Pike County Takes Lead
Pike County Takes Lead in Stopping Damaging DEP Regulations
Thursday, August 1, 2013
The Pike County Dispatch, p. 5
MILFORD- Many residents of Pike County may not have aware of it, but the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had proposed a new policy regarding nitrates in the water supply that only applied to areas with High Quality (HQ) and Exceptional Value (EV) water. Unlike any other county in PA, all of Pike County's water is considered HQ and/or EV. Therefore, the policy would have depleted property values and made construction much more difficult and expensive. Fortunately, Pike County has excellent elected officials and fantastic representation in Harrisburg.
On June 28, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate presented Governor Tom Corbett with House Bill 1325, legislation that amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act and overrides DEP's recently proposed anti-degradation policy, providing certainty to local governments and developers seeking sewage planning approval for projects near special protection watersheds. If the new DEP policy regarding nitrates were implemented it would have had a devastating impact on the economy of Pike County.
In a county with high unemployment, DEP's policy would have brought future economic development to a complete halt. Pike County is beginning to experience an increase in commercial development with the relocation of Kahr Arms and the expansion of LP Cylinder, helping to decrease the unemployment rate. The County Commissioners see a wave of economic development coming to Pike County but if the recently passed legislation did not stop the damaging DEP policies, land values would have decreased and what was once developable commercial property would have become unusable.
The Pike County Commissioners were at the forefront of fighting the proposed DEP policy. When first briefed on the impact, Commissioners Matt Osterberg and Rich Caridi immediately contacted Pike County's local legislators who assisted in organizing meetings with experts to discuss the impact that the policy would have on Pike County and other communities around the state.
Commissioner Osterberg stated that, "If this policy went into effect it would have had grave consequences on any future economic growth within Pike County. We are currently ranked with the highest unemployment rate in the state, so to impose such draconian policy upon the people of Pike would have caused immense harm." Osterberg went on to say that, "with new interest in Pike County by manufacturer's like Kahr Arms and LP Cylinders, we see a new beginning for Pike County its unemployment woes. If we had not stopped this policy these projects could have become nonexistent."
Commissioner Caridi concurred with the statement and added that, "we in Pike County have always been good stewards towards our environment; we have protected our natural resources, in particular our water, and such regulations as was being proposed would have penalized us for doing the right thing." Caridi continued, "The people of Pike County have always respected our land, we have some of the cleanest waters in the state with no signs of nitrates, which is what made this policy so unbelievable, DEP was solving a problem that did not exist."
State Senator Lisa Baker sponsored the legislation in the Senate with Representative Mike Peifer and Rosemary Brown co-sponsoring similar legislation in the House. Along with the support of the legislators, Governor Tom Corbett and his administration was supportive of stopping the economic damages that the DEP regulations would have caused. With the hard work of elected officials at every level of government, including township supervisors and local experts, Pike County played a key role in protecting the local economy and the economies of other counties around the state.
Governor Corbett thanked members of the General Assembly for passing HB 1325, including Senator Baker, Representative Peifer, and Representative Brown for their hard work on the issue. "The House and Senate have found a solution that allows the Department of Environmental Protection to rely upon the existing standards of Act 537 when considering sewage planning approval for developments that use on-lot sewage systems near high quality and exceptional value waterways. These watersheds are among our most important resources, and we believe that economic growth and a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive," Corbett said.