Pennsylvania, May 18, 2005 (ENS): At the polls
Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters showed strong support for
a controversial $625 million environmental bond issue
known as Growing Greener II.
The bond issue was the only statewide question on the
ballot, added in April, after a compromise was worked
out between Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, who has
lobbied for the measure and the Republican controlled
Legislature, which has opposed it.
More than 60 percent of voters favored the bond issue.
On the strength of that vote, the Rendell administration
hopes to negotiate a bipartisan legislative measure
that will allocate and pay for the bond.
The funds would be used for "maintenance and protection
of the environment, open space and farmland preservation,
watershed protection, abandoned mine reclamation, acid
mine drainage remediation and other initiatives,"
according to the ballot statement.
Republican legislators have fought renewal of the Growing
Greener funding initiatve although it was started in
1999 by then Governor Tom Ridge, a Republican who served
as the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
Initially, Rendell had sought to borrow $800 million
to proceed with Growing Greener II, but Republicans
did not like his proposal to pay for the bond issue
by imposing new and increased fees on landfills and
But in coming to agreement with Republican state lawmakers,
Rendell joined the leadership in the state Senate and
House in early May to pledge that they would not propose
new taxes or fees to pay off the Growing Greener bond,
Still not all opposition was silenced. One newspaper
editorial stated the views of some opposed to Growing
Greener II this way, "Environmentalism - just one
species of the tax-and-spend socialism that has wounded
Pennsylvania's economy - turns the government into private-sector
The Green Party did not support Growing Greener II,
saying the measure places the cost of cleaning up the
environment on taxpayers instead of on polluters.
But most Pennsylvania conservationists did back the
bond issue. In his statement of support Pennsylvania
Environmental Council President Andrew McElwaine said,
"We need to act now to protect Pennsylvania's quality
of life. The longer we wait, the more clean streams,
natural areas, working farms and wildlife will disappear
and be lost forever, and the more expensive it gets
to clean up."