1996 - Gov. Tom Ridge Joins With Governors Of Delaware, New Jersey, Federal Officials To Establish The Delaware Estuary Program
On September 19, 1996, Gov. Tom Ridge joined the Governors of Delaware, New Jersey and federal officials to create the Delaware Estuary Program which expresses their joint commitment and responsibility for continued water quality improvements and water supply sustainability in the Delaware Estuary and Bay.
Here are his remarks noting Pennsylvania served as the first Chair of the Delaware Estuary Coordinating Conference--
It’s a pleasure to join you here today for this important celebration.
I would like to personally thank the citizens — or stewards — who volunteered their time and energy to this project. Your dedication made today possible.
I look forward to working with all of you to transform words into action, ideas into realities, and to hold these recommendations accountable in real and measurable ways.
That is our challenge — and my commitment — and the commitment of the Commonwealth. Together, we will make it happen.
In the not-so-distant past, Pennsylvania reaped great benefits from the industrial revolution. Now, several generations later, we must pay the price.
Out of ignorance, our landscape — including this region — laid victim to environmental abuse.
Thousands of acres of forests were clear cut without replanting. Streams and rivers like the Delaware were choked by sediment. Toxic pollution was commonplace. And environmental policy was non-existent. Right or wrong, these were the choices we as a society made in order to achieve our economic goals.
But today is a new day. We now know the risks. We will not make the same mistake twice.
We now recognize the links between economic progress and a healthy environment; how quality education reduces social problems; and how land use decisions affect a sense of community.
We now have the opportunity to make new choices — and we are.
At the beginning of my administration, I issued a challenge to Pennsylvania. That challenge — to become a national leader in finding new ways to protect our environment while promoting economic progress.
To provide for the needs of the present without compromising the ability for future generations to meet needs of their own.
With the Delaware Estuary Program’s Plan, we take another step toward meeting that challenge.
That’s what Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program is all about. The idea is simple. Take lifeless, abandoned industrial sites, clean them up and put them to productive job-sustaining use.
Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program reverses environmental cleanup policies that pushed new development out of our industrial centers and onto our pristine farmlands.
In just one year, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has already seen the successful cleanup and redevelopment of 35 sites, with 84 more in the program and many more on the way.
That’s 119 sites that will be reborn right here in Pennsylvania. 119 sites that once stood idle will be transformed into job opportunities.
But land recycling is only one facet of sustainable thinking. And sustainable thinking is only one facet to Pennsylvania’s aggressive new environmental policy.
And another is environmental policy in line with the agreement we sign today. We’ve actively encouraged the development of a new “green” technologies, to solve our own environmental problems and foster economic growth throughout our Commonwealth.
We’ve developed a statewide geographic information system to warn permit applicants of sensitive environmental areas.
We’ve passed a ‘96/97 budget for additional support to county conservation districts.
We’ve created wetlands reforms that provide a consistent definition of wetlands and promote scientifically sound wetlands replacement efforts.
We’ve implemented a farmland preservation program that permanently saved nearly 75,000 acres of farmland from development in order to protect Pennsylvania’s number one industry.
In addition, our new zero pollution goal and our move to results-oriented environmental protection programs will improve the quality of our environment, reduce compliance costs, and greatly enhance Pennsylvania’s competitiveness.
Yes, Pennsylvania has eagerly created a new and innovative environmental partnership within our borders.
Yet we realize that environmental issues and environmental challenges do not recognize political boundaries. Our responsibilities as Pennsylvanians extend beyond our borders.
Virtually every drop of water that falls in Pennsylvania must flow through a neighboring state before it reaches the sea. Given our geography, we have a responsibility to ourselves as well as our neighbors.
These challenges demand that we aggressively pursue interstate partnerships.
Pennsylvania has done just that with leadership in the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Council of Great Lakes Governors.
Together, we have an opportunity to duplicate these successful efforts right here — for the Delaware Estuary.
As the first chair of the Estuary Coordinating Conference, Pennsylvania welcomes the opportunity to take the lead as we pursue our common goals.
As in many things, cooperation is the key. States must work together. Citizens must work together. Businesses must work together. For our collective challenges can only be solved by collective action.
So today, I call on Pennsylvania’s citizens, neighbors, partners and friends. I ask all to join us — join us in our quest to prepare for the future by improving the present.
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[Posted: December 12, 2019]
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