Environmental Concerns in NEPA

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) One of the key issues facing Pennsylvania is the health of its waterways, like the Susquehanna River.

A fisherman tries to catch a big one in the Susquehanna River near Plymouth while many people fish the river, not many eat what they catch because of pollution concerns, enter acting acting Secretary of the D.E.P. Patrick McDonnell, he tells Eyewitness News reducing storm sewer run-off including raw sewage seeping into the river is a top priority.

“Our hope is that some of the work we are doing will provide a framework to look at not just the traditional infrastructure like the pipes in the ground, but also green infrastructure,”  Acting D.E.P. Secretary Patrick McDonnell said.

The growth of grasses, shrubs and trees is also a concern in the expansion of the natural gas industry in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but so also, he says, is making sure regulations of that industry are enforced.

“There are regulations that are specifically designed to reduce the environmental impact found on the surface,” McDonnell said.

Scott Cannon, who is a member of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, an environmental watchdog group, says they’re watching how that enforcement is implemented, but also hopes the D.E.P. will do more on climate change.

“We’re now seeing climate change problems in Louisiana and other parts of the world. We need to invest its efficient renewable energy,” Cannon said.

One of McDonnell’s biggest concerns dealing with a legacy of the state’s energy sector, eliminating the scars of a once booming coal mining industry.

“Focus just not on abandoned mine reclamation but also the environmental aspects and economic development as well,” McDonnell said.

However, funding is always an issue when facing these environmental issues. McDonnell says his department doesn’t get all the funding really needs and is pledging to work with state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get more money.

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