State budget must address safety concerns and environmental effects of pipeline infrastructure and natural gas drilling
HARRISBURG, March 9 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, today urged members of the House Appropriations Committee to include in its ongoing state budget negotiations a strong funding plan to address the consequences of natural-gas drilling on the environment and public safety.
Comitta made those remarks before members of the House Appropriations Committee, which today concluded three weeks of public hearings on Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2017-18 state budget.
Comitta said while there are myriad concerns to address in the annual state budget, including adequate investments in schools and job training initiatives, a great concern in her Chester County legislative district is the natural-gas pipeline infrastructure and its effect on environmental and public safety. She encouraged the committee to ensure adequate funding for the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and for the legislature to remain focused on it.
“Right now, pipelines are coming through our state, passing by our homes, our businesses and our schools,” Comitta told the committee. “It is essential that we have oversight of construction, inspection and maintenance of these pipelines, and that we have highly trained professionals working on the installation and maintenance of these pipelines. It is essential that our municipalities and emergency responders plan and train for accidents, and take into account the nature of liquefied natural gas.”
Comitta said environmental safety concerns over drilling and pipeline infrastructure are regularly brought up by the people she represents at municipal and zoning meetings in her legislative district and likely mirrored in communities across the state. She said all Pennsylvanians look toward their public officials for practical regulation and oversight, and it is the responsibility of the legislature to respond appropriately.
“In an era where we must do more with less, we still must find solutions to properly fund the state departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because we are constitutionally mandated to do so,” Comitta said.
“All Pennsylvanians have a constitutionally protected right to clean air and water and preservation of the environment. We as their elected legislators are entrusted to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. We must never lose sight of this,” she said.
Comitta concluded to the committee that she looks forward to working with them to help craft the budget – her first as a state legislator – in order to shape a healthy future for all residents of the state.