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Vitali opposes proposed cuts to DEP in House Republican budget proposal

(Apr 04, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – Citing concerns for public safety, state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, voiced his opposition to House Republicans’ $8.9 million cut to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in their proposed 2017-2018 budget, which passed the House by a vote of 114 to 84 today. “The gross underfunding of the DEP continues to put the public at risk,” Vitali said. “The DEP has already been warned by the federal government that it is not adequately staffed to enforce safe drinking water, air quality and pollution standards. Since 2002, state funding for the DEP has been cut by about 40 percent, leading to staff being reduced by 600 positions. These proposed cuts will only serve to further endanger the health and lives of the people of Pennsylvania.” Vitali says these cuts are particularly dangerous as the DEP struggles to meet its minimum enforcement obligations. According to a letter from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the DEP has failed to conduct the minimum number of sanitary surveys of water systems, has a severely understaffed Air Quality Monitoring Division and has failed to meet required inspection compliance rates among other issues caused by understaffing of the agency. Last March the U.S. Department of the Interior warned DEP that it had an insufficient number of Surface Mining Compliance Inspectors. DEP’s failure to inspect its Read more

 

Opinion: DEP cuts put public health at risk

(Mar 27, 2017)

Chronic underfunding of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has compromised its ability to protect public health and the environment. Since 2002, state funding for the DEP has been cut by about 40 percent. Staffing has been reduced by about 600 positions. Safe Drinking Water DEP does not have sufficient staff to adequately inspect its 8,500 public drinking-water systems. The average workload of a DEP inspector is now double the national average. In December the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned DEP that this inadequate staffing could have “serious public health implications.” Air Quality DEP doesn’t have sufficient personnel to monitor air quality. A 2015 EPA audit determined 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. Stream Protection DEP’s Division of Water Quality Standards does not have enough water-protection biologists to monitor the waters of the commonwealth. According to a DEP source, at least 12-18 more biologists are needed in the regional offices. This lack of staffing has increased the risk of improper pollutant discharges into Pennsylvania waterways. Chesapeake Bay The EPA has determined that Pennsylvania has not made sufficient progress in reducing the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus Read more

 

Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature

(Mar 10, 2017)

There are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania – coincidently one for each state House member. The gas industry spent more than $7 million last year and more than $60 million since 2007 on lobbying in Pennsylvania. Read more

 

Vitali: Chronic underfunding has compromised DEP

(Mar 09, 2017)

Calling it paramount to restore proper funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, testified before the House Appropriations Committee today highlighting numerous statistics and consequences that show the agency’s ability to protect Pennsylvania’s environment is being severely handicapped. Read more

 

Vitali Report: Gas industry influence costs taxpayers money, affects public health and the environment

(Feb 10, 2017)

The natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania spent more than $7 million last year in lobbying expenses and more than $62 million in lobbing expenses since 2007 to influence the Pennsylvania Legislature, according to state Rep. Greg Vitali’s recent report: “Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature.” Read more

 

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, has introduced a measure that would restore the 24-hour period House members must wait before being able to vote on legislation amended by the Senate. The change to the waiting period from the previously established 24 hours to six hours was tucked into the overall House rules package, which was voted on Jan. 3 with very little notice. The rules were approved by a 167-32 vote. "On the first day of the new legislative session, the House changed its rules to make it easier for House leadership to obscure the contents of important legislation from rank-and-file House members and the general public," Vitali said. "This rule will be the most damaging around budget time. Frequently, House and Senate leaders surreptitiously insert provisions in large, budget-related bills that many rank-and-file members and the public would find highly objectionable." Vitali said some examples of this furtiveness from last session include when provisions were inserted into the fiscal code to cancel regulations to make gas drilling safer, delay measures to address climate change and transfer millions of dollars from a fund for high energy efficiency buildings for natural gas development. "Six hours is simply not enough time for even the most diligent legislator to find and raise a cry -- or the public to give input -- on the objectionable provisions, especially considering the multitude of Read more

 

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus

(Jan 25, 2017)

Citing the very real threat posed by climate change, state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, was joined today by legislators and advocacy groups to announce the formation of the bicameral Climate Caucus. Read more

