April 2023 Newsletter Read more
A new governor offers hope that the chronic underfunding of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will finally end. Read more
December 2022 Newsletter Read more
“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 Read more
February 2022 Newsletter Read more
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 Read more
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
Summer 2021 Legislative Update Read more
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
Apply Online for Property Tax/Rent RebateApplications for the 2020 Property Tax/RentRebate Program can now be submitted online atwww.mypath.pa.gov. 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 www.revenue.pa.gov. Thestate will begin mailing rebate checks on July 1.The deadline to apply for this program is June30, 2021. Read more
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
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
HAVERFORD, Dec. 23 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today announced a $1 million state grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program that will support the Haverford Township Free Public Library. “We are hoping to bring new life and space to the local free public library,” Vitali said. “Libraries are one of the few places left in this world where you are not expected to pay anything to enjoy their facilities. We have to do everything we can to keep these spaces open for the public, but also ensure that they have the means to stay up to date and provide us with the services we need. This funding allows them to take those steps forward.” Vitali said the $1 million in state help will ensure that the building and facilities can fully support the library’s mission and reflect the community’s needs. The current library, located at 1601 Darby Road, will be renovated to be ADA compliant and include state of the art technologies with a redesigned layout. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act, have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity. For more information, contact Vitali’s district office at (610) 789-3900. ### Read more
Climate change is the most serious long-term threat to this planet, and Pennsylvania is a significant greenhouse gas producer. The most important thing Pennsylvania can do right now to combat climate change is to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Read more
Apply now for Property Tax/Rent RebateThe Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Deadlinehas been extended to Dec. 31, 2020. Applicationsfor a rebate on taxes or rent paid in 2019 areavailable at my district office or online at www.revenue.pa.gov.The program provides rebates up to $650 onrent or property tax paid by Pennsylvanians65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older,and people with disabilities 18 or older. Theincome limit for applicants is $35,000 a year forhomeowners and $15,000 annually for renters.Half of Social Security income and all SocialSecurity cost-of living increases are excludedfrom income calculations.Claimants must reapply for rebates every yearbecause they are based on annual income andproperty taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses,personal representatives, or estates may filerebate applications on behalf of deceasedclaimants who lived at least one day in 2019.My office can help complete and submit theapplication. The state has begun mailing refundchecks to those who have already filed. Check thestatus of your rebate at www.doreservices.state.pa.us/PITServices/WheresMy/Rebate. Read more
HARRISBURG, Aug. 13 – Recently, a number of powerful Pennsylvania building trades union leaders lobbied for the passage of two bills that would hurt Pennsylvania’s efforts to reach its greenhouse gas reduction goals. Some Democrats cast votes for both bills. Democratic legislators must resist pressure from union leaders to protect and expand fossil fuel jobs. Instead they should help create good green jobs. In early July, the Pennsylvania State House passed H.B. 2025, which would effectively block Pennsylvania’s entrance into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI is a 10-state cap-and-trade program designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector. Pennsylvania emits almost 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas and about 30% of these emissions come from its electric power sector, mainly coal- and gas-fired power plants. RGGI is the most important climate change initiative of the Wolf administration. In the days prior to the vote on H.B. 2025, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Pa. State Building and Construction Trades Council and other local building trade unions lobbied in support of the bill . The AFL-CIO in a letter to State House members specifically cited the loss of jobs in the coal industry as a reason for their support of the bill and their opposition to RGGI. Union support combined with the expected support of the Read more
REAL ID Enforcement Deadline Extended toOctober 2021The deadline to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’slicense or ID card has been extended one year toOctober 1, 2021. At that time, a REAL ID-compliantdriver’s license or ID card, or a U.S. Passport orMilitary ID, will be necessary to board a domesticcommercial flight or enter a secure federal facility.This extension is in response to the COVID-19pandemic.PennDOT is not currently issuing REAL ID-compliantdriver’s license or ID cards. If your license is expiring,you should obtain a regular driver’s license or ID card.When REAL IDs become available again, you canchoose to upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant driver’slicense or ID card. There is no requirement that anyresident obtain a REAL ID.More information for REAL ID can be found at www.dmv.pa.gov/REALID/. Read more
Host AnnaMarie Jones welcomes PA Representatives Greg Vitali (166th District) and Jennifer O'Mara (165th District) to address navigating COVID-19 issues in SE Pennsylvania and provide informational resources. Read more
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