(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) issued this statement following Governor Tom Wolf's line-item veto of parts of the state budget for 2015-16, specifically relating to funding the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The governor's action earmarked $87.2 million for environmental protection operations within the DEP.
"The $87.2 million funding for environmental protection and improving water quality represents a three percent increase above last year's level, but is more than $2 million less than what the Governor asked for.
"It is a small step toward what CBF hopes is overcoming DEP's loss of 700 positions, 14 percent of its employees, since 2008. Theirs was one of the largest cuts of any agency. It's clear that it will take a greater investment by the Commonwealth, if it is to get its clean water efforts back on track.
"Roughly 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania have been damaged by pollution and the Commonwealth is significantly behind in meeting its clean water commitments. Efforts to reduce nitrogen and sediment pollution from agriculture and urban polluted runoff remain off-track by millions of pounds. DEP estimates only about 30 percent of farms in the Commonwealth are currently in compliance.
"Pennsylvania has promised a reboot of its clean water efforts and it will require renewed commitment, investment, and leadership by the Governor and legislature to reach its goals.
"Investing in clean water can pay dividends. A 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing Pennsylvania's clean water plans will result in an increase in the value of natural benefits by $6.2 billion annually."
"Clean water counts in Pennsylvania. Increasing funding for clean water in this and future budgets is the right thing to do and is a legacy worth leaving future generations."