Monday, July 11, 2011

Gov. passes bill to give municipalities share of air pollution fines

GOP Gov. Tom Corbett recently passed a law that would give local municipalities a share of fines levied under Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act.
Specifically, Senate Bill 151 would direct 25 percent of any air pollution fine above $50,000 to the municipality that the violation occurred. Under previous law, all fines imposed under the Air Pollution Control Act went toward the state.
The municipality could then put the money toward local environmental projects that reduce air pollution, improve parks and trails or create open space. If the municipality chooses not to use the funding, the legislation allows counties to apply for the funding.
In order to maintain the Clean Air Fund, no funds will be released to municipalities if the revenue from fines and penalties is less than $1.85 million. In recent years, the state has brought in about $4.5 million to the Clean Air Fund, according to fiscal notes attached to the legislation.
“This bill represents a significant victory for communities across Pennsylvania,” said state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, the prime sponsor of the bill. “The impact of air pollution is felt locally, and local residents should derive some benefit from the fines that are imposed. Providing funding for local environmental projects is a great way to do that.”

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