The Bark is your early warning system. A signal that bad corporate actors are trying to bend the rules or pollute without accountability. It’s a heads up that anti-environmental forces in Harrisburg or Washington, D.C. are trying to eliminate environmental protections or give handouts to polluters. The Bark is PennFuture ringing the alarm bells to alert the general public of major attacks on our clean air, clean water, public land, and climate. We hope we don’t have to send you The Bark often, but we’ll be sure to keep you informed as we watchdog Pennsylvania’s polluters.
Welcome back to another edition of The Bark.
In The Bark’s first edition, we told you about a slate of bad bills we’re fighting in Harrisburg, and we told you about a certain contingent of elected officials who are still attacking our environment even during this coronavirus pandemic.
For this edition of The Bark, we wanted to tell you about a bad actor who is using the current pandemic as an excuse to try to get rid of the rules that protect us from polluters on a daily basis.
Thankfully, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection hasn’t followed the same path taken by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which—in addition to gutting dozens of other environmental protections in recent years—has now suspended enforcement of many of the remaining environmental rules and regulations.
But that’s exactly what state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) wants the DEP to do: using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse, Metcalfe is demanding that DEP roll back public health and environmental protections. He calls these rules “obstacles” and “bureaucratic red tape,” but these are critical public health protections that are more important now than ever. Recent reports have shown even a small increase in pollution levels can lead to an increase in fatalities from COVID-19.
A global health pandemic isn't the time for petty politics. Despite that, Rep. Metcalfe wrote a letter to DEP demanding to be told specifically “what regulations [does DEP] intend to roll back or repeal to allow our business climate to recover as quickly as possible?”
Blanket rollbacks that put polluters over people is the wrong choice—DEP, in contrast, has taken the reasonable and responsible approach by considering temporary suspensions of rules necessary to respond to the pandemic on a case-by-case basis.
At PennFuture, we are making it very clear that sacrificing public health to put money in the pockets of polluters isn’t a plan for economic recovery, and that DEP or any other environmental agency shouldn’t feel the pressure of partisan politics to roll back or repeal regulations that protect the health of each and every Pennsylvanian.
We pledge to keep an eye on this situation as it unfolds. After all, that’s what watchdogs are here for.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for new editions of The Bark. We take our role as Pennsylvania’s environmental watchdog very seriously, and we will continue to keep you in-the-know by shining a spotlight brightly on those who seek to harm our environment.