Pa. Department of Environmental Protection Needs More Help

(May 28, 2024)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been chronically understaffed for years. The department is currently unable to fulfill its basic mission to protect public health and the environment. Additional positions proposed in Gov. Josh Shapiro’s Commonwealth budget do not adequately address the department’s needs. When the Pennsylvania General Assembly and governor finalize the Commonwealth budget in the upcoming weeks, they must provide more staffing for DEP. Read more


Grant Memo: Agricultural, Educational, Environmental, Redevelopment and Additional Grant Opportunities

(May 07, 2024)

NEWLY LISTED PROGRAMS Department of Education: Public School Environmental Repairs Program Who May Apply: School districts, area career and technical schools, charter schools, and regional charter schools that operate school buildings. Use: Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, the remediation and/or abatement of lead in water sources and paint, asbestos, and mold inside school buildings of eligible school entities. Funds: Up to $75 million in state funds will be competitively awarded. There is no minimum funding request. The maximum funding request is $10 million. One application per entity will be accepted, but the application may consist of more than one project in more than one school building. Application Deadline: June 30, 2024 More information: PDE Website Department of Agriculture: Farm-to-School Grant Program Who May Apply: Any school district, school, charter school, private school, or center with pre-K classes, kindergarten classes, elementary classes, or middle school classes through 8 th grade that participates in a Federal Child Nutrition Program. Use: The purpose of the Farm-to-School Program is to educate prekindergartners through eighth graders and their families about the importance of choosing healthy, locally produced foods and increase awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture. Eligible projects will achieve this purpose. Funds: $500,000 is available for Read more


Plugging Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells in Pennsylvania: A Game of Whack- A- Mole

(Mar 11, 2024)

Despite the Shapiro administration’s increased efforts to plug orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells, conventional drillers continue to abandon their wells at a rate faster than the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection can plug them. Unless the DEP’s Oil and Gas program is given adequate staffing to properly police conventional drillers and the ability to increase bonding amounts to ensure drillers fulfill their well plugging obligations, taxpayer money – both federal and state – will continue to be wasted on DEP’s well plugging efforts. Read more


December 2023 Newsletter

(Dec 01, 2023)

December 2023 Newsletter Read more


July 2023 Newsletter

(Jul 17, 2023)

July 2023 Newsletter Read more


Cryptocurrency mining in Pennsylvania must be regulated

(Jun 20, 2023)

In early May, just one day after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives held a public hearing on the cryptomining industry and climate change, the White House called for a new tax on the enormous amount of electricity used by cryptomining companies to minimize the industry’s outsized impact in worsening the climate crisis. Read more


April 2023 Newsletter

(Mar 22, 2023)

April 2023 Newsletter Read more


Vitali: This is how Gov. Josh Shapiro must lead on Pennsylvania environmental funding

(Feb 06, 2023)

A new governor offers hope that the chronic underfunding of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will finally end. Read more


December 2022 Newsletter

(Dec 01, 2022)

December 2022 Newsletter Read more


Committee tours mine reclamation sites, learns about difficulties

(Sep 26, 2022)

“It’s a complicated issue because the immediate environmental benefits are pretty clear,” said Rep. Greg Vitali, who is the minority chair of the House Environmental and Energy Committee. “You reduce an unsightly site, you reduce acid mine drainage, you reduce the risk of a fire on these coal waste sites, but the costs of burning waste coal are a little more theoretical but very important – which is greenhouse gas being released into the atmosphere. So it’s a balance of competing environmental concerns.” Read more


August 2022 Newsletter

(Jul 29, 2022)

August 2022 Newsletter Read more


February 2022 Newsletter

(Feb 16, 2022)

February 2022 Newsletter Read more


Vitali: Commonwealth Budget Should Fully Fund Environmental Protection

(Feb 02, 2022)

Gov. Tom Wolf’s address to Pennsylvania’s General assembly on Feb. 8h will mark the official opening of negotiations on the commonwealth’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget. Regrettably, this annual budget has shortchanged the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for many years. With a rosy revenue picture for the upcoming fiscal year, the governor and the General Assembly should adopt a budget that fully funds the DEP. The best measure of the DEP’s strength over time is its number of filled positions, i.e., the number of people paid to come to work each day. In 2003, the DEP had 3,311 filled positions. This past December it was down to 2,323 filled positions. That’s about a 30% reduction in staff over the last 18 years. This percent staff reduction is about double that of all commonwealth agencies over the same period. Reduced staffing has compromised the department’s ability to regulate oil and gas development, monitor and reduce air and water pollution and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Pennsylvania has the money to fully fund DEP. According to the commonwealth’s Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania’s General fund revenue surplus for fiscal year 2021-22 is projected to be over 1.6 billion dollars -the second largest in a decade. Oil and Gas Program The DEP’s Oil and Gas Program has oversight over the almost 80,000 Pennsylvania oil and gas wells now in production. In 2015, this program had 226 filled Read more


November 2021 Newsletter

(Nov 15, 2021)

November 2021 Newsletter Read more


Vitali: Pennsylvania Should Enact Methane Regulations

(Aug 11, 2021)

