FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Mike Sturla
Chairman, Democratic Policy Committee
HDPC supports calls for renewal of Growing Greener
LAFAYETTE HILL, July 26 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today held a public hearing at the Whitemarsh Township Administration Building to hear the impact of Growing Greener in southeastern Pennsylvania, according to Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.
State Reps. Mike Gerber and Josh Shapiro, both D-Montgomery, requested the hearing and served as hearing co-chairs.
The Growing Greener initiative is a state program which funds open-space and farmland preservation, stream and river cleanups, and parks, trails and recreation facilities upgrades across the Commonwealth.
"Pennsylvania has a responsibility to future generations to protect and improve our environment," Sturla said. "For over a decade Growing Greener served that objective through targeted investments in projects in every corner of the state. Now it is more important than ever to ensure that our environment's integrity is protected and sustained."
Gerber added, "Growing Greener has been a highly effective program that helped my legislative district preserve many acres of open space, mitigate flooding and alleviate traffic congestion. It has been used to address other critical environmental issues across the Commonwealth such as revitalizing brownfields in historically industrial areas and cleaning abandoned mines in places where industries of the past profited greatly but left future generations to clean up their environmental mess."
"This year’s budget makes drastic cuts to Growing Greener initiatives that add so much economic benefit to our Commonwealth. These cuts have been made at a time when the natural gas drillers are not paying their fair share," Shapiro said. "Growing Greener has created jobs and raised home values in Montgomery County. These economic and environmental benefits for Pennsylvania demand that we fully fund these programs."
Gerber said, "Now is the time to purchase open space, as bonds are cheap to float and land values are depressed. And with the extremely invasive Marcellus Shale industry rapidly spreading across the Commonwealth and exposing us to great environmental risk, there has never been a time when Growing Greener has been so needed.
Research provided to legislators suggests southeastern Pennsylvania has benefited greatly from Growing Greener II, where the program has added 6,900 jobs and $16.3 billion in value to the region’s housing stock. On average, all homes in the region are worth $10,000 more because of access to open space. Moreover, the economic activity associated with open space generates $30 million per year in state and local revenue.
Gerber said, "This isn't just feel-good environmentalist policy, it's a real improvement to my constituents' quality of life, it's real dollars and cents flowing into our economy and, importantly, it's job growth."
Those testifying at the hearing included Dulcie Flaharty, executive director, Montgomery County Lands Trust; Andrew Heath, executive director, Renew Growing Greener Coalition, and David Masur, director, PennEnvironment.
For more information about the Policy Committee and hearing materials, visit www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.