Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, June 17, 1995, Image 24
A24-UncMt*r Fanning, Saturday, Juna 17, 1995 EVERETT NEWSWANGER Managing Editor HARRISBURG (Dauphin Co.) —ln discussion of the impending legislation that would split the Dqrartment of Environ mental Resources (EPA) into two new departments, Pennsylvania State Secretary James Seif said the House had passed the measure 193 to 6 last week, and it was being dis cussed in Senate committee as he spoke to the Council of Farm Orga nizations Monday morning. The new would be the Depart ment of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Department of Environmental Pro tection (DEP). (Editor’s Note: See Vern Achcnbach’s report on the back ground and update of this “split up” legislative activity.) Seif said his department needed to work on attitudes and gave three principles that are to be incorpor- State Legislators Reorganize Environmental Government VERNON ACHENBACH JR. Lancaster Farming Staff HARRISBURG (Dauphin Co.) The state Legislature is expected to soon approve legisla tion that would reorganize cabinet level agencies that administer environmental law. Provisions in the reorganization plan actually have several implica tions for agriculture. The action is a fulfillment of Gov. Tom Ridge’s campaign promise to narrow the responsibili ties of the state Department of Environmental Resources (DER), and create a separate cabinet-level department that would deal with the state’s forests, parks and other natural resources. House Bill 1400, wilh 73 co sponsors in the House, has been approved twice on the full Senate flow, having received, as of Thurs day, only two minor amendments that correct language. Though nothing in state politics is certain, the bill is expected to receive approval on third consider ation before the Senate (possibly this coming week), receive concur rence from the House on the amendments, and be signed into law by the governor. As written, the law would go into effect July 1, if the governor signs. The proposed law would be called the Conservation and Natur al Resources Act to reflect the crea tion of a new state department The governor would appoint a secret ary of conservation and natural resources to oversee the department. The gist of the proposal is not complicated, though specifics may be for those not familiar with the structure of state government. Basically, the 70-page proposal is to create a new department that would take over control of the state’s forests, state parks, recrea tional and heritage programs, and inventory and manage the state’s natural resources. The name of the new department would be the Department of Con servation and Natural Resources (DCNR). At the same time, a much trimmed DER would be renamed to the Department of Environmen tal Protection (DEP) and focus on enforcement, though with a direc tive to work with citizens and industry to achieve a safe and Secretary Seif Speaks Of The New Farmer Friendly DER ated into DER or the subsequent departments as the new way to' work with farmers. The principles Seif proposed are: • Moderation; problem solving rather than only enforcement • Integrity: to include intellectu al, political and scientific integrity. • Communication: work with ag advisory boards to get input for what is practical. “I dunk in com munication we have a very solid framework between the admins tra tion and the agricultural communi ty that goes way back to Tom Ridge’s earliest campaign days,” Seif said. Wetlands have become an agricultural/environmental topic that has many farmers and deve lopers at odds with DER. “We looked early on at the wetlands program, and we confirmed what you have been saying,” Seif said. “A lot of it was not consistent with the federal program. We have too healthy environment Three other state departments would be affected if the proposal is made law. The Department of Community Affairs’ Bureau of Recreation and Conservation would become a DCNR bureau. The Department of Health would pick up several responsibili ties concerning living conditions and public health that had been DER’s purview. The Department of Agriculture would pick up responsibility for enforcing the Seasonal Farm Labor Act More specifically, the DCNR would assume all the responsibili ties and people and funds previous ly allocated to DER for the man agement, administration and reg ulation of of the forest and park bureaus, as well as picking up responsibility for community recreation and heritage conserva tion programs that were previously assigned to the state Department of Community Affairs. The proposal would also empower the DCNR to commis sion officers who would have regu lar police powers to ”... preserve order in the state parks and state forests ...” According to the proposal, its intent is to ”... create a new Depart ment of Conservation and Natural Resources to serve as a cabinet