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry is a major methane emitter. More than five and a half years ago, Governor Tom Wolf promised regulations to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and gas industry operations. It’s time to finalize these regulations. Methane reduction is critical in addressing climate change. “Urgent steps must be taken to reduce methane emissions this decade” and the “fossil fuel sector has the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030,” said a recent report by the U.N. Environment Programme and Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The short-term climate benefits are particularly important. “By reducing emissions of methane — which has more than 80 times the warming power of CO2 for the first 20 years it’s in the atmosphere — we can hit the brakes on the increasingly rapid warming responsible for stronger storms, hotter fire seasons and rapidly melting Arctic Sea ice,” said the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in a recent paper. Pennsylvania is the second-largest natural gas producing state and its methane emissions have a significant impact on global climate change. About 12,800 unconventional gas wells (think fracking) have been drilled in Pennsylvania since 2004. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is leaking at well pads, storage tanks, compressor stations, processing facilities, and along pipelines. Read more


July 2021 Newsletter

(Jul 21, 2021)

Summer 2021 Legislative Update Read more


Vitali: Environmental Protection needs more funding

(Jun 17, 2021)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been woefully underfunded for years. This is primarily due to a Republican controlled state legislature, which has consistently pushed for DEP budget cuts. Unless Gov. Tom Wolf makes environmental funding a priority in current budget negotiations, the status quo will continue. The commonwealth is expected to enact its fiscal year 2021-22 budget by the end of this month. There are essentially three parties at the bargaining table: House Republican leaders, Senate Republicans leaders, and the governor. As the Republican leaders have shown no interest in increased environmental protection funding, it is up to Gov. Wolf to fight for a stronger DEP. The commonwealth's General Fund revenues for the 2020-21 fiscal year are expected to finish more than $3 billion above official estimate, so lack of money is no excuse. The best measure of DEP’s strength over time is its number of filled positions, i.e., the number of people paid to come to work each day. In 2003, the DEP had 3,311 filled positions. This January, it had 917 less positions. That is about a 28% reduction in staff over the last 18 years. This percent staff reduction is almost double that of all commonwealth agencies over the same period. This lack of resources has compromised the department’s ability to regulate oil and gas development, monitor and reduce air and water pollution, clean up hazardous sites, and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Read more


March 2021 Newsletter

(Mar 17, 2021)

Apply Online for Property Tax/Rent RebateApplications for the 2020 Property Tax/RentRebate Program can now be submitted online Previously, applicationscould only be submitted by mail.This program provides a state rebate on 2020property taxes or rent to income-eligible residentswho are 65 or older; widows and widowers 50 orolder; and people with disabilities 18 or older.The maximum standard rebate is $650.To be eligible, your household income mustbe $35,000 or less if you are a homeowner,or $15,000 or less if you are a renter. Whenapplying, only count half of your Social Securityor federal railroad retirement Tier I benefitstoward your total income.You can obtain information about the program,an application and free help applying throughmy district office or on the state Department ofRevenue’s website at Thestate will begin mailing rebate checks on July 1.The deadline to apply for this program is June30, 2021. Read more


A Realistic Climate Agenda

(Feb 04, 2021)

There are many things Pennsylvania state government should do this year to address climate change - but won’t - given the political composition of the state legislature. But a few significant things are possible. Pennsylvania emitted about two hundred and fifteen million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2017 (the most recent data available) making it the 5 th largest emitting state in the nation. As such, Pennsylvania should be doing things like increasing its Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, expanding the energy conservation provisions of Act 129 and joining the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program . But with the State House and Senate firmly in Republican control it’s unlikely that any of these things will happen this year. But Pennsylvania can join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), approve methane reduction regulations for the oil and gas industry, enact legislation to expand electric vehicles infrastructure and enact legislation to authorize community solar development. These measures are possible because they can be done either by Governor Wolf through executive action or have the support of interest groups beyond the environmental community such as utility companies, labor unions or farmers. Politics is the art of the possible and these four things are possible this year. RGGI Joining RGGI is the most important thing Pennsylvania can do this year to address climate change. RGGI is an eleven-state Read more


Delaware County elected officials laud $1.5M grant to strengthen 911 system

(Dec 29, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 29 – State representatives and senators from Delaware County applauded a $1.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program award to strengthen the county’s 911 system. Through bipartisan efforts, elected officials helped secure grants to benefit more than 560,000 Pennsylvanians and help Delaware County’s first responders. This project will strengthen the security and reliability of the county’s public safety communication system. This includes 24 tower upgrades to provide acceptable county-wide communication coverage, shelter structures, an ice bridge, grounding, electric, HVAC, core work additions and 911 center equipment to communicate effectively in emergency situations with citizens, first responders and with surrounding counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. “Calling 911 and receiving a timely response has been an issue for years throughout Delaware County,” House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Delaware/Phila., said. “Thankfully, this funding will help streamline our communications system to ensure that residents in crisis can quickly receive help and support. I’m proud to see lawmakers from both the House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, come together for the safety of the people we represent.” “I’ve heard from many constituents about frustrations they’ve experienced with calling 911 since 2016,” Read more