 

New Pa. House rules step in wrong direction

(Jan 25, 2017)

On the first day of the new legislative session the Pennsylvania House changed its rules to make it easier for House leadership to obscure the contents of important legislation from rank and file House members and the general public. Read more

 

Vitali: Bill prevents municipalities from addressing plastic bag problems

(Oct 20, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today urged opposition to a bill that would prevent municipalities from dealing with the problems caused by single-use plastic bags. Specifically, under the bill, H.B. 1280 , municipalities would be prohibited from imposing a ban, fee, surcharge or tax on a single-use plastic bag provided by a retail establishment such as a supermarket. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the Pennsylvania House on final passage on Monday, so Vitali urges concerned residents to contact their state representative and tell them to vote "no" on the bill. Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee , said this is a bad environmental bill because municipalities should be able to develop strategies to address the plastic bag issue. Plastic bags are a significant environmental problem, Vitali said, noting that they negatively impact oceans, rivers and lakes; stress landfills and clog stormwater drains. According to the Worldwatch Institute, Americans throw away an estimated 100 billion plastic grocery bags every year. The bill is being driven by the plastic bag industry. Novolex, a world leader in plastic bag manufacturing, owns the Helix Poly plant in Milesburg, which is in the district of one of the prime sponsors of the bill, Vitali said. The bill is opposed by numerous groups, including Read more

 

July 2016 Newsletter

(Jul 26, 2016)

July 2016 Summer newsletter Read more

 

Senate bill is a sneak attack to weaken drilling regulations

(Jul 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, July 12 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said a bill that passed the Senate yesterday would weaken the regulations on unconventional oil and gas drillers. Specifically, the new language in the bill, S.B. 1229 , would make three critical changes to the regulations, including limiting the reporting requirements for waste production from oil and gas drilling from once a month to twice a year. Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said reducing reporting requirements will make it more difficult for the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that waste is being disposed of properly. The bill also would increase the amount of time (from nine to 24 months) unconventional oil and gas drillers have to restore well sites, which will delay when a landowner can put the land to productive use, Vitali said. Lastly, the bill stops DEP from issuing adequate standards for the construction of fresh water storage impoundments for oil and gas operations. Vitali argued that adequate standards are important because a breach of water could jeopardize the health of nearby residents and pollute local streams. The regulations were fully vetted, having been subject to 12 public hearings and nearly 28,000 public comments, but this language that Vitali said weakens the regulations was added at the last minute in to an unrelated bill on horse breeding. “This last minute sneak attack on Read more

 

Vitali applauds House vote against bill to foster commercial development in state parks, but urges caution

(Jun 29, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 29 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today applauded the House vote against a bill that would promote commercial development such as amusement parks and office buildings in state parks, but he urges vigilance as the bill could be brought up for a vote again. Vitali, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, noted that H.B. 2013 was defeated in the House by a vote of 123-77 with opposition from both parties. However, a reconsideration vote was immediately filed by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler, and House Majority Whip Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster. The reconsideration means that the bill can be voted on again this session, maybe as soon as this afternoon. “Passage of this bill would lead to improper development on state lands without any public input,” Vitali said. “People who care about state parks need to stay vigilant and urge their members to vote against it again.” Although the bill was amended to make it less harmful, it still contains language that considers the development of amusement parks, office buildings, hotels, inns, restaurants, water parks, sports facilities and golf courses in state parks, Vitali said. “State parks were created to preserve areas of the commonwealth with unique scenic, historic or geological characteristics,” Vitali said. “These types of developments are inconsistent with the mission of state Read more

 

Vitali warns that bill to foster commercial development in state parks is being fast-tracked in Harrisburg

