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Pennsylvania budget shortchanges environment

(Jul 11, 2019)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed into law a package of budget bills for the commonwealth’s 2019-20 fiscal year. These bills are reflective of a governor and legislative leaders who do not prioritize environmental protection. DEP Staffing Most importantly, the budget failed to address the chronic understaffing of the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection – the state agency charged with enforcing environmental laws. The DEP has suffered almost a 30 percent reduction in staff since 2002, losing over 900 positions. This understaffing has compromised its ability to reduce air and water pollution, regulate oil and gas development, combat climate change, plug abandoned oil and gas wells and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Environmental Fund Transfers Consistent with Governor Wolf’s budget proposal in February, money was taken from three important environmental funds to pay for general governmental operations in the upcoming fiscal year. Over $16 million was taken from the Environmental Stewardship Fund – commonly known as Growing Greener. This fund provides monies for farmland preservation, open space protection, abandoned mine reclamation, watershed protection and restoration, water and sewer infrastructure and community parks and recreational facilities. Ten million dollars was taken from the Recycling Fund, which supports municipal recycling programs by helping to pay for recycling trucks, processing Read more

 

Legislative Journal: 2019-20 State Budget Breakdown

(Jul 10, 2019)

The state budget is done, however, Pa. state Rep. Greg Vitali explains how it’s another plan that is devastating for the environment. Check out his analysis in the latest episode of Legislative Journal. Read more

 

Satellite constituent service office opening in Ardmore library

(Jul 08, 2019)

ARDMORE, July 8 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, today announced that he would be opening a satellite office at the Ardmore Library on July 11th. “We are pleased to be able to provide a space that will better serve a variety of constituents,” Vitali said. “All of the services available in our main district office will be available at our satellite location. I look forward to being able to assist constituents in our new office and providing a more convenient location within the district.” The office space is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ardmore Library, 108 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore, 19003. This office is handicap accessible and located on the lower floor of the library. Examples of services and assistance provided are SEPTA senior key card applications, unclaimed property search and forms, property tax rent rebate applications, notary services, birth certificate forms, PA licensing issues, PACE/PACENET applications, and compass applications for benefits. For more information, please call the district office at 610-789-3900. ### Read more

 

Don’t Raid Environmental Funds to Balance Budget

(Jun 17, 2019)

Don’t Raid Environmental Funds to Balance Budget Governor Tom Wolf and legislative leaders are now negotiating the commonwealth budget. An agreement is expected soon. Unfortunately, they are seriously considering removing tens of millions of dollars from important environmental funds to balance the budget. This would be both unwise and unnecessary. In February, Gov. Wolf outlined his fiscal year 2019-20 commonwealth budget proposal. It includes the transfer of over $15 million from the Environmental Stewardship Fund, $30 million from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, $10 million from the Recycling Fund, and almost $70 million from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund. These monies would be used to pay for general governmental operations in the upcoming fiscal year. Despite significant opposition, these transfers are still on the negotiating table. The Environmental Stewardship Fund (commonly known as Growing Greener) was established in 2002 and receives revenues from landfill fees. It provides monies for farmland preservation, open space protection, abandoned mine reclamation, watershed protection and restoration, water and sewer infrastructure and community parks and recreational facilities. The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund was established in 1993 and receives revenues from the realty transfer tax. It provides monies for state and local parks, recreation facilities, historic sites, zoos, public libraries, nature preserves Read more

 

Gov. Wolf’s Methane proposal falls short

(May 10, 2019)