level advocate for out state parks, forests, rivers, trails, greenways and community recreation and her itage conservation programs to provide more focused manage ment of the commonwealth’s recreation, natural and river environments. “The primary mission... will be to manage state forest lands to assure their long-term health, sus tainability and economic use, to provide information on Pennsylva nia’s ecological and geologic resources and to administer grant and technical assistance programs ...” that help it achieve its role as advocate for the state’s natural resources. The reason for these proposed changes are many, but more or less add up to the fact that DER has become too large, unfocused and underfunded to take proper care of the forests, park systems and other resources of the state, in addition to handling the wide spectrum of environmental concerns that exist many disputes and discussions over very minor issues. We discov ered that 80 percent of our permit applications ugolved wetlands of less than a half acre. And there was no organization to help match wet lands replacement projects with land owners who desired to have such projects.” Because of these problems Seif said the following proposals are at the lop of his agenda: 1. Slate regulations will be con sistent with federal requirements using the 1987 manual. 2. Converted wetlands into agri cultural production prior to 1985 that are still in production shall be exempt from wetlands regulations. 3. A voluntary registery of land owners that have created wetlands on their property shall be kept. The registry will be made available to permit applicants and organiza tions seeking available sites for wetlands projects. today, such as nuclear waste, reac tors, heavy metals, air pollution devices, toxic waste, wastewater and water treatment, storm water runoff, landfills, solid waste, etc. A long list of “findings” included in the proposal outline the deficiencies in giving proper atten tion to the state’s natural resources. There has also been a political effort to get state government to help develop some of the apparent economic potential inherent in the state’s resources. The proposal acknowledges that the tourism and recreation industry is the second largest, next to agri culture, in the state. Given the proximity of the state to the heavily populated East Coast cities (practically one continuous megalopolis), it is considered that the potential to boost this industry is great and would mean economic growth in many areas of the state, as well as benefiting the living con ditions here. Support for the proposal is strong and has been growing for some time the fust secretary of DER, Maurice Goddard, had called for the division of DER about 10 years ago. The current secretary of DER has also been an outspoken suppor ter of the idea. Initially, current regulations will stay the same, until the new agen cies have opportunity to review and revise them. At another level, the proposed change also eliminates the Pen nsylvania Energy Office and gives the new DEP responsibility over energy conservation, assistance and alternative fuels. Meanwhile, the Department of Health is to lake ov» DER powers and duties in the control of nui sances from grounds, vehicles, apartments, buildings and places within this (sic)Commonwealth, to the sanitary condition of tene ments. lodging and boarding houses, to management of the sanitary affairs of this Common wealth, the issuance of waterworks permits and to the control of water pollution.” The Health Department would also take over annual ”... registra tion of organized camps for child ren, youth and adults ...” and the Public Bathing Law. Conservation Commission Abo contained in HBI4OO is a 4. Permit requirements shall be simplified. He proposes a general permit to allow the filling of up to half an acre of wetlands for the construction of homes within established subdivisions. Applic ants would contribute to the National Fish and Wildlife Found ation at a prescribed rate so that imporvements can be brought about in real existing valuable wet lands rather than mud puddles. This should be done to gain the benefit of wetlands throughout the state without dickering over five tenths of an acre. 5. Make wetlands replacement and improvements easier and more affective. Seifs goal is to create more wetlands than the law requires. 