The folks at PA Environment Digest put together some stunning numbers on PA’s conservation budget over the past 7 years.
$980 Million Diverted, Cut From Environmental Programs Over Last 7 Years
With the budget for 2009-10 now finalized we can now total up the score for environmental programs and it is not pretty– over the last seven years $980 million has been diverted or cut from environmental programs to help balance the state budget or to fund programs that could not get funding on their own.
Here’s the rundown–
— $376 million in Act 339 grants intended to support wastewater plant operations over the last seven years were eliminated to balance the budget;
— $143 million diverted from the DCNR Oil and Gas Fund to balance the 2008-09 budget [updated];
— $79 million cut from the DEP and DCNR General Fund budget during 2009-10 fiscal year;
— $60 million diverted from the DCNR Oil and Gas Fund to balance the 2009-10 budget;
— $100 million in 2002 from the Underground Storage Tank cleanup insurance fund to balance the budget (although this is slowly being repaid over 10 years);
— $52.7 million “one-time” diversion from the Keystone Recreation, Parks and Conservation Fund in 2006 to balance the budget;
— $50 million in 2007 and 2008 from the Environmental Stewardship Fund, which supports mine reclamation and watershed restoration, to fund the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program because there was no agreement on how to fund that program;
— $85 million in FY 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 from the Environmental Stewardship Fund to pay debt service on the Growing Greener II bond issue and taking funding away from restoration projects each year for the next 25 years – reflecting a pattern of only environmental programs being required to address their own bond debt service [updated];
— $15 million from the Recycling Fund in to balance the 2008-09 budget;
— $18.4 million put into budgetary reserve in 2008-09 from the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; and
— $5 million reduction in Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax credit program in FY 2009-10.
In addition to these cuts and diversions, next year funding for the Growing Greener Program runs out and will create a more than $60 million hole in environmental funding for FY 2010-11.