(Jun 22, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, expressed concern today that a bill promoting commercial development like amusement parks and office buildings in state parks is being fast-tracked without public input. Vitali, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, noted that H.B. 2013 was voted out of the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee today and is scheduled for a House vote Thursday. Specifically, the bill would create a “Public-Private State Park Partnership Board” comprised primarily of political appointees who would be charged with soliciting, evaluating and approving private development on state park land. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources would also have to approve the projects. “Passage of this bill would lead to improper development on state lands without any public input,” Vitali said. The bill also requires DCNR to fund the activities of the board, which would drain its already limited resources. Projects that would be considered in addition to amusement parks and office buildings include hotels, inns, restaurants, water parks, sports facilities and golf courses, Vitali said. “State parks were created to preserve areas of the commonwealth with unique scenic, historic or geological characteristics,” Vitali said. “These types of developments are inconsistent with the mission of state parks.” He Read more

 

Vitali urges Governor Wolf to veto bad environmental bills

(Jun 15, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today urged Gov. Tom Wolf to veto two bills that would damage the state’s environment and adversely impact public health. The first bill, S.B. 279 , would cancel a portion of Chapter 78 regulations related to conventional oil and gas drilling. The regulations are designed to make both conventional and unconventional drilling safer in Pennsylvania Vitali said these commonsense regulations were recently approved by the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission, and should apply to conventional drillers because they are a significant part of the problem. “Cancelling any portion of these regulations would be very bad for Pennsylvania,” Vitali said. The second bill, S.B. 1195 , would allow the legislature to delay implementation of the state’s Clean Power Plan as long as possible without a federal plan being imposed on it. The federal Clean Power Plan, which was recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, requires Pennsylvania to develop a state climate change implementation plan to reduce greenhouse gases. Under Environmental Protection Agency regulations, Pennsylvania is required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 33 percent by 2030. “This is an enormous challenge and every day we delay makes this task harder,” Vitali said. “Climate change is too serious a problem to delay.” Read more

 

Vitali: Committee passes bill delaying state climate change plan

(Jun 13, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today approved a bill supported by Gov. Tom Wolf that would delay the state’s plan to address climate change. Vitali, Democratic chairman of the committee, said the bill, S.B. 1195 , would allow the legislature to delay implementation of the state’s Clean Power Plan as long as possible without a federal plan being imposed on it. Vitali said Wolf indicated he will not oppose the bill, which marks the third time he has recently succumbed to the pressure of the fossil fuels industry. “First, it was the forced resignation of DEP Secretary John Quigley, next, it was agreeing to remove conventional drillers from the Chapter 78 regulations, and now, it’s agreeing to delay the Clean Power Plan,” Vitali said. “It is incredibly disappointing that the governor continues to side with the industry over the health and well-being of Pennsylvania citizens.” The federal Clean Power Plan, which was recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, requires Pennsylvania to develop a state climate change implementation plan to reduce greenhouse gases. Under Environmental Protection Agency regulations, Pennsylvania is required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 33 percent by 2030. “This is an enormous challenge and every day we delay makes this task harder,” Vitali said. “Climate change is too Read more

 

Committee passes Wolf-endorsed bill to cancel drilling regulations

(Jun 08, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said that the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee passed a bill today that would cancel a portion of Chapter 78 regulations related to conventional drilling. The bill, S.B. 279 , is supported by Gov. Tom Wolf, even though the regulations were recently approved by the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission. Vitali, Democratic chairman of the committee, said he is very disappointed that Wolf has succumbed to the pressure of the drilling industry. “Cancelling any portion of these regulations would be very bad for Pennsylvania,” Vitali said. “I hope Governor Wolf reconsiders his support for this bill so we can protect public health and our environment.” The regulations are designed to make both conventional and unconventional drilling safer in Pennsylvania, but conventional drillers continue to fight attempts to regulate them. Conventional drilling is characterized by vertical wells into conventional rock formations. Unconventional drilling involves horizontal boring into tightly packed shale formations - most notably the Marcellus formation. Both use hydrofracking. About 12,500 conventional and 8,500 unconventional wells were drilled in Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2014. Vitali said the regulations should apply to conventional drillers because they are a significant part of the problem. According to the DEP: Conventional drillers were Read more

 

Group urges support for drilling regulations and expresses disapproval of Quigley resignation