6. Create a wetlands manage ment advisory board of 16 mem bers appointed by the deputy sec retary for water management. Proposed members are to come, four from business/industry; four proposal to cut some of the strings that DER had to the State Conser vation Commission (SCC). This proposal comes directly as a result of some political uneasi ness about the state Nutrient Man agement Act Under the act, the SCC is to serve as the enforcement agency. There has been some concern that with the relationships between the SCC and DER, that enforce ment of the nutrient management act might come with too much input from environmental protec tion .advocates. The prime mover for this addi tion to the proposal comes from Lancaster Rep. John Barley, who had earlier called for the SCC to be transferred to PDA entirely. However, while that met with resistance from many political entities including agriculture, the current proposal has been widely approved, except for a few objec tions from strong environmental protectionists. This proposal would modify slightly the SCC, in that the chair manship of die commission would no longer be given automatically to the secretary of DER (in the future DEP). Instead, the state secretary of agriculture would share those duties, with the two secretaries alternating chairmanship annually. The staff of the SCC currendy is comprised of DER employees. That would change with the execu tive secretary of SCC not being connected to either DEP or PDA. Further, PDA would be directed Colemans Honors With Beef CLAYTON, NJ.—Two young Salem County brothers, Tim and Grant Coleman, and their crossbred steers took top honors at the South Jersey Beef Show held at Mullica Hill on May 13. Tim, of Elmer, was awarded grand champion, while brother Grant won reserve champion. The Colemans, along with other young cattlemen and cattlewomen from all over New Jersey, fitted and showed their steers and heifers at the annual preview show'designed to allow youth to work their ani mal for the first time this season. Other winners included: oymi Dixon of Bapdatown—Grand Champion Aagui Haifar and Raaarva Champion Angua Star; Brit- from environmental groups; four from slate and local governments; two from federal government; and two citizens. Ag groups took issue with the make-up of this board because it contained no specific agricultural representatives. 7. Work with the State Depart ment of Transportation to establish advance wetland compensation sites to satisfy the mitigation requirements for unavoidable wet land impacts resulting from con struction and maintenance activities. “Our purpose is to protect on a long term basis real wetlands and create more real wetlands.” Seif said. “Wetlands do have environ mental value, but we also want to make sure business, agriculture, and landowners can meet regula tion requirements without going broke. I hope these items have your attention and that you will help us to get them right and implement them into an effective program. to support the sex: in with enforce ment of laws when dealing with production agriculture. According to the proposal, ”... the secretary of agriculture shall designate an office and staff within that agency to coordinate and assist in the development, implementa tion and enforcement of programs adopted by the (SCQ that solely affect production agriculture." Not only that, but that PDA office and staff are to act as advo cate for production agriculture “... in the development of programs by the (SCC), assist in developing methods of managing excess man ure in an environmentally sound manner, develop programs to assist those engaged in production agri culture to comply with the Nutrient Management Act and act as an ombudsman to help resolve issues related to county conservation dis trict implementation of (SCC) programs solely affecting produc tion agriculture.” At the same time, the secretary of DEP is designate its own office and staff to help the SCC with mat ters concerning the protection of surface and groundwater. Further, as the SCC enforces the Nutrient Management Act, when violations are discovered that are violations of the state’s Clean Streams Law then the DEP office and staff are to assist the SCC. When any other types of possi ble violations are discovered in the course of enforcing the Nutrient Management Act, PDA’s desig nated office is to assist the SCC. Win Top ■any Dixon of Baptiitown—Raaarve Champion Angua Heifar, Shaun Burger of Pitman—Orand Champion Polled Hereford Heifer, April Daley of Frenehtown—Reaarve Champion Polled Hereford Heifer, Orand Coleman of Elmer— Grand Champion Simmental Heifer and Overall Orand Champion Heifer; Tom Capecci of Franklinvilla—Orand Champion Simmental Steer, Amende Sylveeter of Willume town— Reeerve Champion Simmental Steer, April Daley of Frenehtown—Grand Champion Polled Here ford Steer; Roae Marie Sylveeter of Williamatown—Grand Champion Angua Steer, Showmanahip in the Older A Bolder Diviaion waa won by Mr. Denny Date of Monroeville. Ri ling A Showmanahip Diviaion: Kevin Biaop of Elmer—Junior Fitting A Showmanahip; Briny Dixon of Bapiiatown—2nd Plaoa- Junior Fining A Showmanahip; Cryatal Dixon of Bapliaiown— Intermediate Fitting A Showmanahip; Shaun Buiger of Pitman—2nd Race - Intermediate Ri ling A Showmanahip; Grand Coleman of Elmar—Senior Riling A Showmaruhip; Steve Buiger of Pitman—2nd Place - Senior Fining A Showmanahip.