Coalition and Senators Introduce Plan to Boost PA’s Growing Greener Program
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition has announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to create a Growing Greener III program and provide $315 million in annual investments to protect the state’s water, land and other natural resources.
PA Senator Tom Killion (R-Delaware) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors introduced the legislation in late September.
“Funding for the state’s Growing Greener program is at an all-time low,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Coalition. “This plan establishes a framework for the Governor and the Legislature to renew the state’s investment and provide the funding necessary to keep our water clean, conserve our land, ensure access to public recreation and preserve our family farms.”
Funding for the state’s Growing Greener program, established in 1999, has decreased from an estimated average of $200 million in the mid-2000s to $57 million this year – a 75 percent cut. The program is currently funded through fees charged on waste disposal, as well as contributions from the Marcellus Legacy Fund and the Oil and Gas Lease Fund.
“The viability of Pennsylvania’s two largest industries – agriculture and tourism – depends on clean water and the availability of open space, parks, trails, farmland, and wildlife habitat,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “Our natural treasures support our economy, create healthy communities, and provide recreational opportunities for families.”
Since its inception, the state’s Growing Greener program has enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support. The program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 50,000 acres of threatened open space, and restored hundreds of miles of streams and waterways.
The Coalition’s blueprint for a Growing Greener III program was developed with input from a wide range of stakeholders. Sen. Killion has been joined in the legislation by co-sponsors Sens. Richard Alloway (R-Adams), David Argall (R-Schuylkill), John Blake (D-Lackawanna), Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh), Thomas McGarrigle (R-Delaware), Chuck McIhinney (R-Bucks), John Gordner (R-Columbia), Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin), Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) and John Yudichak (D-Carbon).
A 2015 Penn State poll found that 90.7 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed would support increasing state funds to conserve and protect open space, clean water, natural areas, wildlife habitats, parks, historic sites, forests, and farms.
Further, the Growing Greener program leverages tremendous private, local, and federal matching dollars. For each program dollar spent, more than double is generated from matching funds. In addition, the program also leverages significant volunteer in-kind investments that help to alleviate compliance and restoration costs for farmers, communities, and businesses.
“There is little question that Pennsylvanians value the opportunities and benefits associated with the state’s natural resources,” said Heath. “Growing Greener’s value to the residents of Pennsylvania – through tangible improvements to our communities, natural resources, and quality of life – is extraordinary. The Coalition is looking forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to advance a Growing Greener III program that makes meaningful investments in the health and future of our water, land and local communities.”
A full copy of the Coalition’s proposed Growing Greener III plan can be downloaded at www.GrowingGreener3.org.