HARRISBURG – Legislation introduced recently by Senator Rich Alloway (R-33) would help improve water quality, aid in efforts to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and help Pennsylvania avoid a huge tax increase.
“Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses have paid billions in new costs for municipal plant and storm water upgrades that represent high-cost, low-value infrastructure projects in meeting the Bay nutrient mandates,” said Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and Pennsylvania State Representative Garth Everett. “If we maintain the failed status quo that restricts private-sector competition, meeting the 2025 Chesapeake Bay targets will equate to the single largest tax increase families and businesses within the Susquehanna watershed will see in their lifetime.”
Pennsylvania faces significant and expensive challenges in order to meet federal mandates to reduce water pollution. The federal government projects that state taxpayers would need to pay more than $15 billion to meet pollution reduction goals by 2025.
Pennsylvania’s taxpayers have already spent billions in municipal and agricultural Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, including storm water plant upgrades that have had little to no effect on pollution levels, Alloway said.
“These taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects are a permanent, long-term tax burden placed on a community,” Alloway said. “This legislation will create a competitive-bidding program that will provide quantifiable environmental benefits in a cost-effective manner. Doing nothing will allow crushing costs to continue unabated.”
Senate Bill 799 would create a nutrient trading program that would help reduce compliance costs by up to 80 percent, potentially saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The program would allow the private sector to partner with communities to reduce pollution.
The legislation would also improve water quality in Pennsylvania communities. Nearly one-third of Lancaster County’s public water sources fail to meet federal drinking water standards for nitrogen. As a result, these communities are forced to treat their water to reduce nitrogen levels prior to human consumption.
“We can save taxpayers billions while improving drinkable water within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which has been threatened through years of poor cleanup efforts,” Alloway said. “By working with the private sector, the commonwealth can transfer performance risk from the taxpayer to the private sector. Under the existing approach, unfortunately, taxpayers fund the solution and assume the risk.”
CONTACT: Jeremy Shoemaker (717) 787-4651