interests, polluters and their allies.
For these reasons, PennEnvironment calls on you to vote NO on HB 1659.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss this legislation, and thanks in advance for your consideration on this issue.
David Masur, Director
1420 Walnut Street, Suite 650
Philadelphia, PA 19102