(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), today issued the following statement in response to the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee's passage of HB1565, introduced by Representative Marcia Hahn (R., Northampton). The Bill threatens to remove streamside forest buffer protections for Pennsylvania's most pristine streams, and if passed, would open up waterways throughout the Commonwealth to increased pollution threats from development. It now moves to the full House for consideration.
"CBF is disappointed that HB1565 has passed out of committee, as amended, and will now be before the full House for consideration. If passed, HB1565 would open up Pennsylvania's most pristine waterways to increased pollution threats from development. Therefore, we are urging the House to vote "No" when the bill comes to the floor of the House.
"This Bill is fundamentally flawed in that it attempts to correct a problem that has not been shown to even exist. Under existing law, developers and builders can, and do, request waivers of the 150-foot buffer setback requirement. Yet, despite inquiries, no one has been able to provide an example of a waiver that was not approved. Therefore, passing this bill on the basis that the regulation holds back development seems to be unfounded.
"Nearly 20,000 miles of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams are polluted, according to the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) most recent statewide assessment of the health of surface waters. For the majority of these streams forested riparian buffers are one of the most cost-effective, common-sense solutions for pollution reductions. Yet, rather than proactively developing ways to improve water quality, this Committee was steadfast in their efforts to pass legislation that can only increase pollution."