Governor Wolf’s cop-out

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

On May 21 Gov. Wolf appeared at the Horsham Water and Sewer Authority—ground zero for PFAS contaminants caused by the Willow Grove Naval Air Station— to announce with great fanfare his Restore Pennsylvania plan to cleanup PFAS contamination statewide.

The plan would enact a “severance tax” on fracking to fund $4.5 billion for cleanup costs statewide. The goal is admirable but the means to achieve it misplaced priorities, wastes tax dollars, and ignores the elephant in the room.

Since 1988, Pennsylvania has had a law which funds cleanups— the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act. Under that act, any polluter who releases a “hazardous substance” into the environment must pay for the costs of the cleanup. All that’s required to fund PFAS cleanups is to classify PFAS as “hazardous substances”.

For literally years, we have been asking the Governor and the DEP to do just that. The Delaware Riverkeeper petitioned the DEP to do so in July 2017. I have personally appeared before the Governor’s staff and his task force and made that request —in person—three times— last August,November and April of this year— and made the same request, along with Buxmont Citizens for Safer Water and other community members

Doing so would force the elephant in the room— the Department of Defense— to take responsibility for cleaning up the mess it has caused. Instead Gov. Wolf is passing the buck to taxpayers. Even worse, he’s using one form of pollution— fracking— to subsidize the cleanup of another. This robs Peter to pay Paul while letting polluters off scot free.

When EPA announced its PFAS “no action” plan earlier this year, the PA DEP promised to step up and protect the people of Pennsylvania

We are still waiting for that promise to be kept!