Harrisburg, February 25, 2016 – During today’s state Senate budget hearing, Sen. John Yudichak questioned Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary John Quigley on issues ranging from extinguishing the Jeansville Mine fire in Carbon County to what the agency is doing to protect Pennsylvanians from lead in drinking water.
“I applaud DEP for keeping the public informed about the Jeansville fire, obtaining $9 million in federal reclamation funds and working closely with the region’s government officials at all levels on a plan to extinguish the fire,” Yudichak said. “I’m also pleased that the department continues to utilize state dollars and press the federal government to reauthorize mine reclamation monies.”
Referring to layoffs at Panther Creek in Nesquehoning, Yudichak questioned Quigley about the Wolf Administration’s efforts to help the state’s coal waste industry. The DEP secretary told Yudichak that the coal waste plants are an “incredibly important asset in Pennsylvania” and that they should receive retrofitting upgrades and be given relief from certain regulations.
“It is imperative that the state do what it can to help the coal waste industry rebound and thrive,” Yudichak said. “Coal Waste facilities are good for our economy and good for jobs — but also good for reclaiming abandoned mine lands.”
Yudichak, who sponsored the law (Act 55 of 2014) that mandated the reduction of lead content in pipes and plumbing fixtures, asked Quigley what DEP is doing to prevent a Flint, Michigan, type of health crisis from happening in Pennsylvania. Quigley said the department will remain vigilant, but reassured that none of Pennsylvania’s 159 water systems have exceeded federal lead levels.
Yudichak, who serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, also asked Quigley what DEP is doing to support natural gas pipeline development that “protects local property rights, ensures environmental protections and promotes economic development throughout Pennsylvania.” Quigley said DEP is currently vetting 94 of the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force’s 184 recommendations.
“We need to strike a balance by respecting local property rights and protecting our environment; but these pipelines are an incredible resource that can transform our economy,” Yudichak said. “So we need to be responsible while we pursue a good commonsense development plan.”
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