Cuts to Pa. natural resources departments worrisome

    A top environmental advocate says cuts to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are worrisome.

    A top environmental advocate says cuts to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are worrisome.

    PennFuture President Jan Jarrett says she’s more troubled by the nearly $10-million trimmed from the DCNR budget than the $13.8-million eliminated from the DEP budget, since the latter agency receives significant support from the federal government.

    Jarrett says she’s worried DCNR staffers won’t be able to adequately monitor natural gas drilling in the state forests, after a 30% reduction in Bureau of Forestry funding.

    House Speaker Keith McCall says lawmakers will restore some of that environmental funding with revenue from a natural gas severance tax, but Jarrett is skeptical.

    “What we have right now; we don’t have a severance tax,” says McCall. “We’ve got a promise. First of all, the promise has got to be fulfilled on October 1. And secondly, the devil will be in the details, in terms of how much the state can expect from that in the rate and the structure of the tax are going to be very important.”

    Governor Ed Rendell says funding for DEP’s drilling inspectors remained untouched.

    Meantime, the Agriculture Department recently announced it’s quarantining 28 Tioga County cows, after they came into contact with polluted fracking water.

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