The Wolf administration’s recent proposal to reduce methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry comes two years after promised. It also falls short of what is needed to address the immediacy of the climate crisis. Methane is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, and methane emissions are responsible for about 25 percent of current global warming, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Its heat-trapping qualities are about 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, although it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter length of time. As the second-largest natural gas producing state, Pennsylvania’s methane emissions have a significant impact on global climate change. The state’s oil and gas operators leak over 520,000 tons of methane each year, causing the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants, according to a recent Environmental Defense Fund analysis. As the Wolf administration stated in January 2016, “Reducing methane leaks from the oil and gas sector is one of the essential steps needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change.” Over 11,000 unconventional gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania since 2004, when that kind of drilling accelerated. Unconventional drilling, commonly employed in shale formations such as Marcellus is typified by the methodologies of horizontal drilling and fracking. Methane, Read more

 

March 2019 Newsletter

(Mar 11, 2019)

Spring 2019 Newsletter Read more

 

1/24/19 – Methane and Climate Change – Havertown

(Jan 24, 2019)

Materials from House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing hosted by State Rep. Greg Vitali. Read more

 

Vitali, Sturla hold public hearing on oil and gas industry methane leakage

(Jan 24, 2019)

HAVERFORD TOWNSHIP, Jan. 24 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today hosted a hearing of the House Democratic Policy Committee to discuss the impact of methane leakage from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry on climate change. The hearing explored ways in which methane affects climate change and how Pennsylvania can better monitor methane leakage from the oil and gas industry. “Methane is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, and a significant amount of that methane comes from oil and gas development,” Vitali said. Speakers included Dr. Richard Alley , Professor of Geosciences, Penn State University; Professor Don Brown , Scholar in Residence, Widener Law; Dr. Tony Ingraffea , Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University; Professor Peter DeCarlo , Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering , Drexel University; Rob Altenburg , Director , PennFuture Energy Center; Andrew Williams , Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, U.S. Climate and Energy , Environmental Defense Fund; Dr. Arvind Ravikumar , Assistant Professor of Energy Engineering , Harrisburg University of Science and Technology; Leann Leiter , Pennsylvania and Ohio Field Advocate , EarthWorks; and Krish Ramamurthy , Director of Bureau of Air Quality, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Vitali also was joined by fellow state legislators, including House Read more

 

Methane and climate change public hearing is Jan. 24 in Havertown

(Jan 14, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 14 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/ Montgomery, will host a hearing of the House Democratic Policy Committee on Jan. 24 to discuss the impact of methane leakage from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry on climate change. Vitali is the newly appointed Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resource and Energy Committee. The hearing will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Haverford Township Administration Building, 1014 Darby Road, Havertown, 19083, in the Commissioners Meeting Room. Vitali will be joined by state legislators from across the commonwealth, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Speakers include Dr. Richard Alley , Professor of Geosciences, Penn State University; Professor Don Brown , Scholar in Residence, Widener Law; Dr. Tony Ingraffea , Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University; Professor Peter DeCarlo , Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering , Drexel University; Rob Altenburg , Director , PennFuture Energy Center; Andrew Williams , Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, U.S. Climate and Energy , Environmental Defense Fund; Dr. Arvind Ravikumar , Assistant Professor of Energy Engineering , Harrisburg University of Science and Technology; Leann Leiter , Pennsylvania and Ohio Field Advocate , EarthWorks; and Krish Ramamurthy , Director of Bureau of Air Quality, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Read more

 

Vitali named Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee

(Jan 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 8 – State Rep. Greg Vitali was recently named Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for the 2019-20 session. “We must address the serious threats facing our environment,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. “My focus in the legislature has been on environmental policy, and I look forward to the challenge of chairing this committee.” The committee majority chairman is state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler. Vitali said his priorities include increasing funding for the Department of Environmental Protection, reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and dealing with the climate change impacts of the threatened closing of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Vitali previously served as a member of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for 24 years, spending the last four of those years as chairman. Read more

 

