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PA. House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Reports Out House Bill 1565

PA. House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Reports Out House Bill 1565

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee met today and reported out House Bill 1565, as amended, by a vote of 15 to 7.

 

  • House Bill 1565 (Hahn-R) amends The Clean Streams Law, further providing for potential pollution.  Specifically, the legislation provides that the use or installation of riparian buffers and riparian forest buffers shall not be required under the Clean Streams Law, but may be used as a choice among best management practices, design standards and alternatives to minimize the potential for accelerated erosion and sedimentation and to protect, maintain, reclaim and restore water quality and for existing and designated uses.

 

Currently, under the Clean Streams Law, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is empowered to regulate activities it identifies as creating a danger of pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth.  In addition, 25 Pa Code Section 102.14 prohibits earth disturbance activities within 150 feet of a perennial or intermittent river, stream, or creek, or lake, pond or reservoir when the project site is located in an exceptional value or high quality watershed and protecting any existing riparian buffer.

 

o   Representative Miller (R-York) offered Amendment # 09397 which would make riparian buffers and riparian forest buffers as a preferred choice or option among best require alternative best management practices, design standards and alternatives to minimize the potential for accelerated erosion and sedimentation and to protect, maintain, reclaim and restore water quality and existing and designated uses of a perennial or intermittent river, stream or creek or lake, pond or reservoir of this Commonwealth to ensure compliance with 25 Pa. Code Ch.93 (relating to water quality standards).

 

o   Projects in special protection watersheds that propose greater than one acre of earth disturbance within 100 feet of a surface water shall offset any reduction in the total square footage of the buffer zone that would have been utilized as a best management practice, with a replacement buffer elsewhere in the same drainage basin at a ratio of two-to-one for Zone 1 (1 through 50 feet) and one-to-one for Zone 2 (50 through 100 feet).  Any project incorporating such an alternative shall also include other best management practices to manage postconstruction stormwater to protect, maintain, reclaim and restore water quality and existing and designated uses of waters of this Commonwealth.

 

  • Amendment # 09397 was adopted by a vote of 17 to 5.

 

The DEP opposes this legislation (including Amendment # 09397) because it takes away the power to require buffers.  It was noted that there is currently a waiver process administered by DEP, but some members expressed the need for a better system to be put in place.

 

In addition, Representative Chris Ross (R-Chester) indicated that he will try to develop further amendments regarding special protection watersheds.  He indicated that he is troubled by the reduction from 150 to 50 feet and noted that the replacement could be anywhere in the watershed, but the benefits might not be the same.

 

The bill now goes before the full House for its consideration.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Thanks,

Erik

 

Erik A. Ross

Senior Lobbyist

Gmerek Government Relations, Inc.

The Locust Court Building

212 Locust Street Suite 300

Harrisburg, PA 17101

(717) 234-8525

(717) 574-3963 (Cell)

(717) 234-8812 (Fax)

eross@ggrgov.com

www.ggrgov.com

 

 

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