Controversy Grows Around Environmental Funding Cuts, DEP Lost 434 Positions In Six Years
The 26 percent budget cut for the Department of Environmental Protection and the 18 percent cut for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this week continued to generate concerns, news articles and questions about whether the agencies can fulfill their basic missions.
As Gov. Rendell noted at his budget signing press conference on October 9, the cuts to DEP take the agency back 13 years-- to 1996-97 funding levels.
DEP in particular, it was reported, is down to a staff complement of 2,777 which is 434 positions less than it had in 2002-03-- 3,211.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources had 1,390 positions in 2002-03, now it has 1,340. The Department of Agriculture now has 618 employees, it had 628 in 2002-03.
The budget cuts included in the 2009-10 budget and the staff reductions they will require will be on top of these staff numbers.
In 2007 then DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty said, in defending the Governor's proposed budget for DEP before the Senate Appropriations Committee, "We cut through the meat and into the bone." (3/9/07 Pa Environment Digest)
This year, DEP Secretary John Hanger acknowledged there were significant permit review backlogs at the agency and he directed his staff to take steps by January 2011 to eliminate that backlog by making changes to permit review processes, some of which are opposed by environmental groups. (2/27/09 Pa Environment Digest)
Below are just some of the article on environmental funding cuts appearing this week:
Environmental Groups Worry About DEP Cuts
Governor Says Need For More Employee Furloughs Is Under Review
Records: DEP Doing Fewer Trash Truck Inspections
Editorial: Renew Effort On Natural Gas Production Tax
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