Wolf budget should properly fund DEP

(Dec 28, 2018)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been severely underfunded for years. This has compromised the department’s ability to protect public health and the environment. Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget should restore needed resources. The DEP has suffered almost a 30 percent reduction in staff since 2002, losing over 900 positions. This has compromised its ability to reduce air and water pollution, regulate oil and gas development, combat climate change, plug abandoned oil and gas wells and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Currently, the Wolf administration is preparing its fiscal year 2019/2020 Commonwealth budget proposal, which it will present to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in early February. This proposal should fully fund environmental protection. Air quality The DEP doesn’t have sufficient personnel to monitor air quality. A 2018 EPA audit determined the DEP’s Air Quality Monitoring Division was “severely understaffed”. This understaffing has increased the risk of harmful pollutant discharge. Fewer companies are now being monitored and the air monitoring data is being viewed less frequently. This adversely affects the health of us all. Oil and gas program The DEP Oil and Gas program has lost 36 positions – down to 190 – since 2016. This program has the responsibility to review drilling permit applications, respond to complaints, inspect well sites, prevent pollution and Read more

 

November 2018 Newsletter

(Nov 21, 2018)

Fall 2018 Read more

 

Vitali: Over $200,000 in unclaimed property returned to constituents

(Aug 23, 2018)

HAVERTOWN, Aug. 23 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said his office has helped more than 200 constituents claim a total of over $226,000 in unclaimed property in 2018. Unclaimed property through the state Treasurer’s Office can include a closed bank account, uncashed checks, including paychecks; lost stocks and bonds; contents of safe deposit boxes; proceeds from the demutualization of insurance companies; expired gift cards/gift certificates; and more. “My district office has been able to help our constituents recover this much money because my staff proactively searches for and notifies constituents of their unclaimed property,” Vitali said. “This is how a well-functioning government office is supposed to work.” Treasury currently has more than $3.4 billion in unclaimed property. Those who would like to do their own Treasury search can do so by visiting www.patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property . Those who would like assistance checking the database are encouraged to stop into Vitali’s office, where a free search only takes a short time. “There are many for-profit companies who send out solicitations to Pennsylvanians, offering to assist them claim their funds for a fee, but we do all of this work for free,” Vitali said. Read more

 

Wolf should move forward with methane regulations

(Jul 25, 2018)

Methane is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry is a major methane emitter. Recently. Gov. Tom Wolf took steps to reduce methane leakage from new natural gas industry sources. Now he must keep his promise to reduce methane leakage from existing sources. Read more

 

July 2018 Newsletter

(Jul 13, 2018)

Summer 2018 Newsletter Read more

 

Trump, Pruitt waging war on fuel standards

(Apr 16, 2018)

The Trump administration by way of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Scott Pruitt, is attacking a program that spurs innovation, has saved consumers $4 trillion at the gas pump, and has drastically cut air pollution. Trump and Pruitt want to weaken new fuel efficiency standards for cars, SUVs and light trucks, a move that will hurt consumers and pump more greenhouse gas pollution into our atmosphere. In 1975, in response to soaring gas prices and the Arab oil embargo, Congress first passed the first fuel efficiency standards, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The first CAFE standards required automakers to almost double their new car fleets’ miles per gallon averages to 27.5 by 1985. CAFE standards for light trucks followed in 1978 requiring truck manufacturers to increase average mpg to 22.2 by 2007. In response, auto manufacturers produced a wide variety of vehicles that both met the standards and satisfied consumer demands and expectations for performance and good gas mileage. To continue improving the fuel efficiency of passenger vehicles Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act which required automakers to meet new, better standards – a fleetwide average of 35 mpg for cars, SUVs and light trucks. President George W. Bush signed the legislation, stating, “We make a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding the production of Read more

 

