Rep. Vitali to propose using oil, gas money for environmental projects
Here's an interesting proposal from Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware County.
Vitali put up a memorandum to all House members last week saying he will be introducing legislation that would detail how revenue from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund could be used. Specifically, he wants to earmark it for conservation, recreation, dam and flood-control projects only.
Despite the Oil and Gas Lease Fund Act of 1955, which Vitali says was created to fund such projects using rents and royalties from oil and gas leases in Pennsylvania, the funding has been used for other purposes during "the past few years." He says those other purposes include employees' salaries (he doesn't specify which employees) and general operations of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
He then points out there is a $1 billion backlog of infrastructure projects in state parks and forests.
Vitali says his proposal is to create legislation that would do the following:
"Specify that rents and royalties from oil and gas leases on Commonwealth-owned land shall be used exclusively for conservation, recreation, dams, or flood control projects.
"Restore to DCNR its exclusive authority to make disbursements from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund.
"Replace transfers from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to the Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund with transfers from the Unconventional Gas Well Fund."
What do you think? Is Vitali hitting a good point here? Or are there factors he's not considering?