Rep. George to Introduce Bill to Save PA Senior Environment Corps
Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield) this week announced he will introduce legislation to continue funding for the PA Senior Environment Corps through the end of the fiscal year to avert a total shutdown of the program in December.
Language directing the Department of Environmental Protection to fund the program established in law in 2004 was not included in the final budget adopted in July.
Rep. George, who serves as chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, asked for the bipartisan support of his colleagues in the House saying:
“In May, the House voted unanimously to commend the Corps on its 10-year anniversary. We saluted the group’s 2,900 members who provide more than 37,400 hours annually – volunteer work valued at more than $8 million – monitoring water quality at 628 sites. It would seem a tad disingenuous to pull the plug on such a worthwhile and cost-effective group four months later.”
Also praising the PA Senior Environment Corps for its work during the 10th anniversary celebration were DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty and Department of Aging Secretary Nora Dowd Eisenhower.
"The Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps celebrates ten years of service, and offers invaluable generations of experience," Secretary McGinty said. "All of us are grateful for the time, energy and remarkable contribution these members make on a regular schedule of monitoring, educating, creating and living as stewards of our environment now and for the future."
“I commend the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps on this the 10th anniversary of its service to Pennsylvania,” said Secretary Dowd Eisenhower. “Men and women, who have already completed a lifetime of service, are to be applauded for their volunteer efforts to improve water quality across the state. Their environmental stewardship is an important example of civic engagement on the part of older Pennsylvanians.”
Rep. George explained, “The 2007-08 budget did not earmark funding for the program, which operates in 52 counties across the Commonwealth. Prospects also do not look favorable for discretionary funding that would enable the group to continue its water-monitoring and environmental education efforts. Corps officials have indicated they will have to start shutting down programs by the end of this month without additional funding.
“My legislation would appropriate $120,000 to continue operations through June 30. It is my hope that a source for dedicated funding will be found. The Corps believes a $300,000 annual appropriation would enable it to expand into Pike, Lycoming, Sullivan, Juniata, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wyoming, Cambria and Erie counties.”
The PA Senior Environment Corps was the first statewide program of its kind in the United States to give seniors a meaningful opportunity to help monitor and protect water quality and to share their concern for and knowledge of the environment with others, especially younger generations.
There are now over 2,900 seniors doing water sampling, mentoring high school students for Envirothon competitions, helping to locate abandoned oil and gas wells, educating the public on how to protect local drinking water supplies and on the proper disposal of household hazardous waste, clearing invasive species from watersheds, photo-documenting the results and progress of abandoned mine reclamation projects and educating the public on West Nile Virus and homeowners on the dangers of radon in 52 counties.
The program has been a model for other states and countries. The program and local chapters have won numerous awards, including being recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme which added the PaSEC to its Global 500 Honour Roll, joining the work of individuals like Jacques Cousteau and Jane Goodall.
Video Blog: PA Senior Environment Corps Members in Action!
The Senate will return to voting session on September 17. The House is in non-voting session the week of September 17. Both will return to voting session on September 24.
On the Hill
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· National Hunting and Fishing Day at State Capitol Set for September 18
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