(Jun 06, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 6 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, along with a coalition of interest groups, today held a news conference to urge Gov. Tom Wolf to support proposed natural gas drilling regulations (Chapter 78 surface regulations), and to express disapproval of the forced resignation of DEP Secretary John Quigley. Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said that environmental supporters believe the regulations are on the chopping block, but so far Gov. Wolf has refused to commit to supporting them. He added that the forces that are trying to stop the regulations are the same forces that led to Quigley’s forced resignation. "Secretary Quigley was forced to resign because he was too effective," Vitali said. "He helped usher the regulations through the process, which upset many people in the drilling industry." Vitali questioned what Quigley’s resignation means for other important environmental policies that he had been working on, including the state’s Clean Power Plan, methane regulations, climate change, the Chesapeake Bay strategy and additional funding for the Department of Environmental Protection. Myron Arnowitt, state director of Clean Water Action, said his organization urges the legislature and the governor to support the drilling regulations. He said that after 30,000 public comments, 12 public hearings and approval by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, Read more

 

News conference to urge support for drilling regulations and disapproval of Quigley resignation

(Jun 02, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 2 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, along with a coalition of legislators and environmental and other interest groups, will hold a Capitol news conference Monday to urge Governor Wolf to support proposed natural gas drilling regulations (Chapter 78 surface regulations), and to express disapproval of the forced resignation of DEP Secretary John Quigley. These drilling regulations have been strongly opposed by the conventional drilling industry and Quigley was a strong advocate for the regulations. The news conference will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, June 6 in the Capitol Media Center. Media coverage is invited. The news conference will be streamed live at www.pahouse.com/live . The stream will start shortly before the news conference begins. ### Read more

 

Conventional drillers must be regulated too

(May 26, 2016)

By Greg Vitali An independent state commission recently approved regulations to make natural gas drilling safer in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, an important segment of the drilling industry - conventional drillers - are attempting to exempt themselves. Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature should stand firm and make sure these regulations apply to all gas drillers. On April 21, the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved a set of regulations developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection entitled “Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites,” also referred to as the Chapter 78 regulations. IRRC found these regulations to be “in the public interest.” These commonsense regulations would require both conventional and unconventional drillers to, among other things: conduct a pre-drilling review of their sites to ensure abandoned and existing wells are not impacted, restore water supplies they have degraded to Safe Drinking Water Act standards, and comply with more stringent spill reporting and cleanup standards. Conventional drilling is characterized by vertical wells into conventional rock formations. Unconventional drilling involves horizontal boring into tightly-packed shale formations - most notably the Marcellus formation. Both use hydrofracking. About 12,500 conventional and 8,500 unconventional wells were drilled in Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2014. These Chapter 78 Read more

 

May 2016 newsletter

(May 16, 2016)

May 2016 newsletter Read more

 

Vitali opposes proposed cuts to DEP in House Republican budget proposal
Apr 04, 2017

Opinion: DEP cuts put public health at risk
Mar 27, 2017

Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature
Mar 10, 2017

Vitali: Chronic underfunding has compromised DEP
Mar 09, 2017

Vitali Report: Gas industry influence costs taxpayers money, affects public health and the environment
Feb 10, 2017

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform
Jan 26, 2017

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus
Jan 25, 2017

New Pa. House rules step in wrong direction
Jan 25, 2017

Vitali: Bill prevents municipalities from addressing plastic bag problems
Oct 20, 2016

July 2016 Newsletter
Jul 26, 2016

Senate bill is a sneak attack to weaken drilling regulations
Jul 12, 2016

Vitali applauds House vote against bill to foster commercial development in state parks, but urges caution
Jun 29, 2016

Vitali warns that bill to foster commercial development in state parks is being fast-tracked in Harrisburg
Jun 22, 2016

Vitali urges Governor Wolf to veto bad environmental bills
Jun 15, 2016

Vitali: Committee passes bill delaying state climate change plan
Jun 13, 2016

Committee passes Wolf-endorsed bill to cancel drilling regulations
Jun 08, 2016

Group urges support for drilling regulations and expresses disapproval of Quigley resignation
Jun 06, 2016

News conference to urge support for drilling regulations and disapproval of Quigley resignation
Jun 02, 2016

Conventional drillers must be regulated too
May 26, 2016

May 2016 newsletter
May 16, 2016