PA General Assembly weakens protection for high quality streams
A controversial bill that environmental groups said would weaken protection for Pennsylvania’s cleanest streams won final approval by the state’s General Assembly on Wednesday.Basically, the EPA would like us to believe that the only way they can do their job is to claim control over all land within 150 feet of a stream; and they get to decide what a stream is.
The final bill was little changed from one passed a week earlier by the House that was backed by builders but strongly opposed by environmental groups.
The bill would change a regulation adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2010 that requires projects disturbing more than an acre of land in state-designated high quality and exceptional value watersheds to provide a 150-foot forest buffer along streams.
Instead, the bill says a 100-foot buffer “may be used as a preferred choice” along streams but allows developers to substitute other stormwater control practices.
The Senate slightly changed the House language to say that the substituted pollution control practices had to be “substantially equivalent” to a stream buffer.
Environmental groups had contended in their comments that no other practices provide both the pollution control and in-stream habitat benefits as forest buffers.
The PA law provides equivalent protection, using other (unstated) means, which doesn't give the EPA full control over the affected land. They resent that.
Of course, they will claim there is no substitute for the stream buffers, and if that's true, they'll have to prove it in court.