Vitali urges House Judiciary Committee chairman to call up gun bills for vote

(Apr 09, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 9 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Ron Marsico urging him to bring specific gun safety legislation up for an immediate vote. In the letter, Vitali urged votes on H.B. 1400, which would expand background checks for sales and exchanges made at gun shows, on the internet and between private parties; H.B. 1872, which would ban deadly multi-burst trigger activators including bump stocks; and S.B. 501, which passed the Senate to protect domestic violence victims by requiring relinquishment of firearms for parties involved in protection from abuse orders and convictions of domestic violence crimes. House bills 1400 and 1872 each have more than 60 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. “At a time when 96 Americans die daily from gun violence, our citizens are looking to us as legislators to take action to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and keep weapons of war off of our streets,” Vitali wrote in the letter. “I urge you to take meaningful action against gun violence by bringing all three of these bills up for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.” A copy of the letter can be viewed here . Vitali also is a co-sponsor of the following gun-related bills: H.B. 194 – Assault weapons ban. H.B. 832 – Mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms. H.B. 2112 – Ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. H.B. 2109 – Read more

 

Vitali calls for action on gun bills during Delaware County rally

(Apr 05, 2018)

MEDIA, April 5 – State Rep. Greg Vitali joined lawmakers and organizers from Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy at the county courthouse steps today to call for the advancement of H.B. 1400, for universal background checks on gun sales in Pennsylvania, and H.B. 1872, a statewide ban on multiburst trigger activators, including bump stocks. Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, is a cosponsor of both bills and said he hopes that the legislation will receive prompt votes following a set of public hearings on gun bills slated for next week in Harrisburg. “The issue of gun violence prevention has hit its tipping point, and it’s time these commonsense bills become law,” he said. “Expanded background checks for gun shows and private sales are widely supported by Pennsylvanians. A ban on devices designed to turn rifles into illegal machine guns is also supported by most Americans, especially since one was used in the Las Vegas shooting in October, our nation’s most deadly mass shooting. “The reaction to the most recent mass shooting in Parkland has shed much-needed light on the dark affairs that suppress the passage of sensible gun safety laws, and we lawmakers are here to pressure leaders in the Capitol so we can vote in the interests of our constituents.” The public hearings, called for by the House Judiciary Committee, will take place Monday through Thursday. Vitali also is a cosponsor of the following Read more

 

Pa. to lose nearly $442 million this year without severance tax

(Apr 04, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – Pennsylvania will lose about $442 million in revenue this year by forgoing a severance tax on natural gas harvested in the commonwealth, state Rep. Greg Vitali said today. The figures are according to House Democratic Appropriations Committee estimates assuming a 6.5 percent tax, as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf, with existing impact fees subtracted. Those figures, coupled with data from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, indicate that the commonwealth has lost over $1.68 billion in revenue since 2011 due to the lack of a severance tax, Vitali said. Vitali updated his Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature report with the new findings. The report also found that the drilling industry spent about $5.2 million in lobbying last year and $67 million between 2007 and 2017. “With this kind of money being spent on the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania is still the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. Another finding shows there are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania – equal the number of state House lawmakers. “Other consequences of the undue influence of the gas drilling industry on the legislature include the blocking of conventional drilling regulations, the delay of Governor Tom Wolf’s methane reduction strategy and the blocking of a Read more

 

Report: Gas drilling industry spent $5.2M lobbying Pa. legislature in 2017

(Mar 23, 2018)

HAVERFORD, March 23 – The natural gas industry spent $5.2 million last year in lobbying expenses in Pennsylvania to influence the General Assembly, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. Vitali’s report, Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature , was first published in the first quarter of 2017. The public report draws from campaign reports, lobbying reports and ethics statements relating to natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The report shows that the industry has now spent $67 million on lobbying activities in Pennsylvania since 2007. “With this kind of money being spent on the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania is still the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” Vitali said. Another finding shows that there are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania – equal the number of state House lawmakers. “Other consequences of the undue influence of the gas drilling industry on the legislature include the blocking of conventional drilling regulations, the delay of Governor Tom Wolf’s methane reduction strategy and the blocking of a royalty-protection bill for Pennsylvania landowners,” Vitali said. The report also indicates that the gas drilling industry made almost $8 million in campaign contributions to the legislature between 2007 and 2017. “Until Pennsylvania’s campaign finance Read more