Audubon Mid-Atlantic applauds Governor Josh Shapiro’s investment in Pennsylvania’s natural resources as outlined in his 2024-2025 budget. Audubon and our members throughout the state are pleased to see the proposed increases to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) budgets. However, we encourage the governor to continue to elevate investments in the development of renewable energy for our climate and for Pennsylvania’s clean energy economy.
The proposed $40 million increase in DEP funding will help the Commonwealth cap abandoned natural gas wells, which will decrease methane emissions, and add 40 new positions in the environmental permitting office. Those staff additions will mean more oversight and protections for Pennsylvania’s waterways, forests, and regenerative brownfields which are critical places for Pennsylvania’s birds. This investment in new staff will also help Pennsylvania’s frontline environmental justice communities. Audubon is also optimistic that DEP’s new proposed positions in the Energy Program Office will position the Commonwealth to better access federal funds for investments in Pennsylvania’s renewable energy economy. With climate change being one of the most significant threats that birds and people face in Pennsylvania, developing appropriately-sited renewable wind and solar energy is the most important step we can take to reduce this threat across the state.
Audubon also supports the Governor’s proposed $44 million increase to the DCNR budget, which is a welcome step to prioritizing sustainable investments in Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener III programs. These investments will maintain and improve important bird habitat across our state parks and state forests while enhancing the state’s vast network of green infrastructure and natural climate solutions. This will not only protect vital bird habitat and provide opportunities for more Pennsylvanians to access the commonwealth’s shared public places, but it will also increase the resiliency of our forests, rivers, wetlands, and meadows to clean our air and water for all of the birds and people that call Pennsylvania home.
Audubon, our chapters in every corner of the state, and partners look forward to the budget’s proposed investments being enacted by the legislature. We know that they will lead to a healthier and cleaner environment. Yet, we believe that these investments would be made stronger when the governor, agencies, and legislature work together to commit to keeping Pennsylvania as a participating member in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and demonstrate a strong commitment to the “30 x 30” Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. Pennsylvania must be a leader in BOTH conservation AND accelerated climate action.
Audubon Mid-Atlantic is the regional office of National Audubon Society, representing over 65,000 Pennsylvanians who advocate for the protection of birds, bird habitat, and policies aiming to protect both birds and human communities in the face of increasing environmental challenges, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change.